December 6 2020

The perfect country and western song

The name Steve Goodman has been written into my mind since I was just a boy. I cannot count the number of times I have heard the singer David Alan Coe’s version of “You Never Even Called Me By My Name.”

Before the last verse of the song David Alan Coe has a speaking part that states:

“Well a friend of mine named Steve Goodman wrote that song

And he told me it was the perfect country and western song

I wrote him back a letter and I told him it was not

The perfect country and western song because he hadn’t

Said anything at all about mama,

Or trains, or trucks, or prison, or gettin’ drunk”

Less commonly known is that Steve Goodman didn’t pen the song alone. The song was co-written by John Prine.

Just today I learned that Steve Goodman and John Prine also wrote another song from the jukebox in my mind.

“The Twentieth Century Is Almost Over” is a song that I must have heard ten thousand times performed by the Highwaymen.

I do not recall ever hearing the song before it was released by country super group the Highwaymen in 1985. The song was the last song on the Album the Highwayman.

I found out that Steve Goodman released the song in 1977, on his album Say It in Private.

Goodman’s version shows many more aspects of bluegrass and a style of folk music. While Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Kris Krisofferson, and Waylon Jennings give the song more of a country feel.

Steve Goodman grew up in Chicago. His music spanned the Folk, Country, Rock , Pop and Blues genres. He began writing songs in his teens. Goodman’s contract with Buddah Records came as a result of an introduction by Kris Kristofferson to Paul Anka. Goodman met Kris after opening for him at a club in Chicago.

Steve Goodman was able to play a song he had written for Arlo Guthrie. Guthrie agreed to listen to Goodman play with the condition that he first buy him a beer. Guthrie would sit and listen to Steve Goodman play for as long as it took him to drink that beer.

The song that Steve Goodman played for Arlo Guthrie was “City of New Orleans.”

The beer that Goodman had purchased became a wise investment for him. Arlo Guthrie’s version of “City of New Orleans” became a top 20 hit in 1972. This gave Steve Goodman enough success both financially and artistically to make music his full time career.

Later the same song about the Illinois Central train would be recorded by many other artists. Johnny Cash, Judy Collins, and Chet Akins all had versions of the “City of New Orleans.”

Willie Nelson’s version of the song earned Goodman a Grammy Award for best country song in 1985. Sadly, the award was given to Goodman posthumously. Steve Goodman had been deceased since September 20, 1984 because of Leukemia.

In his career, Steve Goodman wrote more than one perfect country and western song.


December 3 2020

Take This Blog and Shove It

Do you ever just feel like you are just having an off day? I have had the kind of day that something is bothering me, but I am just not quite sure what. Everything seems to piss me off, even when it shouldn’t. I just can’t seem to put my finger on it. I feel frustrated and tired.

Am I just getting old? Maybe, it’s the weather. I think winter-time has finally arrived. It has been cold and cloudy. I didn’t sleep well last night, and I am sure that is part of it. I am trying to be grateful, but I am having a very hard time.  

I don’t want to give up, I am a survivor! I know I have gone through worse trials and tribulations than what the world has thrown at me lately.

I do enjoy writing. I enjoy writing this blog. I enjoy music. I enjoy writing this blog about the music that I enjoy.

That’s it keep it up! That’s the gratitude I was after!

I wanted to title this article: “Take This Blog and Shove It” because of my piss poor mood tonight.. but as this is a music blog I am trying to write, perhaps I should have titled it, “Take This Job and Shove It.”

Take This Job and Shove It” was Johnny Paycheck’s 1977 hit single. The song is about the bitterness of a man who works long and hard with no apparent reward.

The song was written by David Alan Coe. The song was first recorded by Paycheck and is on his album of the same name. The song, Paycheck’s only #1 hit, spent two weeks at number one. “Take This Job and Shove It” spent 18 weeks on the charts.

The album was released in 1977 by CBS Recording Studios in Nashville. The album also produced two other singles that reached the charts. “Colorado Kool-Aid,” and “Georgia in a Jug.

Colorado Kool-Aid was recorded as the B-side of Take This Job and Shove It

Johnny Paycheck was born Donald Eugene Lytle. He was born May 31,1938 in Greenfield, Ohio. He legally changed his name to Johnny Paycheck in 1964. The name comes from Johnny Paychek a boxer from Chicago.

Donald (Johnny Paycheck) began competing in talent competitions at the age of 9. His first big break as a professional musician came in the early 1960’s. He played bass and steel guitar and also provided harmony back-up vocals for George Jones.

Johnny Paycheck co- wrote the song “Once You’ve Had The Best” for Jones.  

Apartment #9” is another successful song written by Johnny Paycheck. The song would become Tammy Wynette’s first hit in 1966.

Paycheck’s own personal success came in the 70’s when he associated his act with the outlaw country movement.

In 1977, Johnny Paycheck received a Career Achievement award by the Academy of Country Music. He was inducted into the Grand Old Opry in 1997.

“To me, an outlaw is a man that did things his own way, whether you liked him or not. I did things my own way”

Johnny Paycheck

With complications due to asthma and emphysema Johnny Paycheck died in Nashville at the age of 64 in 2003.

Recently, Johnny’s son Jonathan Paycheck has began touring and plays tribute songs for his dad.


October 19 2020

Guitar Town

One of my favorite road songs is “Guitar Town.”

