A sad man who
was one helluva songwriter. He drank and pilled himself
to death, possibly to escape his nagging mother and a lifetime
of women who put him through hell on earth. Hank did for
country what Elvis did for rock and roll...or what Jimi
Hendrix did for guitar. A country singer's singer. If you
don't like Hank Williams, somebody somewhere is gonna wanna
beat you up.
He never recorded
a bad song. Hank is a gift from the gods (Bacchus and Hermes),
second only to $6.99 cases of beer.
No punk rocker
you can think of can claim to party as hard as ol' Possum
did for thirty-five or so years. His autobiography is titled
"I Lived to Tell it All," and it's amazing that he did.
So many hard years of whiskey-drinkin', coke-sniffin,' and
screwin'. His nickname in the early 80s was "No-show Jones"
due to the infrequency of him actually showing up at gigs.
He was finally arrested weighing about 108 pounds...fried...I
mean FRIED!!...out of his hillbilly mind, living in his
car with a bag of coke and a wad of hundred-dollar bills.
He decided to swear off the blow soon after, and I'm glad
George is the
living king of misery songs..."If Drinking Don't Kill Me,
Your Memory Will," "The Grand Tour," "These Days I Barely
Get By," and one of the most tragic songs I've ever heard:
"He Stopped Loving Her Today."
I can't expect a snotnosed
16-year-old with no woman troubles and no bills to pay
to get into George, because his songs are tailor-made
for situations when you're really feeling down...so, let
juvenile listeners beware.
No, not the
greasy fairy that sang "Honeycomb"...the SINGING BRAKEMAN...the
FATHER OF COUNTRY MUSIC. Jimmie was a railroad worker.
He loved trains. He eventually contracted TB and had to
give up working for the railroad, so he sang and recorded
a string of million-selling 78s back in the late 1920s
and early 30s before his premature death. He spent his
last days on earth hacking out lung tissue in a recording
studio in New York trying to get as many songs cut as
possible so his wife and daughter would have money. (Clint
Eastwood borrowed this true part of Jimmie's legend for
Honky Tonk Man.) He laid on a cot between takes...one
of the songs recorded was the "TB Blues" about his impending
death, complete with imagery of the graveyard and having
dirt shoveled in his face.
He has probably
125 albums out. Ninety percent are worth listening to,
even the recent ones.
After some legendary
sessions with Sun Records in the 50s, Johnny switched
labels early in the 60s, and his hard-livin', pill-poppin'
lifestyle seemed to add a rougher edge to his songs. During
the 60s, Johnny recorded two absolutely essential albums
at California state penitentiaries: Live at Folsom
Prison and Live at San Quentin. There isn't
a dead moment to be found on either album. Mr. Cash wasn't
about to try to entertain 1,000 rowdy convicts with "Achey
Breaky" bullshit. He did, however, snarl out a version
of "Cocaine Blues" that had the Folsom inmates roaring.
one of country's unique voices; he kinda warbled when
he crooned. In spite of his occasional liquor-fueled binges,
Ernest had an incredibly long career. He was a tall, lean,
cowboy-suit-type guy with a style almost as mesmerizing
as Hank's. His material wasn't as consistently great as
Hank's, but it WAS better by far than that of any of the
popular country hunks around today.
My fave Tubb
songs are "Waltz Across Texas," "I'm Walking the Floor
Over You," and any of the
fine tunes from his Jimmie Rodgers tribute set.
Until recent times,
women lagged behind the fellers when it came to selling
records. Their role for many years was to accompany the
men on package tours, sing a couple songs, and then stand
around looking pretty. KITTY
WELLS [pictured at right]
was the undisputed queen around 40 years ago. I like her
voice (even though I hate most female voices), and the material
chosen for her was usually strong, with an emphasis on adultery
JACKSON [pictured at
left] is my favorite female voice, period, whether it be
rock 'n' roll or country. Nobody sings like Wanda. Her voice
is powerful and sexy. She can bear down on a note like a
wildcat shrieking, like a hot rod peeling out, like a navy-bean
[pictured at right, below] voice is country music personified--not
as exotic as Wanda's, but she wrote a lot of her own material,
and her tastes ran to the extreme! "Don't Come Home a Drinkin'
With Lovin' on Your Mind" tells a story that should be familiar
to most couples. "Fist City" is a sexy catfight threat to
a woman who's been messin' with Loretta's man. How cool!
