GIVE TIL IT HURTS!

The Louvin Brothers

So in a conversation with my mom, who considers herself a country music devotee, an astonishing gap in her musical education came shamefully to light: she had never heard of the Louvin Brothers, AT. ALL. Needless to say, I straightaway raced over to YouTube so as to put her back in the good graces of the Lord again. To wit:


The Louvin Brothers story is a fascinating one, which is true of a great number of legendary country artists from the 50s and 60s Golden Age of the genre.

The Louvin Brothers were an American musical duo composed of brothers Ira (April 21, 1924 – June 20, 1965) and Charlie (July 7, 1927 – January 26, 2011) Louvin ( Loudermilk). The brothers are cousins to John D. Loudermilk, a Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member.

The brothers wrote and performed countrybluegrass and gospel music. Ira played mandolin and generally sang lead vocal in the tenor range, while Charlie played rhythm guitar and offered supporting vocals in a lower pitch. They helped popularize the vocal technique of close harmony in country and country-rock.

After becoming regulars at the Grand Ole Opry and scoring a string of hit singles in the late 1950s and early ’60s, the Louvin Brothers broke up in 1963 due in large part to Charlie growing tired of Ira’s addictions and reckless behavior. Ira died in a traffic accident in 1965. They were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001, and Charlie died of cancer in 2011. Rolling Stone ranked the Louvin Brothers No. 4 on its list of the 20 Greatest Duos of All Time.

As a great many brother- and/or sister-duos (think the Everly Brothers, just to name one example) seem to have in common, Charlie and Ira could not possibly have been more different in terms of character and personality and thus, as with Don and Phil Everly, the boys didn’t get along worth a damn. While both the brothers were devoutly Christian, steeped in the teachings of their Southern Baptist faith, Ira was something of a hellraiser nonetheless, with a serious bent towards boozing, brawling, and chasing those wild, wild women. Charlie, for his part, was much more conservative, quiet, and straitlaced.

Which makes Ira’s story the more interesting of the two, at least for me.

In 1963, fed up with Ira’s drinking and abusive behavior, Charlie started a solo career, and Ira also went on his own.

Ira died on June 20, 1965, at the age of 41. He and his fourth wife, Anne Young, were on the way home from a performance in Kansas City when they came to a section of construction on Highway 70 outside of Williamsburg, Missouri where traffic had been reduced down to one lane. A drunken driver struck their car head-on, and both Ira and Anne were killed instantly. At the time, a warrant for Ira’s arrest had been issued on a DUI charge.

How ironic, that a man with his own LE want for DUI should get snuffed in a head-on crash with…a drunk driver.

After the tragic split that ended the Louvin Brothers as a brother-brother singing duo for good, Charlie went on to have significant success as a solo artist. This next selection (from 1968, I believe, three years after his brother’s demise) is one I consider to be probably the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard, in any musical genre.


Gorgeous, plangent vocal harmonies; a real earwig of a guitar riff; a forlorn, plaintive lyrical narrative that penetrates the heart so deeply it actually, literally hurts to hear—man, if THAT ain’t country music, I sure don’t know what might be.

As it happens, up until The Sugar™ rendered my entire life all pear-shaped for me, I had a side-project yclept the Parodi Kings with two of my perennial partners in musical crime: Tom “Mookie” Brill, and one of my oldest and dearest friends, known here in the CF comments section as simply “brack.” Also as it happens, the Parodis regularly performed both of the above Louvins classics. I suspect they might be findable on YT someplace or other, but ain’t gonna go trying to dig ’em up right now myself because reasons.

Any interested parties should try poking around on Eric Benson’s YT channel, if he has one; he’s a friend of ours who for several years there took down every one of our shows via videocam, and made some really terrific, high-quality recordings too. If you do decide to go a-hunting, be sure to watch our version of “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath. That one makes me giggle to this very day, I swear it does. Take my word for it, folks, you haven’t truly lived until you’ve heard that song played on the doghouse bass.

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Loretta Lynn

As y’all no doubt know by now, music legend Loretta Lynn left us the other day. After casting about trying to decide which of her many solid-gold country classics I ought to post here to memorialize her, it hit me that one of my favorite scenes from the great bio-flick Coal Miner’s Daughter might do just as nicely.


CMD is one of the most flawlessly cast films I’ve ever seen; Sissy Spacek, Tommy Lee Jones, and Beverly D’Angelo were all note-perfect as Loretty, Doo, and Patsy Cline respectively. Kinda surprised at how few clips from the movie there are on YT. There are a good half a dozen more quotes I’d like to have been able to include here, but “Boy, you better come up with a better reason than that” is probably my favorite of all of ’em.

