December 12 2020

Another Good one Gone

Earlier this afternoon, I learned via text message from my Dad, that Charlie Pride had died. My response to my dad was what?? I had just watched Charlie Pride on the CMA awards. It has only been a month and a day ago that Charlie Pride accepted his Lifetime Achievement Award from the Country Music Association. I watched live footage of him recently as he performed with Darius Rucker. I didn’t even know he was sick! Headlines everywhere read that Pride died from complications of Covid-19. How many more artists are we destined to lose because of this virus?

Statement on behalf of CMA and representatives of Charley Pride:

Everyone affiliated with the CMA Awards followed strict testing protocols outlined by the city health department and unions. Charley was tested prior to traveling to Nashville. He was tested upon landing in Nashville, and again on show day, with all tests coming back negative. After returning to Texas following the CMA Awards, Charley again tested negative multiple times. All of us in the Country Music community are heartbroken by Charley’s passing. Out of respect for his family during their grieving period, we will not be commenting on this further.

Country Music is doing what it can to slow the spread. I even saw a television commercial recently where Texas country artists were pleading for us as fans to wear the mask and to practice social distancing. The virus is real and it is definitely out of control.

Charlie Pride was born in Sledge, Mississippi in 1934. Pride taught himself to play the guitar at the age of 14. His first guitar was a Silvertone, purchased from a Sears and Roebuck catalog. He learned songs that he heard playing on the radio. He was exposed to Blues, Country, and Gospel music.

It was Charley’s father who first inspired his love for country music. His father would tune the family radio to Nashville’s WSM-AM station in order for them to listen to the Grand Old Opry. Years later, Pride would become the first black country artist to sing at the Grand Old Opry. In 1993, Charlie Pride would officially be invited to become a member of the Opry.

Producer, Chet Akins, signed Pride to RCA Records in 1966. By the early 1970’s Pride became RCA’s, best-selling artist since Elvis.

Some RCA executives tried to hide Pride’s race. There were concerns that Charley Pride’s African heritage would cause country music fans to react adversely.

About this Pride later said :

“People didn’t care if I was pink. RCA signed me.. they knew I was colored.. They decided to put the record out and let it speak for itself.”

Charley Pride

Charley Pride’s music did speak for itself. Pride showed talent in the way that he put so much emotion into his songs. His music is memorable and has made an impact on country music. Pride has bridged the gaps in country music. He has eased racial tensions and has led many members of the black community to country music.

Besides Ray Charles and Darius Rucker, Pride has been the only African American artist to conquer the country music charts.

Besides being a standing member of the Grand Old Opry, and Earning a Lifetime Achievement Award this year, Charlie Pride has had numerous accolades for his music. From 1967-1987 Charlie Pride released 29 #1 hits. He was the CMA Top Male Vocalist and Entertainer of The Year in 1972. In 2000 Charley Pride was inducted into the Country Music Hall Of Fame.

Charley, It has been my pleasure to be one of your fans. Thanks for making the music what it was. Thanks for becoming an inspiration to many. Your legend nor your music can ever die.

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

Stardust

Everybody has a favorite. Willie Nelson has always been mine. Out of all of his Albums, I have a hard time deciding which one is the best, but I do know that Stardust is near and dear to my heart.

In 1977, Willie Nelson decided to record a collection of American pop standards. He chose ten songs from among his personal favorites. The list started with Stardust. Nelson also picked for the album “Georgia on My Mind“, “Blue Skies“, “All of Me“, “Unchained Melody“, “September Song“, “On the Sunny Side of the Street“, “Moonlight in Vermont“, “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” and “Someone to Watch Over Me“. This would become the album Stardust. Nelson’s twenty-second studio album was born.

Executives at Columbia Records feared that the album would be a failure. They were unsure of success with a pop and jazz record.

Willie had already established himself in the Outlaw Country scene. He had built a huge following in and out of Nashville with his previously successful albums Red Headed Stranger and Wanted! The Outlaws.

Wanted! The Outlaws is a compilation album by Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Jessi Colter, and Tompall Glaser, released by RCA in 1976. It was the first country music album to be certified Platinum.

Stardust only took 10 days in the recording studio.

The album was produced by Booker T Jones. At the time, Jones and Willie Nelson were neighbors in Malibu.

Jones was once the front man of the band Booker T and The MG’s. Often Jones is associated with the saxophone. Jones was a session musician for Stax Records and  played with Stephen Stills on his Eponymous album . Jones was familiar in R&B, soul, and electric blues.

Vocals and instrumental credits to the album :

Willie Nelson – vocals and guitar Bobbie Nelson– piano Paul English– drums Rex Ludwig– drums Jody Payne– guitar Bee Spears– bass Chris Ethridge-bass Mickey Raphael-Harmonica Booker T Jones– organ and piano

The cover of the stardust album was designed from a painting done by Guy Clark’s wife, Susanna Clark. The rear features a photograph by Beverly Parker of Willie Nelson wearing a top hat. The hats band has a beaded tribal design.

