January 19 – Parton A Part Of Many A Hall Of Fame

If anyone deserves a Happy birthday, I guess it’d be someone who’s inducted into the “Happiness Hall of Fame” (yes, that’s a real thing!). so happy 77th birthday, Dolly Parton!

No matter what your musical tastes, it’s hard not to like Dolly, the Queen of Country Music. Growing up poor in the hills of Tennessee made her appreciate life’s simple pleasures, but also to have a very strong work ethic she credits her dad with instilling in her. She told Dan Rather she still likes to get up before sunrise to work, and that pays off – she’s written some 3000 songs and recorded over 50 studio albums of her own, eight of which made it to the top of the American Country charts. Not surprisingly, she’s a long-time member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. As well, she’s had mainstream success with songs like “Here You Come Again” and “9 to 5” (taken from a movie she starred in with Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda) but perhaps did best with the song “I Will Always Love You”, made into a major hit by Whitney Houston. Elvis Presley had wanted to record it, but apparently wanted to have songwriting credit for it which she refused. Besides her music and movies and Dollywood theme park (the #1 visited single tourist attraction in her home state), she’s usually doing something for others – she’s spearheaded campaigns for HIV/AIDS charities, an effort to preserve the Bald Eagle and headlined a 2016 fundraiser for fire victims in Gatlinburg, near where she grew up.

She’s been back in the entertainment news recently. Last year she ventured into fiction-writing, co-writing a story of an up-and-coming country singer with James Patterson, Run Rose Run. It was a #1 best-seller on the New York Times list for five weeks. And, more recently again with her being named to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last fall. That, despite her asking not to be voted in, given that she’s more of a country musician. However, since she was inducted, she decided to try and earn it. “Why not just go ahead and do it…maybe have some of the greats, the legends of rock & roll sing along with me.” Thus, she’s working on a rock album, which will be largely (if not all) cover versions. Steve Perry, Steven Tyler, Pink and even Paul McCartney are already confirmed guests for it. Perhaps we will have a preview of how it will sound tomorrow. A new song, “Gonna Be You”, which she did with Cyndi Lauper, Debbie Harry and others, is due to be released.

And no, she doesn’t care if you stare at her: “it takes a lot of money to look this cheap!” is one of her famous catch-phrases!

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December 11 – Lee One Of The Season’s Leading Ladies


Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the past few Decembers, you know what the perennial most popular Christmas song is this century – “All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey. It tops Billboard‘s new Holiday music chart again this week, the 37th-straight such one it’s been #1 on. What might be a bit of a surprise is the song locked in at #2 on the same chart – a song gaining in popularity six decades after it was recorded! Clear some space around the yule pine because we’re all going to be “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” with today’s birthday girl, Brenda Lee. Lee turns 78 today!

To say that it’s an unlikely hit is probably an understatement, when we look at the artist (a teenager), writer (Jewish) and sound (an early rock sound quite different from the Christmas classics of the day.)

Lee was termed “Little Miss Dynamite” due to her diminutive (4’9”) stature and big voice. She was nothing short of a singing prodigy, singing live on an Atlanta radio station at age 7 after winning a talent contest. She’d signed to Decca Records as a pre-teen and put out her first record – the single “Jambalaya (On the Bayou)” at age 12, in 1956. In 1959 she had her first hit song, and in the next three years she notched nine top 10 singles, including a pair of #1’s : “I’m Sorry” and “I Want to Be Wanted.”

The world had changed of course with the British invasion by the mid-’60s and tastes had shifted away from her country-rock siren stylings; her last mainstream hit came in 1967, before she put together a string of country hits in the mid and late-’70s. Nonetheless, her string of hits at the beginning of the ’60s made her that decade’s top female artist on the American charts. Along the way to stardom was the one which would end up being her iconic single.

Her record label had the idea of her doing a Christmas song back in 1958. They assembled an “a-list” of Nashville session musicians including Floyd Cramer and Buddy Harman to back her on “Rockin’ around the Christmas tree.” The upbeat tune was penned by Johnny Marks, a Jewish songwriter who’d later write all the music for Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. Lee recalls the hot mid-summer day she recorded it in Nashville. “Owen (Bradley, the producer) had the studio all freezing cold with air conditioning, and had a Christmas tree all set up to kind of get in the mood a little bit. We had a lot of fun.”

