R.I.P.: Glen Campbell (A Slight Dissent)

Best album (only one I have): Bobby Gentry and Glen Campbell

Only vocal performance I really treasure: “Wichita Lineman”

And, sorry, Johnny Cash had my country TV show in high school.

Also, N.B.: Number of Campbell listings in John Morthland’s The Best of Country Music: 0

Now, that said, I will let my memorial be a quote from the preternaturally fair-minded Bill C. Malone in his Country Music U.S.A.:

Campbell, from Delight, Arkansas [a plus in itself], finally moved from undeserved obscurity when he made his very popular recording in 1966 of John Hartford’s “Gentle on My Mind.” Campbell had spent much of his life as a session musician in Los Angeles, where he contributed to the fame of other people. In the summer of 1968 he became the summer replacement for the Smothers Brothers, and he charmed his viewers with an easy, relaxed personality, a supple tenor voice (sharply honed through a short stint with the Beach Boys), and his guitar virtuosity. Campbell’s singing was pop-oriented, and he gravitated toward structurally sophisticated songs such as those written by Jim Webb (“By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Wichita Lineman,” “Galveston”), but he maintainrf a down-home atmosphere with his high-pitched country laugh and patter, and through the occasional guest appearance of his charming parents, who were indeed rural and folksy. Campbell’s own show in 1969 was smooth, fast-paced and countrypolitan in mood. Whatever the misgivings some country fans might have had about the style of music heard on the Glen Campbell show, most were probably delighted at the success that one of their own had attained.


D’OH!/Hooray Combo

D’oh: I do so have an older Jean Shepard anthology. It was just buried in the back CD stacks and I had forgotten about it. (I only looked in the obvious places. Yes, I’ve got too many separate storage areas.) This happens rarely, but makes me feel like a mad hoarder with a faulty memory.

Hooray!: The two collections overlap so little I’m plenty glad to keep both of them.

Porter Wagoner, Earl of C&W LP Covers

I listen to The Essential collection for music — But these are in the vinyl stacks:

Porter 2

Porter 1

Porter 3

Porter 3.5

Porter 4

Porter 5

Porter 6

Porter 7

Yeah, these are from the late ’60s when everybody was trying to be wild ‘n’ crazy like rock LPs.

PS for KIDZ: the position of the cheater guy’s hand was a then-hi-school fave dipshit game. You held your hand like than and some sucker tried to poke a finger through the hole before you pulled it away (classic no-tech, right?). If the sucker failed (99.99999% of the time) you got to punch him in — well, us nice guys did the shoulder.

R.I.P.: Jean Shepard (Part One)

Groundbreaker in Opryland, anyway. I’m ashamed to admit Jean Shepard was one of those famous-in-my-youth C&W performers who I never got around to once I recovered from my aversion to country. A little bit of yodel goes a long way with me, but honky-tonk style is timeless. I know I have a few hits scattered about, but was a bit shocked to check and confirm that I did not have any whole albums by Shepard. I shall correct that and report back.


MY “Song of the Summer” — Go Get Your Own

The New Yorker is running a series of music pieces where various writers pick their “Song of the Summer.” I applaud it in the sense that it will get some unusual material written about in the mag, but really the underlying concept is a square circle. The “Song of the Summer” has to be a hit that embodies a mass audience experience of the season, and that sort of collective identity through pop tunes is extinct, presumably for the foreseeable future.

But hey, I wanna get in on the fun.

This morning, I was so zapped by a sudden exposure to an old fave that I’ve declared it my “Song of the Summer”: Patsy Montana’s biggest hit, “I Wanna Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart” (1935). Patsy (actually from Arkansas) starts with some truly wild and wolfly yodeling and the whole number is a nonstop clever cavort —

check it out, swingers.

My second-favorite “version” of this tune, btw, is a wacky rewrite sung by Preston Blair’s pure-sex Toon beauty Red in Tex Avery’s lunatic “Wild and Woolfy” (1945).

Put up with French subtitles for a nice, clear rendition of the toon here.

Patsy doesn’t get any spot in the credits, which is too bad, but her own number was a pretty straight lift from “Texas Plains,” so …

P.S: Yet more confirmation that Tex Avery was a natural Surrealist.

PS: PS: I do have to add that only a bunch who have kicked dogs hard would know how to do the whining-reaction of the obedience-cowboy. Probably mysterious to most folks today.

Expert Witness Comment for (Past) Weeks

Plus Sized Dan with Marshall Ruffin and Big Day in a Small Town, Brandy Clark

Songwriting lives, kidz! And rools, too.

The Plus Sized Dan ought to be depressing, frankly, but instead it’s .. bracing, I think is the word I want. And “Plastic Bag in a Tree” is on the year-end best-of automatic don’t hesitate.

Clark does realism like nobody’s business, too. How to keep dignity and face the garbage fire life has become at the same time. Refuse to be the “Girl Next Door” and cope with the routine of “Drinkin’ Smokin’ Cheatin'” and crack a few jokes that stick and bite. The C&W classics were this blunt about work and sometimes life in the sheets, but not about the texture of little-burg activity in general. Near masterpiece, I say.