January 13 2021

Folsom Prison

On this day, January 13 in 1968, the “Man in Black” played two shows at Folsom Prison. He was backed by June Carter, Carl Perkins, and The Tennessee Three. The live recordings from these performances would find themselves on an album later that year.

In May 1968, Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison was released by Columbia Records. The album consisted of 15 tracks from Cash’s first performance that winter day at Folsom and two from the second.

Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison was a hit. The album reached number one on the country charts. This album was a turning point in Johnny Cash’s career as he had seen a downturn due to his drug abuse problems.

Johnny Cash first found an interest in Folsom Prison while serving in the Air Force. His unit watched the 1951 film, Inside the Walls at Folsom Prison. Watching this film, was what inspired Johnny Cash to write the song, “Folsom Prison Blues.”

Inmates from all across the country could relate to Johnny Cash’s perception of what life as an inmate might be like. Some of these inmates wrote to Cash asking him to play for them at their prisons. The first prison Johnny was able to oblige this request was at Huntsville in Texas. Home of Texas death row. Way back in 1957.

Cash later would record other albums from inside prison walls. In 1969 he recorded At San Quentin. 1973 would see Johnny Cash record from a prison in Sweden called, Österåker Prison. From a prison inTennessee in 1974, Cash would join with Linda Ronstadt, Roy Clark, Foster Brooks and the Tennessee Threeto record the album, A Concert Behind Prison Walls.

Cash is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 90 million records worldwide. His genre-spanning music embraced country, rock and roll, rockabilly, blues, folk, and gospel sounds. This crossover appeal earned him the rare honor of being inducted into the Country Music, Rock and Roll, and Gospel Music Halls of Fame.-Wikipedia

“Life is the question and life is the answer, and God is the reason, and love is the way.”

– Johnny Cash

The world needs more Johnny’s do what you love and love what you do and love people and follow your dreams.

Pancho.

November 6 2020

Remembering the Guy

Guy Clark was born on this day, November 6, 1941 in Monahans, Texas.

Finding Guy Clark was to me like taking that first drink. I heard Guy’s music and I couldn’t stop after just one. I eventually did sober up, but I have never quit Guy Clark.

If it weren’t for Guy, I don’t think that I would have the passion for music that I carry with me today. He influenced many other great singers and songwriters in his lifetime.

Today, I love the discovery of the root of the song. I find pleasure in hearing the original versions, and through reading the songwriters lyrics. I want to know what the writer was thinking, feeling, and what place he must’ve been in that inspired him or her to compose a certain piece of music or song.

So many other artists have covered songs penned by Guy Clark over the years. In my earliest childhood memories, I recall that music was an important part of my life. Back then, I didn’t even know who Guy Clark was. Even back then, I was hearing his music.

In 1972 Townes Van Zandt released ,“Don’t let the Sunshine Fool Ya.”

This song was written by Guy Clark. It tells a story about two friends. Guy often said that Townes was one of the biggest influences in his songwriting. More importantly, the two were best friends for a big part of Guy Clark’s life. They were friends up until Townes died of a heart attack on New Years Day in 1997. Even when death took Townes, I think that Guy carried his spirit along until his own last breath. Almost every single album that Guy ever recorded included songs by Townes Van Zandt, and Guy has released more than twenty albums.

Guy’s childhood was in Monahans, Texas. In the early 1950’s he moved with his family to Rockport, Texas. After graduating high school in 1960, Guy moved to Houston, where he spent almost a decade in the music revival that was going on there.

Guy and Susanna moved to the East side of Nashville from L.A. in November of 71. He and Susanna were married in 1972.

While living in Las Angeles, Guy signed a songwriting contract with Sunbury Dunbar. Sunbury Dunbar was the music publishing side of RCA. They gave him the option of continuing his residence in L.A. or moving to Nashville. He chose Nashville partly because his friend Mickey Newbury was there.

Upon arriving in Nashville, Guy, Susanna, and Townes Van Zandt lived together in a white stucco house at 1307 Chapel Ave. It was in that house, that Guy would complete the song “L.A. Freeway.” He had originally written “If I could just get off of this L.A. Freeway without getting killed or caught” on a burger sack while still in L.A.