About this time last year, I recall going on a trip with my oldest daughter. I had made a playlist of all my favorite songs. I titled the playlist “songs I like to sing.” I pressed the shuffle key on my iPhone and off we went. It seems we heard Guitar Town more times than any of the other songs on the list.

Hey pretty baby are you ready for me It’s your good rockin’ daddy down from Tennessee,” blasted from the speakers in my Chevrolet truck.

“Are you going to play that song again dad?” My daughter questioned.. rolling her eyes.

I simply turned the volume up a little louder and kept moving on down the highway.

It wasn’t until 1986 that Steve Earle had written and recorded “Guitar Town“, the first single from his first full length album. “Guitar Town” was the song that defined Earle as a solo artist in Nashville. Although, his influence had already been in Guitar Town for over 10 years.

Steve Earle once ran away from his home in San Antonio Texas with expectations of meeting his idol singer-songwriter Townes Van Zandt.

A few years later he did get to meet Townes. Steve Earle was only 16 but had already dropped out of school and moved to Houston with his uncle who was also pursuing a career in music.

One of Steve Earle’s most noted quotes is:

Townes Van Zandt is the best songwriter in the whole world, and I’ll stand on Bob Dylan’s coffee table in my cowboy boots and say that.

Steve Earle

In 1974 at the age of 19, Steve Earle moved to Nashville Tennessee and began working by day and playing his music by night. He became a staff songwriter for the publishing company Sunbury Dunbar, and became the bass player in Guy Clark’s band.

While in Clark’s Band, he sang on Clark’s 1975 album “Old No. 1.”

Guy Clark became one of Steve Earle’s greatest mentors and greatest friends.

Steve Earle then made an appearance on the 1975 film Heartworn Highways, a documentary about the Nashville Music Scene.

The Heartworn Highway soundtrack includes Steve Earle’s, “Mercenary Song” and “Elijah’s Church”.

Heartworn Highways included David Allan Coe, Guy Clark, Townes van Zandt and Rodney Crowell.

I have been a fan of this group of musicians all of my life. So many people have heard the songs they wrote but have no idea who the original artists were. Everyone of these guys became great song writers and in my opinion, no-one else can do their songs like they do them.

I have a low tolerance for mediocrity in music and life. I’m into pain and joy and the in-between doesn’t interest me.

Steve Earle

Since those early days in Guitar Town, Earle has released 15 studio albums. He has received 3 Grammy awards. His songs have been recorded by artists like Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, The Highwaymen, Travis Tritt, Bob Seger and Emmylou Harris.

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and Everybody told me you can’t get far on 37 dollars and a jap guitar.


October 10 2020

Like Nothing I’d Ever Heard

I’d heard the Burritos out in California

Could fly higher than the Byrds

Roger McGuinn had a 12 string guitar

It was like nothing I’d ever heard.

This line from David Alan Coe’s “Willie Waylon and Me” a song that I’ve had stuck in my head for most of my life.

This verse references the Flying Burrito Brothers and the Byrds, two influential groups in the folk rock genre I still listen to today.

Chris Hillman was an original member in both of these groups.

Hillman was the original Bassist of the Byrds which included, Roger McGuinn, Gene Clark, David Crosby and Michael Clarke in 1965.

Late into the 1960’s and early 1970’s a group was formed and became one of the chief influences on the country rock genre. The Flying Burrito Brothers.

The Flying Burrito Brothers included Hillman and Clarke of the Byrds as well as Pete Kleinow, Gram Parsons, Rick Roberts and Bernie Leadon.

The next chorus of the David Alan Coe song “Willie, Waylon, and Me” makes reference to the Eagles as well as the Byrds.

And the Eagles flew in from the west coast

Like the Byrds they were trying to be free

Bernie Leadon would move on to becoming a founding member of the Eagles in 1971 after the Flying Burrito Brothers decline. Bernie would later be replaced by Joe Walsh.

“Stephen had a vision”

Graham Nash

After the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers,  Chris Hillman, a key figure in the development of country rock,  joined Stephen Stills newly formed band Manassas.

Paul Harris, Al Perkins, Joe Lala, and Dallas Taylor were also members of Stephen Stills ‘super group’.

Stephen Stills had once been the opening act for the Byrds in a band called Buffalo Springfield.

Buffalo Springfield Included Neil Young, Richie Furay, Dewey Martin, and Bruce Palmer.

Stephen stills is listed in the Rolling Stones top 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time as #28.

“Stephen Stills is a genius”

Neil Yong

David Crosby of the Byrds origin would later join Stephen Stills, Gram Nash, and Neil Young in Crosby Stills Nash and Young.

Neil Young would eventually leave to begin a solo career causing the band a member short , and changing the name to Crosby, Stills and Nash.

These humble beginnings of folk rock and country were founded in the late 60’s and early 70’s mainly in Southern California. Many of these members lived just outside of Las Angeles in an area known as Laurel Canyon.

Many of the greatest folk songs to date were written within this Canyon.  In this atmosphere the greatest of all time wrote songs together, and played their songs to each other. They started bands and they broke up the bands. The chemistry that transpired in this canyon still amazes me today.

Modern artists are still playing their original music and trying to write new songs to sound like these original works of genius.

Besides the Byrds following, The Beatles, Beach Boys, Jim Morrison, Frank Zappa and many more of the greats spent time in this Canyon outside of L.A.

This was the music that I grew up listening to, and what I compare everything else to today.

It was like nothing, I’d ever heard.


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