As it happens, the BP’s manager Mike Evans was on friendly terms with Doolittle Lynn. Mike always has had a way of seeing to it that he crossed paths with all kinds of people most of us would never even think of approaching at all, introducing himself, chatting with them, and following through afterwards to remain friends with them for years and years. Remind me to tell y’all sometime all about the morning he walked up to the front door of Graceland mansion not too long after Elvis had died, but after all the hooraw had finally died down and Memphis had gone back to whatever normal is there.

In a nutshell, Mike rang the bell and Elvis’s longtime housemaid and cook—a gentle, matronly black lady name of Nancy Rooks, who was the culinary genius behind those nanner and peanut butter sammiches fried in about half a stick of butter each which the King was famous for devouring entire plates of at a single sitting—answered, telling Mike he should come back in about an hour or so. Vernon, see, was in the middle of breakfast, and wasn’t receiving guests until she had finished getting him fed. Mike drove off to a nearby Waffle House or some such, sat on pins and needles in his old Corvette staring at the slow-moving minute hand on his watch, and ended up sitting in front of the TV with Vernon Presley watching Vernon’s favorite Elvis movies one after another, occasionally weeping together in grief over Vernon’s and the entire world’s loss, and just generally chewing the fat like old high school buddies. That story’s a good ‘un, it truly is, a real jaw-dropper for sure.

Anyways.

The cast, crew, writers, and producers of Coal Miner’s Daughter certainly did right by their subject, doing honor to an iconic artist whose like we shan’t ever see again. The movie came out kinda towards the tail-end of a minor spate of music-legend biopics—Lady Sings The Blues, Bound For Glory, The Buddy Holly Story, Sweet Dreams—and outshined ’em all hands down, if you ask me.

Rest easy, Loretta.

Okay, okay, just one song then.


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Dwight! Buck! Bakersfield!

Buck Throckmorton displays his impeccable taste in music with a vid of Dwight Yoakam doing a too-short greatest-hits medley on the Grand Ole Opry stage. It is indeed some mighty fine stuff, gooder’n grits and redeye gravy. Unfortunately, though, Dwight somehow failed to include my own personal fave on the setlist, an instant classic called “The Distance Between You And Me.” Please allow me to rectify this oversight.



Buck thoughtfully tosses a little bonus verbiage into the mix.

THROCKMORTON’S FIRST LAW OF LIVE MUSIC: IF THERE’S AN UPRIGHT BASS IN THE BAND, IT’S PROBABLY GOING TO BE GOOD

Ain’t no arguing with that sentiment. Funny thing is, though, that ole Dwight chose to work with both a standup and a Fender bass in the video. I have no idea why; the only other time I can recall seeing anybody using two bass players onstage was when the Playboys opened for Little Richard in NYC: the experienced old road-dog Richard had been using since the late 60s pumping out those sweet licks in the old-school way over on Stage Left, and a much younger Young Turk thumping and popping and slapping some more contemporary Fo’ Da Peepuls funkitudeadelicalicity at Stage Right.

The setup seemed to work well enough to suit Richard’s purposes as the Architect of Rock and Roll, yes. But generally speaking, if you have the fat, round, full-throated sonic ooooomph!! of an upright making your point for you onstage, you have no need of the thinner, midrangey, somewhat nasal skrooonk! of an electric too. Next to a properly mic’ed and/or amplified standup, the electrical whippersnapper is just pointless and superfluous and really needs to get the hell off my lawn.

Plus, you’re padding the payroll unneccessarily by taking on a spare bass player you don’t need—paying for extra meals, extra booze, extra hotel rooms, and assorted other extra goods and services which personal experience tells me you damned well can’t afford.

Then there’s having to help your redundant bassman wrangle his gear into the band van…and believe you me, those Hugh Jass™ Ampeg 8×10 “refrigerator” cabs insisted on by every discerning bass player who has clawed his way up to the less-cramped stages and overly-muscled stagehands characteristic of the midsized-venue circuit are fucking HEAVY, no joke. Topped by an early-70s all-tube SVT head and we’re talking between three and four hundred pounds of bottom-end rumble to lug around, which adds up to some serious no-fun for all involved parties. Nothing else sounds better, or anything like as good. But nothing else is a bigger ass-ache to have to deal with night after night after night out on the road.

When you’re listening to the intoxicating sound an Ampeg SVT rig produces, you love that infernal beast more than the soft, sweet coo of your peacefully-slumbering child. When you’re trying to work your freshly-mangled hand out from under it, or you and three of your least-svelte buds are struggling to manhandle the thing up a staircase lengthy enough to accommodate the takeoff roll of an Antonov An 225 which leads up to the loft in which tonight’s venue is situated, there’s nothing and no one you’ve ever hated worse. Ask me how I know. Go ahead, I dare ya.

