Last week I talked about the independent country songs that have been certified gold over the last few years. And things aren’t slowing down: since I published that post a week ago, I learned that Keep the Wolves Away by Uncle Lucius has been certified gold. (If hits on a blog post are any guide, I shouldn’t have been surprised.) Even more impressive than the songs certified gold, independent country artists are getting songs certified platinum. Leading the way are Tyler Childers and Cody Jinks. (S.O.B. by Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats was also certified platinum, but I already featured it here and it is really country-adjacent.)Continue reading “Music Monday: Solid Platinum Edition”
Back when I first really started getting into independent country in the late aughts, most times I looked up an act’s touring schedule I found they didn’t make it out of Texas, Oklahoma, and maybe Arkansas. Didn’t do me much good in North Carolina, but at least the good people of Texas were keeping the lights on for these folks. And they still are, but the rise of independent country over the last decade has been extraordinary. Country radio is still putridly awful on a historic level, but radio matters less than it ever did.
He made us wait so long, and we really are not talking enough about Chris Stapleton’s new album. It is easy to take for granted the sheer quality of his admittedly limited output. But the list of artists with four albums in a row that strong is pretty much limited to the Turnpike Troubadours.
Billy Joe Shaver died on October 28. He was a true outlaw. I won’t go back over his outlaw resume—I covered most of it in a post last year. The outlaw country music movement Mount Rushmore only has two faces on it—Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings. But Billy Joe Shaver is in the second-tier of the movement, one short step back from Willie and Waylon. He wrote most of the songs on Waylon’s landmark outlaw country album Honky Tonk Heroes. His album Old Five and Dimers Like Me, which shares four songs with Honky Tonk Heroes, is a part of outlaw country canon in its own right.Continue reading “Music Monday: RIP Billy Joe Shaver”
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.