Browsing articles tagged with " Johnny Cash"
Jun
13

New Hank Williams “I Saw The Light” Biopic Coming

June 13, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  8 Comments

hank-williamsCountry music legend Hank Williams will be getting a brand new retrospective in an upcoming movie called “I Saw The Light” that will be based off of the Colin Escott biography of Hank’s life, and directed and written by Marc Abraham, an American film producer known for such movies as Spy Game and most recently The Man With The Iron Fists. English actor Tom Hiddleston, known best for his work in recent Marvel Comics movies such as Thor and The Avengers, has been cast in the leading role as Hank Williams.

Production of the film is set to start in Louisiana in October, and the film’s producers have reportedly struck a deal with Sony ATV, who owns the rights to all of Hank’s songs, to use his iconic compositions in the film. It is a co-production between Bron Studios, RatPac Entertainment, and Creative Wealth Media Finance according to deadline.com, with Marc Abraham, Brett Ratner, and G. Marq Rosell all being listed as producers, and James Packer as executive producer.

The biopic film on Hank Williams has been rumored for quite some time, with director Marc Abaraham being quoted previously that the film has been his top priority. Tom Hiddleston, who is currently in the midst of filming another movie, is said to be practicing to perform the songs “Your Cheatin’ Heart”, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” and “Hey Good Lookin’” in the film.

Unlike other films about Hank Williams such as the small-budget The Last Ride released in 2012 about the final few days of Hank’s life, or the 1964 musical Your Cheatin’ Heart where Hank was played by George Hamilton and it took a more theatrical take on tHank, all indications are that I Saw The Light will be a more proper biopic in the vein of the award-winning Johnny Cash film Walk The Line from 2005 that revitalized interest in the singer’s career.

Stay tuned as more information about this important film becomes available.

Tom Hiddleston tweeted out the below photo simply saying “I Saw The Light” yesterday.

hank-williams-biopic

Jun
2

GARTH-FM Becomes 103.9 The Hawk

June 2, 2014 - By Trigger  //  Podcasting/Radio  //  38 Comments

103.9-the-hawk-louisville, WRKAIt’s the little station in Louisville that has the country, or at least country music, paying close attention.

Kentucky’s 103.9 WRKA first created a stir over the Memorial Day weekend when they re-branded to the “All Garth, all the time” radio station GARTH-FM, playing Garth and Garth only on a 24 hour loop. Though it appeared to be what people in the radio business call “stunting”—where a radio station ahead of a format change plays the same song, or in this case, the same artist over and over to draw attention—the importance of WRKA’s move goes much deeper.

As hypothesized by many when GARTH-FM first hit the air, the radio station has arguably become the first in the country to adopt a new “classic” country format, first floated as an idea by radio trade publication writers, and first championed in public by the yet to be launched venture between the Big Machine Label Group and Cumulus Media called NASH Icons. The idea is to give a home to country artists that flourished in country music starting 25 years ago, when artists like Garth Brooks, Travis Tritt, and Clint Black first got their start; artists that have been all but abandoned by country radio. It all has country music and the radio world buzzing about a potential format split in country music, where Top-40 country and “classic” country stations could exists side by side.

On May 29th, Garth’s lawyers sent a cease and desist letter to WRKA, telling them to quit using Garth’s name to promote their station. They were still able to play Garth’s music, but this development may have forced WRKA to expedite their more long-term plans of becoming the country’s first station to reside in the “classic” 25-year window. On Monday morning, 103.9 rolled out their new format called “The Hawk – Louisville’s True Country.”

“The country listener that became a fan in the 1990’s when country really exploded can’t find those songs on the radio in Louisville right now,” says Operations Manager Shane Collins. “It’s a whole segment of the audience that’s being underserved. With the new 103.9 The Hawk, they can hear those big monster hits and artists all the time.”

Of course not everyone is happy with the move. The format the The Hawk replaced was one that played artists beyond the 25-year “classic” window; artists like Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash. But like it or hate it, 103.9 The Hawk will become the bellwether for country music’s potential new format, and there’s no doubt the rest of the country will be watching and listening to see how the new station is received.

May
26

New 103.9 GARTH-FM Plays Garth, & Only Garth

May 26, 2014 - By Trigger  //  Podcasting/Radio  //  42 Comments

103.9-garth-fm-louisvilleDo you like Garth Brooks? Do you really like Garth Brooks? To the point where you’re so smitten with Garth’s music you’d be inclined to listen to it 24/7 and nothing else? Well then your in luck neighbor, because a new radio station has just popped up called GARTH-FM in Louisville, KY at 103.9 on the dial, serving the surrounding area and the entire world via the internet with Garth, and Garth only. The station’s slogan is “Garth, The Whole Garth, and Nothing But The Garth.”

The format change for the Summit Media-owned radio station happened over the Memorial Day weekend. It was first thought to be what’s known in the radio station business as “stunting”—where a station will play the same song, or maybe the same artist over and over to draw attention ahead of a format change. But the commitment to GARTH-FM goes much deeper, or that’s what they’re saying at the moment. “There has been attention both inside and outside the industry recently regarding the absence of Garth on country radio these days,” Summit Media Louisville Operations Manager Shane Collins says, citing a recent Inside Radio article on the subject. “We really feel like there is a gap here that needs to be filled.”

Now that gap will be filled in a big way, and 103.9 GARTH-FM will be the first full service radio station to solely play one artist. Illustrating the station’s commitment to Garth, they’ve set up garthlouisville.com and 1039garthfm.com to stream the station online.

Summit Media, the parent company of GARTH-FM, owns about 24 radio stations throughout Kentucky, Alabama, South Carolina, Virginia, and Hawaii, including 3 other Louisville-based radio stations, including the area’s “NEW Country Q 103.1″ Top 40 country counterpart to GARTH-FM.

READ: Country Music Writes A Letter to Garth Brooks

The launching of GARTH-FM adds an interesting wrinkle to the discussion of a potential upcoming format split for country music, with Top 40 country, and “classic” country from the last 25 years going their separate ways. Rumors that this reality might be in the offing were stimulated when Big Machine Records struck a deal with radio giant Cumulus Media to start a new NASH Icons venture.

Another interesting note is that the radio station format that GARTH-FM is replacing was already playing classic country. The previous “Country Legends 103.9″ established on July 23rd, 2008 touted “playing hits from Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and Randy Travis.” This creates the question if a potential paradigm shift of country radio into two formats will potentially cannibalize under-performing classic or traditional radio stations that play music beyond this all-of-a-sudden magic 25-year “classic” country window, when big artists like Garth Brooks started their commercial ascent. There is also the possibility that as time goes on, GARTH-FM, just like many stations, could morph into this new 25-year “classic” country format and cover multiple artists.

When we look back, the changeover to GARTH-FM could be a symbolic moment where the cleaving of country music into two formats began …. or a silly idea that was short lived.

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UPDATE: Director of Marketing for Summit Media in Louisville, Brian Eichenberger says, “May we add in other artists at some point? That’s highly possible. But right now we really want to make a statement about, ‘What happened to the 90′s? Let’s bring them back.’ And here’s Garth to do it.READ FULL UPDATE

May
24

Marty Stuart to Release “Saturday Night & Sunday Morning”

May 24, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  17 Comments

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What’s better than a new album from Marty Stuart? Try two new albums from Marty Stuart released at the same damn time, and that’s just what will transpire when the scarved one doles out the double album Saturday Night & Sunday Morning on September 30th, backed by ”Cousin” Kenny Vaughan,” “Apostle” Paul Martin, and “Handsome” Harry Stinson, otherwise known as The Fabulous Superlatives.

