July 5 2021

Sanford Clark -Remembered

It was confirmed today that the Rockabilly and country performer Sanford Clark died yesterday in a hospital in Joplin, Missouri. Clark had originally been hospitalized for cancer treatment contracted the corona- virus, the said cause of his death.

Sanford Clark was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1935 and later moved to Phoenix, Arizona. In Phoenix, Clark crossed paths with Lee Hazelwood. Clark’s most famous recording was “The Fool.” Written and produced by Lee Hazelwood.

Hazelwood worked as a radio disk jockey and wrote songs, he had just begun a new record label, Viv. “The Fool” would become Lee Hazelwood’s first hit as a producer and a songwriter when Clark recorded the song. Hazelwood later found large success with artists Duane Eddy in a string of hits such as “Rebel Rouser.” Probably Hazelwood’s most famous work was writing the song,”These Boots Are Made for Walkin’” recorded by Nancy Sinatra.

The Fool” was covered by many artists including Elvis Presley. In 1965 Sanford Clark re-recorded the song and featured Waylon Jennings on guitar. This most popular song of Sanford Clark was featured in the Netflix film, Win It All, and in the movie Dallas Buyers Club which starred Matthew McConaughey. 

In Rock n Roll Superstar, Keith Richards’, book titled “Life,” Richards credits a song written by Sanford Clark, “Son of a Gun” as one of the first songs he learned and performed on stage, even before he formed The Rolling Stones.

Sanford Clark made history with his music, with a career spanning from 1955 to 2017. He Shall be remembered.

April 25 2021

Orbison/Melson Collaborations

Roy Orbison described Wink, Texas as:

“football, oil fields, oil, grease, and sand”

Roy Orbison

Rock icon and Texas native Roy Orbison moved to Wink, Texas, in 1946. The move was partly due to his father’s occupation. Orbie Lee Orbison was a mechanic and an oil well driller. Wink was where Roy would spend his high school years. It was there that he formed a band called the Wink Westerners. The Westerners played country standards and popular “Big Band” tunes by the likes of Glen Miller. The Wink Westerners performed on a local West Texas radio station KERB. The band was offered 400 dollars to play a dance, and Roy Orbison realized that he could make his dreams come true by making a living in music.

Orbison left Wink to attend North Texas University in Denton, Texas. Roy had planned to study geology just in case his career in music didn’t work out. He could follow his father’s footsteps through the oil patches of Texas. Later Roy Orbison would move back to West Texas where he began attending classes at Odessa Junior College.

Joe Melson was Born in Bonham, Texas he was also an alumni of Odessa College. Melson had also studied and performed music as a teenager, growing up in Oklahoma and Chicago, Illinois. He formed a rockabilly band called the Cavaliers.

Melson first approached Roy Orbison in 1957. He played one of his original songs for Roy and his first wife Claudette, “Raindrops.” Claudette thought the song to be the most beautiful song she had ever heard. Joe Melson had admiration for the voice of Roy Orbison.

“It’s real, honest, always believable, and the emotion of the songs always ring through. That’s what made him great.”

Joe Melson

The two Texan’s paired up to begin collaborating songs together. Orbison and Melson’s creations became some of the most memorable songs of the 20th Century.

Results of their collaborations produced songs as:

“Uptown” (1960)

“Only the Lonely” (1960)

“Blue Angel” (1960)

“I’m Hurtin'” (1961)

“Running Scared” (1961)

“Blue Avenue” (1961)

“Crying” (1961)

“The Crowd” (1962)

“The Actress” (1962)

“Gigolette” (1962)

“Lana” (1962)

“Blue Bayou” (1963)

“Harlem Woman” (1972)

The song, “Only The Lonely (Know the Way I Feel),” penned by Melson and Orbison, became the first hit for Orbison. “Only The Lonely,” had begun as a Melson song he had titled “Cry.” The two songwriters had originally pitched the song to Elvis Presley. Presley declined and they decided to record the song themselves at RCA Nashville. “Only The Lonely,” peaked to number two on the Billboard Hot 100. The song hit number one in the UK. Orbison who had formed a friendship with Elvis Presley later recalled of Elvis telling how when he first heard the song, the one he had turned down, he bought boxes of the record to give out to his friends.

Texas has been making musicians since the days of the Cowboys and Corridos. The music of Texas is as diverse as the State is itself. Texas born Roy Orbison has always been a favorite of mine. Would he have become as great as he was had it not been for his collaborations with Joe Melson?

Pancho.

