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there's nothing cold as ashes after the fire is gone
So I've been obsessed with Loretta Lynn this week. She was a bad ass! Whereas a lot of her contemperaries, like Dolly Parton, pleaded with rivals, Loretta made it clear she'd slap a bitch before she let some tramp take her man on tracks like "You Ain't Woman Enough (To Take My Man)" and especially on "Fist City".

If you don't wanna go to fist city you better detour around my town
'Cause I'll grab you by the hair o' the head and a'lift you off o' the ground
I'm not a'sayin' my baby's a saint 'cause he ain't, and that he won't cat around with a kitty
I'm here to tell you gal to lay off o' my man if you don't wanna go to fist city

It's both amusing and sad to watch her perform some of these songs for television, like in the video which follows. The song is defiant and laced with animosity, but because it is 1960s television she's bouncy, perky, and has a huge smile on her face. On top of that, country and western performers of the day wore all those rhinestones and sequins on gawdy outfits. It adds a thick sheen of artifice that makes the whole thing look ridiculous as opposed to hearing just the song. A lot of classic, Nashville country is insanely good music, but I think a combination of the downhome, hayseed nature of the lyrics and the way it was packaged for telelvision (especillay in the 60s and 70s, i.e. Hee-Haw, Grand Ole Opry, Barbara Mandrell Show, etc.) caused it to not be taken very seriously by urbanites who consider themselves much more sophisitcated.

I read somehwere once that when Buck Owens finally left Hee-Haw the reason he gave was that he was afraid the campy success of the show was going to overshadow his musical career which had preceded it, which was raw and rugged... and it's arguable that it did. It's safe to say that, more than any other genre of American music, that country & western was completely destroyed by telelvision. Its legacy is the largely down-tempo, bland modern country music which stands in its place to day.

You better close your face and stay outta my way!

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I like Loretta Lynn, also Emmylou Harris and Patsy Cline. I agree though--the rhinestones and big hair remind me a lot of televangelists! :^P

I love the way Loretta's voice just slightly cracks when she hits high notes. Did you know Jack White produced her last record? They even did a duet together on it.

Emmylou Harris is a goddess. All artists are better who spend an influential part of their career hanging out with someone on heroin.

By that argument, Sid Vicious should have been a much better bassist.

I've admired Loretta Lynn ever since seeing Coal Miner's Daughter, which, in my opinion at least, is one of the best music biopics of all time (funnily enough, given that they're both about country singers who rose to fame during roughly the same time period, I'd put Walk the Line up there as well). I think you're absolutely right about TV and the emphasis on harmless, "howdy y'all" personalities really did ruin country music. It's sort of the same thing that happened to hip hop music, in which it was watered down and partied up to appeal to a white suburban wider audience. The stuff that passes as "country" today is pretty much unlistenable to me.

I haven't seen Coal Miner's Daughter in nearly 20 years probably but I'll never forget that scene when she and her husband are amking the circuit of radio stations and she blurts on the air about the injoke she has with her husband about bologna sandwiches.

One of my favorite music biopics is Leadbelly from '76. Really good film, even if you're not not a fan of/familiar with the man's music.

As I mentioned to superhappytime below, I think country music was different from other genre in the way it was presented on television. I think you're absolutely right that music was typically homogenized to reach a wider audience, but in the case of C&W, I think it was being presented that way for their core audience rather than mass consumption.

a) You are a total hipster who is going to learn to embrace Radiohead one day--I'm convinced. "Fist City" is the hipster Loretta song of choice. It's right up there with George Jones and "He Stopped Loving Her Today" or DAC's "You Never Even Called Me By My Name." Or, you know, pretty much anything by Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Dwight Yoakam, or Buck Fucking Owens.

b) I would definitely say Buck Owens had his career overshadowed by the TV thing.

c) I'm not sure the way it was packaged caused it to not be taken seriously by urbanites...it's country...by definition, it's not urban music. That said, it still has a fairly strong hipster following--both classic and alt-country acts like Gillian Welch or, locally here, acts like the Old 97s or Slobberbone.

d) I'm not sure the country legacy is any different than the rock legacy (on mainstream radio)--people like shitty music. Hip-hop tends to be the exception. There will always be assholes who go on and on about "real hip-hop" and back in the day shit--but, really, it's the one genre where the music snobs mostly will embrace someone like Lil Wayne because his intentions are no different than Pete Townsend or Paul McCartney or Elvis or anyone else--they like making money.

e) Del Tha F.H. just put out a 3 disc collection of mostly new shit and one review of it I saw was great because it basically went into how pretty much every genre has its "purist" fans who argue for underground, real shit--even bluegrass. Personally, I'd love to see some real hardcore bluegrass people beat the shit out of the completely talentless Mumford & Sons that every legit critic panned, yet they still keep getting bigger--like a Coldplay or the Killers.

f) You should make more music posts in general. Here or FB or whatever. You always have an interesting, insightful take on things.

I don't think Soop will ever be a hipster. I thought what he chose was a great example of a song that is defiant and angry compared to Dolly's "Jolene" but when shown on television looks hokey and ridiculous.