[pictured at left],
and nymphomaniac cradle-robber DOTTIE
WEST are also
worthy of your attention.
He's my personal favorite
1) He recorded three albums of down-and-out drinking songs;
2) Other "theme" albums
he recorded are a penitentiary-songs album, an insanity
album, and an album wherein he pays tribute to his own
3) Porter had a room in his apartment (the same apartment
depicted on the cover of "The Cold Hard Facts of Life")
filled with pillows...he'd lay on his back, allegedly
sober, and think up song ideas. One of them was "The Rubber
Room," a journey into an insane asylum that's been outfitted
with an echo/reverb unit.
4) Almost all Porter Wagoner
albums are dotted with at least one or two warped songs
such as "Waldo the Weirdo," "The Carroll County Accident,"
and his crowning bizarre achievement, "George Leroy Chickashea,"
a tale about a fella who's part white, part black, and
part Indian. As the song moves through the verses, the
music shifts accordingly from funky-ass wah-wah pedal
to cliché Injun war-whoopin' and tom-toms, and
back to straight conservative country. This goes beyond
ANYTHING else I've ever heard on a Country & Western
5) Porter's voice is as
endearing as Lorne Greene's (Bonanza) and his manner
as relaxed as Dean Martin's...then...BAMMM!!...he's shifted
gears and is doing a pitiful narration about a child whose
daddy is the town drunk....amazing.
DAVID ALLAN COE
The wildest card
in the country deck. He's recorded songs ranging from XXX
pornographic lyrics such as "Fuck Anita Bryant," "Fuckin'
in the Butt," and "Nigger Fucker" to sensitive (sappy?)
ballads that sell really big. He also recorded some roughhouse
songs like "Waylon, Willie and Me," "If That Ain't Country,"
and "Livin' on the Run." D.A.C. is another former convict,
former biker, and alleged polygamist. I hear he performs
magic tricks at his live shows and works the merchandise
you find, whether it's by one of the better-known artists
of this subgenre or by an obscure artist...IT'S ALL GOOD!!!
Male, female, 50s, 60s, 70s...funny or tragic..it's literally
all good!!! Buy any record featuring a truck on the cover
DUDLEY [pictured at
left] is the king of the genre. He kicked off the early
60's era of the genre with "Six Days on the Road" and "Truck-Drivin'
Son of a Gun." His bass voice booms out of your speakers.
The guitar is twangy and rocking. His songs are filled with
danger ("Jackknife") and drinking ("Two Sixpacks Away").
You can't go wrong with Dave.
[pictured below at right] is so bizarre, you might wanna
save him for when you've mastered country for a year or
so. His specialty is what they call "exploitation" songs.
In Red's songs, truck drivers are noble he-men who love
puppies and help crippled children...widows and widowers
are more generous than Mother Theresa...and tragedy is heaped
upon clean-cut, god-fearin' folk. Many of his songs are
"narratives" where Red half-reads/half-sobs the words as
fiddles saw back and forth in the background. "Leave it
to Beaver" seems sinful compared to some of his stuff, like
a duet album Red recorded with his granddaughters. He also
waxed a great number of perfect truck-driving songs such
as "Big Rig Rollin' Man" and "Diesel Smoke, Dangerous Curves."
WILLIS BROTHERS [pictured
at left] deserve special mention. "Convoy in the Sky," "Pinball
Anonymous," "Diesel Drivin' Donut Dunkin' Dan"...they toss
in a lot of cornpone humor and great picking. Their stuff
is harder to find...but when you see it...SNATCH IT UP,
even at a pricey record store.
such as RED SIMPSON,
DEL REEVES, JOHNNY DOLLAR, and
...hell, you can't find a bad truck-