March 24 2021

Polk Salad Annie

Now some of y’all never been down South too much

I’m gonna tell you a little bit about this

So that you’ll understand what I’m talking about

“Polk Salad Annie,” was originally recorded by Tony Joe White in 1968 at RCA studio B in Nashville. The single was released in June 1969. Tony Joe White’s version of the song fit a genre commonly known as Swamp Music. The song was a vivid picture of Tony Joe’s life while growing up in the swamplands of Louisiana.

Elvis Presley would later record the song which is now considered a classic. The song was a staple at Elvis Presley’s concerts.

In a 2014 Interview with music journalist Ray Shasho, White told about the inspirations of how the song about Polk salad came to be.

“Well I know about polk because I had ate a bunch of it…. I was real lucky with my first tries to write something that was not only real and hit pretty close to the bone, but lasted that long. So it was kind of a guide for me then on through life to always try to write what I know about.”

Tony Joe White

Tony Joe White “The Swamp Fox” was born July 23rd 1943. He grew up in Oak Grove Louisiana. Oak Grove was a town in West Carroll Parish Louisiana. In White’s song, “Old Man Willis,” The setting of the song takes place in Oak Grove, the place where Tony Joe grew up on a cotton farm, the youngest of seven children. In the late 1960’s white signed with Monument Records. He recorded his first three albums all produced by the well known musician Billy Swan. White’s first full length album, Black and White, was recorded in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. The album featured the song “Polk Salad Annie” as wellas a cover of “Witchita Lineman.”

White toured across the U.S. and throughout France, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, and England with major rock acts of the 1970s, Steppenwolf, Anne Murray, Sly & the Family Stone, and Creedence Clearwater Revival. In 1973, “The Swamp Fox” sat in on the sessions that would become Jerry Lee Lewis Southern Roots album.

In the 1990’s, Tony Joe White began a comeback by Producing and Performing with Tina Turner. Turner recorded the song, “Steamy Windows,” which was written by White. She also recorded 3 more songs by White on her album, Foreign Affair. White would spend the 90’s touring with Eric Clapton, and Joe Cocker. He also toured with Waylon Jennings.

Tina Turner recorded the song “On Silent Wings” in 1996 also written by White.

White died of a heart attack on October 24, 2018, at the age of 75.

“He wasn’t ill or nothing,” said his son Jody White, “ He just died of a heart attack.”

The posthumous album Smoke from the Chimney will be released May 7, 2021 on Easy Eye Sound. The album features nine vocal and guitar demo recordings of White, fully realized and arranged by producer Dan Auerbach. The tracks feature many top Nashville session players, including drummer Gene Chrisman, keyboardist Bobby Wood, bassist Dave Roe, guitarist Marcus King, and others.

The gators got your granny, woo hoo

Everybody said it was a shame

‘Cause her mama was a-working on a chain gang

Polk salad Annie….

Polk Salad Annie,

Pancho

October 28 2020

Live Forever

I’m gonna live forever

I’m gonna cross that river

I’m gonna catch tomorrow now

Songwriters: Eddy, Billy Joe Shaver

Billy Joe Shaver Crossed that river today after suffering a massive stroke yesterday. Shaver was 81 years old. Texas has lost yet another songwriting legend.

Some have said that Shaver was one of the greatest living country songwriters. His song “Live Forever” was written by him and his son Eddy Shaver. John Edwin “Eddy” Shaver crossed his river on December 31, 2000. The song was recorded by them twice. Once, on the 1993 album Tramp On Your Street and again in 1998 on the album Victory.

The song was also performed by The Highwaymen and Joe Ely. Robert Duvall performs it in the movie Crazy Heart.

You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone

Nobody here will ever find me

But I’ll always be around

Just like the songs I leave behind me

I’m gonna live forever now

These are just a glimpse of the words Shaver turned into song.

Billy Joe Shaver may be gone in the flesh, but as I believe as did he, Shaver isn’t gone for good. Shaver wasn’t afraid to talk about his faith and beliefs of the afterlife.

Shaver found religion after his son Eddy had died. One of his favorite sayings was, “If you don’t love Jesus, you can go to hell.

He even recorded a gospel album in 2007 called Everybody’s Brother that featured duets with Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson and Tanya Tucker.

The songs that Shaver left behind are treasures for us all to enjoy in this earthy life. I am sure he is up there in Heaven now singing with the angels.

Billy Joe Shaver was born in Corsicana, Texas August 16, 1939. He was mostly raised by his grandmother while his mother, Victory Watson Shaver, worked in nearby Waco, Texas. Shaver left school in the eighth grade in order to help his uncles pick cotton.  

Shaver on occasion would accompany his mother to her job at a night club in Waco called the Green Gables. Shaver penned the song, “Honky Tonk Heros” about these experiences at the Green Gables.

