Category Archives: News

In Memoriam: Mindy McCready, 1975-2013

Mindy McCready

The very sad news that Mindy McCready has taken her own life has been reported by several sources.  Our hearts go out to her family and those close to her, especially her two young children.

Rather than focus on her troubled life, it seems most fitting to acknowledge this tragedy by spotlighting the bright spots in her life, particularly her musical talents.  While her music career is sparse compared to others who’ve been in the business as long as she has, her out put is noteworthy all the same.

In 2010, she released an album that went largely unnoticed, but I’m Still Here was a strong set of songs that found McCready in fine voice.  Included on the well produced project was a cover of Garth Brooks’ “The Dance,” along with some gems such as the regretful “Wrong Again,” the wistful “By Her Side,” and the stormy “I Want a Man.”

Of course, the height of Mindy’s success was in the mid nineties with memorable songs such as “Ten Thousand Angels,” “Guys Do It All the Time,” and “Maybe He’ll Notice Her Now.”

Perhaps the most fitting tribute that Country Universe can pay to Mindy is the fact that the origins of our Six Pack series began with her music.  Kevin said it best, in May of 2008, when he wrote, “Mindy McCready made some great music back in her day, and I look forward to hearing more from her.  Quite frankly, she deserves to be known by her work, not her personal life.  Check out these six solid moments from her career and you’ll see what I mean.”

So, may we all follow Kevin’s advice, and know Mindy McCready for her work, not her personal life.

13 Comments

Filed under In Memoriam, News

Call to Action: Supplies and donations needed in the Rockaways

One of our favorite people, Juli Thanki over at Engine 145, is rallying the troops to help those in need in the Rockaways, where our own Kevin Coyne lives and once taught at a school seriously impacted by the storm.  He is now the principal of another school where many students and staff were impacted by the hurricane as well. We’re so grateful to her for taking this initiative, though we’re not surprised by her act of kindness.

Her Facebook post is below, which outlines the various supplies that are needed and how you can drop them off. If you’re not in the D.C. / Northern Virginia area and would still like to help, you can e-mail Leeann at leeann@countryuniverse.net for the PayPal account information. We sincerely appreciate anything you can do to help Kevin’s community. Thank you, as always, for being a part of the Country Universe family.

***

One of the best country music blogs out there is Country Universe, helmed by Kevin Coyne. In non-Internet

life, Kevin’s a school principal who lives in the Rockaways. Many of his teachers and students were severely affected by Hurricane Sandy. These folks are going to need a lot of help. That’s where we come in. Here’s a list of things they currently need:

Winter Clothes
Cleaning Supplies
Diapers/Pull Ups
Canned Food/Dry Food
Blankets
Hygiene Products/Hand Sanitizer/Wipes
Phone Cards/Metrocards
Pens/Pencils/Notebooks/Crayons/Colored Pencils
Early Childhood Toys/Furniture/Games/Puzzles
Children’s Books
Construction Paper/Folders

If you’re in the DC/Northern Virginia area and have goods to donate, I’ll come pick them up; just send me a message. We’re working on dropoff locations in other parts of the country, as well as setting up a PayPal fund. Obviously, rebuilding efforts are going to take a lot of time and money. But let’s do what we can to pitch in and help some people regain even the tiniest bit of normalcy to their lives. Thanks, everyone.

Leave a Comment

Filed under News

In Memoriam: Kitty Wells, 1919-2012

Just a few weeks shy of her 93rd birthday, the Queen of Country Music has passed away.

Kitty Wells was the first female ordering viagra to canada country superstar, and for many years, the only consistent female hit-maker.

She also started a long tradition of controversial female records being banned at country radio.  Her answer song to “The Wild Side of Life” spent six weeks at #1 in 1952, and her name would forever be associated with “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels.”  Indeed, the record made such a big impact that many don’t even know it was an answer song in the first place.

Her other big classic was “Making Believe”, which spent an astonishing 15 weeks at #2 in 1955.

Wells’ trailblazing career landed her at #9 on Country Universe’s 100 Greatest Women feature back in 2007.  You can read her entry here.

Rest in Peace, Miss Kitty Wells.

 

 

3 Comments

Filed under In Memoriam, News

Thank You, Chris Neal

The country music community has lost a true beacon this week with the passing of Chris Neal, a superlative journalist and ally to independent blogs like ours.

As a ten-year staff writer for Country Weekly and a contributor to the Village Voice, Nashville Scene, Performing SongwriterThe 9513, and other publications, Chris helped set the standard for modern country music commentary, combining clear-eyed observations with his trademark acerbic wit. In a decade of confounding change for the genre’s industry and sound, he was a fearless voice of reason, equally comfortable celebrating country’s evolution and – no other word will do – “facepalming” over its less endearing developments. His recent work as Senior Editor of M Music & Musicians has only broadened his impact, delivering on his passion for all varieties of good music.

Of course, for many of us, Chris will be just as remembered for his lively presence across the web – including, blessedly, this blog. Who can forget how he would casually out-snark an entire comment thread of overheated 9513-ers? Who can forget the pure joy of his first batches of “country haiku”? Who can forget his pets?

But he wasn’t just a fun “internet friend,” either. Perhaps most enduringly, he was a mentor, an accomplished professional who used his platform again, and again, and again to help shine a light on writers he deemed deserving. It’s because of Chris Neal that many of us have the confidence and the audience to write about country music in this small way we do; and it’s because of his remarkable example that many of us keep trying in the first place.