As the name implies, the Saturday Night & Sunday Morning project will delve into the duality of country music as both fulfilling the fun of the working class when it’s time to cut loose on the weekends, and when one finds themselves looking for forgiveness and redemption the next day. The first album, subtitled Rough Around The Edges is pretty self-explanatory, while the second disc subtitled Cathedral is also being touted as a sequel to Stuart’s critically-acclaimed 2008 release, Soul’s Chapel. The second album is said to also include a collaboration with The Staple Singers on the song “Uncloudy Day”.

Marty Stuart, Saving Country Music’s 2012 Artist of the Year, has stayed very busy since releasing his last studio album Nashville Volume 1: Tear The Woodpile Down. Along with spitting out one super episode after another of his revered The Marty Stuart Show on RFD-TV and playing shows across the country, Marty recently compiled a collection of his still shot photography taken over the years to form a new exhibit at Nashville’s Frist Center in downtown. From one of the last living shots of Johnny Cash, to Bill Monroe and Unknown Hinson, the collection offers an intimate look at country music through Marty’s eyes. 

Listen to the new Marty Stuart song “Rough Around The Edges”.

Saturday Night & Sunday Morning Tracklist:

Saturday Night – Rough Around The Edges
1. Jailhouse
2. I’m Blue, I’m Lonesome
3. Geraldine
4. Rough Around The Edges
5. When It Comes To Loving You
6. Sad House Big Party
7. Talkin’ To The Wall
8. Lifes Ups And Downs
9. Look At That Girl
10. Old, Old House
11. Streamline

Sunday Morning – Cathedral
1. Uncloudy Day (featuring The Staple Singers)
2. Boogie Woogie
3. Long Walk To Heaven
4. That Gospel Music
5. The Gospel Way
6. Mercy Number 1
7. Firing Line
8. God Will Make A Way
9. Good News
10. Angels Rock Me To Sleep
11. Cathedral
12. Heaven

May
22

Sturgill Simpson’s “Metamodern Sounds” Debuts on Billboard Charts

May 22, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  37 Comments

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UPDATE (5-29): Sturgill remains on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart for a 2nd week at #22. Sturgill will also play Letterman on July 14th.

Kentucky native Sturgill Simpson has quickly become a critic’s favorite and a cult hero around the country with the release of his second solo album Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, garnering praise from industry critics and rabid country fans alike. And now the emerging country star has another feather to place in his cap.

The May 13th release has landed him in distinct company at the top of the Billboard charts, with Metamodern Sounds coming in at #11 on the Top Country Albums chart, and #59 on the all-genre Billboard 200. Both placings are very significant for a virtually unknown artist with little to no radio support who released his album independently through Thirty Tigers distribution. Sturgill’s first album, High Top Mountain, came in at #47 on the Country Albums chart upon its release, and did not make the Billboard 200.

Sturgill’s distinction comes the same week Dolly Parton’s Blue Smoke album turned in her highest-charting performance in her storied career, coming in at #6 on the Billboard 200, and #2 on the Country Albums chart, only outdone by superstar troika Rascal Flatts and the release of their new album Rewind. Johnny Cash also remains strong on the charts, still sitting at #13 a good eight weeks after the release of Out Among The Stars, and after debuting at #1 on the Country Albums chart.

As Sturgill Simpson said upon the release of the album, “I have said it many times and I will continue to say it, as it is the truth and I whole heartedly believe it…guys like me and the countless others others out there attempting to offer an alternative are not capable of change. We are not the catalyst of change. You guys are. We can only do our best to make the best records we are capable of but it is up to you the listener to have your voices heard. This is the only road to the true change that a lot of you I talk to at shows are seeking. If you connect with something that moves you it’s up to you to share it/burn it/ steal it/ give it away. As long as it finds and connects with as many people as possible that is all we wish for.”

May
21

Dolly Parton Scores Highest-Charting Album Ever w/ “Blue Smoke”

May 21, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  19 Comments

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Yet another sign that the appeal for traditional country and country music’s legacy artists is alive and well.

Dolly Parton released her 49th overall studio album Blue Smoke on May 13th, and the record has earned Dolly Parton a distinction she’s never experienced in her decorated, historic career. Blue Smoke marks Dolly’s highest charting solo album in her career’s history, debuting at #6 on the all-genre Billboard 200 chart. Surprisingly, this is the first time ever that Dolly Parton has reached the Top 10 of the Billboard 200 with a solo release. The closest she’s ever come to a Top 10 album was 1981′s 9 to 5 and Odd Jobs that reached #11. Her collaborative album Trio with Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt also reached #6 in 1987.

dolly-parton-blue-smokeBlue Smoke came in at #2 on the Billboard Country chart as well, beating out albums from artists such as Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line. 42 of Dolly’s 49 albums have reached the Top 10 on the dedicated country chart, including six #1 albums during her storied career.

“I am glad that people are enjoying the music from my new ‘Blue Smoke’ album. It feels great to be in the Top 10,” Dolly Parton says. “It’s always an honor to know the fans spend their hard earned money on my music. Thanks everybody!”

Dolly Parton joins Johnny Cash who also made chart history recently with his posthumous release Out Among The Stars. Cash came in at #3 on the Billboard 200, and #1 on the country chart in early April. And unlike some new releases that have glittering debuts only to fade quickly, Cash remained at #9 on the Country Albums chart last week—six weeks after the original release date. Older, traditional country artists can still factor heavily into the album charts despite a lack of radio play or mainstream promotion because of the loyalty of their fans, and the propensity of those fans to purchase full albums instead of cherry-picking singles or streaming the release, resulting in greater revenue for the artists and labels.

Purchase Dolly Parton’s New Album Blue Smoke

Apr
23

Kristofferson Coming Down: Landing a Helicopter on Cash’s Lawn

April 23, 2014 - By Trigger  //  Outlaw History  //  3 Comments
Johnny Cash's Hendersonville, TN lake house

Johnny Cash’s Hendersonville, TN lake house

On Tuesday April 22rd, the lakefront property on Old Hickory Lake in Hendersonville, TN just north of Nashville that was Johnny Cash’s home for 40 years, was sold to a real estate holdings company. The previous owner, Bee Gee’s frontman Barry Gibb bought the house on four lots in January of 2006 to make it a songwriter’s retreat, but his plans were foiled when a house fire burned the seven-bedroom “nature house” to the ground in April 2007 during the renovation process, leaving any hope for a future country music Graceland up in smoke.

Aside from supplying a roof over Johnny Cash and June Carter for so many years, the Johnny Cash lakehouse became famous for some of the most legendary guitar pulls and songwriting parties popular music has ever seen. As an example, in 1969, Johnny Cash hosted Bob Dylan, Kris Kristofferson, Joni Mitchell, Graham Nash, and Shel Silverstein all in the same sitting. “That night in my house [was] the first time these songs were heard…” Johnny Cash recalled. “Joni Mitchell sang ‘Both Sides Now,’ Graham Nash sang ‘Marrakesh Express,’ Shel Silverstein sang ‘A Boy Named Sue,’ Bob Dylan sang ‘Lay Lady Lay,’ and Kristofferson sang ‘Me & Bobby McGee.’” The gathering has since been coined by Saving Country Music as the “Million Dollar Songwriter Circle.”