Guy first played the song for Jerry Jeff Walker who released it as his first single for MCA that year.

In 1973 Guy Clark wrote a song about his Grandma’s boyfriend. Jack Prigg was like a grandfather to Guy and influenced him with his worldly views. “Desperados Waiting For A Train.”

Jerry Jeff Walker released it on Viva Terlingua in 1973.

Guy’s songs, “L.A. Freeway” and “Desperados Waiting for A Train” may have launched his career, but he had already began making his way in music. He was already influencing other singer-songwriters in their careers as well. Guy was a mentor to artists like Steve Earle and Rodney Crowell. He and Susanna had an open house to anybody who wanted to come in.

Rodney once said that a song wasn’t complete until it had the approval of Susanna Clark.

The Hearworn Highways videos that were filmed at Guy and Susanna’s home give a good indication to what it must have been like. I cannot fathom how it must have felt to be surrounded by such great talent. If only I could’ve been a fly on the wall I would have been more than satisfied.

In 1977 Johnny Cash charted with Guy Clark’s tune “Last Gunfighter Ballad.”

By 1982, Ricky Skaggs was topping the charts with “Heartbroke” which reached the #1 spot. Steve Wariner took Guy’s Song “Baby I’m Yours” to the #1 position in 1988. Rodney Crowell did it in 1989 with “She’s Crazy For Leaving.”

Rodney Crowell co-wrote “She’s Crazy for Leaving” with Guy Clark. It was the 3rd of 5 straight #1 hits in a row for Rodney.

Bobby Bare, Vince Gill, and John Conlee all saw top 10 on the charts with Guy Clark’s songs.

1985 saw the Highwaymen, Willie, Waylon, Kris, and Johnny re-release “Desperados Waiting For A Train.” This brought the old song to a whole new generation. I had been raised listening to these outlaws who banded together to form the Highwaymen.

I had first heard “Desperados Waiting For A Train” being performed by Jerry Jeff on an album that I had found discarded in the trash. It must have been about that time, that I discovered the real Guy Clark and when I began to admire him for the works he had written. (Read the entire story of my dumpster diving days here on my blog from 10/24/20 “Viva Terlingua.”)http://www.pinkieandpancho.com/viva-terlingua/

Jimmy Buffett had two Guy Clark songs in 1997. “Boat’s to Build,” and “Cinco De Mayo in Memphis.”

John Denver recorded Guy’s tune “Homegrown Tomatoes” in 1988. It was then that I fell in love with John Denver’s music.

Guy also turned me onto John Prine and Emmylou Harris. They recorded a version of “Magnolia Wind” in 2011. Somewhere around that time, I also found and began to follow Tom Russell.

Tom Russell’s style in his own songwriting shows many characteristics of Guy’s work.

Steve Earle, who I had first heard on the Heartworn Highways album, recorded Guy’s song El Coyote in 2013.

Guy Clark continued to influence songwriters and write songs himself all the way up to his death May 17,2016.

Even after his death, the final song that Guy Clark wrote was released by Angaleena Presley. It was on the 2017 album Wrangled. Her song, “Cheer up Little Darling,” was co -written by Guy.

Guy Clark’s own recordings are catalogued on his multiple albums. His first album, Old No #1 recorded by RCA was done in 1975. The year I was born.

His final album was Guy Clark:The Best of Dualtone Years released in 2017.

I suppose that I have always been a fan of Guy Clark. Even before I didn’t consciously realize who that was. I appreciate all that Guy has done for music. He helped to create the Americana genre. A genre that will outlive us all. His 2005 AMA Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting doesn’t even give enough credit for all of the lives that his music has impacted. Guy loved to write music and he loved to share his musical talent with others.

“I have no reason to sit home and write songs all day without going out and playing for the folks and I have no reason to play for the folks unless I’m writing new songs…”

Guy Clark

Happy Birthday Guy Clark. Thank You for the memories and for the music.

Pancho.

October 26 2020

Happy Anniversary Waylon and Jessi

On October 26th of 1969 Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter were married in Phoenix, Arizona. The two instantly became the Outlaw movements “It” couple. The marriage lasted until Waylon’s death February 13, 2002.

Kris Kristofferson once described their marriage,

“A beautiful love affair.”

