RIP Leon Russell.
Another week, another music legend gone. Leon Russell’s songs– the two most famous of which are “A Song For You” and “Superstar”– have been covered by artists as diverse as Willie Nelson, Amy Winehouse, Sonic Youth, and Ray Charles, and he played the piano on such iconic tracks as Ike & Tina Turner’s “River Deep, Mountain High” and The Ronettes’ “Be My Baby.” His soulful approach to the keyboard influenced rock and country musicians for generations, and now Russell is yet another irreplaceable loss for popular music in 2016.
Elsewhere this week, the press is gearing up for the release of Miranda Lambert’s new album, which is, by all accounts, going to live up to the lofty standards she has set for herself. There’s unsettling medical news from both up-and-coming and veteran artists, and an erstwhile child star continues his unlikely comeback.
Last week’s new releases were fairly quiet– God help me, I never thought I’d have to add a tag for Chrisley Knows Best star Todd Chrisley on one of these posts– but there were some terrific reissues of 1966 albums by Waylon Jennings, Jim Reeves, Connie Smith (!), and the Statler Brothers. This week boasts some bigger names, thanks to an all-star tribute to Emmylou Harris, two projects from Garth Brooks, and returns from the likes of Ronnie Dunn, Ty Herndon, and Rhonda Vincent.
New Releases & Reissues: 11/04/2016
Eddy Arnold, The Complete RCA Victor Christmas Recordings. (Real Gone Music)
Blind Boys of Alabama, Go Tell It On the Mountain (2003), Atom Bomb (2005). (Omnivore Recordings)
Todd Chrisley, A Chrisley Christmas. (Warner Nashville)
Eric Church, Mr. Misunderstood On the Rocks: Live and (Mostly) Unplugged. (EMI)
Jim James, Eternally Even. (ATO)
Waylon Jennings, Leavin’ Town (1966). (RCA / Legacy)
The Kentucky Headhunters, On Safari. (Plowboy / Practice House)
Lambchop, FLOTUS: For Love Often Turns Us Still. (Merge)
MonkeyJunk, Time To Roll. (Stony Plain)
Jaye P. Morgan, That Country Sound and More. (Sepia)
Jim Reeves, Yours Sincerely (1966). (RCA / Legacy)
Chris Robinson Brotherhood, If You Lived Here, You Would Be Home By Now. (Silver Arrow)
Rossington, Take It On Faith. (Loud & Proud)
Connie Smith, Born To Sing (1966). (RCA / Legacy)
The Statler Brothers, Flowers On The Wall (1966). (RCA / Legacy)
Various Artists, Now That’s What I Call Country #1s. (Now)
Hank Williams, The Complete Singles As & Bs 1947-55. (Acrobat)
New Releases & Reissues: 11/11/2016
Blue Rodeo, 1000 Arms. (Telesoul)
Garth Brooks, The Ultimate Collection. (Pearl)
Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood, Christmas Together. (Pearl)
Ronnie Dunn, Tattooed Heart. (Big Machine)
Merle Haggard, Down Every Road 1962 – 1994. (Capitol Nashville / UME)
Ty Herndon, House On Fire. (BFD / Sony / RED)
Joey + Rory, To Joey, With Love: Original Soundtrack. (Reunion)
Cledus T. Judd, Things I Remember Before I Forget. (BFD)
Paul Kelly & Charlie Owen, Death’s Dateless Nights. (Cooking Vinyl)
NRBQ, High Noon: A 50-Year Retrospective. (Omnivore Recordings)
Various Artists, The Life & Songs of Emmylou Harris: An All-Star Concert Celebration. (Rounder)
Rhonda Vincent, All the Rage: Volume One. (Upper Management)
Billboard Country National Airplay:
#1: Luke Bryan, “Move”
Most Increased Audience: Brett Eldredge, “Wanna Be That Song”
Debuts: Tyler Farr, “Our Town” (#58); Morgan Wallen, “The Way I Talk” (re-entry, #60).
Most Added: Little Big Town, “Better Man” (33); Tyler Farr, “Our Town” (18); Blake Shelton, “A Guy With a Girl” (17); Kelsea Ballerini, “Yeah Boy” (12); Brad Paisley, “Today” (11).
Notes: “Move” allows Bryan to score an increasingly rare multi-week #1, as he holds off Cole Swindell and Jason Aldean; Carrie Underwood’s “Dirty Laundry” moves up from #14 to #11 in just its 11th chart week; Underwood passes Miranda Lambert’s “Vice,” which loses its bullet again but manages to move up from #13 to #12; Drake White’s “Livin’ the Dream” hits a new peak of #13 in its 48th week on the chart; Chris Stapleton officially scores another top 20 hit, as “Parachute” moves up from #23 to #20; after settling into its natural chart ascent following its iHeartMedia promotion in its debut week, Brad Paisley’s “Today” is picking up some steam, moving up four spots to #22; Chris Janson’s “Holdin’ Her” remains one of the best singles at radio, but it loses its bullet once again, even as it inches up from #30 to #28; Little Big Town’s “Better Man” hits the top 40, landing at #38 in its third week at radio; Runaway June, who were part of Carrie Underwood’s all-women backing band at the CMAs, hold their spot in the top 40 with “Lipstick,” up from #40 to #39;
Brooks & Dunn’s Ronnie Dunn With Kix Brooks’ “Damn Drunk” is at #41 after 10 weeks, giving a veteran act a fairly uncommon shot at a top 40 hit; Kane Brown’s “Thunder in the Rain” (#43 to #46), Chase Rice’s “Everybody We Know Does” (#49), and Chris Lane’s “For Her” (#54) all lost their bullets this week; Brandy Clark’s “Love Can Go to Hell” picked up an additional station add, bringing the total to 16 stations that are spinning one of the year’s best singles.
