Music Monday, Flag Day Edition: Ragged Old Flag by Johnny Cash

What the morning called for.

She waved from our ships upon the Briny foam
And now they’ve about quit waving her back here at home
In her own good land here she’s been abused
She’s been burned, dishonored, denied, and refused

And the government for which she stands
Is scandalized throughout the land

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Music Monday: Country Music: A Film by Ken Burns

I loved this documentary.  I am going to buy it on blu-ray.  I will buy the coffee table book.  I will buy the soundtrack.

It will be great for country music.  There are a lot of Ken Burns fans who just got introduced to a massive amount of great country.   There are a lot of casual fans who were educated on the breadth of the genre. Even for more serious fans like myself, holes were filled.

That works the other way, too.  I am now a Ken Burns fan and need to pick up another of his documentaries.

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Music Monday: Okie From Muskogee by Merle Haggard

Sunday will be the 50th anniversary of one of the greatest and most debated songs in country music history: Okie From Muskogee by working-class poet Merle Haggard.  Ken Burns’ country music documentary on PBS, coincidentally, introduced the Hag last night and will cover Okie From Muskogee tonight.  I cheated and went ahead and streamed tonight’s episode last night.  If you are looking for a definitive answer as to whether Merle was being serious or tongue-in-cheek, you aren’t going to get it.  Why do I think there is a fairly straightforward answer, when even Tyler Coe poring over the song for over an hour doesn’t get there?  Let me tell you.

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New Music Friday: While I’m Livin’ by Tanya Tucker

Tanya Tucker is one of the all-time greats in country music and has one of country music’s all-time great voices.  She’s been around a damn long time but she’s still kicking.  In fact, her career is close to hitting the half century mark.  She was just 13 when she recorded Delta Dawn in 1972).

Out today: While I’m Livin’ by Tanya Tucker.

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Music Monday: Early Jimmy Buffett

I spent the past week in the Canadian Rockies.  Like most people, when I am in the Rockies my thoughts turn to Jimmy Buffett.  No?  More of an island vibe?  Buffett wasn’t always a man-made island of self-parodying merchandizing empire.

I saw someone remark somewhere that Jimmy Buffett was Kenny Chesney before Kenny Chesney was Kenny Chesney.  Like Kenny Chesney, Buffett’s music suffered from self-imitation of his own self-curated island image.  More surprisingly, like Kenny Chesney, Buffett has roots in country music.

Michael Streissguth’s Outlaw was one of my vacation reads; Streissguth mentions Buffett as one of the young, hip songwriters who descended on a pre-outlaw country Nashville.  The country influences were more evident in his early work and, frankly, it was his better work.

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Music Monday: Hank Williams’ Health and Happiness Recordings

I had planned to write a post featuring Hank Williams’ The Complete Health & Happiness Recordings on Friday, the day it was released.  I was short on time, so I just highlighted it on Twitter and Facebook and moved on about my day.  But I’ve been listening to it all weekend, and it is an absolute treasure.  I can’t let it go unmentioned here.  So on the day after Fathers’ Day, let us remember the granddaddy of them all, Hank Williams Sr. (speaking of fathers and grandfathers, I really need to highlight Hank Williams Jr. and Hank III on these pages).

The Health & Happiness Recordings were made over eight radio shows in 1949 to promote a patent medicine.  The complete recordings take up two CDs or three vinyl records.  This isn’t the first Health & Happiness Recordings release, but, judging by what’s on YouTube at least, it is the most high quality release.  Many of the songs are higher quality than you will find on Hank’s studio albums.

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Music Monday: Charley Pride

Charley Pride recorded somewhere between 29 and 40 #1 hits, depending on how you count.  It was funny, then, when someone posing as an expert on country music claimed only four black men had ever topped Billboard Country Charts.[1]  One of those didn’t—Lil Nas X.  And there was one massive omission—Charley Pride.  The most likely explanation is the most obvious.  This guy doesn’t know who Charley Pride is because he doesn’t really know shit about country music and is lying to make a cheap point.

When called on it, he responded flippantly.  I could argue here that if you expect any credibility in arguing country music[2] that you need to get your facts right.  He might perhaps argue in return that his cause[3] is more important than getting it right about Mr. Pride.  But those are utilitarian arguments.  I’m not interested in making utilitarian arguments.  In Kantian terms, Mr. Pride has the right to be treated as an end, not as a means.  In Christian terms, he is inherently deserving of dignity as a human being created in God’s image.  He is a man, not a tool in your box of arguments.

So fuck that hack.  Let’s listen to some damn fine music.

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