Kris Kristofferson

Waylon had been married three times prior to his wedding with Jessi. Waylon’s song, “This Time” had been inspired by his string of marriage and divorce.

Jessi Colter was born, Mirriam Johnson, May 25 1943 in Phoenix. Her professional name came from a story her father once told her about an associate of Jesse James, Jesse Colter.

Prior to her marriage to Waylon she had been married to guitarist Duane Eddy.

Eddy’s records were produced by Lee Hazlewood. In the late 1950’s and early 60’s Eddy was known for his “twang.” He had sold 12 million records by 1963.

After meeting Waylon, Jessi Colter pursued her career in country music. She was one of the few female artists in the genre of “outlaw country.” She released her first LP “A Country Star is Born,” In 1970

A Country Star is Born” was released on RCA. The album was produced by Waylon Jennings and Chet Atkins. The album was not successful in the country market and Jessi soon left RCA.

Jessi signed with Capitol Records and released “I’m Not Lisa” in January, 1975. This would become Colter’s first hit. The song charted Number one on the Billboard Country Chart and number four on the Billboard Pop Chart.

In 1976 Jessi would record again at RCA along with her husband Waylon, Willie Nelson, and Tompall Glaser, on a compilation album “Wanted! The Outlaws.” The album would be the first country music album to sell over a million copies.

In 1976 Jessi would also release two more albums at Capitol. “Jessi,” and “Diamond in the Rough.”

Shooter Jennings, the couples only child was born in 1979. Shooter has been an active musician since 1996 in the outlaw country and southern rock genre.  

In 1981 Colter and her husband would release a duet album “Leather and Lace.” The albums first single, “Storms Never Last” was written by Jessi Colter. The album was certified Gold in sales.

In the early 1980’s Waylon and Jessi nearly divorced due to Waylon’s substance abuse.

“Jessi went through hell,” Waylon told People Magazine.

I’d go out and sit by the pool in the dark and think about what it was going to do to me, to my people and to my family.

Waylon Jennings

With the help of Johnny Cash, Waylon, who once had a 1500 dollar a day cocaine habit sobered up completely in 1984.

Stevie Nicks, who wrote the title track of the album, heard that Jessi and Waylon might divorce. She also released “Leather and Lace” as a duet with Don Henley that year. It peaked at number 6 on the pop chart.

Colter has released several more albums since 1981 but her popularity has faded. To date, she has 11 studio albums and 3 compilation albums. Her latest albums are “Out of The Ashes,” and “The Psalms.”

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Happy Anniversary Waylon and Jessi

Pancho.

October 23 2020

White Oaks, NM

Growing up my family would often vacation to Ruidoso, New Mexico. We would set up our base camp in Ruidoso and each day would go In a different direction to see the sites.

My Parents recently purchased a cabin in Ruidoso and I have been blessed to begin to carry on this tradition as I have gotten older. I make the drive from my home in the West Texas flatlands to the Sierra Blanca mountains as often as I can. There is plenty of things to see and do within a 60 mile radius of this majestic mountain village.

As a child, my dad owned several Ford Broncos. When we would travel, he would remove the back seat and put down a thick foam pad in the cargo area. I had a bed, a play area and a comfortable spot to travel.  These were the days before seat belts.

Often I would sit on the console in between my Mom and Dad. Mom is one of those who can instantly fall asleep once the road trip starts.  So it would be my dad driving and me “navigating” from my spot on top of the console. Dad spitting sunflower seeds in a brown paper bag and I would suck all the salt off of them, and do the same. I hadn’t figured out I was actually supposed to crack the shell and eat the seed so I wasted a lot of good seed.

I remember Willie Nelson would be on the stereo. We had a new cassette tape, Willie Nelson’s  Greatest Hits and Some That Will Be. Later the song stuck in dads tape deck during our travels would become Highwayman. Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson.

There always seemed to be a light rain as we would make this particular drive. It is such a vivid memory of mine to be seated up on that console, it would be getting dark and the window would be slightly cracked to let in a cool mountainous breeze and Willie’s voice in the speakers singing tunes like “Railroad Lady”, “Uncloudy Day”, and “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain”.

I often still listen to both of these albums and sing along.