And that’s just where the stories about Cash’s Hendersonville home begin. Arguably the most legendary tale transpired earlier in 1969 when Kris Kristofferson, a former helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War, landed a National Guard chopper on the lawn of of the Hendersonville house to hand-deliver demos to Cash in an act of desperation.

At the time, Kristofferson was working as a janitor at the offices of Columbia Records where Johnny Cash was signed. Kristofferson had met Cash a number of times, in the studio and backstage at The Grand Ole Opry, but Cash wouldn’t show any attention to young Kristofferson’s songwriting aspirations. Kris would slip Cash demos of his work, or give them to June Carter or Luther Perkins when he had a chance, but according to Cash, he would take them home to the Hendersonville house and toss them into Old Hickory Lake.

johnny-cash-kris-kristoffersonKristofferson took part-time work with the National Guard to help pay bills, and desperate to get Johnny Cash’s attention, decided to deviate from his flight plan while on a training run and land his helicopter in the Hendersonville property’s front yard. What happened next depends on who you ask. According to Cash, Kristofferson came sauntering out of the helicopter with a beer in one hand, and his demo tapes in another, demanding to be heard. But Kristofferson paints a more subdued picture. “Y’know, John had a very creative imagination,” Kristofferson recalled to UnCut. “I’ve never flown with a beer in my life. Believe me, you need two hands to fly those things.” In fact Kristofferson doesn’t even remember Cash being at the house at the time, though he does say, “I still think I was lucky he didn’t shoot me that day!”

What was the result of Kris Kristofferson’s aeronautical attention grab? It got Johnny Cash to invite him up on stage at the Newport Folk Festival later that year, which put Kris Kristofferson on the country music map. Cash would finally go on to give some attention to those Kristofferson demos, and eventually cut Kris’s “Sunday Morning Coming Down.” The song went on to become a #1 hit. It also won the CMA’s Song of the Year in 1970, and is given credit as one of country music’s first “Outlaw” moments of stretching the lyrical boundaries in the genre.

No word of what the new owners have in store for the hallowed ground on Old Hickory Lake in Hendersonville, but one hopes it respects the history of that place. And maybe they should consider installing a helipad.

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Apr
8

Johnny Cash Gets Animated in Newly Uncovered Interview

April 8, 2014 - By Trigger  //  Reviews  //  7 Comments

johnny-cash-animated

It says a lot about the state of music today that the two biggest names in music in the last couple of months have been Kurt Cobain and Johnny Cash. Cash, who passed away in 2003, recently crowned the country music charts once again at #1 with his posthumous, lost album release Out Among The Stars, and came in at #3 in all of music.

Amidst the renewed attention for Johnny and his music, the PBS series Blank on Blank has brought the Man in Black back alive in an animated interview. The 6-minute conversation originally recorded in October of 1996 with British journalist Barney Hoskyns is not just your average Q&A with Cash. Sensing the gravity and character that Johnny exudes in the segment inspired PBS to do something a little more special before releasing it to the public.

Cash is caught speaking so candidly about himself that it makes him feel alive again, and animator Patrick Smith does a tasteful, and accurate representation of the type of spirit Johnny Cash was that it gives you chills to listen, and watch. Cash delves into a litany of personal narratives in the interview, from his work on the Johnny Cash show with performers like The Who, to drugs and addiction, God and religion, to dressing in black and his Sun Studios buddy Elvis Presley.

These 6 minutes, and the revelation that there’s still much archived Johnny Cash audio still to be heard, spells out that even a decade after his passing, Johnny Cash’s legacy is still very much alive and well among us.

Apr
2

Johnny Cash’s “Out Among The Stars” Tops Charts at #1

April 2, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  41 Comments

johnny-cash-out-among-the-starsJohnny Cash is once again the big man in music as his recently-released “lost” album Out Among The Stars has come in at #1 on the Country Albums chart, and #3 on the all-encompassing album sales chart according to Mediabase, with a total of 54,000 copies sold. The sales success will likely result in Cash also cresting Billboard’s country chart, and hitting near #3 on their all genre album chart when the new week’s charts are posted.

The success of Out Among The Stars once again speaks to the resonance classic country and classic country artists can have among the wide populous when given a chance, and has once again reignited interest in the Man in Black. The album beat out Jerrod Niemann’s new album High Noon that was also released on March 25th.

Out Among The Stars is a complete album that was recorded between 1981 and 1984 by Cash, with songs that were meant to be together, but never saw the light of day. A true “lost album” if there ever was one. It was produced by Country Music Hall of Famer Billy Sherrill, renown as one of the architects of the countrypolitan, or Nashville Sound. Sherrill was also the president of CBS Records at the time, and the pairing was meant to create something special; something that could re-ignite Johnny Cash’s career. Eventually Columbia dropped Cash in 1986, shelving Out Among The Stars, even though they released some other recordings and albums that were made after the album.

Read: Album Review – Johnny Cash’s “Out Among The Stars”

Out Among The Stars features 12 tracks, including a duet with Waylon Jennings, and two duets with Cash’s wife, June Carter Cash. The recordings feature Country Hall of Fame keys player Hargus “Pig” Robbins, and a young Marty Stuart. Legacy Recordings had Marty Stuart, Buddy Miller, and Jerry Douglas “fortify” the recordings for this release.

Mar
29

Johnny Cash Fan Angela Dodson Pulls Double Duty for Man in Black

March 29, 2014 - By Trigger  //  Reviews  //  4 Comments

angela-dodson-lonesome-timeIf country music is ever going to be saved, it is going to take people with true passion for the music tugging at the yoke, willing to do whatever it takes on and off the stage in the name of preserving the music and paying it forward.

One such passionate young lady doing her part is songwriter and performer Angela DodsonOriginally from rural Pennsylvania and now living in Nashville, Dodson released a dazzling debut EP in 2013 called Lonesome Time that was recorded at the legendary Cash Cabin Studios, executive produced by John Carter Cash, and also features “Cousin” Kenny Vaughan on guitar, and Chuck Turner as co-producer.

What’s even more interesting is that this country music crime fighter by night spends her days employing her passion for all things country music and Johnny Cash as the Event Center Manager at the new, highly lauded Johnny Cash Museum in Nashville. It was this double duty passion that told me I must reach out to this young artist and delve into what makes her tick.


So you recorded your EP Lonesome Time at the Johnny Cash Cabin, with John Carter Cash as the Executive Producer, the first song is one you wrote called “They Called Him Cash”, and you work at the Johnny Cash Museum. Is it safe to say to have a little thing for Johnny Cash?

Yes, I would say that is very safe to say! I grew up listening to all the classic country artists – Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Johnny Horton, and Johnny Cash, among others, but I really started delving deep into Johnny Cash’s huge discography around 2005. I was hooked and he continues to be such an inspiration to me. It is amazing how one person I never had the opportunity to meet has affected my life in so many ways.

Of course Johnny Cash had his rockabilly influences too, but your EP is just as much country as rockabilly. Where did the rockabilly influences come from?

