Even in this confounding day and age in country music, it all still starts with a song. Not a beat, not a riff, but a song. Words, music, and melody. Story and inspiration. It’s what separates country music from certain other musical art forms, no matter how much it may get boiled down.
Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the inaugural episode of Country History X. We start by telling the crazy story of how a box of unheard and currently-unpublished George Jones reel-to-reel master tapes ended up being used as the bond collateral for two international drug smugglers.
Though Dean Dillon has written songs for scores of artists, including Chris Stapleton, Gary Stewart, Vince Gill, Vern Gosdin, Lee Ann Womack, and so many others, it’s his partnership with George Strait that has gone on to become legendary, and is the undeniable impetus for putting him in the Hall of Fame.
Nobody does more to preserve the history and pay forward the legacy of country music than Marty Stuart, musician or otherwise. And now that boy from Philadelphia, Mississippi who gave himself completely to the music at the tender age of 12 is officially a Hall of Famer.
Hank Jr.’s career has spanned so many decades, and has seen such major success over that time, that it was hard to pin him down as a Veteran or Modern Era inductee, but what was hard to argue with was that Bocephus belonged. 70 millions records sold, 5 total wins for Entertainer of the Year from the CMA and ACM Awards, 6 platinum records and 20 gold ones, 13 #1 albums, and 10 #1 singles…
Hold My Beer Vol. 2 is like a love letter to classic country from a Texas perspective. In many respects, it’s a country music album about country music. Along the way though, Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen don’t forget to have some fun. After all, that’s the underlying reason for this project.
In an era when law enforcement is often repudiated by many, George Strait runs counter to that by speaking about the seriousness and sacrifices police officers, sheriff department personnel, and anyone who dons a shield and sidearm to go to work every day must endure. Written by George Strait himself, with son Bubba and Dean Dillon.
You now can argue that one of the biggest songs in country music in the last decade was originally written and released nearly 40 years ago, and this time around, wasn’t even released as a single. Of course we’re talking about “Tennessee Whiskey,” and the soulful version of the song released by Chris Stapleton.
You won’t find many country music fans who have a discouraging word to share about “King” George Strait. But the one point of contention some have brought up in rebuttal of Strait’s greatness over the years has been that he doesn’t write his own songs. This opinion deserves a little context of course.
You’ll have to wait all the way until September 27th to hear Jon Pardi’s new record “Heartache Medication” in its entirety. But we now have the track list, cover art, and songwriting contributors for the new record, and there’s a lot of interesting stuff to unpack.
It seems strange to characterize George Strait’s latest record Honky Tonk Time Machine as a return to his roots. After all, this is George Strait. But nonetheless, it’s a fair accreditation to make, and a welcome conclusion to settle upon when you appreciate the authority with which George Strait can deliver a honky tonk heartbreaker.
“Stunning” is the only way to put this. “A shot out of the dark” might be another. “Awesome” would be a third. But however you want to put it, “King” George Strait is back on country radio, and in a big way with his brand new single “Every Little Honky Tonk Bar.”
From the very beginning with the title track’s twin fiddle intro, until the very end with Lee Ann covering the Jack Clement-penned “Someone I Used to Know,” There’s More Where That Came From is a hands down, knockout, hardcore traditional country record full of heartbreak, cheating, fiddle and steel guitar.
Songwriter and performer Dean Dillon has more skins on the wall than Kodiak Jack, and just his handlebar mustache is more manly than all the moronic Bro-Country songwriters on Music Row lumped together and tied in a bundle. Your favorite George Strait songs? There’s a good chance they were written by Dean Dillon.
In a recent interview with Kacey Musgraves ahead of her opening for George Strait in Las Vegas, Strait said “Tennessee Whiskey” was one of the songs he most regrets punting on when it was first pitched to him early in his career. “Dean pitched me to that in the 80’s … and I missed it,” George Strait says.
The troika of Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell, and Chris Stapleton isn’t the only gaggle making waves in country music and giving folks hope for the future. All signed to major labels and making more traditionally-oriented country fans salivate for what the future may have in store are Jon Pardi, William Michael Morgan and 23-year-old Illinois native Mo Pitney.
Finally we get some forward movement on one of the most anticipated mainstream traditional albums in a good while. Curb Records-signed singer and songwriter Mo Pitney will release his debut album ‘Behind This Guitar’ featuring 10 of 12 co-written songs by Pitney himself, and contributions from folks we though the rest of Nashville had forgotten.
Ladies and gentlemen, we now live in a world where not even King George remains relevant on country radio. Isn’t that the sad, ever present revelation of the living—that time marches on, and no matter how important something was in the past, the present moves forward, callously at times, and the greatest of efforts are relegated to moments of fond reminiscing.
Well well well. In yet another bid for you to firmly affix your eyeballs to the boob tube on Wednesday, November 4th for the 49th annual CMA Awards, it has been announced that critic’s favorite and thrice-nominated SteelDriver turned songwriter turned performer Chris Stapleton will be performing with former ‘N Sync member turned solo superstar Justin Timberlake. Though if you’ve been reading Saving Country Music, you probably already knew this.