In time listeners did too. Although ignored initially upon release, when Brenda became a star, people took notice. It got up to #14 in 1960. It’s popularity has endured though, and grown perhaps, with it now a staple of various radio formats including rock, oldies, easy-listening and country every December. Its use in 1990’s Home Alone ensured it would be heard in many households routinely and now it’s made the Billboard singles chart each December for the past few years. By 2016 it had been downloaded over a million times, fourth most of any Christmas song and between records and downloads, it’s sold over 25 million copies!

Lee says she still enjoys the song, saying “I don’t think you ever get tired of the well-written, well-crafted songs.” The Atlanta Journal Constitution note that at least five stations in the city spin the song each December. One station manager, Mike Blakemore, sums up its appeal: “We love it because of its upbeat fun,” he says, adding “it’s all about tradition and standing the test of time.” Kind of like Christmas itself.

October 3 – Parton Part Country, Part Pop, Pure Platinum

The “pop” and “country” lanes of the music highway merged this day in 1977, with the release of one of the first downright “country” records to find widespread acceptance on mainstream, Top 40 radio. If the Eagles and Glen Campbell had dabbled a little in country with some of their smash hits, Dolly Parton was pure-country…but that didn’t stop rock or pop fans from taking to her. She put out her 19th studio album, Here You Come Again, this day 45 years ago and thanks to the title track, soon became a household name in a lot of households who’d previously eschewed “country.”

Dolly was already an established star in the world of country, having five previous #1 albums on those charts and many popular tunes on Country radio. But she’d had only marginal success on mainstream radio. She was ambitious however, and RCA Records also thought she could become a much bigger star with a wider fanbase. So they sent her to L.A. to record this one and brought in some of that city’s finest session players to work with her including a young-and-rising David Foster on keyboards and Jackson Browne sidekick David Lindley as one of several guitarists. To top it off they got producer Gary Klein who’d recently had success with Glen Campbell’s “Southern Nights.” Parton was an accomplished and busy songwriter on her own, and she wrote the majority of the album herself, but a few covers were included from artists like Kenny Rogers (“Sweet Music Man”) , John Sebastian (“Lovin’ You”) and the title track, written a couple of years earlier by Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil.

Mann & Weil were a respected hit-writing machine who’d come up with songs like “Walkin’ in the Rain”, “On Broadway” and most notably, the pair of Righteous Brothers smashes, “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” and “Soul and Inspiration.” They’d done “Here You Come Again” with Brenda Lee in mind; she’d been attempting a comeback in the mid-’70s. Lee turned down the song though, and B.J. Thomas recorded it to little notice. Someone in Parton’s camp noticed it though and she cut it and made it her own. She was concerned at first that it sounded too “rock” so, according to Klein, she got him to bring in Al Perkins to play some steel guitar “so if someone said it (wasn’t) country, she could say it was.”

Country, pop, rock…whatever you might term it, people loved it. By the beginning of 1978 it was sharing chart space with the likes of Saturday Night Fever-era Bee Gees and Boston. The title track hit #1 on country radio – nothing new for her there – but also became her first overall top 40 hit, getting to #3. The popularity extended beyond the borders too; it was a top 10 in Canada and Australia as well. That helped push the album into the top 20 in North America and earn her her first-ever platinum record.

Here You Come Again yielded one more big hit for country fans, “It’s All Wrong But It’s Alright”, but unlike the first single, it failed to connect with pop audiences. But that was alright for Dolly. She still had country credibility but had squarely placed one of her cowboy-booted feet in the pop music door. Soon she’d find even bigger success with songs like “9 to 5” and “Islands in the Stream.”

September 21 – Riley Taught The PTA A Thing Or Two

A country song, a “novel”, influenced and inspired by a novel made into a TV show… one of the more interesting songs of the ’60s hit #1 fifty years ago. And from then on, “Harper Valley PTA” would be a codeword for conservative hypocrites.

Not quite 23 years old, aspiring Nashville singer Jeannie C. Riley became the first female to have a song top the regular Billboard charts and the country ones at the same time … and it did the same in Canada and Australia too, for good measure.

