Calling it a “country song” doesn’t seem to do it justice, and almost inadvertently downgrades the impact and importance of the artistic work known as “Pancho & Lefty,” because few other songs can make us feel like this one can. It’s transcendent of country, or song, or even music. It’s “Pancho & Lefty.”
On August 11th, 1952—70 years ago today—one of the most notorious moments in country music history occurred. The original King of Country Music, and the genre’s first undisputed superstar, Hank Williams, was unceremoniously fired from the institution that he helped bring to prominence.
We love to speak abstractly about the healing power of music, as if it contains some supernatural powers that science could never explain. Most certainly, few other things can shift moods and improve your outlook on life than music, and without downstream repercussions. But can it really save a life?
It all started when Marty Stuart was just 11-years-old, in the summer of 1970, when Connie Smith—17 years Marty Stuart’s senior—was already an established star, and had landed over a dozen Top 10 hits. Connie Smith happened to be Marty Stuart’s mother’s favorite singer, right behind Marty Robbins.
The story of how we got two versions of the same song is pretty crazy. It starts with hit songwriter Diane Warren, actually wrote the song to be considered for the soundtrack for the 1997 action movie starring Nicholas Cage called Con Air.
With so many of the artists that reach superstar status, there is a “moment” that put them there. Sometimes, it’s a number of these moments. For Loretta Lynn, that moment came through Ernest Tubb, and the Ernest Tubb Record Shop’s Midnite Jamboree.
“Chattahoochee” was the exception, not the rule. And co-written by Nashville songwriter Jim McBride, there’s a pretty interesting story on how it came about, and how it came to life, going from finished product to being performed on stage the same day, April 12th, 1992.
Stoney’s career may have not been Hall of Fame worthy, but releasing six albums on a major country music label, and scoring Top 20 hits dispels the idea that the contributions of black artists in country music was resigned to just one individual.
It’s one of the most legendary origin stories in country music history. Merle Haggard from Bakersfield, California was engaging in a life of petty crime while trying to make it as a guitar player and singer until he committed one petty crime too many, and a judge threw the book at him.
It was 1913, and ethnic Jews living in the Ukraine region of the Russian Empire were regularly subjected to brutal, mob-like massacres, known as pogroms. Just two years after a young boy named Nuta Kotlyarenko (Нута Котляренко) was born in Kiev on December 15th, 1902.
Buck Owens, Country Music Hall of Fame, David Allan Coe, Dwight Yoakam, Elton John, Elvis Presley, Gram Parsons, Hank Williams, Kesha, Maddox Brothers and Rose, Mel Tillis, Nathan Turk, Nudie Cohn, Porter Wagoner, Post Malone, Tex Williams, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Webb Pierce, ZZ Top
One interesting Merle Haggard story that seems to have gone under-reported in the Internet age is that Merle Haggard was the pick by Burt Reynolds to play his semi truck-driving sidekick “The Snowman” in the legendary Smokey and The Bandit movie series.
Merle Haggard was one of country music’s most famous former convicts, though most of his crimes were petty. The reason he landed in the notorious San Quentin Prison was due to how many times he escaped from smaller facilities and local jails. But did he really escape 17 times?
In 1993, Garth Brooks and the Super Bowl would clash. It was like King Kong vs. Godzilla, with these two titans of American culture squaring off for all time. And ultimately, one side had to win. Country History X returns with a deep dive into this historic moment.
On December 9th, 1996, with his career forgotten and his health failing, Faron Young decided to end his own life. He penned a suicide note specifically enumerating the decline in his career, and how he felt abandoned and forgotten by country music as one of the causes
We already knew that Dwight Yoakam was the King of Country Cool when he came out of Kentucky and landed in Southern California, shaking his hips like Elvis, and revitalizing the Bakersfield Sound like Buck. But it was 25 years ago today when we discovered that Dwight Yoakam was a multi purpose entertainer.
Eddie Rabbitt’s career wasn’t just accomplished, it was downright Hall of Fame worthy. But do you every hear Eddie Rabbitt’s name brought up in that context of the Hall of Fame? Of course not. Hell, you barely ever hear his name at all. That should change.
There’s just about nothing that will give you deeper chills in country music than the delivery of the final verse in the song “The Ride” written by Gary Gentry, J. B. Detterline Jr., and performed by David Allan Coe. It’s almost like seeing a ghost. That may not be by accident.
On this night in 1951 when Hank found the time to record the demo for “Tear In My Beer,” and 40 years later when it became a big hit in country, it proved that a good song with a simple sentiment can often withstand the ultimate test of time, and be entered into eternal cultural relevance.
With the recent deaths of some of country music’s oldest living legends and links to its past such as Don Maddox of Maddox Brothers and Rose at the age of 98, and Sue Thompson at 96, it seems like a suitable time to ask, who are some of the oldest legends of country music still living?
Bill Hayes, Bill Pittman, Billie Jean Horton, Bobby Bare, Bobby Osborne, CW McCall, Jesse McReynolds, Jim and Jesse, Leroy Van Dyke, Loretta Lynn, Merv Shiner, Ray Howard, Rose Lee Maphis, Stonewall Jackson, The Osborne Brothers, Violet Hensley, Willie Nelson
There is only one artist in this history of country music whose singing is so revered, he’s referred to simply as “The Voice.” But the career of Vern Gosdin also may contain one of the most sinister secrets in the history of country music. Did Vern Gosdin really contract two men to murder?
Amy Grant, Brian Wilson, Buck Owens, Chris Hillman, Clyde Battin, Country History X, Dallas Frazier, Darrell W. Bailey, Darryl C. Langley, Don Gibson, Emmylou Harris, Gart S. Paxton, Gene Clark, George Hamilton IV, Jim Bakker, Michael W. Smith, Phil Spector, Roy Clark, Skip and Flip, Tammy Faye Bakker, The Association, They Byrds, Vern Gosdin
Could it be that the most important and influential bloodline in country music history actually has a lost branch? Country History X Episode #11 delves into this complicated and convoluted story, while now a 4th generation of performers have emerged looking to carry on Hank’s name.
Coleman Williams, Colin Escott, Hank 4, Hank Williams, Hank Williams III, Hank Williams IV, Hank Williams Jr., Hilary Williams, Holly Williams, IV and the Strange Band, Jett Williams, Joe Allcorn, Lewis "Butch" Fitzgerald, Ricky Fitzgerald, Sam Williams
20 years ago today (August 25th, 2001), Billy Joe Shaver had a heart attack right there on the stage of the historic Gruene Hall in Texas while performing. He thought it was the end, and in some ways, wanted it to be. “I said, ‘Thank you, Lord, for letting me die in the oldest honky-tonk in Texas.’”
Don Everly, the older brother in the legendary Everly Brothers passed away on Saturday, August 21st, leaving behind one of the most lasting legacies in the history of American music. Don Everly also played an inadvertent part in arguably one of the most important ballads in rock.
Country History X Episode #10 is a story of courage and character, and how a split second decision by country legend Marty Robbins on the racetrack forever changed the destiny of numerous people who would go on to help shape American culture.