Sep 192011

In what may surely be a damming display of my ignorance over country music, what’s so funny ’bout Terry Bradshaw singing country music?

Bradshaw, the former Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback, is the first to laugh at himself—and typically an attempt at launching a singing career by a professional athlete is met with laughter. I can’t recall the last time I heard Bradshaw sing, but I would have thought it would have been laughable. This performance of a Hank Williams classic, however, strikes me a just fine. The arrangement is nowhere near as cool as Hank’s original, but how does it stack up against the following “mash-up” of a bearded Glen Campbell and Elvis Presley?

If I can understand how Bradshaw’s version is any worse, if that’s how you feel, I may learn something about the country genre, which is hard for me to crack. If you tell me, on the other hand, that Bradshaw’s version is indeed on par with Campbell’s and the King’s, I may end up more mystified than ever.


  13 Responses to “What’s So Funny ’bout Terry Bradshaw Singing Country Music?”

  1. I’ll take the bait.

    Elvis has about a bucket load more soul than the QB.

    And Glen’s got that special little country “catch” in his voice that puts his vocal over the top. It’s subtle, but crucial.

  2. tonyola

    Bradshaw, to his credit, doesn’t embarrass himself, but let’s face it – he just doesn’t have the subtle phrasing that Elvis knew instinctively. Terry would go over fine on karaoke night, but he’s not a pro. My favorite version of this song was done by BJ Thomas in 1966, and the reason I like it is not only does Thomas sing it well, the backing music is closer to R&B than country. Sparse, controlled playing in the mode of Percy Sledge’s “When a Man Loves a Woman” with no embellishment and not a twang in sight. In fact, it wasn’t until quite a few years later that I learned “Lonesome” was a Hank Williams song.

  3. Terry Bradshaw does a nice by the numbers version — and that’s kind of the problem here. Too technical, he needs to roll out and evade a few blockers to match Glen and Elvis.

  4. hrrundivbakshi

    Yeah, Big E just has one of those gifts that allows him to get inside the meaning of a song. What’s most remarkable is that he’s able to carry the listener along on his wave of believability even as he steals distracted, grinning glances at his overpaid backing singers. That guy really was something.

    Here’s my question: was Elvis’ talent “squandered,” or did he flame out pretty much as expected? Do we heave a collective sigh of sadness or relief at his passing? Did he accomplish as much or more than we could have expected of him, or was his physical and artistic end a wasted opportunity?

  5. I like your analysis, funoka. I agree with what people are hearing in Elvis’ voice, but despite Campbell’s ability to do the little country hiccup, as Hank Fan pointed out, I don’t think Bradshaw’s that far off Glen’s take.

    In terms of my broader purpose for posting this video, I think what I’m learning is that the singer’s ability to express some deeper, personal meaning is a big differentiating point in country music. Pretty obvious, I know, but I sense I am not alone in being impressed by Bradshaw’s abilities.

  6. SQUANDERED! The second volume in Peter Guralnik’s 2-volume bio on him is heartbreaking. The storm he had to weather in the wake the Beatles et al were to be expected, but imagine if Elvis could have capitalized on his ’68 Comeback Special burst of energy. Imagine if he’s stuck it out with real producers in Memphis – or hooked up with an Ahmet Ertegun type. Imagine if he’d smoked pot and drank instead of popped pills and peanut butter lids and found himself in a session with Duane Allman or Leon Russell and some of their mates.

    You know where I’m headed, don’t you? A 1970s era of Southern-Rock or a Hippieifed Elvis! Festival Elvis! Imagine the possibilities.

  7. Yes. Really, really sad. I did actually like that song “Moody Blue” that was on his last album. They were playing it on the radio and, as a little kid, I thought it was kind of cool to like a new Elvis song. Here he is reading and mumbling . . . Amy Winehouse-like — but finally gets through the song:

    Then, there’s the old saw (that I find credible) that Barbra Streisand wanted Elvis for the Kris Kristofferson role in A Star Is Born — now that’s a crappy movie, but it could have saved his life had he gotten it together — but he was too far gone and asked for too much money.

  8. hrrundivbakshi

    The only “Star Is Born” worth watching is this one:


  9. hrrundivbakshi

    (Watch from 4:29)

  10. tonyola

    I’ve also heard that Elvis was strongly considered for the role as the drafted rock’n’roll star in the Bye Bye Birdie movie. Apparently Elvis was interested but Col. Parker refused to release Elvis for any project in which he didn’t have total control.

  11. tonyola

    Uh, no. The 1954 Judy Garland/James Mason flick is good.

  12. Last winter, my wife and I watched all three versions. Judy Garland too Garland-esque for my tastes. I like the first version the best but all three are kind of “meh”. I’ll have to check out the SCTV clip to see how it measures up.

  13. mockcarr

    Wow, Eugene Levy must have lost a bet to have to do Milton Berle in that sketch. Holy Crap.

    Love Crystal’s toothy spit take.

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