The 1968 song was written by Tom T. Hall, an aspiring novelist who never quite made it as that, but had plenty of success writing country music tunes (including his own 1973 hit “I Love” and the theme for so many of us, “I Like Beer”!) but he says of “Harper Valley PTA” “this is my novel.” A novel, no, but it packs a lot of story into less than 4 mnutes. The song deals with a small town single mom who’s chastised for being a bad influence by the uptight school PTA… and her turning the tables on them.

Mrs. Johnson, you’re wearing your dresses way too high/ it’s been reported you’ve been drinking and runnin’ around with men…” the second verse begins, a letter to the mother from the school board. She in turn went to the school meeting and pointed out the hypocrisy of the members like Bobby Taylor who’d asked her out seven times and Shirley Thompson with the gin on her breath…before calling them out on it and calling it a “Peyton Place”. The latter was no coincidence as the song and the theme seem to borrow heavily from the massively-popular 1950s novel (which also deals with a single mother in a staunchly conservative town) which had been made into a TV show around the time Riley recorded this one. Surprisingly enough – or maybe not- “Harper Valley PTA” itself was later made into a film and an NBC sitcom which ran for three years with Barbara Eden starring as Mrs. Johnson. Among the cast was Fannie Flagg, who’d go on to write the book and screenplay, Fried Green Tomatoes.

As for the humble 7” single that hit #1 in 1968, it at the time set a record by jumping 74 spaces on Billboard in one week and went on to sell an incredible six million copies . Riley won a Grammy for best female country performance for it and was nominated for Record of the Year. Although she’d go on to have five more significant country hits in the ’70s, none of them had the appeal or crossed over onto pop/rock radio. In the late-’70s she became a Born Again Christian and has since kept singing but limited herself primarily to the Christian music market.

By the way, if you listen to it and say to yourself, “wait, it’s ‘Ode to Billie Joe”... but it’s not,” you’re not alone. Many figure that Hall pretty much fit his lyrics into the Bobby Gentry hit (which also eventually was made into a movie) the year before, but despite the similarities, Hall never credited her in the writing credits nor, from all reports was ever confronted by her over it.

September 15 – And The Golden Fiddle Goes To…

Four days back we looked at his rollicking, patriotic hit from 1980. Today we go back a year prior, to 1979 and an even bigger and more unusual hit. North Carolinian bluegrass fiddler/guitarist Charlie Daniels and his self-named band hit #3 on Billboard this week with “The Devil Went Down To Georgia.”

Daniels had been a fairly popular Nashville session musician through the decade being used by the likes of Bob Dylan and the Marshall Tucker Band. He’d even had some success on country radio but this romping tale about the brash young Johnny who beats the devil in a fiddling contest, was the crossover he needed to make him a household name, not to mention the holder of a 3X platinum record in his Million Mile Reflections. The song won the Grammy for Best Country Performance by a band, garnered him a top 5 in Canada as well.

Which shows always expect the unexpected in music. Otherwise in 1979, disco was still king, Donna Summer was the biggest individual artist and Rod Stewart had perhaps the biggest hit of his career by putting a disco beat to his sexy lyrics. Daniels credits the 1925 poem The Mountain Whip-poor-will for inspiration and tells people who argue the devil actually fiddled better in the record “if you listen, there’s just noise. There’s no melody to it.”

September 11 – Daniels Defiant Anthem For The Day

There’s no real need to remind people, Americans especially, what this day is the anniversary of. One of the very few slivers of a silver lining that might have come from 9/11 though was that for a little time it certainly seemed to unite Americans, regardless of color or political affiliation. Curiously, a song all about that was in its 11th and final week on the top 40 this day 21 years earlier, in 1980. With its lyrical theme, perhaps then there’s little surprise that “In America” by the Charlie Daniels Band had a renewed popularity after the 2001 attacks. Daniels even put out a new video for the song at the time. The defiant, in-yer-face approach and lines like “we’ll all stick together, and you can take that to the bank – that’s the cowboys and the hippies, the rebels and the Yanks” suddenly seemed relevant. Necessary even.

