A Country Music Conversation: Introduction and Index
Previous Entry: Day 8: “For the Good Times” to “He Stopped Loving Her Today”
Day 9 features tracks from Johnny Cash, Don Williams, Alison Krauss & Union Station, Linda Ronstadt, and Patsy Cline.
Written by Trent Reznor
Johnny Cash was a favorite of my parents, who played his Columbia Years anthology all of the time. But I became a fan through the American Recordings series he did with Rick Rubin, and while American IV was my least favorite entry, “Hurt” captured the brilliance of their collaboration as well as anything they ever did together.
Other Favorites: “‘Flesh and Blood,” “No Earthly Good,” “Solitary Man”
“I Believe in You”
Written by Roger Cook and Sam Hogin
Don Williams is known for his understatement as a singer, an approach to singing best described by Patty Loveless: “Don’t get in the way of the song.” There is no place for vocal histrionics in “I Believe in You.” It’s so well written that Williams just needs to deliver it in his low-key way for it to pack a mighty punch.
Other Favorites: “Lord I Hope This Day is Good,” “I Just Come Here For the Music” (with Alison Krauss), “If I Needed You” (with Emmylou Harris)
“I Can Let Go Now”
Alison Krauss & Union Station
Written by Michael McDonald
One of the things that Alison Krauss does best is stripping down a song to its essence. I didn’t even know Michael McDonald wrote and recorded “I Can Let Go Now” until researching the track for this feature, and it is to Krauss’ eternal credit that she found a beautiful acoustic country song underneath his original performance.
Other Favorites: “Doesn’t Have to Be This Way,” “Ghost in This House,” “The Lucky One”
“I Can’t Help it (If I’m Still in Love With You)”
Written by Hank Williams
Exhibit A of why I could care less about country artists crossing over to pop and pop artists crossing over to country. Put Linda Ronstadt’s cover of this Hank Williams classic up against any mainstream country hit of the same era and it’s as country as all of them, and usually quite a bit more. That she has Emmylou Harris singing harmony – a year before Harris released her own debut album – gives the record some extra historical significance, but every second of it is already as good as country music gets.
Other Favorites: “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore, “You’re No Good,” “Heart is Like a Wheel”
“I Fall to Pieces”
Written by Hank Cochran and Harlan Howard
The record where Patsy Cline became Patsy Cline, embodying the Nashville Sound and setting the bar so high that few vocalists that followed could jump high enough to even see it, let alone clear it.
Other Favorites: “Crazy,” “She’s Got You,” “Faded Love”
My most played from these artists are:
Johnny Cash – September When It Comes (with Rosanne Cash)
Don Williams – I Just Came Here for the Music (with Alison Krauss)
Alison Krauss – Restless (with Union Station)
Linda Ronstadt – her Cry Like a Rainstorm album and her work on the Trio projects
Patsy Cine – I have a few songs because she is my grandpa’s favorite but it doesn’t look like I’ve played them yet
“Adios”, a Jimmy Webb song with harmony vocals by Brian Wilson is my most frequently played LR song on i-tunes.
other favorites: Back in the U.S.A., Different Drum (Stone Ponies), You’re No Good, White Rhythm & Blues
Alison Krauss – Lucky One, Somewhere in the Vicinity of the Heart (w Shenandoah), Let Me Touch You for a While, How’s the World Treating You (w James Taylor).
Patsy Cline – Crazy, Sweet Dreams, You Took Him Off My Hands, She’s Got You
Don Williams – I Just Come Here for the Music
I listen to such a wide variety of Linda Ronstadt, but for whatever reason, my top four tracks are from Heart Like a Wheel!
Don Williams is another who is in my top 5 male singers. I love so many of his songs but my favorites are Turn Out The Lights And Love Me Tonight, Good Ol’ Boys Like Me, I Believe In You, Love Is On A Roll, and Lord I Hope This Day Is Good.
My favorite Patsy Cline song is She’s Got You. However I don’t think I’ve ever heard a Patsy song I didn’t like.
I don’t think anything that Patsy Cline did was ever sub-standard, she was just too good at what she recorded. She did indeed set a standard, one that I think she would have built upon had we not lost her so tragically, and so young.
With Linda, I feel that her version of “I Can’t Help It If I’m Still In Love With You” is an example of how she approached doing classic country songs: being faithful to the traditional spirit of the original, while also doing her own take on it in a way that makes such songs relevant to a rock and roll audience. Yes, her version is straightforward country, but it also had an appeal that went beyond the country audience into rock (recall that this was the B-side of her #1 pop hit “You’re No Good”, and it went to #2 on the C&W chart); and Linda herself had that appeal, which is why artists like Trisha Yearwood and Martina McBride admire her to this day, even though she can’t sing anymore.