waylon jennings

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Waylon Jennings: Are You Sure Hank Done it This Way (1975)

Waylon Jennings: Are You Sure Hank Done it This Way (1975)

Just from the repeated electric strum here, Waylon Jennings was announcing a different kind of country music: and its minimal sound threw even greater attention on his lyrics which questioned the whole country music establishment as epitomised by the smooth Nashville Sound, the Grand Ole Opry and the Music Row writers cranking out generic songs....

Johnny Cash: Cash, American VI; Ain't No Grave (American)

Johnny Cash: Cash, American VI; Ain't No Grave (American)

In recent years I have been lecturing in contemporary music (rock'n'roll to hip-hop) and it has been an insight for me. After showing clips of a young and wild Elvis for example some students will come to me afterwards and express surprise: they only knew him from parodies as that boring fat guy. History is reductive: it's necessary to remind...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Willie Nelson: Country Music (Rounder)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Willie Nelson: Country Music (Rounder)

Willie Nelson makes so many albums these days – from Western Swing with Asleep at the Wheel and Tex-Mex to jazz stylings with Wynton Marsalis – that it's helpful this title is a product description. So here's Willie – now 77 – going back to songs by Ernest Tubb, Doc Watson, Hank Williams and others, as well...

Kris Kristofferson: Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends (Light in the Attic/Rhythmethod)

Kris Kristofferson: Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends (Light in the Attic/Rhythmethod)

Elsewhere agrees with itself that Willie Nelson makes too many albums these days (although the last one Country Music was excellent). But the collection to return to repeatedly is Classic and Unreleased, a '95 Rhino box set of Willie's early years. In it you can hear the gifted songwriter that everyone recognised, and the utterly personal...

CRAZY HEART, a film by SCOTT COOPER (Roadshow DVD)

CRAZY HEART, a film by SCOTT COOPER (Roadshow DVD)

As in rock‘n‘roll, country music has its casualties, like Hank Williams who died at age 29 in the back of his chauffeur-driven Cadillac on the way to a gig. Others make a longer crawl to the bottom through years of drink, dope, one-night stands in cheap bars where they stagger through versions of their hits with a local...

George Strait and Alan Jackson: Murder on Music Row (2000)

George Strait and Alan Jackson: Murder on Music Row (2000)

There has been quite a tradition in country music of complaining about how it has lost its roots, lost its way, been taken over by big business and stars selling out for the almighty dollar. Way back Waylon asked Are You Sure Hank Done it This Way? and ol' Hank Williams (something of a rebel himself, remember) seems to be the touchstone for...

Willie Nelson: Rarities Vol 1 (Great American Music/Southbound)

Willie Nelson: Rarities Vol 1 (Great American Music/Southbound)

Another week, another Willie album? (Previously here the joke was another month, another Willie but . . .) So it has seemed lately -- but this isn't new material: here are songs by Willie from betweeen 1959 and '65,  11 of them just solo with guitar, the rest with a small band. The solo pieces -- only one breaking the two minute mark...

Dierks Bentley: What Was I Thinkin' (2003)

Dierks Bentley: What Was I Thinkin' (2003)

One of the features of country music which make it a great soundtrack when driving is that the songs often tell stories. Sometimes those narratives are maudlin and sentimental, sometimes they really hit a spot in the heart -- and sometimes they are just kinda dumb fun. Like this one. In '04 while driving across the Southern states, this...

BILLY JOE SHAVER PROFILED (2011): The rough diamond from Texas coal

BILLY JOE SHAVER PROFILED (2011): The rough diamond from Texas coal

The truth about Billy Joe Shaver is much more interesting than anything anyone might make up about the guy. Shaver has lived on the hard edge of life. Born in Corsicana in Texas in late 1941 or '39 depending on where you read it (“just a cotton-gin town, the same one Lefty Frizzell came from") and raised in Waco, he lost two...

LUCINDA WILLIAMS INTERVIEWED (2011): Darkness from light

LUCINDA WILLIAMS INTERVIEWED (2011): Darkness from light

These are more good days for Lucinda Williams: happily married and comfortable, a Grammy nomination for Kiss Like Your Kiss (best song in a film or television series, it appeared in True Blood) and acclaim from her peers, critics and an increasing fan base. And she has a new album out, Blessed which was produced by Don Was, her husband...

Johnny Cash: From Memphis to Hollywood Bootleg Vol II (CBS)

Johnny Cash: From Memphis to Hollywood Bootleg Vol II (CBS)

Following Cash's Personal File: Bootleg Vol I -- and of course the Dylan bootleg series, Kris Kristofferson's Austin Sessions and demoes, George Jones' Great Lost Hits and various Willie Nelson issues of early demos and sessions -- there is no shortage of material for scholars researching these artists. This Johnny Cash double disc from his...

JOHNNY CASH; THE MAN IN BLACK (Xelon/Southbound DVD)

JOHNNY CASH; THE MAN IN BLACK (Xelon/Southbound DVD)

Despite it's promising subtitle "A Documentary", this 90 minute overview of Johnny Cash's career is little more than a Reader's Digest synopsis where much is glossed over (just why was the death of his older brother so traumatic?) and important events are left hanging or unexplored. It is also scrupulously free of a single note of...

THE GRAND OLE OPRY PRESENTS . . . CLASSICS (Time Life 5-DVD set)

THE GRAND OLE OPRY PRESENTS . . . CLASSICS (Time Life 5-DVD set)

Can you have too much of that old time mainstream country music? Some might say that five discs and 10 hours of country singers at the Grand Ole Opry might just be that bridge too far . . . and to be honest I didn't get more than halfway through this set which draws mostly from the Fifties and Sixties. It is hilarious of course if you just...

Willie Nelson: Cowboys are Frequently Secretly Fond of Each Other (2006)

Willie Nelson: Cowboys are Frequently Secretly Fond of Each Other (2006)

When this Willie Nelson song started to get a bit of attention around the time of the movie Brokeback Mountain, many people -- myself included -- assumed it had been prompted by that film. But the story of it goes back quite a way and the song's writer Ned Sublette tells it in his excellent book The Year Before the Flood about his time in...

Mickey Newbury: An American Trilogy (Saint Cecilia Knows/Southbound)

Mickey Newbury: An American Trilogy (Saint Cecilia Knows/Southbound)

Not many people know about Texan Mickey Newbury, who died almost a decade ago, age 62. Maybe it's enough Elvis (who made Newbury's medley An American Trilogy a cornerstone of his latter performances) did. And that Mickey's songs were covered by Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Willie Nelson, Joan Baez and dozens of others. Often spoken of...

Joe Ely: Satisfied at Last (Rack 'Em Records/Southbound)

Joe Ely: Satisfied at Last (Rack 'Em Records/Southbound)

The very good news is that the great Joe Ely -- who has delivered a few patchy albums in the past decade -- doesn't sound at all "satisfied" as the album's title would suggest. In fact from the opener The Highway is My Home to Butch Hancock's Circumstance 40 minutes later this tight'n'tidy 10 song collection has much of the old...

Jeff Bridges: Jeff Bridges (Blue Note)

Jeff Bridges: Jeff Bridges (Blue Note)

After his multiple awards-winning turn as broken down country singer Bad Blake in Crazy Heart, and the spin-off T Bone Burnett-produced soundtrack, there should be interest in this (also produced by Burnett) where Bridges again sings persuasively on originals and material by John Goodwin, Stephen Bruton (who wrote most of the Crazy Heart...

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