Posts Tagged ‘Bob Seger’

100 Greatest Men: #47. Rodney Crowell

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

100 Greatest Men: The Complete List

First as a songwriter, then as a new country superstar, and currently as an alternative country icon, Rodney Crowell has made an indelible mark on country music for nearly four decades.

Born and raised in Houston, Texas, he was already a bandleader in high school, heading up a teenage outfit called the Arbitrators.   He was only 22 when he moved to Nashville, and by 1975, he’d been discovered by Jerry Reed, who heard him doing an acoustic set.   Reed not only recorded one of his songs, but also signed him to his publishing company.

Crowell was soon a member of Emmylou Harris’ Hot Band, and she was the first to record some of his compositions that went on to be big hits for other artists, including: “I Ain’t Living Long Like This”, a #1 hit for Waylon Jennings; “‘Til I Gain Control Again”, a #1 hit for Crystal Gayle;  “Leavin’ Louisiana in the Broad Daylight”, a #1 hit for the Oak Ridge Boys; and “Ashes By Now”, a top five hit for Lee Ann Womack.

His remarkable songwriting talent led to a record deal with Warner Bros.  While a trio of albums for the label were critically acclaimed, they failed to earn him success on the radio or at retail.   But as would be the case for his entire career, other artists mined those records for hits.  Most notably, “Shame on the Moon” became a #2 pop hit for Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band.

Crowell took a break from his solo career to focus on his songwriting and production responsibilities for then-wife Rosanne Cash.   This would be yet another successful avenue for Crowell, as his work with Cash produced several #1 singles and three gold albums.  The relationship also helped set his solo career on fire.  After signing with Cash’s label Columbia, his second set for the project was previewed with a duet with Cash, “It’s Such a Small World.”

It became the first of five consecutive #1 singles from Diamonds & Dirt, a gold-selling disc that briefly made Crowell an A-list country star, as five additional Cash singles that he had produced also hit #1 over the same time period.   He received a Grammy award for Best Country Song for “After All This Time.”   Two foll0w-up albums for Columbia also produced a handful of hits, with his final mainstream success being the pop crossover hit, “What Kind of Love.”

In the nineties, Crowell recorded two albums for MCA which were well-reviewed, but most notable for the second set including “Please Remember Me.”  It stalled as a single when Crowell released it, but  later that decade, Tim McGraw’s cover topped the charts for five weeks and earned Crowell a slew of award nominations.

The new century brought a reinvention on Crowell’s part, as he repositioned himself as an Americana artist with remarkable success.   A trio of albums earned rave reviews, as did his collaboration with old friends like Vince Gill on The Notorious Cherry Bombs, which earned a handful of Grammy nominations and included Crowell’s “Making Memories of Us.”  Once again, a current artist discovered it, and Keith Urban took it to #1 for several weeks.

Inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2003, Crowell continues to build on his legacy as a singer, songwriter, and producer.  Most recently, Crowell produced Chely Wright’s confessional Lifted off the Ground and co-wrote an album with friend Mary Karr which features their songs recorded by several artists, including Crowell himself. 

Essential Singles:

  • I Ain’t Living Long Like This (Waylon Jennings), 1980
  • ‘Til I Gain Control Again (Crystal Gayle), 1982
  • Shame on the Moon (Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band), 1982
  • It’s Such a Small World (with Rosanne Cash), 1988
  • I Couldn’t Leave You if I Tried, 1988
  • After All This Time, 1989
  • What Kind of Love, 1992
  • Please Remember Me (Tim McGraw), 1999
  • Making Memories of Us (Keith Urban), 2005

Essential Albums:

  • Ain’t Living Long Like This, 1978
  • Diamonds & Dirt, 1988
  • The Houston Kid, 2001
  • Fate’s Right Hand, 2002
  • The Outsider, 2005

Next: #46. Dwight Yoakam

Previous: #48. Kris Kristofferson

100 Greatest Men: The Complete List

Single Review: David Nail, “The Sound of a Million Dreams”

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

David Nail’s new single “The Sound of a Million Dreams,” from his current album of the same name, could be seen as something of a musical mission statement.  It is a tribute and testament to the power of a well-crafted, deeply resonant song.

Though the song references Bob Seger, Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run,” and Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried,” it does so in a way that enhances the song’s meaning, as opposed to using such references as a crutch.  The narrator relates how such songs affect him emotionally, describing their ability to dredge up memories of his past – fond memories as well as painful ones.  The lyric begins on a light note, relating how Seger’s “Main Street” brings back pleasant memories of a former flame.  From there the song moves into deadly serious territory, as Nail looks back regretfully on the mistakes of his youth, saying that “When I hear ‘Mama Tried’ I still break down and cry and pull to the side of the road.”

Such thoughts and feelings move the singer to reflect on his own role as a musician, expressing the hope that “Maybe my voice will cut through the noise and stir up an old memory.”  The song squarely hits its target by using imagery that lends it a personal, relatable feel, with the narrator detailing how he personally is affected by the songs he has grown up with.  Perhaps the biggest thing the song gets right is that it taps into actual tangible emotions, as opposed to rudimentary, superficial details.

Though a portion of Nail’s past work has been marred by overproduction, such issues are nowhere to be found on this song.  Instead, we get a straightforward piano ballad with touches of steel guitar, which allows the song’s story to effectively resonate without needless distractions.  Nail for his part has already proven himself to be a gifted vocalist, but he has hardly sounded better than he does here.  Bolstered by a truly great lyric and a tasteful production, he shines with his strong, heartfelt, sincere performance.  Though he didn’t write the song himself (Scooter Carusoe and Phil Vassar did), Nail’s performance hints at a deep connection to the intent of the lyric.  The result ranks as easily Nail’s finest single to date, not to mention a shoo-in for my ‘Best of 2012′ list.

As he expresses in song the hope that his music will touch others in the same way that the music of his past has touched him, Nail reaches out to his listeners by putting all of himself into his performance, and in so doing, he just might have achieved that very goal.

Written by Scooter Carusoe and Phil Vassar

Grade:  A

Listen:  The Sound of a Million Dreams

Single Review: Uncle Kracker feat. Kid Rock, “Good to Be Me”

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

Go away go away go away go away go away go away go away.

Fine, I’ll say something about it. Sounds like a song Bob Seger would have written on strong cold medication. First time I can remember not even slightly enjoying a chorus with handclaps. Kracker’s lame performance isn’t even enjoyable in that creepy, stoner-lite “Follow Me” way. The whole thing sounds laxadasically recorded. It features Kid Rock.

And Mediabase shows it climbing steadily. We livin’ in a farce, country fans.

…And what does it say about me that I even bothered writing this review? I need to reflect.

Written by J T Harding, Brett James, Robert James Ritchie, and Matt Shafer

Grade: D

Listen: Good to Be Me


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