I grew up listening to and loving Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis along with the classic country greats.  As I got older, I started listening to more female rockabilly artists, including my two favorites, Wanda Jackson and Janis Martin. I was very influenced by their energy and vocal stylings.

How was it working with guys like Chuck Turner and “Cousin” Kenny Vaughn on the EP?

Amazing. I can’t say enough good things about everyone I worked with on this EP.  Kenny Vaughan and Chuck Turner are both very talented guys. Chuck won a Grammy for his work on June Carter Cash’s Press On album, yet he is the most humble, laid back, welcoming person you’ll ever have the pleasure to meet.  The entire vibe at the Cash Cabin Studio is very comfortable and casual. It’s like recording in your living room. Plus, you walk outside and you’re surrounded by all this quiet, beautiful landscape. It’s a great place to be creative.

You’re listed as the Event Center Manager at the new Johnny Cash Museum. What exactly does the Event Center Manager do?

In addition to our Museum, we also have a beautiful new event space where we can hold social events, corporate events, weddings, receptions, artist showcases, and more. As Event Center Manager, I am the point of contact for people interested in having an event at the Event Center and Museum. Can you imagine a cooler place to hold an album release party or to have a wedding reception if you are a Johnny Cash fan?

We also do events throughout the year to celebrate Johnny’s life, like the three day birthday bash we held at the end of February, where we were joined by lots of Johnny’s family, friends, past band members, and fans. It was a great time.

What is your favorite part about the new Johnny Cash Museum? What is something unexpected people might take away from it?

My favorite part about The Johnny Cash Museum? The sincerity with which it was created and continues to be run. The founder, Bill Miller, was a close personal friend of Johnny’s for over 30 years and created the museum simply out of his love for the man.

Something  unexpected people might take away from the museum is that Johnny Cash was not always the hardened, rebellious outlaw he was often portrayed as. Yes, he was without a doubt rebellious at times, but Johnny Cash was also a kind man who cared deeply about and made time for friends and fans. He was well-read, intelligent, had a strong sense of faith, and was a pretty funny guy on top of all that. When you walk through the museum and see all his hand written letters and other artifacts, you really get a sense of all the complex facets of Cash’s personality and life.

Any plans to release a full length album?

Absolutely. This EP was a great starting point for me to put my music on the map, and so far, I have had the honor of being nominated for Best Female Rockabilly Artist in the recent Ameripolitan Awards, being featured in various Vintage/Rockabilly style magazines, including the upcoming April issue of Vintage Life Magazine, and now of course, getting to do this interview with my favorite crusader for the preservation of country music!  I don’t have a set date for a full album release right now, but it is definitely in my plans.

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Purchase Lonesome Time from Angela Dodson

Preview & Purchase Tracks on Amazon

Mar
26

Johnny Cash Still Has 4 or 5 Albums Worth of Music to Release

March 26, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  11 Comments

johnny-cash

Tuesday was the release of Johnny Cash’s “lost” album Out Among The Stars that was discovered by Johnny’s son, John Carter Cash while organizing his father’s archived recorded material. Now according to the younger Cash, and legendary producer Rick Rubin who Cash worked with beginning in the mid 90′s during his American Recordings rebirth, there is still “four or five albums” worth of Johnny Cash material to be released. Though none of this material consists of cohesive albums like Out Among The Stars and is mostly the result of outtakes and alternative versions, it will be welcome by the loyal fans of the Man in Black whose appetite for Johnny’s music appears to be endless.

“There are a few things that are in the works right now,” John Carter Cash tells The Guardian. “Probably four or five albums if we wanted to release everything. There may be three or four albums worth of American Recordings stuff, but some of it may never see the light of day.”

Lots of material from Cash’s American Recordings era has already been released posthumously, including the last two installments in the album series: 2006′s American V: A Hundred Highways, and 2010’s American VI: Ain’t No Grave. Also a box set called Unearthed was released with outtakes and alternative versions a few months after Johnny’s passing in 2003. “We released the work we had been planning to release along with John [Carter Cash] and the idea of the ‘Unearthed’ boxset of outtakes was his idea,” says Rick Rubin. “We will probably put out additional ‘Unearthed’ material recorded since the last ‘Unearthed’ box, in keeping with John’s wishes.”

Along with American Recordings-era material, a 4-disc bootleg series of previous Johnny Cash material has also been released to the public posthumously, as well as expanded recordings from his legendary concerts at Folsom and San Quentin prisons. The sheer volume of material  can be overwhelming for some fans wanting to put their ears on anything relating to Johnny Cash, but those still hungry for music from the Man in Black appear to be in store for new material for a while.

Mar
25

Album Review – Johnny Cash’s “Out Among The Stars”

March 25, 2014 - By Trigger  //  Reviews  //  19 Comments

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I’m not certain that the impact of Johnny Cash getting dropped from the CBS/Columbia record label that had been his home for nearly 30 years has ever been fully appreciated. It truly was the end of an era, or the beginning of one depending on how you want to look at it. It stimulated a young Marty Stuart (an understudy of Cash) to get int the face of  Columbia executive, resulting in him eventually being ejected from the label. It made Merle Haggard tell Rick Blackburn, the man responsible for Cash’s firing, “You’re the son-of-a-bitch that sat at that desk over there and fired Johnny Cash. Let it go down in history that you’re the dumbest son-of-a-bitch I’ve ever met.” And it also meant that an entire, cohesive album from one of the most well-respected artists in the history of American music went unheard for 30 years after its original recording. This is the type of peril American music is put through at the hands of suits, that such a ridiculous, unintuitive aberration could transpire in the custody of one person’s art, especially the art of Johnny Cash.

Out Among The Stars is a difficult album to critique. Since it was originally crafted to be heard by the public some 30 years ago, with stylings and sensibilities more steeped in the country modes of that time, it’s hard to know how to calibrate your ear to this music. Compounding this problem is the information that some, or all of the tracks have been “fortified” by a team that included Marty Stuart, Buddy Miller and others to be more akin to what a modern ear might expect. Then you pile on top of all of that the fact that some of these songs like “She Used To Love Me A Lot” and “Out Among The Stars” have already wormed themselves into our brains with versions from other artists. It would not be fair to call Cash’s versions “cover” songs because of the way the timeline sits. They are simply Cash’s takes of contemporary tunes that were never heard because of the nature of this project. Nonetheless you can’t help but compare these “new” versions to the ones you’re more familiar with.

While you’re listening to Out Among The Stars, you almost feel like Marty McFly contemplating the strange space-time continuum this project puts you in, asking yourself, “Would the 1984 me like this? And do I like it now?” The mid 80′s was its own strange time in country music as well. Just listen to the introduction to Willie Nelson’s version of “Pancho & Lefty”. Johnny Cash amidst his recovery from drug addiction wasn’t the only one trying to find his compass; the entire genre of country was. The original Out Among The Stars sessions were produced by Billy Sherrill of all people—a producer known as one of the masterminds of the countrypolitan or Nashville Sound. As strange as it was for him to be working with Johnny Cash, at the same time he was working with wildman David Allan Coe, trying to revitalize Coe’s career as well. Billy Sherrill—one of the principles the Outlaws had risen up against—was now one of their brothers in arms. A strange time in country indeed.

johnny-cash-out-among-the-starsThen you take the emotional quotient of simply being able to hear the legendary voice of Johnny Cash again in completely unheard, studio-quality content, and it’s hard to hold onto any and all objectivity. Even if Out Among The Stars was a verbatim recitation of the Nashville Metropolitan phone book circa 1984, this album is a gift from beyond that any sane country music fan would dare not stare too long in the mouth.