We’ll miss you so much, friend. Thank you.

30 Comments

Filed under News

Donna Summer: The Country Connection

Donna Summer, disco legend, passed away today at the age of 63.

Much like my earlier post on Whitney Houston's untimely passing, writing about Summer's death isn't completely foreign to our topic of country music.

Whereas Dolly Parton wrote a #1 pop hit by Whitney Houston, Donna Summer wrote a #1 country hit for Dolly Parton.

“Starting Over Again” is anything but a disco number.  It's a tender tale of a middle-aged couple divorcing after their children are grown:

Reba McEntire also covered the song in 1995, taking it back to the top twenty:

Summer co-wrote many of her classic hits, including “Love to Love You Baby”, “Dim All the Lights”, “I Feel Love”, “Bad Girls”, and “She Works Hard for the Money.” But my favorite of her compositions is “On the Radio”, which I actually heard first by Emmylou Harris as a straight-up heartbreaking ballad:

Needless to say, I was taken aback by the disco beat when I finally heard Summer's original version.

I haven't been writing much lately, but I couldn't let the passing of this timeless talent go by without comment.  Like Houston before her, she was a great singer who went too soon, and country music's legacy was just a little bit richer for her passing through.

zp8497586rq

9 Comments

Filed under Miscellaneous Musings, News

Country Music Hall of Fame Welcomes Garth Brooks, Connie Smith, and Hargus “Pig” Robbins

Garth Brooks, Connie Smith, and keyboardist Hargus “Pig” Robbins will join the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2012.

Brooks is the top-selling country music artist in history.  At fifty, he is one of the youngest living inductees ever.

Smith is the fifth female artist to be inducted since 2008, when Emmylou Harris ended a nine year drought for female inductees.

Since playing on the George Jones classic “White Lightning” in 1957, Robbins has recorded with countless legends of country and rock music, including Loretta Lynn, Conway Twitty, Alan Jackson, and Bob Dylan.

What’s your take on the 2012 inductees?  More importantly, who deserves to join them in 2013?

We’ll run a list of our picks for the next round. Share your suggestions in the comments!

13 Comments

Filed under News

Whitney Houston: 1963-2012

On the eve of the Grammy Awards, music lost one of its greatest voices, as Whitney Houston died at age 48.

Her only tangential connection to country was a big one.  Her cover of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You”  is one of the most successful singles in history, spending 14 weeks at #1 and pushing its parent album, The Bodyguard soundtrack, to sales of 44 million worldwide.

When Michael Jackson died in 2009, it was the first time it felt like we lost an icon of our generation.  But Jackson hit the charts with his brothers in 1969.

Whitney Houston was all eighties.  Everyone my age can remember the first time they heard her sing, back when “Greatest Love of All” and “How Will I Know” dominated the airwaves.  There was no matching that voice.

In the years that followed, many superstars would surface who could hit the big notes like Whitney, but not one of them came even close to doing it with her soul and her style.   She’s best known for her eighties pop classics and soundtrack hits from the nineties, but her best work was her underrated studio albums from the latter decade.

For those of you ready to delve into her catalog, don’t overlook 1990′s I’m Your Baby Tonight, which featured the stunning “All The Man That I Need”, the funky title track, and the should’ve been smash “My Name is Not Susan.”   Her best studio album, 1998′s My Love is Your Love, includes the classic title track, the Grammy-winning “It’s Not Right but it’s Okay”, and the tabloid-countering “In My Business.”

Watching the Super Bowl Half Time Show this year, I was again struck by how the eighties icons are surviving the test of time.   Madonna’s still at the top of her game, as are U2 and Bon Jovi.   Prince and Bruce Springsteen aren’t getting a lot of love for their new music, but are still amazing live and are still making excellent music.

But Michael Jackson’s gone, and now Whitney Houston is, too.  There was something so unique about the eighties that produced these larger than life stars.  I don’t know that the various mediums will ever be aligned well enough to create stars that big again.   We’re always going to have ladies with big, booming voices, but there will never be another who makes our collective jaws drop like Whitney Houston did.

13 Comments

Filed under News

So Hey…Feel Like Prejudging The Loretta Lynn Tribute Album?

Info about the forthcoming RCA-helmed tribute to Lo-Lynn has been trickling out for a month or something, and now, thanks to our resourceful friends around the mighty internets, we have access to the track list and audio of the first single. Let’s gripe! Continue reading

73 Comments

Filed under News

Hank Cochran: 1935-2010

Rest in Peace, Hank Cochran.

Enjoy some of the legendary songwriter’s greatest hits:

Patsy Cline, “I Fall to Pieces”

Eddy Arnold, “Make the World Go Away”

Patsy Cline, “She’s Got You”

George Strait, “Ocean Front Property”

Jeannie Seely, “Don’t Touch Me”

Ray Price, “Don’t You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me”

Merle Haggard, “It’s Not Love (But It’s Not Bad)”

Vern Gosdin, “Is it Raining at Your House”

6 Comments

Filed under News

Jimmy Dean: 1928-2010

Rest in peace, Jimmy Dean.

News coverage:  Jimmy Dean dies at 81.

1 Comment

Filed under News