Billy Joe Shaver spent a stint in the Navy, enlisting at the age of 17. After completing his military duties, He worked a series of odd jobs. Billy Joe had an accident at a saw-mill which caused him to lose two of his fingers off of his left hand. It was then, when he taught himself to play guitar and had dreams of becoming a songwriter. Shaver told CMT in 2012, that he had made a deal with God.

“When I cut my fingers off, I made a deal with God, If You get me out of this, I will go on and do what I am supposed to do.’”

Billy Joe Shaver

Hitch hiking his way to Nashville, Billy Joe found work as a songwriter for fifty dollars a week.

Shaver’s big break came when Waylon Jennings recorded the album, Honky Tonk Heros in 1973. All but one song on the entire album was written by Billy Joe Shaver.

Waylon, having once heard Billy Joe Shaver perform, “Willy The Wandering Gypsy and Me” had told him he would like to record it.

Enlisting the help of radio deejay, Captain Midnight, Billy Joe tracked Waylon down. Waylon, who was bothered by the intrusion of this, gave Midnight a hundred-dollar bill, just to have Billy Joe Shaver “Go Away.” Shaver wouldn’t take NO for an answer.

Billy Joe finally got a chance to speak to Waylon, who he recalled at the time,  had two big bikers with him.

I’ll tell you what I want … If you don’t listen to these songs, at least listen to them, I’m going to whip your ass right here in front of God and everybody.”

Billy Joe Shaver

Waylon decided he had better listen to one, then another. In his biography Waylon told:

His songs were of a piece, and the only way you could ever understand Billy Joe was to hear his whole body of work.

Waylon Jennings

Billy Joe talked the way a modern cowboy would speak, if he stepped out of the West and lived today.

Waylon Jennings

Shaver secured his own record deal, and continued writing and performing his music. His songs were recorded by many including Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson, and Patty Loveless. He enjoyed wide appreciation from his peers.

Billy Joe Shaver continued his music until the very end. He received numerous awards and accolades along the way. He performed on the Grand Ole Opry in 1999. In 2006, Shaver was inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame. In 2019, Shaver received the Poet’s Award from the Academy of Country Music.

Remember Someone really loves you

We’ll live forever you and I

Pancho.

October 11 2020

Beyond the Yellow Brick Road

I Just watched the Austin City Limits Performance of British Soul singer/ songwriter Yola.

https://www.pbs.org/video/yola-ep1w9u/ catch the full episode here.

The entire hour long performance was thoroughly enjoyable. This girl has definitely got some talent that the world needs to enjoy. Her music is true Americana and Roots Rock.

Yolanda Quartey, known professionally as simply Yola grew up in Bristol, England.

She was raised by a single mother who held a dozen different jobs, sometimes having to salvage food from the trash bins at the supermarket where she worked just to survive.

Yola grew up listening to her mothers record collection of American country and rock. Some of what she listened to were Emmylou Harris, The Byrds, and Dolly Parton.

A recent article in Rolling Stones magazine says:

“She became in particular a student of the voice- the high harmony of the Everly Brothers, the varied vocal registers of Etta James

Rolling Stones

Yola is a young black woman who says she has always struggled to belong. Her mother was disapproving of her music. To Yola, her music was a place that she could feel that she belonged.

Yola says she has found her people in Nashville and is now singing the music she loves.

Since she turned 18, she has been singing back up vocals. Yola started her career as lead singer in a band  called Phantom Limb.

Her back up vocals and writing skills have been used by Katy Perry and pop artist Will Young to name a few.

The Set on ACL centered around her debut album, “Walk Through Fire” on the Easy Eye Sound/ None Such label. The Album was produced by the “Black Keys” Dan Auerbach.

An all star team of studio musicians backed her up on the album.

Molly Tuttle, Ronnie McCoury, and Stuart Duncan open up their music box to give it a laid back twang. Bassist David Roe, who once played with Johnny Cash and the pianist Wood of Elvis Presley fame lay down the blues and rock.

The album also features legendary harmonica player Charlie McVoy along with harmonies by Vince Gill.

As an Amazon Associate I may recieve a small comission

These songs brought me back to that 70’s era roots sound.

The Album takes it’s name from a devasting house fire which left Yola injured.

The songs contained within the album were written or co-written by Yola. They are songs she wrote as a method of self healing for her emotional well being after leaving an abusive relationship. Her songs span vulnerability and chest pounding empowerment.

Somewhere at around the 40 minute mark of the set, Yola performed her cover of Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”. A song she said she had been singing since she was four.

Yola has definitely found her sound Beyond the Yellow Brick Road.

I think she is going to make society howl and find a wonderful future beyond. She will be entertaining audiences for a long long time.

Pancho