The reason that Out Among The Stars became “lost,” and Johnny Cash got dropped from Columbia is because nobody knew what to do with him, including Johnny himself. In some respects, the song material on this album is somewhat indicative of this searching for direction. It is sort of the take of two Johnnys—one introspective, dark, and even disturbed at times, and the other the more “aw-shucks” Arkansas boy. Musically, whether the fault of Sherill or the super-team assembled to deal with the recordings in the present day, is where Out Among The Stars shows cohesion and confidence. Though some of the songs might be more fit for the 80′s country listener, the music throughout is timeless.

The somewhat cornpone and timecasted song “If I Told You Who It Was” is where the album most shows off it’s 80′s stripes, but Cash’s versions of “Out Among The Stars” and “She Used To Love Me A Lot”, the melancholic “Call Your Mother,” to the downright sadistic “I Drove Her Out Of My Mind” are right in the mode of classic Johnny Cash whose willing to delve deep into the darker side of life. These are balanced by the sweet and simple approach of songs like “Tennessee” that expires in an uplifting chorus signature to Billy Sherrill’s touch, and the sweet duets with June Carter “Don’t You Think It’s Come” and “Baby Ride Easy”. The organ/piano combination, combined with the fairly sappy lyrics of “After All” might make it the album’s most forgettable track, while “Rock & Roll Shoes” and the cover of Hank Snow’s “I’m Movin’ On” with Waylon Jennings check in as the album’s most fun tunes.

Johnny Cash left music, and left the world behind at the top of his game, having been revitalized and resurrected in the public consciousness as the result of his American Recordings era, leaving the crowd wanting more as all great entertainers do. Though Out Among The Stars may not reach the high critical acclaim Cash set for himself in the last era of his career, it is a more than worthy offering allowing the Man in Black to once again live among us in our hearts and imaginations, leaving the listener ruminating on the historic accomplishments of a man whose musical accomplishments will never be equaled.

1 3/4 of 2 guns up.

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Mar
20

Johnny Cash’s Great Niece Stabbed & Murdered

March 20, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  15 Comments
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Courtney Cash – via Facebook

Courtney Cash, the great niece of country legend Johnny Cash, and the granddaughter of Johnny Cash’s brother Tommy Cash, was brutally stabbed and murdered early Wednesday morning in Putnam County, TN, and stuffed inside a wooden box in her home. Her boyfriend, William Austin Johnson who shared the house with Cash and their young daughter, was also stabbed multiple times, but survived the incident. Johnson fled the scene with their 20-month-old daughter and drove himself to a hospital in White County. He is currently at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in stable condition.

The suspect is 27-year-old Wayne Gary Masciarella, who was arrested in Cookeville, TN and charged with 1st Degree Murder. According to Putnam County Sheriff David Andrews, Masciarella has been booked into custody at least “20 times” previously. According to reports, Masciarella was a friend of Cash and Johnson, and had been invited into their home. An altercation and struggle ensued potentially over drugs, that resulted in the stabbings. Apparently the three had been at a store nearby earlier Tuesday night, and witnesses were interviewed at that scene as part of the investigation.

Wayne Masciarella

Wayne Masciarella

Police initially received a 911 call about 10:40 a.m. Wednesday, but the ping location from the call took sheriff’s to a location 1/4 of a mile down the road from the actual call. A second call came in roughly 20 minutes later, which led police to the scene. Police waited to obtain a search warrant before fully entering the premises, but found Courtney near the front door, stuffed into what Sheriff David Andrews described as a wooden box like a cedar chest, but not made out of cedar.

Though no specifics have been given, Sheriff Andrews alluded to reporters that drugs were involved in the incident. “This was a senseless, tragic death of a young lady whose life was probably taken as a direct or indirect result of drugs, and that’s just the world we live in. It’s just unfortunate that our people in our society lean so heavily on drugs to get through life,” said the Sheriff.

Tommy Cash, though not a well-known as his brother Johnny, is a noted songwriter and performer himself. The 73-year-old musician once performed in Hank Williams Jr.’s band, and is known for penning the 1969 hit “Six White Horses” about the killings of The Kennedy’s and Martin Luther King. Tommy Cash has released over 20 albums and has had 12 Top 40 hits. Tommy has released a statement about the incident.

We ask for your prayers for the Cash family at this time. Courtney and her boyfriend are beloved members of my family and like you we have a lot of questions and emotions that we are beginning to sort through today. We ask for you to respect our privacy and appreciate all the support that the public and media has always offered my family, as we handle the loss of my grand-daughter, pray for the father of my great-grand child and journey through the search for justice on this violent act. We are completely heartbroken. It is a time like this that we are grateful for our faith and trusting the loving guidance of God.

WSMV Channel 4

courtney-cash-003

From Facebook

 

Mar
12

New Video for Johnny Cash’s “She Used To Love Me A Lot”

March 12, 2014 - By Trigger  //  Reviews  //  24 Comments

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This story has been updated.

On Wednesday morning, Legacy Recordings released the official music video for Johnny Cash’s version of the song “She Used To Love Me A Lot” off of the upcoming lost album Out Among The Stars due March 25th.

The video was done by famous Australian filmmaker John Hillcoat. “I’ve been a lifelong fan,” Hillcoat told The Guardian. “The first film I made was a prison film, so there’s definitely a connection there with the whole Folsom prison thing. I was also inspired by his voice, which has a truth to it at all times – that’s always helped me in terms of working with actors, no matter how big … If I recall correctly Cash was one of the first major public figures to openly talk about drug addiction, his inner demons and his problems with women and relationships. America loved him because he spoke for the common man.”

The version of “She Used To Love Me A Lot” on the music video is a different mix compared to the initial version originally released in mid-January. Where the first version features acoustic guitar and mandolin, the new version doesn’t. The new version also features organ, while the first version featured piano. Other, more subtle differences can also be heard between the two tracks. Both versions are slated to appear on the album, with one marked as the “JC/EC Version”.

The original recordings for Out Among The Stars were taken from archived masters that were made between 1981 and 1984 with producer Billy Sherrill. They were then “fortified” before being readied for release by a team that included Marty Stuart and Buddy Miller. The fortification process may have resulted in multiple versions of the song.

David Allan Coe, also working with producer Billy Sherrill, was the first artist to release “She Used To Love Me A Lot” in December of 1984, but Cash may have recorded his version first, or around the same time. At the time Sherrill, a Country Music Hall of Famer, was working with both men to help revitalize their careers. Coe’s version eventually reached #11 on the charts. The song was written by Dennis Morgan, Charles Quillen, and Kye Fleming.

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The First Released Version:

Mar
10

Johnny Depp Joins Willie Nelson on Guitar in Austin

March 10, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  8 Comments

willie-nelson-johnny-depp

This week in Austin, TX is one of the greatest confluences of talent that occurs annually, as stars of music and film converge on the Texas state capitol for festivities surrounding SXSW, or South by Southwest. Some people forget though that early March is also the time for Austin’s famous rodeo that features many big names in country music stopping in for performances, including Willie Nelson that graced the Austin rodeo stage Sunday night, and had a surprise band member with him incognito.