Daniels was by then a big-time country star, albeit one who flew a ways from the mainstream of country, building his music around his bluegrass fiddle skills and Southern redneck themes. He’d had a surprise, major crossover into mainstream pop/rock territory a couple of years earlier with his rollicking “Devil Went Down To Georgia.” “In America”, from his 11th album, Full Moon, likewise crossed over to conventional hit radio, eventually reaching #8 and pushing the album to platinum status.

That might not have been entirely unpredictable. Even though the six-man band came across as backwoods hicks, they had real musical talent…and backing. The album was produced by John Boylan. Boylan was not only a vice president of Epic Records, he’d worked with Linda Ronstadt and Little River Band before and co-produced Boston’s multi-million selling debut. So he knew a thing or two about making a record the masses to hear!

Daniels said he wrote the song as a sort of antidote to the country’s malaise of the time. Iran had American hostages, people were still shaken by Watergate, and unemployment and inflation were both high. Morale was low. Daniels felt “the strength of America isn’t in Washington DC, it’s in our people. It’s in our farms, in the factories, it’s the people out here that make the country work.” He picked the Pittsburgh Steelers fans as a lyrical example in the song because , even though he was from North Carolina, he figured Pittsburgh people were “the salt of the Earth. The finest, just the greatest people on Earth.” He particularly enjoyed going to watch the Steelers play in their hometown.

Daniels passed away at 83 in 2020. And whether we like his redneck stance or not, the idea “you never did think that we’d ever get together again, but we damn sure could” seems all the more relevant than ever in 2022. We can only hope it won’t take another 9/11 to get people to realize it.

September 2 – The Turntable Talk, Round 6 : Earle Crossed Road Into Rock Territory

Welcome back to Turntable Talk! As by now, regular readers know, that’s when we have several interesting guest writers sound off on one topic related to the music that we look at here daily. This is our sixth round of it, and if you’re new here, I recommend taking a look back at some of the earlier topics we’ve covered like why the Beatles are still relevant, or “did video kill the radio star?”

This time around, we’re calling it “Shock Rock.” But wait, there’s a twist – it’s not about Marilyn Manson and his contemporaries…unless our writers want it to be. Rather, its more about what some would call “guilty pleasures.” Songs or records that you like that would “shock” most people. Ones that go against the grain of most of what you listen to. I once asked a well-known radio DJ who loved new music, alternative and artsy rock if he had a musical guilty pleasure and he responded that he’d always liked “Moonlight feels Right” by Starbuck… a ’70s piece of laid back yacht rock with a xylophone solo! (Hey, we like it too!) Not his usual fare, but a song that he loves regardless. Maybe the heavy metal types have a soft spot for a bit of late night opera. Or an “all-60s rock” person loves Bruno Mars too. You get the idea.

So, leading off today we have Deke from Ontario and his site Deke’s Vinyl Reviews & More. Deke is a fan of hard rock, old and new but could it be he might be just a little bit country… he tells us

Steve Earle first came up on my radar back in 1986-87 when I read about him in an issue of a Canadian Magazine called Music Express

Earle was selling a bunch of albums in the Great White North with his current album at the time which was Guitar Town . I thought it was cool that there was an American Country act who was selling more albums in Canada than their own country (Earle is an American).

Good on him I said to myself but I was still into my major Metal Faze(well I still am in 2022, so some things don’t change) but as a country act, Steve didn’t annoy me! LOL!

Fast forward to late 1988 when I was watching TV. Now TV was way different in ’88 than what it is now. If you are an old buzzard like me you will know what I’m talking about.

We had to subscribe to what they would call Pay TV. Basically, you had your 10 channels on regular but if you wanted another 20 channels or so at the time you had to pay extra for a box set top to access those 20 channels.

Fortunately, my Mom and Dad bought into the Pay TV concept at the time so I could get MuchMusic especially the Pepsi Power Hour. So one night I was surfing as there were 30 channels and nothing on when I came across the  NashvilleNetwork channel when I saw this long-haired fella being interviewed on a country show called Crook and Chase.

That fella was Steve Earle. My first thought was what’s a dude who looks like he could be in Guns N Roses doing on this Country Talk Show? Speaking of Gunners, Steve was wearing a Guns T-shirt!