My Favorite songs on The Highwayman album are “Jim, I Wore a Tie Today,” “ Committed to Parkview” and “Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos).”

I have heard several versions of Deportee, including the original Woody Guthrie version, and the Highwaymen definitely perform this song as if they own it! The harmony is perfect as well as the musical accompany.

Even today when I reach Roswell NM, heading up towards the cabin in Ruidoso, I still listen to the Red Headed Stranger. It is sort of a tradition. This particular trip, I didn’t even select Willie on my playlist, and Pinkie reminded me.

“Shouldn’t It be time for Willie?”

(Pinkie) Jennifer Watson ( My UnNi)

I have told her this story every time since we have started coming up here together.

Today, Pinkie and I drove over to White Oaks, New Mexico.

White Oaks was once one of the largest cities in New Mexico. Today it is mostly a ghost town. There was a gold mine there at one time, but it was abandoned. The railroad missed the town, choosing nearby Carrizozo instead. This further caused the town’s demise.  

A few of the original buildings and homes are still standing. There is a museum in the old School House circa 1895. A bar with the name of “No Scum Allowed Saloon” exists in a building that was once a law office.  

Due to the corona virus ,the museum and the bar were both closed. But it was still a beautiful day to get out and see the scenery.  

The drive over from Ruidoso took about an hour. It is only 44 miles but the trip included  twisting and turning  on two lane road through the mountainous passes. Many times the speed limit was only 25-30 miles an hour due to the sharp curvature of the roadway.

We left the Evergreen forests very quickly after leaving Ruidoso and drove through a scenic “High desert”, the most Colorful outcroppings of rocks, Yucca and Sage Bush. The sage was magnificent this time of year the tops were flowering into these beautiful cream colored  cat tail like flowers.

We looked through an old cemetery just before reaching White Oaks. Many of the graves there were dated in the 1800’s. Some of the tombstones weren’t stones at all. They were made of wood. They had been in place for so long that the information upon them had vanished.

I saw several graves of soldiers from the American Civil War. I found one grave that was marked Spanish American War. There was also a Korean War veterans grave there.

I found it interesting, how this cemetery had spanned so many different generations of people. It gave me a clue as to the area and it’s inhabitants.

All of the graves were positioned in the usual East- West orientation except for one. It was facing North to South. I was doing some research and actually stumbled upon a YouTube video that explained this. This odd facing grave was John V. Winters. He had recorded the first gold lode claim in the White Oaks Mining District. His grave was facing his “claim”.

While in White Oaks, the Yellow signage advertising White Oaks Pottery interested us. We followed the bright Yellow signs another four miles down a caliche road which led us the Potters studio.  

Most all of the foliage along this route were green cedar trees. Standing alone in the middle of all of this green was a lone cottonwood tree whose leaves had turned a brilliant shade of Yellow with the change of the seasons.

The proprietor and artisan at this studio was a very friendly and talented woman named Ivy Heymann. This Potter explained to us that she had lived and worked on the property for 45 years.

“I camped here for 3 days in a tent trying to convince the owner to let me see the property.”

Ivy Heymann

She also reminded me never to give up on my dreams.

Figure out what you want to do and then put your all into it.

Ivy Heymann

Ivy had put her all into building the pottery and gallery. She built it by hand using adobe. In the back of the  pottery is a propane fired kiln she made with fire bricks recovered from the Ancho Electric Plant.

We purchased three unique pieces from her. Glazed Yellow of course.

See more about this fantastic potter, Ivy Heymann on her website. www.whiteoakspottery.com.

White Oaks is definitely worth the visit if you ever find yourself wanting to explore New Mexico’s history and heritage. Besides being a favorite spot of Gunfighter Billy The Kid the town was an important part of taming the western frontier. And don’t forget to go visit Ivy and check out her amazing pottery.

It was a beautiful day to spend exploring and spending time with my beloved Pinkie.

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.

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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

September 30 2020

It’s Hard to Be Humble

Sometime in the nineteen eighties I discovered country music. My little brother and I would drag out the parents record albums and pretend to be radio deejays. We would introduce each singer and their song. Sometimes we would record this on cassette tape. Sometimes this taping would go on for days.