Remembering how Dwight Yoakam crashed the country music charts in the late 1980s with raw, retro-country gives me hope that there will someday be another Dwight emerge with a retro-sound that breaks the hold of bro-country/tailgate-rap on modern country music.

We can only hope so. Retro? Fine and dandy, I gots no nits to pick there, either. But what Dwight really was, was a living, loving tribute to the game-changing Bakersfield Sound pioneered by the legendary country artists Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, and Billy Mize, among others. Yoakam was personally close to and did a goodish bit of studio work with Owens, proudly acknowledging his Bakersfield affiliations with 1988’s chart-topping duet with his friend Buck, “Streets Of Bakersfield.” Owens had recorded the song back in 1973 his own self, which quickly died the death upon its release. As is remarkably common in country music, a wonderful backstory comes along with the song.

Homer Joy, the song’s writer, was approached in 1972 by representatives from Buck Owens’ studio in Bakersfield, California, about recording a “Hank Williams Sr. soundalike-album”. Joy initially refused, saying “I don’t want be like Hank, I just want to be me!” Eventually, he agreed to come in and record it, on the condition that he would also get to record some of his own songs as well. After the recording, however, the studio manager told Joy that he’d forgotten that the Buckaroos (Buck Owens’ band) were practicing for an upcoming tour, and that Joy would have to wait to record his original songs.

Refusing to back down, Joy would show up at the studio at 8 AM every morning, only to be told that the Buckaroos were busy and that he would still have to wait. One night, Joy decided to take a walk around downtown Bakersfield, only to have the brand-new cowboy boots he’d been wearing give him blisters all over his feet: “I barely made it back to the car, and on top of that, I was still upset about everything, and I went back to my hotel room and wrote ‘Streets of Bakersfield’.”

As usual, Joy went to the studio at 8 AM the following morning, and the studio manager, out of frustration, grabbed a guitar off of the wall and gave it to Joy, saying, “Sing me one of the songs that you’d record if we could get some time to record it.” As kind of an “in-your-face” gesture, Joy performed his eight-hour-old “Streets of Bakersfield”. Afterward, the studio producer went into the back of the studio, brought out Buck Owens, and had Joy play it again. Owens then said to the manager, “The Buckaroos have the day off, but you call them and tell them that we’re going to do a recording session on Homer this afternoon.”

Buck Owens released a recording of the song in 1973, and while that version wasn’t a major hit, the re-recording he did with Dwight Yoakam in 1988 (with slightly changed lyrics) reached #1 on the Billboard Country Music charts.

That 1988 revisit to the Number One spot was the first for Buck Owens since 1972. Here t’is:



Two things to look out for here: one, the brilliant, fluid guitar stylings of Yoakam’s longtime partner, producer, and behind-the-scenes mastermind, the seriously gifted Pete Anderson; and 2) the always-understated presence onstage of Flaco Jiminez, King of Tex-Mex accordion. When it comes to putting a smile on the faces of his audience, I can honestly say I’ve never been able to watch one of Flaco’s joyous, open-hearted performances without grinning like a mule eating briars.

Flaco got his first big break in the 60s when he landed a regular gig with Doug Sahm, a founding member of the Sir Douglas Quintet (“She’s About A Mover,” featuring a pitch-perfect Vox organ hook from Augie Meyers). Flaco worked with Sahm for years, stepping out to bebop around on his own hook before eventually reuniting with Sahm in the Texas Tornadoes, also sharing stages with fellow music icons Augie Meyers and Freddie Fender.



Good stuff, no? Almost all of those guys are long gone; it saddens me to think that, after bringing so much happiness to so many people, they should be all but forgotten nowadays, fringe weirdos like myself being the ever-lonelier exceptions. I’ll leave you with one last nugget of “Behind The Music” trivia before signing off for the night.

The Cadillac with an upright bass strapped on top of it always brought me a smile in Dwight’s official video for “Guitars, Cadillacs.”

Didn’t bring very many of ’em to Elvis Presley’s original standup bass player, Bill Black. For Elvis, Bill, and Scotty Moore, the hitch-hiking bass wasn’t just a photo shoot, it was everyday life. The boys spent a good chunk of 1955 actually hauling Bill’s doghouse bass around on the roof of Elvis’s newly-acquired pink Caddy (don’t miss the incredibly rare pictures at the link!), which Bill didn’t like even a little bit—all the moreso since he had to hang his arm out the window and hold onto the neck of his fragile, expensive instrument so’s a sudden gust wouldn’t rip the bass up, up, and away, transmogrifying Bill’s pride and joy into so much kindling wood strewn across the Tennessee blacktop. Black disliked his admittedly unappealing circumstances enough as it was, the bitterness and envy at having been eclipsed by Elvis as the star of the show which would torment him for the rest of his abbreviated life already beginning to rankle*.

