Posts Tagged ‘The Byrds’

100 Greatest Men: #37. The Louvin Brothers

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

100 Greatest Men: The Complete List

They would both go on to successful solo careers, but it was the music that Ira and Charlie Louvin made together that earned them a place in the annals of history.

Born in to Appalachian poverty, the Louvin Brothers began their public singing career by performing gospel standards at church.  Their distinctive harmonies and instrumental skills soon earned them a spot on AM radio in Chattanooga.  After Charlie did a brief tour with the Army, the duo moved to Knoxville, where their sound reached a wider audience.

By the late forties, the labels came calling. as did a publishing deal.  The Louvins released a few moderately successful singles before Charlie was sent back overseas, but when he returned, the brothers began incorporating country into their repertoire, a move largely influenced by their appearances on the Opry.   Throughout the fifties and early sixties, they released many of the most significant country compositions of all-time, including standards like the #1 hit “I Don’t Believe You’ve Met My Baby” and the top ten  “Cash on the Barrelhead.”

They never abandoned their gospel roots, as reflected in a series of classic albums with a spiritual focus.   One of their essential works was the LP Satan is Real, which became notorious for its vivid album artwork along with its music.   The increasing popularity of rock and roll slowed down their success, which sadly led to an alcohol addiction for Ira, who was encouraged to drop his signature mandolin from their sound.   His deterioration was the primary reason the duo disbanded in 1963.

Both brothers pursued solo careers, with Charlie forging out on his own and Ira performing with his new wife, Anne Young.  Tragically, Ira and Anne were killed in an automobile accident in 1965, preventing a reconciliation of the brothers.   Charlie proudly carried on the legacy of the Louvin Brothers, recording and performing right up until his death in 2011.

As years have gone by, the songs and recordings of the Louvin Brothers have become increasingly influential, shaping the sounds of the Byrds, Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris, and others.  In 2002, a tribute album by contemporary country, bluegrass, and pop artists was a huge success, winning the Grammy for Best Country Album.   Their sound lives on in the work of every duo built around harmony, from the Everly Brothers to the Judds, their songs have been covered by artists as diverse as James Taylor and Dolly Parton, and their themed albums with powerful artwork are regarded as essential classics by both musicians and graphic designers.

Essential Singles:

  • When I Stop Dreaming, 1955
  • I Don’t Believe You’ve Met My Baby, 1956
  • Hoping That You’re Hoping, 1956
  • You’re Running Wild/Cash on the Barrelhead, 1956
  • My Baby’s Gone, 1958
  • The River of Jordan, 1959
  • How’s the World Treating You, 1961

Essential Albums:

  • The Louvin Brothers, 1956
  • Tragic Songs of Life, 1956
  • Ira and Charlie, 1958
  • Satan is Real, 1959
  • My Baby’s Gone, 1960
  • Sing and Play Their Current Hits, 1964

Next: #36. Ricky Skaggs

Previous: #38. Vince Gill

100 Greatest Men: The Complete List

100 Greatest Men: #72. Vern Gosdin

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

100 Greatest Men: The Complete List

Vern Gosdin took a long and winding road to Nashville, but once he got there, he became one of the most significant traditional voices of his generation.

Born and raised in Alabama, Gosdin sang gospel with his family as a child.  After a brief time in Chicago, Gosdin moved to California in the early sixties.  As part of the West Coast country scene, he was one of the Hillmen alongside Chris Hillman, who would later be part of the Byrds, the Flying Burrito Brothers, and the Desert Rose Band.

Gosdin then formed a duo with his brother Rex.  As the Gosdin Brothers, they had a minor hit with “Hangin’ On” in 1967.   After a brief retirement in the first half of the seventies, Gosdin launched a solo career with the same single, and it went higher on the charts, thanks to harmony vocals provided by Emmylou Harris.

Gosdin had the classic journeyman experience as a Nashville recording artist, scoring hits for several different labels in the late seventies and throughout the eighties.  He became known as the Voice, and influenced not only the singers that came after him, but even some of his peers of the time.   In the late eighties, he reached a new career peak with Columbia Records, scoring eight top ten hits, with two #1 singles among them.

The absolute highlight of his tenure at Columbia was the award-winning “Chiseled in Stone.” Thought it didn’t hit the top five, it became Gosdin’s signature song and powered the veteran singer to his first gold record.   His epic 1989 album Alone is often cited as his strongest work, as it was written in the wake of his failing marriage.

Gosdin didn’t have commercial success after leaving Columbia, but he did continue to record and perform up until his death in 2009.   Stars like George Strait and Brad Paisley have since covered Gosdin tracks, and he is often cited as an influence among up and coming traditionalist singers.

Essential Singles:

  • Till the End, 1977
  • Today My World Slipped Away, 1982
  • If You’re Gonna Do Me Wrong (Do it Right), 1983
  • I Can Tell by the Way You Dance (You’re Gonna Love Me Tonight), 1984
  • Set ‘Em Up Joe, 1988
  • Chiseled in Stone, 1988

Essential Albums:

  • till the End, 1977
  • Today My World Slipped Away, 1982
  • If You’re Gonna Do Me Wrong (Do it Right), 1983
  • Chiseled in Stone, 1988
  • Alone, 1989

Next: #71. Johnny Paycheck

Previous: #73.  Tennessee Ernie Ford

100 Greatest Men: The Complete List

The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 27

Sunday, June 5th, 2011

Today’s category is…

A Song That Expresses Your World View (Or Somethin’ Like That.)

Here are the staff picks:

Kevin Coyne: “Something Worth Leaving Behind” – Lee Ann Womack

Live your life for yourself, your life dies with you.  Live it for others, it lives on long after you’re gone.

Leeann Ward: “What You Give Away” – Vince Gill

I like the way this guy thinks. I wholeheartedly believe in this philosophy and tend to be a sucker for any song that expresses it.

Dan Milliken: “Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There is a Season)” – The Byrds

Ecclesiastes and Pete Seeger wrote this classic in a Music Row living room after eating some barbecue and swapping stories about their weekends. “Turn! Turn! Turn!” gets that life paints in shades of gray – things that seem undesirable to us may yet be necessary, and different courses of action may be morally sound or not depending on circumstance. But the song also doesn’t shy away from advocating for peace at the end, as if to say, “maybe we’ve already served enough ‘time for war,’ you know?”

Tara Seetharam: “What a Wonderful World” – Louis Armstrong

I know it seems like a simplistic pick, but lately its message has really resonated with me. It’s incredible –mind-blowing, really– how much beauty and humanity you can see in the world every day if you choose to see it. And life is significantly more rewarding when you do.

Writers

Latest Comments

Most Popular

Worth Reading

View Older Posts