A Country Music Conversation: Spotify Playlist (thanks to reader Justin Lai)
Previous Entry: Day 7: “Even the Man in the Moon is Crying” to “Follow Your Arrow”
Day 8 features tracks from Ray Price, Laura Bell Bundy, Jeannie C. Riley, Nickel Creek, and George Jones.
“For the Good Times”
Written by Kris Kristofferson
Ray Price was one of the few male artists in country music history to suffer a backlash from traditionalists when he went for a smoother pop sound, but with that voice, who could stay mad for long? He gives a mature reading of “For the Good Times” that wouldn’t have had the same gravitas coming from a younger artist.
Other Favorites: “‘Crazy Arms,” “Heartaches by the Number,” “I Won’t Mention it Again”
“Giddy On Up”
Laura Bell Bundy
Written by Laura Bell Bundy, Jeff Cohen, and Mike Shimshack
How I wish Laura Bell Bundy had broken through. Her Achin’ and Shakin’ album was relentless entertaining, and “Giddy On Up” epitomizes the fearlessness of the production and her remarkably charming delivery. I love the bridge, where she becomes her own Pip, answering her own questions with some “Mmm Hmms” and “Nuh uhs.”
Other Favorites: “China and Wine,” “Another Piece of Me,” “Cigarette”
“Harper Valley P.T.A.”
Jeannie C. Riley
Written by Tom T. Hall
Sure, it’s Riley’s biggest hit, and it’s a classic. But the strength of the storyline and her lesser success at radio after it obscure the fact that it’s not just a great record because of Tom T. Hall’s way with words. Her sassy delivery packs a punch that nobody else who’s recorded it has matched – and almost every female artist of her day recorded it, too. Check out her later singles and pretty much all of her Plantation albums. There is a lot of great music to discover.
Other Favorites: “The Rib,” “The Backside of Dallas,” “Run Jeannie Run”
Written by Ryan Guildemond
This record is hilarious to listen to, and showcases how innovative Nickel Creek are and how well they complement each other. This has the off-beat weirdness associated with Chris Thile’s work outside of the group, but the singing and musicianship of the Watkins siblings add depth and dimension to the proceedings. They remain his finest fellow travelers.
Other Favorites: “Helena,” “You Don’t Know What’s Going On,” “Somebody More Like You”
“He Stopped Loving Her Today”
Written by Bobby Braddock and Curly Putman
It’s often called the greatest country song of all time. He’s often called the greatest country singer of all time. One could quibble with either of those claims, but nobody could seriously argue that the record and the singer are in serious contention for the very best that country music has ever seen. My mind tells me my favorite George Jones song is “A Good Year for the Roses,” but my play count agrees with the historians.
Other Favorites: “A Good Year For the Roses,” “The Grand Tour,” “Golden Ring” (with Tammy Wynette)
Up Next: Day 9: “Hurt” to “I Fall to Pieces”