Six Pack: K.T. Oslin, Part Two

The following is a continuation of a guest contribution from Country Universe reader Cory DeStein, who wrote Part One. You can read that entry here.

kt-oslinThere have only been a handful of exceptionally literate female singer-songwriters that have become successful country music stars. K.T. Oslin was the second in a trio of such women, following Rosanne Cash and preceding Mary Chapin Carpenter.

Cory did a wonderful job with the first Six Pack, noting six of Oslin’s most impressive compositions and performances.  My Six Pack is not a counterpoint to his, but rather a continuation of it. He already named many of my favorite Oslin songs, most notably “Hold Me” and “New Way Home.”  Thankfully, her catalog is more than deep enough for me to contribute six more to the conversation. I highly recommend seeking out all of her studio albums, but the twelve tracks listed by Cory and myself should tide you over for now.

80s-ladies“I’ll Always Come Back”

80’s Ladies

The love song of a nomadic soul. Oslin promises she’ll “never get too lost that I can’t be found,” and that she’ll always come back to the person they left behind.  On the record, it sounds like she’s singing to her man, but the touching video transforms it into a lullaby for a son who lives with his father and only sees his mother occasionally.

this-woman“Didn’t Expect it To Go Down This Way”

This Woman

This past weekend, I saw the musical Avenue Q. It’s all about the disillusionment that sets in when you realize that the reality of your adult life bears no resemblance to the dreams that you held in your youth. Here, Oslin is overworked and overweight. “I knew life would be hard, but I didn’t know how hard. I thought by now I’d be happy.”  She’s left wondering, “How in the world did I end up lonely?”

love-in-a-small-town“Mary and Willi”

Love In a Small Town

Two lovers who’ve never met are both alone because they won’t settle for anything less than perfection in a mate. Willi wants a perfect beauty on his arm. Mary’s just much too choosy. She describes her working life as heaven, and her personal life as hell.  “Nothing ordinary is gonna do for Willi or Mary. That’s why Willi ain’t got no woman, and that’s why Mary ain’t got no man.”

Again, the video adds new dimension to the song, as both characters cross paths but still miss the opportunity to connect with another lonely soul.

greatest-hits“You Can’t Do That”

Greatest Hits: Songs from an Aging Sex Bomb

The perils of aging explored to hilarious effect. In three witty verses, Oslin tackles mandatory dieting, her nervous libido and sexual harrassment at work. She rues her new diet that is “figs and twigs and fiber” and confesses, “I want my B.L.T.” She longs for the early days of her life life, when if “I saw something I wanted, I’d just drag it on home with me.”

And in the final verse, she rips her employer to shreds, as “they don’t read the Constitution down there where I work.”  Her boss “is always making passes. He’s got hands in the back of his head. He’d love to see me naked. Honey, I’d love to see him dead.”

greatest-hits“Get Back in the Saddle”

Greatest Hits: Songs from an Aging Sex Bomb

The warm romanticism of “Strawberry Wine” is nowhere to be found here, as Oslin’s first time is more bitter than sweet. “His best friend was in the car, slumped down behind the wheel.”  She remembers the beat of the song on the radio that plays as she loses her innocence, and when she is unceremoniously dumped for the chaste girl next door, she confesses: “Nothing I swear could ever prepare me for the way I felt inside. Like somebody kicked me as hard as they could, a part of me died.”

But she learns a life lesson, in spite of dreaming of him at night and being tormented by the mere sight of him every day at school: “If you can’t take the fall, you shouldn’t take the ride. Get back in the saddle one more time.”

live-close-by“Drivin’, Cryin’, Missin’ You”

Live Close By, Visit Often

This song is similar thematically to Trisha Yearwood’s “The Song Remembers When.” However, since Oslin’s in the confines of her car when the song comes on the radio, her emotions are far more difficult to keep in check. “I hope nobody sees me, nobody I know.  ‘Cause I feel like such a fool for losing control.”

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  1. Thanks again for giving KT Oslin the respect she deserves as an artist. She was such an important figure at that time. Aside from her image, no one had ever sounded like her. It’s always great to see an artist who is completely unique break through. We need more like her today.

  2. Excellent set of songs Kevin, two of the songs on your list were two that I almost ended up putting on my list.
    “Didnt Expect It To Go Down This Way”-Setting up those expectations for ourselves and they never turn out that way. I figured even at my young age that I would be outta school living on my own and starting an exciting new career, and it isnt exactly at that point and often I listen to this song and say “that is me” my favorite line is “How in the world did I end up lonely”

    the second is “Mary and Willie”-in nursing school a big part of the psych course is looking at depression and what causes it, the best way to let yourself down is set up expectations and standards for yourself, in fact thats a key element in postpartum depression. Two people setting the standards high in their lives, and living them alone. I found the video captured it beautifully. I would be lying if I said I didnt see any of Willie in myself.

  3. Thank you for such a nice article on this GREAT singer!!!! I think she was s-o-o-o far ahead of her time. The mark of a true artist is one that can be as innovative and different, as she was, each time she sang one of her songs. She had so much class; and worked so hard to win the rewards and recognition that she finally did. She believed in herself and knew all along that she had what it took–all well-deserved.

  4. Ms. Oslin not only believed in herself she actually caused one Texas woman to believe in herself as well. It was largely due to Ms. Oslin’s songs of feminine empowerment that caused my divorce in 1991. And I thank her for it. Again 2 years later, as a single mother of 2 teens, I started a business which I still have 15 years later. Ms. Oslin is partially due responsibility for that as well. I would pay a ridiculous amount of money to meet her.

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