Posts Tagged ‘Kris Kristofferson’

2009′s Remaining Release Schedule Comes into Focus

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

2009Thus far, 2009′s releases have done little to fire up the charts,

with most of this year’s strongest-selling albums being holdovers from 2008. While Rascal Flatts, Jason Aldean, and Keith Urban have sold strongly, the chart remains dominated by last year’s releases from Taylor Swift, Sugarland, Zac Brown Band, Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker, and Jamey Johnson.

So what’s left for 2009? Here’s what we know so far:

New Releases

  • Carrie Underwood will release her third studio album on November 3, with a lead single going to radio this fall. Her previous set, Carnival Ride, is nearing sales of 3 million, and produced four #1 singles and a #2 single, all five of which were certified gold in their own right.
  • George Strait will release Twang on August 11. It’s the follow-up to his 33rd platinum album Troubadour, a set which produced his 43rd #1 single and earned him the first Grammy of his career, along with a pair of CMA trophies (Single and Album)
  • Miranda Lambert is readying Revolution for September 29. Lead single “Dead Flowers” is struggling at radio, but that’s never slowed her down at retail anyway.
  • Reba McEntire’s Valory debut Keep on Lovin’ You arrives August 18. Lead single “Strange” is approaching the top ten.
  • Willie Nelson releases another standards collection called American Classic on August 25.
  • Rosanne Cash will release The List, a covers album, on October 6.
  • Sarah Darling releases Every Monday Morning on July 28.
  • Mac McAnally’s Show Dog debut – Down By the River – comes out on August 4. McAnally recently scored a big hit teaming up with Kenny Chesney on “Down the Road”, and was the co-writer on several classic Sawyer Brown singles like “All These Years” and “Thank God For You.”
  • Mindy Smith releases Stupid Love on August 11.
  • Radney Foster and The Confessions release Revival on September 1, with guest appearances by Dierks Bentley and Darius Rucker.
  • Chris Young releases The Man I Want to Be on September 1.

Reissues and Compilations

  • Brooks & Dunn release the 30-track #1 Hits…and Then Some on September 8. Track listing here. The set is preceded by lead single “Indian Summer.” The duo’s previous set, Cowboy Town, was their first to fall short of gold certification. The new hits compilation is similar in set up to top-selling collections by George Strait, Toby Keith and Reba McEntire in recent years.
  • Wounded Bird just released 2-albums-on-1-CD collections for Kris Kristofferson on July 7. Eight albums are included from his 1972-1981 output
  • A pair of Tommy Cash’s albums from 1970 will combine on one CD on July 21; Tommy is the younger brother of Johnny Cash
  • Hank Snow’s 1958 album When Tragedy Struck is being remastered and reissued on August 11.

I’ll be picking up many of the above releases, but I have to say that I’m most looking forward to picking up all of the remastered Beatles albums and the Madonna anthology this fall.

What releases are you most looking forward to in the second half of 2009?

Texas Country

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

texasStuck in my car stereo over the last couple of weeks has been a CD loaded with tunes from some of my favorite Texas-affiliated artists.  I’m a big fan of the singer-songwriter, old school and raggedy rock styles of country music, and Texas excels at all three. So any time I need a break from the current “Nashville sound,” I like to check in with Texas and see what they’re up to. Invariably, it’s more colorful and interesting.

I can’ t call myself an expert on Texas country by any stretch of the imagination and my education is nowhere remotely near complete (hint: feel free to recommend), but I do sense that it’s a style of music, or perhaps a musical sensibility, that is extremely important to maintain.  Texas artists exude a certain spirit of creativity and sense of individuality that is sorely lacking elsewhere in country music.  And in my opinion, great music and great artists only flourish in settings where both of those are encouraged.

Here’s a sampling of the songs I’m currently listening to:

  • “Dallas,” Jimmie Dale Gilmore
  • “Snowin’ on Raton,” Townes Van Zandt
  • “West Texas Waltz,” Joe Ely
  • “Greenville,” Lucinda Williams
  • “Tortured Tangled Hearts,” Dixie Chicks
  • “Transcendental Blues (Live in Austin),” Steve Earle
  • “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” Willie Nelson
  • “Treat Me Like a Saturday Night,” The Flatlanders
  • “Bourbon Legend,” Jason Boland & The Stragglers
  • “Jesus Was a Capricorn,” Kris Kristofferson
  • “Angry All The Time,” Bruce Robison & Kelly Willis
  • “What I Deserve,” Kelly Willis
  • “Old Five and Dimers,” Billie Joe Shaver
  • “Heartbreaker’s Hall of Fame,” Sunny Sweeney
  • “Only Daddy That’ll Walk the Line,” Waylon Jennings

What are some of your favorite Texas country tunes?