Elsewhere on Billboard’s Radio Charts:
You know times are hard when AAA radio turns on Norah Jones: after just 13 weeks, her single “Carry On” drops from a #8 peak back to #10; Avett Brothers post a small gain in audience with “True Sadness,” though the single drops back from #22 to #23; Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats’ “Wasting Time” moves up from #27 to #25 in its third week on the AAA chart; “The Pearl” by Conor Oberst featuring Shawn Colvin (!) and Patty Griffin (!!) scores 5 AAA station adds this week; at Adult Top 40 radio, Kenny Chesney feat. Pink are at #21 with “Setting the World On Fire,” which has posted steady gains at that format for the past six weeks; Hillary Scott & The Scott Family’s “Thy Will” has finally begun to drop at Christian radio, where the recent chart-topper loses a substantial chunk of its audience and falls from #2 to #7 after its successful run.
News & Notes
“It would have been easy for her to rail against the Nashville establishment, which still expects its stars to be humble and cheerful, and to provide a steady supply of clean-scrubbed three-and-a-half minute sing-alongs. Instead, she has found a way to thrive within it, or alongside it. Her previous album included a duet with Carrie Underwood, one of the genre’s most reliable hitmakers, and Lambert spent part of this summer touring with Kenny Chesney, country music’s biggest star, who was headlining football stadiums. A number of rebellious, independent-minded country singers have followed Lambert’s lead, including Eric Church, who conquered Nashville with relatively little help from radio stations. (Early in his career, Church was Lambert’s opening act.) Lambert’s 2011 album, “Four the Record,” contained one song by Chris Stapleton and another whose co-writers included Kacey Musgraves and Brandy Clark; all three have since become symbols of a new, relatively nonconformist spirit in Nashville. Much of this was hard to imagine before Lambert, and there’s no telling how much of it might have happened without her.”
— Kelefa Sanneh of The New Yorker opined about the impact of Miranda Lambert’s approach to mainstream stardom as part of a lengthy profile of Lambert and rave review of her forthcoming album, The Weight of These Wings. (TS / JK)
A GoFundMe account has been established for singer-songwriter Savannah Welch, perhaps best known for her contributions to the fantastic Texas country outfit, The Trishas. Welch, the daughter of alt-country artist Kevin Welch, was involved in a horrific accident on November 2nd, resulting in the amputation of her right leg. (SG / JK)
Though they indefensibly lost the CMA award for Vocal Event of the Year to the hot garbage of Dierks Bentley’s and Elle King’s “Different for Girls,” Morgane and Chris Stapleton performed a searing rendition of “You Are My Sunshine” on The Tonight Show on Thursday night. (JK)
“It’s work that demands one be present. Especially in this day and age, where there’s so much temptation to check Twitter, check scores. Ostensibly, the world at your fingertips, just behind that little screen. And you start hunching over, and you’re never actually where you are. [Doing the show] is such a lesson in trying to maximize your day. And just to know the red light is going on and we have two hours to fill. It’s a welcome wolf at the door. There’s no way to be overly precious about something, or wring the life out of it, which I can do sometimes, being a perfectionist. You have to go with the first impulse that yields real results.”
— Chris Thile spoke with Dan DeLuca of The Philadelphia Inquirer about the logistics of his new hosting gig on A Prairie Home Companion. Now a month into the gig, Thile has taken the broadcast on the road; this week’s episode, which features Jason Isbell and Angelique Kidjo, was broadcast from Philly. (JK)
Leon Russell, the legendary piano man and singer-songwriter whose collaborators have included Willie Nelson, Ray Charles, The Band, and Glen Campbell, has passed away at age 74. (JK)
Stephanie Quayle premiered the music video for “Drinking With Dolly,” which was written by Victoria Banks and Rachel Proctor. (JK)
“Legally, if you don’t have a record label, everyone is from the same pool… It was 16, almost 17 years ago that [my single] ‘One Voice’ came out. Quite frankly, to knock myself a little bit, do you hear me on the radio or see my videos on the mainstream pipeline? The answer is no. It’s out of my head. It has to be. If you listen to everything [the public says], half the artists in the entire world would be dead. You can’t look to someone else for an answer. It has to come from within you. There’s always a negative side to everything so if people have an attitude like that, well, the [coaches’] chairs didn’t necessarily have to turn, either.”
— Billy Gilman responded thoughtfully to criticism that his previous success in the music industry, however brief it may have been, made it somehow unfair for him to appear on the current season of The Voice. Gilman is considered by many fans of the show to be the frontrunner to win the competition; I’m not a fan of the show at all and can’t speak to whether or not he might win, but his cover of Roy Orbison’s “Crying” is legitimately not half bad. (JK)
The late Windmills Country first posted back in the early summer that “Half-Broke Heart” would be the fourth and final single from Cam’s Untamed. But then the single was never given an actual add date for radio and there’s been little to no promo for it… until the singer turned up to perform it this week on Live With Kelly
and Whoever Is Putting Up With Her Today. Per usual, Cam sounds terrific, and she self-censors the phrase “half-assed” to make sure the morning show audience isn’t too scandalized. (JK)
“The most offensive music is music designed to offend no one.”
— Jason Isbell, in addition to being perhaps the best songwriter of his generation, is also perhaps the best at Twitter. (JK)
Holly Dunn revealed that she has been battling a rare and aggressive form of ovarian cancer. (JK)
Drive-By Truckers released a music video– which, as far as I can tell, is only the third time they’ve ever done so and certainly the first time they’ve released a video that seems to have had an actual production budget– for their explosive new single, “Surrender Under Protest,” from American Band. (JK)
That will do it for this week. As ever, let us know in the comments if there’s something we missed!