As you might well imagine, he was absolutely beside himself with rage whenever those April showers came their way.

*In Bill’s opinion, being rudely elbowed out of the spotlight and into supporting-player status was an entirely unfair and ill-considered error in judgment, a mistake which could only damage the combo’s career prospects. From practically the moment the ink had dried on Elvis’ signature on his contract with RCA, the label snootily announced that neither Scotty nor Bill’s presence would be required in the tracking room for the first RCA album. This insult would only intensify Bill’s rancor, the only real chnge in his hostile attitude from then on being the slow shifting of his anger onto Elvis himself, for not standing up like a man to support and defend his erstwhile bandmates. Bill was much older than Elvis, and he had come to regard the soon-to-be King of Rock and Roll as a wet-behind-the-ears kid, easy pickings for the wily, conniving big shots from up North in their chaffeured limos and their fancy suits. These interlopers had obviously seduced Elvis into cutting ties with those who truly cared about him and understood his music and ambitions far better than any damned Yankee ever could. Bill persuaded himself into believing that his primary concern was keeping watch over Elvis, fending off the ravening major-label wolves and looking out for Elvis’s best interests, over and above any conceit or careerist ambitions of his own.

Scotty, reliably affable and easygoing, shared Bill’s sense of betrayal and abandonment at the dastardly hands of a presumed friend who had proven false, only setting his anger and hurt aside after many years had passed and time had attenuated his youthful passions. The BP’s manager had gotten to know Scotty fairly well in the years after Elvis’s death, and says that for a long while there, just about the only conversation anybody could get out of Scotty Moore was “FUCK Elvis, the goddamned backstabbing phony” and such-like. Mostly, while he never had any of Bill’s overbearing, aggressive vanity, he still felt he had been ill-used badly enough to cherish his grudge against Elvis until only a few years before he died. Bill Black, on the other hand, carried his with him to the grave.

No country (music) for old men

The Bellamy Brothers score big-time with an instant classic.



Seeing as how the song’s title is a play on the title of one of the best movies EVAR, plus a cameo from one of the last true country artists before the country music thing veered off the road completely and into the MOR pop-rock ditch, I ain’t finding anything not to like here. Background deets on this superlative tune:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Country music icons, the Bellamy Brothers and John Anderson, pair for a tribute to the genre’s past in “No Country Music For Old Men.” The video, shot by Derrek Kupish of dkupish productions, captures the Bellamys and Anderson lamenting on the loss of the old guard interspersed with shots of Nashville’s historic landmarks and murals honoring the legends lost.

“No Country Music For Old Men” was included on the Bellamy Brothers’ EP, Bucket List, released in July of 2020. Written by David Bellamy, the song was inspired by Kenny Rogers’ death. Bellamy explained, “Bucket List was meant to be light-hearted and up-tempo. We figured lockdown was depressing enough without lamenting more about hard times. Then Kenny Rogers passed away on March 20, and I wrote the song that night. It felt like in addition to the pandemic, there was a cloud over country music at that moment.”

According to David, he kept hearing Anderson’s voice in his head singing the lines, so he and Howard decided to invite their longtime friend to join them on the track. Anderson, who released Years, a similarly reflective project in 2020, shared, “I’ve known David and Howard for over 40 years. I have always been a fan and loved their music and their style.  It’s an honor to work with them and we always have a great time.”

When the stay-at-home orders took effect in March, the Bellamy Brothers and Anderson were on the road with Blake Shelton for his Friends And Heroes Tour. The Bellamys returned to their Florida homestead where their hit reality series “Honky Tonk Ranch” is filmed and started working on Bucket List. The EP featured five additional songs such as the lead single “Rednecks (Lookin’ for Paychecks),” a timely take on the current situation, and “Lay Low, Stay High,” which ties into their new partnership with the Florida-based medical marijuana company, Trulieve, on their flower product line Old Hippie Stash. Season two of “Honky Tonk Ranch” recently wrapped up on Circle and included footage from the Friends And Heroes Tour and appearances from several of the duo’s legendary friends. 

As for that Anderson cameo, you old dogs like myself might recall his first smash hit.



I remember thinking when I first heard this song back in the early ’80s that John Anderson had to be one of the very last Nashville phenoms who really, truly got what good old country sangin’ was supposed to be all about. He ain’t the handsome young rake he once was, of course, but that’s all right. As long as people like him and the Bellamys, bless their hearts, keep throwing us old farts a tasty bone now and then like the above, getting old and decrepit ain’t gonna be ALL bad. All of which justifies throwing another unforgettable Music City classic out here for y’all.



Is it just me, or are these interminable fucking YouTube ads becoming just INCREDIBLY obnoxious? Jeez-O-Pete. Extry-special thanks to our friends at GFZ for the Bellamy Bros steer.

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