Ugh, I had no idea who Mumford and Sons was until I looked them up and saw they sing that "Little Lion Man" song. They play that song 34983742 times a day on the radio station that I'm forced to listen to at work on a daily basis. I've never heard them considered bluegrass though. Aren't they just some over-the-pond folk/pop group like The Waterboys?

Way to be brilliant, Erin. I agree 100%. They are a rip off of the Waterboys, The Pogues, etc. And yet their fanbase--which seems to be made up of people who love the killers and coldplay and so forth say "theyre so original.". I don't get it at all. This week they headlined a big bluegrass show in New Orleans.

a) The day I start waxing-on about how awesome Radiohead or the Decemberists or [insert the next darling here] are, please, just shoot me. Ughhh. Don't get me started on Radiohead. The only band that I really got into along with the hipsters (though several years after the fact) was The Strokes, especially their first album.

b) I've been a huge fan of Buck Owens since my early 20s, but knew who he was pretty much all my life because of Hee-Haw. Prior to discovering how great his recording career was, I just thought of him as that pick'n 'n grin'n character with the "aw shucks" smile and the red, white and blue flaptop. It'll be interesting to see how history treats him. I said arguable, because Hee-Haw will fade from collective consciousness, but I have a feeling his music will always be regarded as an important touchstone in popular music.

c) I disagree completely for a couple of reasons. The primary one being that the argument that urbanites don't take country music seriously because it's not urban music would be like saying hiphop isn't taken seriously by people in the suburbs because they're not from the inner city, or that rural people can't take punk seriously, both of which obviously is not the case. Secondly, country & western (western swing in particular in the 40s) enjoyed huge followings in urban areas through the middle part of the 20th century. I mean, every student of rock music knows what CBGB stands for. I still think its image wasn't done any favors by television, and led to a generation of people growing up thinking it was all hokey and a joke.

d) I debated on going off on a tangent about how television has done it to all genre of music, but decided to keep the entry concise. I still think country music was done the worst. The weird thing is that most genre was watered-down for mass-consumption whereas with country, it's arguable that it was dressed up the way it was for its core-audience, to retain that gloss of wholesomeness through the social upheaval of the 1960s and 70s for the bible belt. So then you get Loretta all dressed up in some ridiculous getup, in front of some schmaltz-y background, singing "The Pill".

e) Aww man, I love Del the Funky Homosapien. I didn't realize he had some new music. I'll have to check that out.

f) I've been flirting with the idea of starting a music blog with my pal lossfound but I keep backing away from it. For one, music blogs are a dime a dozen and I don't know that I really have anything new to offer to an already saturated medium. Also, I have a bad tendency to get really excited about a project then lose interest really, really quick, and I'm afraid that would be the case with something like that. I think I'm just content to post something here when the spirit moves me and leave it at that. I've always done it sporadically here at LJ, though you kinda came a long at the end of my "golden age" or whatever, so you missed a lot of it. It's hard to believe that discussions like this used to occur here. Some of this older stuff is on my "music" tag, but most of it predates the LJ tag unfortunately. :(

a) You were pretty into the White Stripes, weren't you? And you do run a Beastie Boys website...and listen to Mission of Burma...I'm not sure the Decemberists have ever been indie darlings, though. A little too mainstream. Like Death Cab.

b) My intro to Buck Owens was a 45 my mom had of "Happy Times Are Here Again." Then the Beatles cover of "Act Naturally." Then the song with Dwight Yoakam. And that last one was probably the true gateway to Buck and Merle and shitkicking country.

c) But was CBGB successful until it became a punk thing? My people on dad's side come from inner city Philly going back a few generations and I know they never listened to country until crossover acts like Shania Twain, Garth Brooks, and Dixie Chicks came on their main stream light FM stations. Hip Hops problem is black people made it. And you know all black people are secret Kenyon socialists.

e) new Del

f) Yeah, around 2003 or 2004 I used to have a shared music community on here with someone and LJ was still in it's heyday and you could get a fair amount of readers and comments. There's little point now. Before LJI that season you and I first did it, I've barely written here since the first year I moved to Texas..everything just died in 2005.

It is really, really impossible to have a popular music blog now days. There are a dozen or so solid indie ones--including two that get national praise that are close to each of us (My Old Kentucky Blog, and Gorilla Vs. Bear in Dallas). But that's cause they're tied to Sirius. I know a guy who runs one that does alright, but it's owned by CBS Radio. It's like once in a blue moon I'll see a good idea that still gets hits...like a guy who was doing one a few years called "Best albums of the year" or someone who has one called "best performances" or something and just digs out cool youtube videos that are completely random.

