Billy Joe Shaver turned 80 on Friday. He’s had some health problems, and he doesn’t have any shows scheduled at the moment, but I just saw him in 2016 at Floore’s Country Store and he was still alive and kicking. Like Rodney Crowell, Shaver was one of those young Nashville songwriters from Texas who were so integral to the outlaw country movement. He wrote almost all of Waylon Jennings’ landmark outlaw country album Honky Tonk Heroes, and his album Old Five and Dimers Like Me is a landmark outlaw country album in its own right.
Since I am foolishly passing up a chance to see him in the near future, it is past time I feature Chris Stapleton again. His album Traveler is still #6 on the country charts. And it was released in 2015. From a Room: Volume 1 is still in the top 40 as well. More than anyone I expect we will lean on him to save country music (although it will have to be an ensemble effort). Now he just needs to get back writing and in the studio.
While we’re on the topic of the joys of Colorado Kool-Aid, lemme turn you on to an underappreciated example of the bar fight ballad sub-genre of country music: Colorado Kool-Aid by Johnny Paycheck. (It is a larger sub-genre than you might think, because, well, country music. To hear it from the belligerent drunk’s perspective, I recommend this Hank Williams song.
I can’t afford to buy half the albums I would like to, but when I realized all of October passed without buying any albums, I knew I had to pick up a couple. I am just one in a long line of hillbillies who headed up those hillbilly highways to the Rust Belt for work. With snow maybe on the horizon this weekend, I decided to pick up the—damned good—recently released albums by the Michigan Rattlers and Whitey Morgan, from northern Michigan and Flint, respectively, even if those hillbilly highways took them south.
There is a lot of new music out this week, but I gotta go with the guy with the my-dad-in-the-70s hair and beard and the New Outlaw sound.
Out tomorrow: Hard Times and White Lines by Whitey Morgan.
As I mentioned in my post on Friday commemorating the late actor, Burt Reynolds brought us some of the greatest movies about the rural working class ever. He also brought us some damned fine country music along with it. Jerry Reed brought us classic songs to go with Smokey and the Bandit and Gator and then almost stole the show as an actor. I still haven’t seen Stroker Ace, but it hasn’t stopped Charlie Daniels title track from being one of my favorite songs for the past twenty years.
David Allan Coe is known for being hardcore. He served time in prison both as a juvenile and as an adult. He lived in a hearse after he got out of prison and moved to Austin. He has an infamous dirty CD. He dropped the n-word in a song on a regular CD. He’s been known to ride a Harley onto the stage at his concerts. He looks like an elderly Rob Zombie these days.
But he has also recorded some absolutely killer slow songs.
Shooter’s dad is one of the all-time greats, Waylon Jennings (already featured here for Music Monday). Remember those good old days? War? Protest? Going to jail?
Out today: Shooter by Shooter Jennings.
Speaking of sinful omissions from Music Monday, my wife is going to kill me when she finds out I’ve gone two months without singing the praises of Dwight Yoakam. But, if only to avoid having to change the subtitle of my blog from “Texas Country” to “Kentucky Country,” I’m going to leave the Kentucky boys be and show some love to my home state instead.
Sarah Shook grew up in a fundamentalist household, fell in with the right wrong element when she moved to North Carolina, and looks like a character from a country noir story. And she kinda sings like Dwight Yoakam with a little more Hank and writes like Chris Knight.
Country music radio is a vast wasteland. But country music has never been better. It is just that you won’t hear on the radio the vast majority of the great stuff musicians—more in Texas than in Tennessee—are churning out. Where, then, do you find out about it? Here. I mean, other places are better, but here too. To that end, I will regularly feature Texas country (and Red Dirt and Americana and Cowpunk and Old Time…) albums on the Friday they are released (Every Day Should Be Friday?).
Out today: Lifers by Cody Jinks.