December 06, 2006

Country: Part Two

Been a busy day for me—if you’re contemplating taking a lit theory while in grad school, all I can say is don’t. Unfortunately, if you’re in English, there’s no way around it. But if you’re a creative writer, just write and ignore the English department. But I digress. I’m back with some follow-up country tunes from PC’s post the other day. PC had some great tunes, many of them more modern. I’m going to dig a bit deeper. This is the period of country music that I absolutely adore. There is something about country music from the 50s and 60s that is just so true to me even though much of it might be over the top. As I was telling PC today, I like country music about the hard times: busted machines, heartbreak, unemployment, death. Don’t worry—these are country songs. There’s no recently divorced unemployed Joe dying a car crash on Christmas Eve, though that might make a killer song. These are some loose, fun tunes. There are a few more in the archive as well. Look for them next week.

Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy – Buck Owens

There’s something about how Buck says “Down the chimney” that just makes me smile. Owens pioneered a new sound in country music. He was just cool. The Beatles covered “Act Naturally” and CCR references listen to Buck Owens while looking out the back door. And for any fan of Hee Haw, which I’m not afraid to admit that I enjoy it, will surely recognize the Buckeroo. Owens died in March of this year. Since it’s the end of the year, I’m glad that we’re looking back at his music. The song has been covered to death but no one sang it like Buck.

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer – Ernest Tubb

Tubb’s been credited with the start of the honky tonk style. He was the first singer to record “Blue Christmas,” which we hope to get up soon in a big ole “Blue Christmas” post. He wasn’t known for the best voice, though I think it’s great. In fact, he often mocked his own voice. He once said that when his music came on in a bar, some guy would tell his girlfriend that he could sing better than Tubb. Tubb acknowledged that this was true. But come on—no one could sing like this.

It’s Christmas Time – The Louvin Brothers

One of the best CDs I bought this year was a compilation of the Louvin Brothers. I’d often heard about them and had heard others cover them. But there is nothing like their harmony. There are some dark, dark stories about the Louvin Brothers, but that’s for another time.

I’d Like to Have an Elephant for Christmas – Hank Thompson

Yeah, it’s been done before. It was a hippopotamus, not an elephant. Does that make this less of a song? I don’t think so.

Happy Christmas Day – Charlie Pride

We’ve posted Pride before. 36 number one hits in 40 years ain’t too bad, especially when you’re one of the first black performers in country music. Favorite quote by Pride: “I don't have no skin hang-ups. I'm no color. I'm just Charley Pride, the man.” Listen to that voice—how can anyone have a hang-up with that? His life is a great story and we’ll soon see Terrance Howard play him in a movie. I can’t wait.

Santa’s Coming In A Big Ole Truck – Red Simpson

Out on the Road for Christmas – Red Simpson

Something I forgot to mention that I love about country music: trucker songs. Seriously, PC can attest to my undying love for “Eastbound and Down” by Jerry Reed or “Drivin’ My Life Away” by Eddie Rabbitt. I don’t know what it is but I just a love a great song about driving down the highway. One that includes Christmas—you can’t beat it.

Little Toy Trains – Roger Miller

This is a beautiful, sweet little song about a little boy on Christmas Eve. Yet another thing I forgot to mention about country music—the charming sentimentality. Miller and his smoker’s baritone just kind of trickles in at the beginning. And when that lovely chorus begins—it’s hard not to sing along.

We're trying to get requests out to people. Someone asked me about punk Christmas songs. Aside from a few Ramones tracks, I really just don't think that I have anything else. But I'll look around in the 77 Santas sleigh and see what I can find. No promises though.

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