Author Archives: Kevin John Coyne

100 Greatest Men: #16. Marty Robbins

Marty Robbins100 Greatest Men: The Complete List

A pioneer in both country and rock and roll music, and the father of the country music concept album, Marty Robbins expanded the both the scope and reach of country music throughout his four decade career.

Robbins was one of ten children, raised in Phoenix, Arizona.  His Native American grandmother kept him riveted with stories of the American West, and a stint in the military found him stationed in Hawaii, where he developed a taste for island music.    When he left the forces, he played local clubs around Phoenix, eventually becoming the host of a local television show.

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100 Greatest Men: #17. Kenny Rogers

Kenny Rogers100 Greatest Men: The Complete List

The biggest crossover star that country music has ever known, Kenny Rogers was among the biggest stars of any genre in the seventies and eighties, becoming a worldwide icon and one of the genre’s finest ambassadors.

Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Rogers started off as a rockabilly artist in the mid-fifties, as part of a band called the Scholars. Though he was not the lead singer of the band, Rogers pursued a solo career when they disbanded.   When that proved unsuccessful, he joined a jazz trio called the Bobby Doyle Three.   They did reasonably well on the concert circuit, but when Rogers again pursued a solo career after they folded, he was not successful.

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100 Greatest Men: #18. Ernest Tubb

Ernest Tubb100 Greatest Men: The Complete List

One of the earliest members of both the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame, Ernest Tubb’s legacy stretches back to the 1940’s, when he became one of country music’s earliest national stars.

Hailing from Texas, Tubb was the son of a sharecropper who passed the time listening to Jimmie Rodgers records, which inspired him to take up singing and yodeling.  By age nineteen, he was singing on the radio in San Antonio, while digging ditches for the federal government to pay the bills.   He wrote Rodgers’s widow, hoping for an autograph, and it started a friendship that motivated her to help Tubb land a recording contract.

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100 Greatest Men: #19. Webb Pierce

Webb Pierce100 Greatest Men: The Complete List

Rocketing to stardom in the aftermath of Hank Williams’ death, Webb Pierce became country music’s biggest superstar in the 1950’s, dominating the charts and establishing a flamboyant style that would become forever associated with traditional, honky-tonk country music.

Pierce grew up in Louisiana, cutting his teeth on Jimmie Rodgers records and already developing his own sound by his teenage years.  At age fifteen, he already had a weekly radio show, performing his combination of the Cajun sounds of his home state and the Western Swing that was dominating country music at the time.

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100 Greatest Men: #20. Garth Brooks

Garth Brooks100 Greatest Men: The Complete List

Arriving on the scene in 1989 with a great song sense and a strong background in marketing, Garth Brooks emerged as the poster boy for the nineties country boom, and along the way, became the biggest record-seller in America since the Beatles.

Brooks was born and raised in Oklahoma, the son of Capitol country recording artist Colleen Carroll.   He grew up with music around the house, and learned to play the guitar and the banjo.  His athletic prowess earned him a track scholarship at Oklahoma State University, but his interest soon turned to music.  He began performing around Stillwater, becoming a major draw on the local talent circuit.

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Single Review: Jake Owen, “What We Ain’t Got”

Jake Owen What We Ain't Got“What We Ain’t Got”

Jake Owen

The power of simplicity is on full display here.

Jake Owen’s new single is a powerful ballad because it’s not a power ballad.   He pairs an intimate and quite painful lyrics with a piano and subtle backing vocals.

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Single Review: Chris Young, “Lonely Eyes”

Chris Young

“Lonely Eyes”

Chris Young

The thing about Chris Young is that he’s a great traditional country singer.   I think that’s his preference, too.

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CU10 Flashback: The Civil Wars – A New Music Discovery

News broke today that the Civil Wars have officially broken up, after a year-long hiatus. It was just under five years ago that we first wrote about the Grammy winning duo, back when they were still without a label.  – KJC

 

The Civil WarsThe Civil Wars – A New Music Discovery

August 10, 2009

Out of all the writers at Country Universe, I’m probably the one who is least likely to discover an unsigned artist’s music online and fall in love with it. But thanks to a friend’s shout-out on Facebook, I’ve discovered The Civil Wars, a Nashville-based duo that is nothing short of completely awesome.

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Country Universe Turns 10

Cu10Ten years ago, in the dog days of Summer 2004, blogging was catching on in the political world.  I thought it would be cool to do a country music and politics blog.  I think it had the tagline of “Where Music Row meets Pennsylvania Avenue.”

Anyway, the politics was dropped pretty quickly, as writing about country music was more than enough ground to cover!  Country Universe slowly built an audience, becoming a place for refugee fans from the nineties boom, to debate the latest singles and albums, and at our best, to write about the present in a way that is informed by the past.

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Song Talk: Songs About Songs

Songs have such a big impact on our life experience that they sometimes inspire songs of their own.  It’s a cool theme that I wish more singers and songwriters would explore.

Here are some of my favorite examples of this theme:

Trisha Yearwood The Song Remembers When

Trisha Yearwood, “The Song Remembers When”

Far and away, the gold standard for songs about songs.  I love the way the intro’s guitar hook is repeated immediately after Yearwood, sings, “When I heard that old familiar music start.”  Producer Garth Fundis is the unsung hero of this classic recording, which has always seen heaps of deserved praise for Hugh Prestwood’s poetic songwriting and Yearwood’s skillful interpretation.

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