Then during the interview segment they showed a clip of Steve’s lead single from the album Copperhead Road

Whoa this was no Hee Haw country stuff! This was basically a hard rock track done with a flair of country n’ rock mixed and it was and still is brilliant!

This kind of “Country” I can handle!

So I took the plunge and purchased Copperhead Road shortly after and it’s a great album, period!

First of all, look at the packaging of this record. The cover with the Skull and Crossbones gets the message across big time! The back cover as well.  

Opener Copperhead Road “ is still played today on our local crap radio station which is impressive as it’s on a rock station. It shows you that Earle had crossover potential .

Tons of great tracks on this album. Snake Oil “ with a riff that is right out of any classic rock track. “Back To The Wall” is another of my faves off of this album. Devil’s Right Hand as well. I mean what a four track opener for any album!

While Side 1 has more of a ‘rock’ sound attached to it Side 2 starting with Even When I’m Blue has more of that traditional country vibe in the tracks “You Belong To Me/Waiting On You” and Once You Love”.

While the Rock Guy in me so to speak prefers Side 1 there are times you need to hear some great introspective lyrics and songs and that’s where Side 2 comes into play!

Copperhead Road had the distinction at the time of its release by being a different kind of rock in my collection back in 1988. It didn’t matter to me as it was a solid album with an amplified mandolin cranked through a Marshall Amp!

August 21 – Patsy Would Have Been ‘Crazy’ Not To Sing This

An all-time classic was recorded in Nashville on this day in 1961. Recorded quickly and reluctantly as it turned out. Patsy Cline sang “Crazy”, which would become not only her signature song but one of the first ever country-to-pop crossover hits, in one take at producer Owen Bradley’s studio…after much urging and cajoling from him and her husband, Charlie Dick. Which was good for everyone involved, including then unknown songwriter Willie Nelson. Cline herself was probably pretty happy it took just one take; she’d been in a serious car accident two months earlier and was still in a good deal of pain recovering from broken ribs (which made singing very arduous) among other things.

Cline was on her way to becoming a major star, but she’d paid her dues. She grew up poor, in a broken home in Virginia, was apparently sexually abused by her dad, and nearly died of Rheumatic Fever as a tween. She had a good voice however, and dreamed of being on the Grand Ole Opry stage. She became locally famous and in 1957, signed to a small division of Decca called Four Star Records, she got a break when she appeared on a national TV show, Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Search. That helped her song “Walking After Midnight” become a big hit on country radio and eventually, by 1960, get invited to the Opry she’d dreamed of for years.

She was by then married and working on a second album, Showcase. Recording had begun in late ’60, and was close to done when she had her car accident.

Meanwhile, ol’ Willie was then young, struggling Willie. Nelson had just moved to Nashville after tooling around Texas working as a DJ , singer and songwriter. He had a wife and three kids and was scrambling to make ends meet. Surprisingly, in retrospect, few singers seemed to like the song “Crazy” when they first heard it. He notes that it uses more, and different chords than most country music at the time and owed more to jazz. As well, in his original version it had a spoken word bit in it.

Bradley, and Charlie both liked the song when they heard the demo. But Patsy balked, saying she didn’t want to record more “compositions that embrace vulnerability and loss of love.” As for “Crazy”, she initially told her husband “I don’t care what you say. I don’t like it and I ain’t going to record it.” It’s unclear how she was persuaded to change her mind, but music fans are happy she did.

Bradley played the organ himself and his brother Harold played bass. Pianist Floyd Cramer was among the other session musicians brought in to play the piece which would be the second single off the album.

The first, “I Go To Pieces” was a #1 hit on country charts but “Crazy” did … well, “crazy” good. It was #2 on country charts but also made the top 10 on Billboard‘s regular singles chart, as well as in Canada. It’s popularity would endure (it made it back on the charts in Britain in 1990 for instance) and end up being her biggest hit ever. It was also reported to be the most-played song ever in American jukeboxes when that was tabulated in 1996. And it seems Willie Nelson’s done alright for himself since then too! He by the way picks Patsy’s version of “Crazy” as the best, better than even his own or Linda Rondstadt’s 1977 hit version. 

