Posts Tagged ‘The Notorious Cherry Bombs’

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

iPod Check: Recommend Ten Tracks

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

ipodWhile I know it goes against the proper album listening experience, my favorite way to listen to my iPod is to put it on shuffle and see what pops up. It’s like my own personal radio station without the commercials, talking and music that I dislike. So, today I’m going to put my iPod on shuffle and list ten country songs that I would comfortably recommend to you. In the comments, you can do the same for us.

#1 Steve Earle, “City of Immigrants”

Here is Steve’s tribute to New York City, a city of immigrants. I’m a sucker for this song that celebrates such diversity. The lending of acoustic and world sounds that are employed here is sonically pleasing as well.

#2 The Be Good Tanyas, “The Coo Coo Bird”

This is a haunting sounding song thanks to funky fiddle riffs, intriguing baseline and soft percussive support.

#3 Patty Loveless, “Don’t Toss Us Away”

This is one of my favorite Loveless songs from her early years. It’s a plea not to throw away a relationship despite the hardships. Of course, with Patty, it’s going to maintain a nice progressive traditional sound.

#4 Trent Summar & the New Row Mob, “Louisville Nashville Line”

Nice! I was hoping something from this group would pop up. Thanks to Country California’s recommendation, they’re one of my favorite discoveries of 2009 so far. This country rocker chugs along at an addictive pace, as is the case with many of the songs on the album. I love it.

#5 Trisha Yearwood, “Cowboys Are My Weakness”

Most of you already know this song, but it came up on the shuffle and I still recommend it. Yearwood slides in this song that would be perfect for Suzy Bogguss with such joyous ease that it’s impossible not to get caught up in the infatuation right along with her.

#6 Sweethearts of the Rodeo, “Beautiful Lies”

Their two Sugar Hill albums are excellent. This sister duo harmonize like only family members can do on this song about a woman who buys into her lover’s constant lies, since they were easier to hear than the truth in his eyes.

#7 Vince Gill, “Old Time Fiddle”

Considering the amount of Vince Gill songs I have on my iPod compared to any other artist, there’s simply no probable way that an iPod shuffle session could pass without a Vince song showing up. I love this raucous Cajun flavored fiddle laden song.

#8 Todd Snider, “Easy”

Imagine a nice love song from Todd Snider. Well, this is it, Folks. They do exist.

#9 The Notorious Cherry Bombs, “Making Memories of Us”

Keith Urban made this song famous, but Rodney Crowell wrote and sings the superior version, in my bold opinion. As apart of a pet project with Vince Gill, Rodney takes the lead with Vince providing gorgeous harmony support. Along with Crowell’s emotive rendering, this version has a nice, easy tasteful production.

#10 The Little Willies, “Tennessee Stud”

I can’t get enough of this song or this group. I’m glad it naturally came up on the shuffle, because I might have otherwise been tempted to rig it so it would anyway. The Little Willies are a group made up of people from New York City who have their own music careers separate from this group, but decided to come together to form this side band named after Willie Nelson. One of the members is well known, as she is Norah Jones. The entire project is unshakably fun with this song being my favorite. I typically don’t even like “Tennessee Stud”, but their arrangement and performance is ridiculously addictive, especially the guitar riff and Jones’ jaunty piano throughout the song.

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