Dec 022012

Any therapist will tell you that a necessary step in reducing psychic pain from a traumatic event is to confront it, head on — or at least to acknowledge it happened, by describing it if possible. That principle forms the root of this, the first of a series of posts in which we gather together in a healing circle to group-confront an egregious example of poor Rock behavior that might otherwise leave us scarred.

I am a huge Charlie Rich apologist. Like my fandom for Rory Gallagher, I admit my desire to like his music is almost greater than the amount I actually like it— so I am thrilled when I discover a bit of audio or video that bolsters my opinion that the Silver Fox was a true country music maverick, a magnificent pop songwriter, and a closet Southern soul master of the highest order. On the flip side… well, when I found the video clip you see here, I felt a new level of pit open up in the pit of my stomach. It did more than humanize Rich: it cast him out of the musical heavens at the white-hot burning end of God’s own flaming sword, branding him charlatan.

I have been transfixed by this video since discovering it. I know it captures a performance when Rich was at the pinnacle of his fame — also a time when he was least happy, and most prone to hitting the bottle. (Oh, how I wish there was a clip out there of the CMA awards ceremony when Charlie, presumably stoned out of his gourd, set John Denver’s award for country music male entertainer of the year on fire.) And, Charlie Rich fans, please spare me your explanations about how the Silver Fox was a balladeer, and not an uptempo performer. The plain and simple fact is that this video destroyed a part of my soul. I need your help confronting it. I need your help discovering all the ways I’ve been hurt by this performance of “The Dance of Love” from 1975. So, tell me: what’s hurtful; what’s painful; what’s just downright wrong about this performance?

I look forward to your responses, and I look forward to this opportunity to bond and heal together.


Dec 012012

Early ’70s folk is one of my biggest “rock blind spots.” Hoping to better understand the movement I did a little reading and Googling. I was prepared to come across the usual suspects (Fairport, Pentangle, etc); however, while researching into the British side of the scene I learned that Al Stewart was a significant player of the times. Was this the same Al Stewart who I only knew through the plushy lite-rock hit Year of the Cat? A little more digging revealed that Stewart tried to distance himself from the success of the song as well as the Alan Parsons produced albums of the late ’70s .


His return to a purer folk style later in his career would find little favor with record buyers but for his die-hard fans. For his live shows he would either drop it from the set list or open the show with the song.

He isn’t the first artist to find success with a song they would rather forget or was not representative of their “true” sound. Yet, I feel he shouldn’t have to disown something that certainly pays the bills or brought attention to his other albums. On that note the stuff on Time Passages, despite its execution and decent melodies, sounds horribly dated.

If it was your song could you live with “Year of the Cat”?

Mar 192011

Mention of Jim Ford and Joe South recently reminded me that I’ve been meaning to write something about Dallas Frazier, who is another one of those artists who was adept at blending country and soul. Frazier is the man who wrote “Mohair Sam,” which was a big hit for Charlie Rich.

This is the record that is part of Rock Lore, because the time the Beatles met Elvis, he was obsessed with it and supposedly played it constantly during their visit, even playing along on the bass. I’d never seen this clip before today, but here’s Rich singing it on Shindig in 1965:

He looks so uncomfortable there, but here is singing it again during his ’70s phase.

He was one of the biggest stars in Nashville at that time, and he’s gotten much less stage-shy. Nice shirt.


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