As allmusic note, it has an “ageless, wise and vulnerable” quality that gives it an ongoing appeal. Rolling Stone put it at #85 on their greatest songs of all-time list (just ahead of another country crossover from the same era, “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash)suggesting “Cline’s vocals infuse Nelson’s lyrics with slow burn of sex appeal” and adding it “set the stage for a sophisticated new phase of C&W.”

Sadly, Cline wouldn’t see much of that new phase. She died two years later, at age 30, in a small plane crash.

June 28 – The Turntable Talk, Round 4 : Gretchen Sounded Fetchin’

Welcome back to The Turntable Talk. As before, we’ve invited some other interesting music writers to share their opinions on a single topic, and we’ll be running their replies this week. Previous times we’ve looked at the influence of The Beatles, pros and cons of live albums, and the impact of MTV and music videos. This time around, we’re looking at “out of the blue”… debuts that came out of nowhere and really took listeners by surprise. Albums, or singles, that made you turn your head and say “that’s great! Who is that!?” Let’s hear about the great entrances to the musical stage and why they so impressed you… and perhaps if the act would go on to live up to that early potential or not.

Kicking it off this time, we have Keith from Nostalgic Italian. A former radio DJ, he has a lot of interesting stories to share and thoughts on music and much more. He goes a little bit country for today’s topic:

Welcome to another edition of Turntable Talk, hosted by Dave at A Sound Day. He has really been coming up with some neat topics for this series. This time around, he is calling it “Out of the Blue.” Dave described it this way: “Basically, great debuts that probably took you by surprise.  Now, I’m not talking to old debut records by artists you love that you eventually went back to and found , but rather albums or even singles that you found more or less when they came out that you really loved… a surprise great that came out of the blue. So tell us about  a record like that, and if you want, if your interest in the artist was kept alive or if they were a one-off flash in the pan.

I didn’t have to go any further in his email to know exactly what I’d be writing about. I remember this song like it was yesterday. It was 2004 and I was working at 94.5 The Moose in Saginaw.moose

 

As the station’s music director, I received new music daily. Every single song was trying to get a spot on the station’s play list. Each week I would listen to the new songs and then meet with my program director to discuss what song or songs we might consider adding. Often times, it was a difficult decision. Other times, you just went with the new song from a country superstar.

Every year in January or February the Country Radio Seminar would happen in Nashville. Radio people from all across the country would get together to hear new music, network, and attend panels about various radio and records stuff.

I remember going to one of the evening events hosted by one of the record labels that year. I recall them playing some of their new songs from new artists. The one song that had everyone talking that year was “Redneck Woman”. I can still remember the first time I heard it. I was blown away. It was like NOTHING that was on the radio at that time.

The song was by a new artist named Gretchen Wilson. She was a 30 year old single mother who was working as a bartender to earn a living while she sang and wrote songs. She was rough around the edges and didn’t necessarily have the “looks” of a female country singer. That, of course, didn’t matter because the listener was hooked as soon as she started belting out the lyrics.

The song was the lead single from Gretchen’s album Here for the Party. She had written the song with John Rich, who used to be in the group Lonestar and went on to success with Big & Rich. The Album Here for the Party earned her several Grammy-Award nominations, including for Best New Artist, Best Country Album, as well as “Redneck Woman” for Best Country Song and Best Female Country Vocal Performance. She took home the award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance.

I remember coming back from the Country Radio Seminar that year anxiously awaiting the single to hit my desk. There was no doubt in my mind that it would be the hit of the summer and would be a number one record!

It was a fun, fresh song that was constantly being requested by listeners. It spent five weeks at the top of the Hot Country Singles chart. That in itself was a huge accomplishment, but it also became the first number-one hit on that chart for a female solo act since Martina McBride’s “Blessed” two years earlier.

Thanks to the success of “Redneck Woman”, the album shot to platinum certification (for sales of a million copies) within just over a month after its May 11, 2004 release. By November 4 of that year, sales amounted to three million. And by late 2006, total sales had climbed to five million.

She continued to collaborate with John Rich and the toured together. I was lucky enough to have the chance to see her perform and her energy on stage was powerful. The audience was just as pumped as she was! They screamed with joy and sang along at the top of their lungs when she performed “Redneck Woman”!