Sometimes it went somewhere like this.. “All the way from Lubbock Texas here’s one by Mac Davis”

Other times it went more like this 

Tequila Sheila: 

songwriters Mac Davis/Shel Silverstein 

I feel like old’ Pancho Villa, Sheila

I need a fast horse and a friend.

So pour me another tequila, Sheila

And I’ll ride for the border again 

However it went, most every radio show we ever did included Mac Davis. I still have the Album today.

Mac’s manager confirmed today,  that he died in Nashville following a heart surgery late yesterday. Mac Davis was 78 years old.

Mac had a music career that spanned decades. He enjoyed crossover success in that he wrote and performed in both country and pop genres and did well in both areas. During his career he released 19 studio albums and 38 singles. Of his singles,30 charted in Billboard between 1970-1986.

Mac grew up in Lubbock Texas. He moved to Atlanta Georgia soon after graduating high school. By his twenties he was writing music and performing music. 

Davis worked for a radio station by day and played his music at night. Through the station he made it out to L.A. There he met Nancy Sinatra and went to work for her and her company.

Davis songwriting peaked in the 1970 he was recorded by dozens of artists – Johnny Cash, Kenny Rogers, and Dolly were a few of the country musicians who covered his stuff. In the Pop circuit, he had Blaine Larson, Liza Minnelli, and even Elvis Presley.

Although he had achieved some success in the song writing world, Mac Davis scored big when Elvis recorded his songs “In the Ghetto”, “Memories”,  “Don’t Cry Daddy”, and “A Little Less Conversation”.

Priscilla Presley tweeted earlier today, “Thank you for your beautiful songs which will keep your spirit in our hearts, my dear friend.” 

Mac reached his peak as a performing artist in the eighties with songs like “Hard to be Humble:” , and “Baby don’t get Hooked on Me

Mac once told a reporter that he wrote the song “Baby don’t get hooked on me” in 1972 after a record company had asked him for a tune with a “hook”.

The song reached #1 in Billboard top 100 in September of 1972. Some hook if you ask me.

Davis was an inductee in the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame as well as the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.

Mac Davis once wrote “And when I die, You can bury me in Lubbock Texas in my Jeans

I hope they do…

Pancho

September 25 2020

HAPPY BIRTHDAY IAN TYSON

Ian Tyson was born September 25, 1933 to immigrants in Victoria B.C. Canada. Ian’s impeccable career has earned him numerous awards and recognitions.


This Canadian Singer Song-Writer was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, The Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame and the Mariposa Hall of Music. His song “Four Strong Winds” was deemed one of the most influential songs in Canadian history. CBC radio named it the greatest song of all time. On American soil , the song was recorded by Johnny Cash and Neil Young.


The Western Writers of America placed two songs penned by Ian among the top 100 western songs of all time. “Summer Wages” and “Navajo Rug
Navajo Rug” has been recorded by Outlaw Country singer Jerry Jeff Walker, and Singer Songwriter Tom Russell does my personal favorite version of the song.


Tom Russell describes Ian’s Music as Nova Beat.

Nova Beat : characterized by “different beat” that altered the harmonies with the introduction of unconventional chords and an innovative syncopation of traditional samba from a single rhythmic division. Therefore, the “bossa nova beat“, then, is characteristic of a samba style and not of an autonomous genre.

Webster’s Dictionary

Per Wikipedia, Ian’s genre is classified as Country Folk Western or Americana , but as I listen to his music and yodel , He is most definitely Nova Beat.

A real life rodeo cowboy and ranch hand. Ian learned to play the guitar in his late twenties while recovering from a fall. His songs are soulful cowboy ballads and true confessions of the Wild West and the cowboys way of life.

Bob Dylan and the Band released a version of his song “One Single River” in Woodstock NY in 1967

From 1970 to 1975 Ian and his partner Sylvia hosted the Ian Tyson Show. A public broadcast in Canada. The show earned the nickname of Nashville North as it helped spread music from Nashville and Beyond across Canadian Soil.

Even into his 80s Ian is still a writer and producer of western music. He has written several works of literature and poetry on the subject as well. Most recently he published “La Primera” and has a song of the same title about the origins of the Wild Mustang.

Pancho