Grammy Flashback: Best Male Country Vocal Performance

Monday, January 19th, 2009

Updated for 2009

While the Grammys have honored country music from the very first ceremony in 1959, they did not begin honoring by gender until 1965, when the country categories were expanded along with the other genre categories. This year, the 45th trophy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance will be awarded.

In a continuation of our Grammy Flashback series, here is a rundown of the Best Country Vocal Performance, Male category. It was first awarded in 1965, and included singles competing with albums until the Best Country Album category was added in 1995. When an album is nominated, it is in italics, and a single track is in quotation marks.

As usual, we start with a look at this year’s nominees and work our way back. Be sure to vote in My Kind of Country’s Best Male Country Vocal Performance poll and let your preference for this year’s race be known!

jamey-johnson-lonesome2009

  • Trace Adkins, “You’re Gonna Miss This”
  • Jamey Johnson, “In Color”
  • James Otto, “Just Got Started Lovin’ You”
  • Brad Paisley, “Letter to Me”
  • George Strait, “Troubadour”

As with the album race, this year’s contenders for Best Male Country Vocal Performance are a combination of unrecognized veterans and promising newcomers. In fact, none of this year’s nominees have won in this category, and only one of them – Brad Paisley – has a Grammy at all.

First, the veterans. Paisley has numerous ACM and CMA victories to his credit, including two each for Male Vocalist.  Although he’s been nominated for this award twice before, this is the first time he’s contended with a cut that can’t be dismissed as a novelty number. The touching self-penned “Letter to Me” is his best shot yet at taking this home.

Trace Adkins has been at this a bit longer than Paisley, but this is his first Grammy nomination. His crossover exposure from Celebrity Apprentice might help him out here, along with the fact that the song was considered strong enough by voters to earn a nomination of its own.

But the real veteran to watch out for is George Strait. After being nominated only twice for this category in the first 25 years of his career, voters have now given him three consecutive nominations. This is one of four nods he’s earned for the 2009 ceremony, and “Troubadour” is essentially the story of his epic career distilled into a radio-length song. It would be the perfect way to honor the man and his music in one fell swoop.

However, there’s a newcomer that might be a Grammy favorite already.  We just haven’t found out yet. Not James Otto, of course, who is nominated for his charming romantic romp “Just Got Started Lovin’ You”, but rather, Jamey Johnson. The recent Nashville Scene critics’ poll further confirmed the depth of his support among tastemakers, and his nominations for Best Country Song and Best Country Album indicate that he’s very much on the academy’s radar. It helps that he has the most substantial track of the five, and it’s the obvious choice for traditionalists, who have little reason to split their votes in this category. If voters aren’t considering legacy when making their selections, he has a great shot at this.

2008

  • Dierks Bentley, “Long Trip Alone”
  • Alan Jackson, “A Woman’s Love”
  • Tim McGraw, “If You’re Reading This”
  • George Strait, “Give it Away”
  • Keith Urban, “Stupid Boy”

The often offbeat Grammy voters have been surprisingly mainstream in this category for the past three years, a trend best exemplified by this lineup, which was the first in more than a decade to feature only top ten radio hits. Tim McGraw and Keith Urban were the only two who had won this before, and it was Urban who emerged victorious. ”Stupid Boy” was a highlight of his fourth studio album, and this was the only major award that the impressive collection would win.

2007

  • Dierks Bentley, “Every Mile a Memory”
  • Vince Gill, “The Reason Why”
  • George Strait, “The Seashores of Old Mexico”
  • Josh Turner, “Would You Go With Me”
  • Keith Urban, “Once in a Lifetime”

Vince Gill returned to win in this category for a ninth time with “The Reason Why.” Not only is he, by far, the most honored artist in this category, his wins here account for nine of the nineteen Grammys currently on his mantle.

2006

  • George Jones, “Funny How Time Slips Away”
  • Toby Keith, “As Good As I Once Was”
  • Delbert McClinton, “Midnight Communion”
  • Willie Nelson, “Good Ol’ Boys”
  • Brad Paisley, “Alcohol”
  • Keith Urban, “You’ll Think of Me”

Urban’s biggest and probably best hit launched his second album to triple platinum and established him as a crossover artist. He gave a killer performance of the song on the show. Toby Keith was a first-time nominee here, and while he publicly groused that the Grammys put too little emphasis on commercial success in picking their nominations, he lost to the only track that was a bigger hit than his own.

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Country Music Treasure Hunt

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

One of  the awesome things about YouTube is that serves as an archive of live performances.   Today’s discussion asks you to find a great live performance from a country artist that others might not have seen.