Actor, music lover, and armchair musician Johnny Depp, sporting a vest, round shades, a ripped canvas wide-brimmed hat, and his Danelectro guitar, sat in with Willie’s family band for the set Sunday night. He was simply introduced as “John,” and traded licks with Willie Nelson’s son Lukas Nelson who was also sitting in with the band. Johnny played songs like “Good Hearted Woman” and “On The Road Again,” with most of the crowd unbeknownst who that was on the right of the stage.

As a guitar player, Johnny Depp is no slouch. He’s buddies with The Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan and appears on the singer’s first solo record. Depp also appears on numerous songs from Oasis, and was a member of the band ‘P’ that featured members of The Butthole Surfers, The Sex Pistols, and Red Hot Chili Peppers. He’s also appeared many times in movies and video playing guitar, contributed to many other songs and albums, and used to own The Viper Room music venue in L.A where Johnny Cash kicked off his American Recordings era.

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Mar
9

Beck’s “Morning Phase”: A Country or Americana Album?

March 9, 2014 - By Trigger  //  Reviews  //  22 Comments

“I played the Hollywood Pantages Theatre a year or so ago and Beck opened the show for me. So I listened to him behind, backstage. I was so impressed with the way he could do Appalachian music. You know, hillbilly? He’s really good at it. And then of course his own songs. And I especially liked “Rowboat.” It sounded like something I might have written or might have done in the 60′s. You know, when I was kind of going through some weird times.” — Johnny Cash (watch)

Johnny Cash went on to record Beck’s pedal steel doused “Rowboat” on his American Recordings-era Unchained album from 2002.

beck-morning-phaseIt’s been my contention for years that if genre bending pioneer Beck ever made a straight up country record, it could have a similar effect as when The Byrds, heavily influenced by Gram Parsons, released Sweetheart of the Rodeo, allowing young hip listeners outside of country’s borders to realize the virtues of the genre. Maybe Beck doesn’t have the type of sway over young hip listeners he once did, but when the initial chatter about his first album in five years called Morning Phase began to surface, it seemed like it might be a candidate for Beck’s long-awaited dedicated dive into country. “The songs are coming out of a California tradition,” Beck told Rolling Stone. “I’m hearing the Byrds, Crosby Stills and Nash, Gram Parsons, Neil Young – the bigger idea of what that sound is to me.”

It’s interesting that a lot of the talk into today’s popular music is about the blurring of genre lines and the lack of proper labels for music, when this has been Beck’s medium for going on 25 years. Today’s machinations of genre bending come prepackaged in explanations of how they’re “innovative” and how music must “evolve”, when Beck was doing this stuff, and in much better form before many of these artists were even born. And his genre-bending baseline wasn’t Jason Aldean and T-Pain, but Johnny Cash, Tom Petty, and The Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique. It’s Beck’s respect for the roots of all music, including country, that make him so adept at shifting between genres with ease, and blending influences without disrespecting their origination.

But as hopeful as one may have been that Morning Phase would finally be that Beck foray into country or even Americana we’d been waiting for, neither of these terms is really a fair way to portray this new album. Instead Morning Phase is much more akin to Beck’s subdued and aptly-named Sea Change album from 2002, with a very spatial, atmospheric, and moody approach. Though certainly the California country influences can be inferred throughout Morning Phase, and some mandolin, steel guitar, and other country elements make appearances, this is really a string-filled, emotionally-heavy and sonically-airy album this is meant most for it’s artistic expression and resonant mood that lingers with the listener.

Morning Phase is an audiophile’s dream, with full, rich, vibrant hues of sound, recommended to be imbibed through a big stereo system or high grade headphones. Beck reportedly has made the album available for free streaming on airplanes, which seems very apropros to the spirit and mood of this project. Whereas many of the Byrds and Gram Parsons influences that Beck alluded to being included are things you must listen for, Neil Young’s propensity to simply let chords and the tension and resolution they afford tell the story, is something that’s definitely at the heart of Morning Phase, and principally comprises the two string tracks “Cycle” and “Phase”.

A couple of the issues that linger with the album is that a few of the melodies feel a little recycled, like with the songs “Blue Moon” and “Say Goodbye,” but maybe they’re subtle enough not to be picked up commonly. Morning Phase also feels a little too much like Beck’s previous album Sea Change to the point where it doesn’t have that stark sense of originality you’re usually greeted with by a Beck project. Even the two album covers have a commonality, though this may have been on purpose.

At the risk of sounding obvious, the song “Country Down” is the one track on Morning Phase that country listeners should zero in on if they’re looking for something specific, but this album really doesn’t have a sour note or shallow moment throughout, and you can’t go wrong with giving the entire effort a chance. It’s certainly not country, and not really Americana either in my estimation, but that in no way should hinder Morning Phase from being considered good.

1 3/4 of 2 guns up.

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Preview & Purchase Tracks from Morning Phase

Mar
6

2nd Verse, Sweet As The 1st For “Country Music Magazine”

March 6, 2014 - By Trigger  //  Random Notes  //  14 Comments

country-music-magazine-dolly-parton-2When word first came down that a country music magazine was on its way from the same publishers of Classic Rock Magazine in the UK, and that the publication was planning to feature country music greats like Johnny Cash and Buddy Emmons, right beside up-and-comers like Sturgill Simpson and Austin Lucas, it almost seemed too good to be true. The hunger for a viable print magazine that isn’t just a puppet on Nashville’s Music Row has been needing to happen for years, and of course it took an outfit offshore to make it a reality.

The first issue of Country Music Magazine did not disappoint, and made good on their promise to deliver high quality content to the scores of country music fans who want to read about past greats and future hopefuls while not completely ignoring the mainstream names worth a listen. Now they have released their second issue as they settle into their quarterly cycle, and the 2nd verse is as sweet as the 1st.

dolly-parton-country-music-magazineOn the cover is the one and only Dolly Parton who departed The States about a month ago to trek off the international portion of her tour ahead of the release of her new album Blue Smoke. Speaking of country music greats, the issues also features Buck Owens, Jimmy Webb, Spade Cooley, Ricky Skaggs, and others. It also features a rundown of the pioneers of country guitar, hand picked by The Reverend Horton Heat, and a Marty Stuart-penned feature on Jerry Lee Lewis.

As far as cool, up-and-coming artists go, Country Music Magazine #2 features Lindi Ortega, Jason Eady, The Tillers, Possessed by Paul James, Samantha Crain, and Shovels & Rope just to name a few. Once again the issue includes dozens of album reviews, other artists features, touches on Americana music with artists like Slaid Cleaves and Rosanne Cash, and doesn’t forgo the mainstream with features on The Band Perry and Chris Young.

Country Music Magazine is also a multimedia experience, featuring a 12-song CD with music from the Turnpike Troubadours, Lindi Ortega, Possessed by Paul James, and many more. They have also launched a two-hour radio show as part o the magazine that broadcasts live on Sundays and is archived at teamrockradio.com.

Country Music Magazine is somewhat pricey for us stateside, but you get a full few months worth of reading, great suggestions on artists and albums, and free music. It can be found at most Barnes & Noble bookstores and other newsstands, or can be ordered online. And who knows, you may see some content from some of your favorite writers too ;).