a) In 2000 I went to see Sleater-Kinney with no idea who else was on the bill, I just wanted to see S-K. The first band never played, I think their van broke down or something. The next group came out. The drum kit was setup on stage right and facing stage left, rather than the audience. There were two microphones setup, one stage center and one in FRONT of the drum kit so the singer could alternate between facing the crowd and facing his drummer while singing. Jack and Meg totally blew me away that night. I bought their CD off the merch table, something I almost never do when exposed to a new band live. This was like, just before the release of their second record and a good year and a half before their third when they broke on radio/MTV. My affection for the Beastie Boys wasn't born out of any hipster hype either. I was 16 and someone had made me a cassette tape with Licensed to Ill on one side and Raising Hell on the other. I wore that thing out. My friends and I saw their very first headlining gig anywhere ever, they opened the Licensed to Ill tour in Louisville. Murphy's Law and Fishbone opened, general admission at Memorial Gardens. A huge white penis rose out of the stage. It was awesome. I guess that was... '87? RE: Mission of Burma... I really like the Signals, Calls, and Marches EP and like Peking Spring a lot, too... I wouldn't say I've ever been a huge fan of them aside from "...Reach For My Revolver" and "Academy Fight Song" which are just really really REALLY great songs.

c) My point wasn't that CBGB was wildly successful, more that there were venues for it the urbanest of the urban. Actually, I was thinking about this a lot more today and looking at some of the arguments on both sides and something occurred to me about the point you were trying to make that would strengthen your argument. While migration to cities began with industrialization, the first generation or two still had ties to country life in other relatives, plus, the country wasn't as far removed from city life as it is in the sprawling metropolis of today. Perhaps by the late 70s there were a generation of people who had no ties to country living at all which created the over-widening chasm between urban music audiences and country music.

You lost your anti-hipster argument as soon as you said "at a Sleater-Kinney" concert and mentioned how you knew about the bands BEFORE they were popular. For God's sake, you drive a truck...it's like you took the trucker cap to the extreme. ;)

Not to mention marrying the manic-pixie-dream girl!

I just think/know there is a certain percentage of the population that rebels automatically against any use of the word country--even in a city like Dallas where people really have to right to deny their redneck roots. Maybe you're right on the cause, though I prefer to blame Pat Buchanan, whose idea for getting Nixon elected was to convince poor country folk that they are different from poor urban folk and create a schism built around race, religion, and zip code.

Yeah yeah, I know it's cliche to argue you knew about the band before they were popular... but in the case of the White Stripes, it was one of the few times in which it was an honest-to-god instance of being exposed to a band, having never heard ABOUT them from anybody... just toally blown away seeing them open for someone else and then them become huge later.

Oh and Dwight Yoakum is someone I've been meaning to get more informed about his music. Any time I've ever seen him I've been impressed with what he's done or what he has to say. You have any recommendations of a place to start?

I'd say "Buenas Noches From a Lonely Room" is probably the album to pick. Songs like "I Sang Dixie" are my personal favorites.

That dude's from Kentucky. I'm surprised he's not your BFF. Then again, I guess that's not a reason to endorse someone...isn't Billy Ray Cyrus also from Kentucky?

Good lord, son. I've spent a lifetime just trying to keep up with the output of all the Louisville indie/post-punk bands and their associated acts. Getting to every single musician who has hailed from Kentucky, even ignoring the Billy Rays and the Judds, etc... would still probably take more time than I'll have to spend on it, unless I just forgo listening to anything else. Dwight, Loretta and her sister Crystal, Patty Loveless, the Everly Brothers, Bill Effin' Monroe, Ricky Skaggs, Midnight Star, Exile, Joan Osborne, Richard Hell, Les McCann, Nappy Roots, My Morning Jacket, Squirrel Bait, Slint, Rodan, Crain, Metroschifter, June of 44, For Carnation, Shipping News, Rachel's, Will Oldham/Palace/Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, Nine Pounder Hammer, Hookers, Nashville Pussy, John Michael Montgomery, Montgomery-Gentry, Tom T. Hall, Merle Travis. Hell, Rosemary Clooney. One of the Backstreet Boys was from Lexington.

Then ya got your relocators like Bob Nastanovich who lived in Louisville for many years during Pavement's hey-day (and played on some Will Oldham projects) or Apples In Stereo frontman Robert Schneider who's been living in Lexington for at least a decade now (I think his wife is from Lexington).

I'll be sure to check out that Dwight album. :)

Now just imagine being in a state the size of TX and trying to keep up. ( speaking of, thus post started on country and Steve Earle just put out an album last week.)

Or GA, for that matter. Which can also claim Apples in Stereo. Plus, every rapper ever.

LOL on Joan Osbourne.

Georgia gets to claim Nashville Pussy, too for that matter.

Who can't claim a little nashville pussy in their past, honestly?

Oh, totally. Having grown up listening to fucking fantastic classic country, I'm always annoyed by how it's never taken seriously, even though the musicianship was incredible and the lyrics were usually pretty awesome. TV has definitely ruined a lot of things, sadly.

I went to my profile page to go to your journal (so I could read more about the new friends post) which first took me to your user info. I either never read your "about me" or it's changed since I read it. You make me smile. Welfy is lucky to have you.

Oh yeah, you must've just missed it. That's been my info/profile/whatever for like, 6-7 years at least. Jeez has it been that long?

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