Here’s all you need to do:

1. Find the YouTube clip

2. Copy the url and paste it into the comments

3. Add a “v” right after http, so “http://www.youtube.com….”  becomes “httpv://www.youtube.com…”

When you post the comment, the video will appear.   Don’t forget to add a brief comment before or after the video!

I’ll kick things off with a superstar performance of “Highwayman” by Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings & Kris Kristofferson.     I love the wave of applause that comes after each man starts singing, and how even in a group of superstar legends, Cash’s star power stands out.   He gets a longer ovation than any of them and quite a few people stand up once he starts singing, even though he’s been on stage the whole time.

Dan Milliken’s Top 10 Albums of 2008

Thursday, December 25th, 2008

squintydan-christmas_avatarHappy holidays, everybody! I’m back with my personal top ten albums of the year, a list that took a stupid-long time to put together but is very nice to have done. All I would say as a note is that I like all of these albums very much and don’t think the rankings should be scrutinized to death, because my tastes certainly change frequently enough.

Okay, you get it. Let’s do this. Va-VOOM!

dailey-vincent-c#10

Dailey and Vincent, Dailey and Vincent

I typically lean progressive in my bluegrass tastes, but there’s simply no arguing with this dynamic twosome, whose debut finds them ripping into a straight-ahead traditional style with such crazy-polished singing, playing and writing that they practically become the new standard. Excellent.

kathy-mattea-coal#9

Kathy Mattea, Coal

Confession: I wasn’t quite sure how to take this one. Although I like Kathy Mattea’s voice and generally love concept albums, I had trouble getting into this set of mining-related songs as a whole, which may be because I personally have trouble digesting so many bare-bones story songs in one sitting, or may be because the album itself becomes a bit monotonous after a while. It’s kind of hard to say, and I finally decided that it’s just the sort of thing I personally have to be in the right mood for. Objectively speaking, though, I think what Mattea and producer Marty Stuart have achieved here is easily one of the most fully realized artistic expressions of 2008, and it’s pretty hard to gripe about on a song-by-song or sonic basis. So #9 feels about right for me.

reckless-kelly#8

Reckless Kelly, Bulletproof

Randy Rogers, Wade Bowen and Cody Canada take note: Reckless Kelly’s latest set showcases just how tersely effective the whole “country-nodding Texas rock” shtick can be when you pay the same attention to developing compelling lyrical ideas that you do to ‘tude (and I say that with love, because I enjoy work from all of the acts mentioned above). Bonus points for the year’s best album cover.

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Classic CMA Awards Moments, #17: Kris Kristofferson, Song of the Year win (1970)

Monday, October 20th, 2008

#17: Kris Kristofferson
Song of the Year win
1970

Mumbling but magnificent in its own unique way, the acceptance speech for Song of the Year in 1970 was an inarticulate message from an exceedingly eloquent man. Kris Kristofferson, the victor for Johnny Cash’s classic “Sunday Morning Coming Down” ran to the stage, brushed back his hair and somehow managed to say his “thank you’s” in a quiet, shy manner that stood in sharp contrast with his forthright, incisive writing style. It seems that Kristofferson had indulged in a little heavy-duty drinking in the hours before one of his career pinnacles.

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Kris Kristofferson

Saturday, August 30th, 2008

On his tombstone, Kris Kristofferson has requested the first three lines of Leonard Cohen’s “Bird on the Wire” to be engraved: Like a bird on a wire/Like a drunk in a midnight choir/I have tried in my way to be free.

The words speak to the free-spirited nature of the singer-songwriter. As a hillbilly poet, few can match his intelligence, his eloquence and his ability to capture a mood and a moment with each verse. He has created a legend as a songwriter, but also gained fame and acclaim as a singer, actor and musician.

Born in Brownsville, Texas, Kristofferson’s parents were Mary Ann and Lars Henry Kristofferson, a U.S. Air Force major general. During his childhood, his father pushed his Kristofferson toward a military career, and he would join the U.S. Army (and later rise to the status of captain) in the early 1960s. Throughout his younger years, Kristofferson’s family moved frequently, but eventually settled down in California. Kristofferson enrolled in Pomona College in 1954, and graduated in 1958 with a degree in Literature. During his time at Pomona, the future songwriter was originally known as much for his sporting conquests as his academic endeavors. He was nationally noted for his achievements in collegiate rugby, football and track and field.

Kristofferson earned a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University, and it was there that he started writing songs, eventually earning a Master’s degree in 1960.  He followed in his father’s footsteps, joining the U.S. Army and eventually receiving an offer to serve as an English literature instructor at West Point. But after sending a few songs to his cousin, Nashville songwriter-publisher Marijohn Wilkin, he was vigilant in his dream to make it as a successful songwriter.  His masterful pen exposed the turbulent, troubled times of the 1960s, connecting with an audience that sought the same comforts of freedom and peace of mind that Kristofferson espoused in his songs.