Stardust released in April 1978. The Album peaked to number one in Billboard Top Country Albums.

Songs fromthe album, “Blue Skies” and “All of Me” charted number one and three on Hot Country Songs.

By December of 1978 Stardust had been certified as Platinum. It was named Top Country Album for the Year 1978.

Willie Nelson became the highest-grossing concert act in the United States.

 In 1979, Nelson won a Grammy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance for “Georgia on My Mind.” Soon after “September Song” peaked at number fifteen in Billboard’s Hot Country Singles.

Stardust spent two years on the Billboard 200.

Rolling Stones ranks Stardust at #260 in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

I gotta go, it’s time to turn the record over. I can listen to this music all night long.

Pancho.

October 16 2020

Whiskey River

John Bush Shinn III died today at the age of 85. He was known professionally as Johnny Bush. A name given to him when a radio announcer mistakenly introduced him that way.

Johnny was a name on the back of his belt, he once told reporters.

“Nobody called me Johnny.”

Bush was born in Houston and started picking up a guitar at the age of ten. His father picked a little, and taught him a few chords. While the rest of the kids were playing outside, Johnny was where the music was. He got a radio and learned a few songs.

Bush listened to western swing style music like Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys. He liked artists like Ernest Tubb and Lefty Frizzell.

Johnny Bush got his first professional gig thanks to an Uncle who was a radio disk jockey. In 1952 he moved to San Antonio, Texas to work in Honky Tonks like the Texas Star Inn.

Becoming a drummer, he played in the Mission City Playboys, The Texas Plainsmen, and the Texas Top Hands.

Johnny once said in an interview that he will always consider San Antonio his home.

In 1963 Bush joined the Cherokee Cowboys, Ray Price’s band. Other band members were Willie Nelson and Darrell McCall. Price helped Bush get to Nashville.

Willie Nelson helped Johnny with some financial backing and Bush would cut his first album in 1967, The Sound of a Heartache.

Johnny would go on to record many great country songs. “Green Snakes on The Ceiling,” “You Gave me a Mountain,” “Jim Jack and Rose” and many more.

In 1972 Johnny Bush signed with RCA in Nashville. His first single there was “Whiskey River.”

Whiskey River,” a song Johnny had not only written but recorded was quickly climbing the charts, and Johnny began losing his voice.

Bush would lose half of his vocal range and at times, become completely unable to talk. ( In 1978 doctors diagnosed him with a neurological disorder called spasmodic dysphonia.)

After three albums, RCA had to cut Johnny in 1974.  Besides losing control of his voice, he had developed a drug habit, and often had performance anxiety.

Bush worked with a vocal coach and in the late 1980s he was able to start touring and recording again.

Willie Nelson has made “Whiskey River” famous. He adopted “Whiskey River” as his trademark song and opens most every show with it.

Johnny Bush was a part of my youth. I heard him countless times on the radio and I have heard Willie’s version of his song more times than I can count.

I have seen Willie Nelson play life 4 times and all 4 times he opened the show,

“Whiskey River Take My Mind,

Don’t let her memory torture me,

Whiskey River don’t run dry,

Your all I got, take care of me.

Willie Nelson

Your all I got, take care of me.

Pancho

September 25 2020

Starting Over

I was trying to wake myself this morning and going through my normal blah of scrolling through endless Facebook posts and came across a video on Facebook Watch.

Those who know, know that I am not a fan of the modern country on today’s radio. I caught a video this morning however, that I will endorse. “Starting Over” a new song by Chris Stapleton. The official video release was just this week, September 19, 2020.

This video directed by Becky Fluke gives viewers a behind the scenes look at what it’s like to make music in RCA’s historical Studio A in Nashville.

The video features the song “Starting Over” another masterpiece written by Chris Stapleton and Mike Henderson. The duo is previously known for songs like “Broken Halo” , and “Midnight Train to Memphis”.

The video also features Stapleton’s wife Morgane Stapleton on backup vocals. Morgane, a song writer herself, made her own space on Music Row writing songs like “Talk is Cheap” for Alan Jackson, “You Ain’t Right” for LeAnn Rimes, and Reba’s, “Ain’t Got Nothin’ On My Pain”.

Don’t go looking for the song anywhere soon. “Starting Over” isn’t set to release yet. Chris Stapleton tweeted that he is releasing 14 new tracks on his 4th Studio Album on November 13th.

I appreciate the way Chris writes and performs his music. His music is a reminder of the outlaw country that I grew up on.

Stapleton is an amazing performer. His ability to jump across Multiple genres of music is a bonus. He can be a Rockstar, a blues man, and a rockabilly all in one set.

Looking forward to hearing the new stuff. Maybe it will help promote today’s country radio into “Starting Over”.

Let’s get back to real old fashioned country music. If I wanted to hear rap rhymes, I would just read poetry.

Pancho