Feb
26

Johnny Cash Reveals “Out Among The Stars” for 82nd Birthday

February 26, 2014 - By Trigger  //  News  //  7 Comments

johnny-cash-light-up-a star

Today would have been Johnny Cash’s 82nd birthday, but apropos to his nature, he’s the one giving the gifts.

Ahead of the release of Johnny Cash’s lost album Out Among The Stars due on March 25th, the Johnny Cash Official website has made available the opportunity for you to listen to the title track of the album by signing in either through Facebook or email. And then if you wish, you can make a birthday wish to Johnny Cash and light up a star on the background of the website that others can then scroll over read (don’t worry, it’s easy).

Johnny-Cash--Out-Among-the-StarsOut Among The Stars is a complete album that was recorded between 1981 and 1984 by Cash, with songs that were meant to be together, but never saw the light of day. A true “lost album” if there ever was one. It was produced by Country Music Hall of Famer Billy Sherrill who was also the president of CBS Records at the time, and the pairing was meant to create something special; something that could re-ignite Johnny Cash’s career.

Out Among The Stars features 12 tracks, including a duet with Waylon Jennings, and two duets with Cash’s wife, June Carter Cash. The recordings also feature Country Hall of Fame keys player Hargus “Pig” Robbins, and a young Marty Stuart. Legacy Recordings had Marty Stuart, Buddy Miller, and Jerry Douglas “fortify” the recordings for the release.

Fans has already been able to listen to “She Used to Love Me A Lot,” and a duet with Waylon Jennings “I’m Movin’ On” (listen below).

Visit The Johnny Cash Official Website

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Feb
24

10 Badass George Jones Moments

February 24, 2014 - By Trigger  //  Outlaw History  //  34 Comments

george-jones

George Jones. The Possum. Possibly the man whose life and story embody the themes of a country song better than anyone. From rags to riches, back to rags, and eventually onto rehabilitation and redemption, George Jones was a man that faced demons more fierce than any of us can imagine, and eventually came out on top. Was he a badass? You bet, and here’s 10 reasons why.


1. Flipping the Dinner Table at Tammy Wynette’s House

George+Jones++Tammy+WynetteBefore George and Tammy were married, George went over to Tammy’s house one night to have dinner with her and her then husband, songwriter Don Chapel. George knew Tammy through their mutual booking agent. While fixing dinner, Tammy and Don Chapel got in a heated argument, resulting on Don calling Tammy a “son of a bitch” in front of George. George, secretly hiding his admiration with Tammy, lost it.

“I felt rage fly all over me,” Jones said in his autobiography. “I jumped from my chair, put my hands under the dinner table, and flipped it over. Dishes, utensils, and glasses flew in all directions. Don’s and Tammy’s eyes got about as big as the flying dinner plates.”

George professed his love for Tammy right then and there, and the country music couple were soon married.


2. Helping To Found ACE — The Association of Country Entertainers

George Jones was never considered an Outlaw, but he participated in one of the most significant precursors to country music’s Outlaw revolution in the mid 70′s. Some know the story of Charlie Rich burning the envelope announcing John Denver as Entertainer of the Year at the CMA’s in 1975, but it was the year prior when the stink had begun about performers outside of the country genre walking away with the industry’s accolades. Olivia Newton-John’s win in 1974 for Female Vocalist of the Year caused such a stir that traditional and even pop-leaning country performers at the time organized behind the acronym “ACE” that stood for “Association of Country Entertainers”.

Spearheading ACE was George Jones and then wife Tammy Wynette, and the inaugural meeting of ACE was held at their Tennessee residence. Other participants in ACE included Dolly Parton, Bill Anderson, Porter Wagoner, Faron Young, Conway Twitty, Hank Snow, Mel Tillis, Barbara Mandrell and more than a dozen others. ACE demanded more representation of traditional artists on the CMA’s Board of Directors, and more balance on country radio playlists (does any of this sound familiar?).

Just how successful ACE was can be argued, but it was the precursor to future organizations looking to restore balance and better representation from the CMA, and helped usher in country music’s Outlaw movement and the return to a more traditional sound that the mid 70′s saw in country.


3. Riding a Lawnmower to the Liquor Store

george-jones-riding-lawnmower-john-deereThis is probably the most notorious George Jones story, but what a lot of folks don’t know is that George Jones chose this slow-moving mode of transportation to procure alcohol more than once.

The first and most well-documented lawnmower incident was the late 60′s. George Jones was living 8 miles outside of Beaumont, TX with his then wife Shirley Ann Corley. Jones had experienced a few #1 hits by that time, and his success fueled his wayward ways with alcohol. He was drinking so bad, his wife Shirley resorted to hiding all the keys to the vehicles before she would leave the house so George wouldn’t drive to the nearest liquor store in Beaumont.

But that didn’t stop him. After tearing the house apart looking for a set of keys one time, George looked out the window to see a riding lawnmower sitting on the property under the glow of a security light. “There, gleaming in the glow, was that ten-horsepower rotary engine under a seat. A key glistening in the ignition,” George recalled in his autobiography. “I imagine the top speed for that old mower was five miles per hour. It might have taken an hour and a half or more for me to get to the liquor store, but get there I did.”

The second, lesser-known incident of George Jones’s escapades on a riding lawnmower happened when he was married to Tammy Wynette. Taking a cue from George’s previous wife Shirley, Tammy hid all the keys from George, but George had been down that road before. Wynette woke up one night at 1 AM to find George missing. “I got into the car and drove to the nearest bar 10 miles away,” Tammy recounted in 1979. “When I pulled into the parking lot there sat our rider-mower right by the entrance. He’d driven that mower right down a main highway. He looked up and saw me and said, `Well, fellas, here she is now. My little wife, I told you she’d come after me.’”

The George Jones lawnmower incidents later went on to be memorialized in many country videos, including Hank Williams Jr.’s “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight,” Vince Gill’s 1993 hit “One More Last Chance”  that includes the line, “She might have took my car keys, but she forgot about my old John Deere,” and John Rich’s “Country Done Come to Town,” and George’s own “Honky Tonk Song.”


4. Recording “He Stopped Loving Her Today”

Yes, it could be easy to highlight George’s signature song and say it was awesome for him to cut it, but the story behind “He Stopped Loving Her Today” goes much deeper. The song not only saved George’s career, it potentially saved his life, and all of this is from a song that at first he didn’t want to record because he thought it was too depressing, too long, and nobody would play it. It eventually became his first #1 in six years, salvaged his career, introduced him to a new generation of fans, and solidified his place as one of country music’s biggest ever superstars. Jones himself says about it, “A four-decade career had been salvaged by a three-minute song.”

Written by Country Music Hall of Famer Bobby Braddock (who you can argue would not be a Hall of Famer if it weren’t for the song), along with Curly Putnam, “He Stopped Loving Her Today” went on to spend 18 weeks at #1, won the Grammy for Best Male Country Performance in 1980, both the ACM for Single and Song of the Year, and was the Song of the Year from the CMA’s for 1980 and 1981. After George’s death, the song re-entered the charts at #21. “He Stopped Loving Her Today” deserves to be in that elite class of songs that can be argued are the greatest country music songs of all time.