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Johnny Cash, “Sunday Morning Coming Down”

Sunday, August 10th, 2008

Sunday Morning Coming Down
Johnny Cash
1970

Written by Kris Kristofferson

On a 1971 episode of his television show Johnny Cash and Friends, the Man in Black defied the show’s executives by staying true to the lyric of one of his signature songs rather than changing it to fit the family audience. When he reached the pinnacle moment, he reached back and sang about a Sunday morning spent “wishing, Lord, that I was stoned”. This open defiance by Cash stands in sharp contrast to the song he was singing, one that is country music‘s saddest and sorriest song about drinking and depression.

A portrayal of a hungover, heartbroken man, “Sunday Morning Coming Down” was written by a then-unknown Columbia Records janitor named Kris Kristofferson. His time living in a slum tenement for $25/month sparked an idea, and he spilled out his sadness one line at a time. The angst-ridden character in the song drinks beer for breakfast (and dessert), walks and talks with no true direction and sees the early hours of a Sunday as the most lonesome time of all. Kristofferson said, “I think Sunday was the choice because the bars were closed in the morning and nobody was at work, so if you were alone, it was the most alone time.”

Although Ray Stevens had a minor hit with the mourning ballad in 1969, it was Cash who elevated it to its deserved status, recording the song after striking up a friendship with the young janitor. Cash confessed to the listener with great depth and despair, giving his account of the solitude and struggle of a troubled man. He tells of all the simple pleasures of life, the fried chicken, the Sunday school and the families spending time together, all while he is alone to go through the motions. He admits that “There’s nothing sure of dying half as lonesome as a sound/On the sleeping city sidewalk Sunday morning coming down” with a resigned, yet still restless tone.

The tormented character struck a chord with fans and the country music establishment. Not only would “Sunday Morning Coming Down” reach #1 for 2 weeks in the fall of 1970, the Country Music Association would acknowledge it as Song of the Year. While a number of country and rock artists (such as Shawn Mullins, Bobby Osborne and the Mother Hips), Johnny Cash gave the song true definition and simple, stunning detail. It remains the pinnacle of the Cash-Kristofferson partnership, and offers the listener a truthful account of heartache and hardship.

“Sunday Morning Coming Down” is the latest in a series of articles showcasing Classic Country Singles. You can read previous entries at the Classic Country Singles page.

100 Greatest Women, #70: Sammi Smith

Saturday, April 26th, 2008

100 Greatest Women<

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#70

Sammi Smith

She may not have been part of the legendary Outlaws album, but long before the Outlaw movement was a media craze, Smith was the living embodiment of it. Her country was tougher-edged and more forward than anything that country music had seen before, and while today she is best known for one hit, it’s a classic that not only stands the test of time, but knocked down topical barriers at country radio.

Smith’s journey to Music City was hardly a fairytale. She dropped out of school at the age of eleven, and started singing in nightclubs the following year. She was married at fifteen, and had four kids in short order. She paid her dues in small joints for two decades, and when she finally moved to Nashville, she was a divorced mother of four, already in her mid-thirties.

Still, her talent couldn’t be denied. Her smoky vocals caught the attention of Columbia records, who signed her in 1968. A handful of singles went nowhere, and she was dropped. However, she found a new home at Mega Records, a small independent label. Nashville’s top songwriters weren’t exactly beating down her door to get a Sammi Smith cut, but she found a jewel of a Kris Kristofferson song to make all of her own.

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Tim McGraw, “Kristofferson”

Saturday, March 1st, 2008

By now, I should know better than to allow a title that name drops intrigue me, because much more often than not, the song simply leaves me disappointed and annoyed that the name was simply dropped as a ploy to propel a song. Once again, Tim McGraw’s “Kristofferson” follows the same deceptive format.

The song is about a man who does something to drive his woman away. In an effort to convince her to come back to him, he’s going “to tell {her} how {he} feel, straight up genuine and real/Open a bottle of ninety proof and write a song for {her} like Kristofferson would do.” Except, I’m not so sure that’s how the man who wrote “Bobby McGee”, “Sunday Morning Coming Down” and “Why Me, Lord?” necessarily writes all of his songs. Likewise, why use Kristofferson in this scenario? Why not any number of other songwriters?

Not only does this song shamelessly drop the name of one of music’s most prolific songwriters, it is one of the weakest songs on McGraw’s Let It Go album. The song lacks an interesting melody and the lyrics certainly aren’t compelling. It works well enough as album filler, but it’s a surprising choice for a radio single.

Written by Reed Nielsen and Anthony Smith

Grade: C

Listen: Kristofferson

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