Forgotten Outlaws (Part 2)

Before I get into the meat of part 2, I forgot to mention in part 1 that Shel Silverstein ALSO was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002. But I’m a little confused about this, because he died in 1999, and as the Grand Ole Opry has told us over and over about Hank Williams Sr., there’s no point in inducting someone into an institution posthumously.

Hmm, confusing. The Opry couldn’t be lying to us, could they???

As for who the other unexpected forgotten country music Outlaw was, whose hints were ‘liquid paper’ and ‘toboggan,’ it was none other than this dude:

I’m not going to sit here and try to convince you that Mike Nesmith is an Outlaw, because he’s not. Honorary Outlaw maybe. But believe it or not, this toboggan-topped goofball made a big contribution to REAL country music.

We all know that Mike was one of the Monkees, and that the Monkees were a sham put together by NBC to sell commercials and albums. Neil Diamond wrote most of their hits, and except for vocals, none of the music was recorded by the group, but by studio musicians. Eventually everyone figured this out, though anyone who knew anything about music knew this from the beginning. None of the Monkees were accomplished musicians, except Mike Nesmith.

Mike was born a millionaire. His madre invented liquid paper. But he rebelled from his silver spoon life, and moved from his hometown of Dallas, TX, to LA where he cut his teeth in the outback bars down there. When the Monkees were looking for people, he came calling looking for steady money.

When the wheels came off of the Monkees, Mike took his dough and bought a ranch and built a music studio where his plan was to record country music, REAL country music. He signed a deal with Elektra to start a label that was called ‘Coutryside’ and started seeking out REAL country acts that had fallen through the cracks with the big Nashville labels.

Mike fucking Nesmith of all people saw that country music was going to shit, ESP. Country radio, and somebody had to do something about it. Read these quotes of his:

“In Nashville, (the music) is straight ahead, no boogie, nothing to it at all. And I want it to be pretty to listen to when you’re loaded. Nashville country ain’t pretty to listen to when you’re loaded. I mean if you’re loaded it’s an irritant. You say, Wow, what is that? Get it off there.”

“But what I’ve found out is that top 40 stations and the media that support the whole pop trip are not disposed to change. They have very strong preconceptions about what they want to play. And the problem is not just that it’s a very unhealthy attitude, which it is, but its successful. I mean they’re number one in their advertising markets. But take a country music station. They probably have the same sort of tight playlist, the same sort of preconceived ideas; they know what country music is, and they don’t want anything upsetting the apple cart.”

It’s amazing. These quotes are from the 70’s but they still apply today.

Eventually Nesmith’s ‘Countryside’ label got canned by Elektra because of politics inside the label. One of the artists who got shafted in the fall of Countryside was forgotten Outlaw Steve Fromholz. He was big in Austin the same time Willie, Townes, Billy Joe Shaver, and all the other’s were, but he never got the publicity because Elektra buried his album. He’s a hell of a songwriter, and Lyle Lovett has covered a lot of his songs.

I know it’s long, but come back to it when you get a chance, it’s worth it.

Mike Nesmith had his own country music too, and penned a couple of hits for Linda Ronstadt, and a couple for himself:

(performing the old traditional ‘Long Black Veil’)

There’s a great interview at the end of this one.

I know this is a long-ass blog with a lot of stuff, but I have to mention Galea Bad Housewife because she was first to guess Mike Nesmith correctly, and I know she didn’t cheat because she’s just as big a music geek as me.

Galea is about to play a huge role in the Hank III scheme of things, and I promise I will tell you why in a future blog where I have more space, but until then stop by her page and give her music a listen, she’s awesome.

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