5. Being The Best Male Duet Partner in the History of Country Music

When you have the best voice in country music, your services as a duet partner are going to be called on early and often. And despite George’s body of solo work being worthy of a Hall of Fame career, his work as a duet partner is unparallelled itself. Country music stars young and old, male and female lined up to take advantage of his voice over many decades, and duets accounted for five of the fourteen #1 hits George had over his storied career. Here’s a rundown of just some of the people George performed duets with over the years:

•Tammy Wynette •Loretta Lynn •Buck Owens •Waylon Jennings •Willie Nelson •Johnny Cash •Dolly Parton •David Allan Coe •Jerry Lee Lewis •Hank Williams Jr. •Patty Loveless •Lynn Anderson •Emmylou Harris •Ricky Skaggs •Garth Brooks •Tracy Lawrence •Charlie Daniels •Marty Stuart •Merle Haggard •Ralph Stanley •Randy Travis •Vince Gill •Alan Jackson •Sammy Kershaw •Shelby Lynn •Mark Chesnutt •Travis Tritt •Barbara Mandrell •Brenda Lee •Shooter Jennings •The Staple Singers •Keith Richards •B.B. King


6. Walking out of the CMA Awards

Ahead of the 1999 CMA Awards, George Jones was enjoying yet another resurgence in his career. Jones was slated to perform the song “Choices” on the CMA’s, but when producers insisted he must sing an abbreviated version, he walked out of the ceremonies and boycotted the show.

In a super act of class and solidarity, Alan Jackson halfway through his performance of “Pop A Top,” stopped down and shifted gears to perform “Choices” in protest. The event has gone on to be considered one of the biggest moments of country protest in the history of the genre.


7. Recording “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes?”

Throughout his career, George Jones held fast to the ideals of traditional country music, and wasn’t afraid to fight for them, or speak out about what was happening in the genre. And as one of the few artists who registered hits in multiple decades (according to Billboard, Jones had more “hits” than any other country artist), when George Jones spoke, people listened.

George’s song “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes” comes from the 1985 album of the same name, and was written by Troy Seals and Max D. Barnes. It’s a poignant tribute to the history of country music and its previous greats, while calling attention to the abandonment of country’s roots. The song was so potent, the phrase “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes?” has become one of the most popular go-to colloquialisms concerning the state of country. The song was also a hit, rising to #3 on the Billboard country chart in 1985.


8. Overcoming His Personal Demons

Some people assume that becoming a rich celebrity solves many of your problems, when for many artists it exposes and fuels their problems. Such was the case for George Jones, who had major issues with alcohol, and later in his career, drugs. At one point in 1979, despite being one of the best-selling artists in the history of country music, he was bankrupt and destitute, living in his car, weighing around 100 pounds and living off of junk food. George spent time in mental institutions tied to his drinking multiple times and had to be straighjacketed on numerous occasions. He became known as “No Show Jones” because he missed so many engagements over his career.

But in many ways George Jone’s bad behavior only helped his reputation. His fans didn’t turn on him, they loved him more because they could relate to him and their own personal struggles, and because he was such a great artist and performer when he would show. Alan Jackson once said about Jones, “…what I like most about George is that when you meet him, he is like some ole guy that works down at the gas station…even though he’s a legend!”

Waylon Jennings and others first helped get George Jones sober in the early 80′s, and the result was a resurgence in his career. However later in life George Jones would fall back into his old habits. George gave up drinking and drugs for good in 1999 after wrecking his car and spending two weeks in the hospital. After the crash he pleaded guilty to drunk driving charges. Jones told Billboard later, “…when I had that wreck I made up my mind, it put the fear of God in me. No more smoking, no more drinking. I didn’t have to have no help, I made up my mind to quit. I don’t crave it.”


9. Wanting to Die Performing

Some artists perform because they want to, others perform because they have to. In March of 2012, George Jones was hospitalized with an upper respiratory infection. The 80-year-old performer was having trouble breathing, and it was thought that he didn’t have much more time before his lungs would fail him. Instead of heading home to recuperate and potentially prolong his life, George set to planning a 60-date farewell tour, culminating in a star-studded event set to transpire at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena in November of 2013 with over 50 special performers.

According to George’s wife, before he even left on the tour, he knew he would not make it to the finale. Doctors said he was in no condition to perform or tour, but he did anyway. On April 18th, 2013 George Jones was hospitalized in Nashville, missing tour dates in Alabama and Salem. He eventually passed away on April 26th, 2013 at the age of 81.


10. Having The Greatest Male Voice in the History of Country Music

  • “When people ask me who my favorite country singer is, I say, ‘You mean besides George Jones?’” — Johnny Cash
  • “The greatest voice to ever sing country music.” — Garth Brooks
  • “The second best singer in America” — Frank Sinatra
  • “If we all could sound like we wanted to, we’d all sound like George Jones,” — Waylon Jennings
  • “Anyone who knows or cares anything about real country music will agree that George Jones is the voice of it.” — Dolly Parton
Feb
22

Scott Borchetta Officially Kills Flipping Off The Camera to be Cool

February 22, 2014 - By Trigger  //  Random Notes  //  34 Comments

motley-crue-scott-borchetta-bird-flipping-middle-fingerNikki Sixx, Brantley Gilbert, Vince Neil & Scott Borchetta (Twitter)

RIP Flipping Off The Camera to be Cool

Born February 24th, 1969 San Quentin, CA — Died February 19th, 2014 Nashville, TN

Yes ladies and gentlemen, we have the death of yet another great American institution to lay at the feet of The Country Music Anti-Christ, Big Machine Records President and CEO Scott Borchetta.

The offense occurred when Scott Borchetta flashed the double bird at a camera as part of a Country Radio Seminar function in Nashville on Wednesday night, November 19th while in the presence of Mötley Crüe members Vince Neil and Nikki Sixx, and Big Machine artist Brantley Gilbert. The photo was later posted on Nikki Sixx’s Twitter feed, with the even more unfortunate caption proclaiming the group “NASHVILLE OUTLAWS.”

Flipping the bird to the camera first became cool when Johnny Cash famously showed his middle finger to photographer Jim Marshall at San Quentin before his 1969 concert at the legendary lockdown in response to Jim Marshall’s request, “John, let’s do a shot for the warden.” But the picture remained relatively obscure until 1998 when Cash was working with Rick Rubin, and country radio refused to play Johnny’s new music. So Rubin took out a $20,000 ad in Billboard with the famous photograph thanking country radio for its support (Read full story behind Johnny Cash’s famous middle finger). Since then the bird flipping had taken on a special significance in country music, coming to symbolize a rebellion against country music’s status quo….until the status quo co-opted it for their own purposes.

The Raised Middle Finger: Why It Means More In Country

But truth be told, flipping the camera off had gone from being cool to being horrifically cliché many moons ago, and was going through a long-suffering and unnecessarily-protracted death leading up to Borchetta finally putting it out of its misery by removing any and all cool factor that might be left in the indecent maneuver. It makes it one measure worse that it comes from a moment of celebrity crotch-sniffing from Scott. His label Big Machine bartered with Mötley Crüe to put out a country-flavored tribute album to the retiring band; a pursuit of vanity for Borchetta who once had his own hair metal aspirations.

So bye bye birdie. It was cool while it lasted, but like so many other things related to country music, it was ruined by posers.

johnny-cash-middle-finger-billboard

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