I don’t believe she was a “flash in the pan,” because she certainly had other hit songs. At the same time, you don’t hear much from her today on the radio. One song which I felt should have got more attention was her simple ballad “I Don’t Feel Like Loving You Today.” Her vocal is the exact opposite of Redneck Woman and I think it is just an amazing song.

I’ve been away from country radio for some time now, and I know that most of what plays on the format today is what they call “bro country” or “country rap.” I don’t really feel the connection to the artists today like I did back then. It was a very different format at the time, and “Redneck Woman” was a country song that was loved by listeners of all formats.

The song was one that has forever stuck with me. I remember hearing it the first time. I remember playing it the first time. I remember seeing her play it live for the first time. So when someone asks me if I like the song, I respond with a big “Hell, yeah!”

Redneck Woman – Lyrics

Well, I ain’t never been the Barbie doll type
No, I can’t swig that sweet Champagne, I’d rather drink beer all night
In a tavern or in a honky tonk or on a four-wheel drive tailgate

I’ve got posters on my wall of Skynyrd, Kid and Strait
Some people look down on me, but I don’t give a rip
I’ll stand barefooted in my own front yard with a baby on my hip

‘Cause I’m a redneck woman
I ain’t no high class broad
I’m just a product of my raising
I say, “hey ya’ll” and “yee-haw”
And I keep my Christmas lights on
On my front porch all year long

And I know all the words to every Charlie Daniels song
So here’s to all my sisters
Out there keeping it country
Let me get a big “hell yeah”
From the redneck girls like me
Hell yeah (Hell yeah)

Victoria’s Secret, well their stuff’s real nice
Oh, but I can buy the same damn thing on a Wal-Mart shelf half price
And still look sexy
Just as sexy as those models on TV

No, I don’t need no designer tag
To make my man want me
You might think I’m trashy, a little too hardcore
But in my neck of the woods I’m just the girl next door

I’m a redneck woman
I ain’t no high class broad
I’m just a product of my raising
I say, “hey y’all” and “yee-haw”
And I keep my Christmas lights on
On my front porch all year long

And I know all the words to every Tanya Tucker song
So here’s to all my sisters
Out there keeping it country
Let me get a big “hell yeah”
From the redneck girls like me
Hell yeah (Hell yeah)

I’m a redneck woman
I ain’t no high class broad
I’m just a product of my raising
And I say, “hey y’all” and “yee-haw”
And I keep my Christmas lights on
On my front porch all year long

And I know all the words to every ol’ Bocephus song
So here’s to all my sisters out there keeping it country
Let me get a big “hell yeah”
From the redneck girls like me (Hell yeah)

Hell yeah (Hell yeah)
Hell yeah (Hell yeah)
I said hell yeah

June 7 – Named After A Big City, But A Country Boy At Heart

A talent that spanned a few musical genres had a day in the sun (shine, on his shoulder!) 47 years back. John Denver had the #1 song on Billboard with “Thank God I’m A Country Boy” this day in 1975. In the U.S. and Canada it was his third of four mainstream #1 hits (he’d score his last later the same year with “I’m Sorry”) .

His popularity was likely at its Rocky Mountain High peak then. He won an Emmy for best special for a TV concert performance, a Country Music Awards Album of the Year for Back Home Again, and an American Music Awards Best Pop/Rock Male performer. All of which irked some but showed the widespread appeal of his music. In fact with that and 14 platinum albums at home, Denver probably did more to bridge the gap between country and pop than any other artist of the ’70s. Denver, born Henry John Deutschendorf, studied architecture in Texas but quit college to pursue the folk music scene in California, eventually gaining fame and notice writing “Leaving On a Jet Plane” for Peter Paul and Mary in 1969. Soon he’d be a regular on AM radio himself with hits like “Sunshine on My Shoulder” and “Take Me Home, Country Roads” as well as this song. The latter has been adopted as the State Song of West Virginia, meanwhile Colorado has given a similar honor to his song “Rocky Mountain High”, making him unique in creating official songs for two different states. “Country Boy,” with more fiddles in it than any other hit this side of Charlie Daniels was written by his band-mate, fiddler/mandolinist John Sommers.

Denver, whose dad was an Air force man, was an avid pilot and died at age 53 in a small plane crash on Monterrey Bay.