Archive for the Loretta Lynn Category

Top 10 Americana Albums of the Decade: Honorable Mention

Posted in Hayes Carll, Loretta Lynn, Patty Griffin, Ryan Adams, The Avett Brothers, Top 10 Americana Albums: 2000-2009 on December 5, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

We’ve almost made it all the way to the number one spot on the list of my favorite albums of the past decade. Before we get to that #1 spot, however, I’d like to quickly run through a few albums that just as easily could (should?) have been included on the list instead. Here are five “Honorable Mention” albums listed alphabetically by artist.

First up is Ryan Adams’ 2001 release Gold. It’s very likely that this album would be on the final list if not for the fact that it was mislabeled on my iTunes, and I skipped over it when I was making my preliminary list. By the time I discovered my mistake, the final order was set, and I couldn’t really justify removing any of the other albums to make room for this one.

Still, this is one damn fine album, and one of the first “Americana” albums I was ever given. Lost Highway sent roughly a dozen copies to our station, and our music director loved the album so much he made sure that all the student workers got a copy. I remember it taking me several listens to warm up to the album as a whole, but I was instantly grabbed by tracks like “Firecracker” and “When the Stars Go Blue.” I’m glad I stuck with it.

Ryan Adams: Firecracker (Buy Album)

Next is the Avett Brothers’ 2004 effort Mignonette. The Avett Brothers are another one of those artists I fell in love with at the 2004 Americana Music Association Conference. They played the conference opening party on Thursday night at The Mercy Lounge, and I made a special point to see them again later that week at The Station Inn as well. I had never seen anything quite like them before with their string band sound and punk rock ethos.

I was completely entranced by their live show and found much to love on this album as well. Where the show drew me in with pure energy, the album showed that the band could deftly create those quieter moments as well. This album was the perfect mixture of the bombastic (“Hard Worker,” “Nothing Short of Thankful”) and the sublime (“Swept Away,” “SSS”). This song has a decent dose of both flavors.

Avett Brothers: Please Pardon Yourself (Buy Album)

If I continued to rank things beyond #10, this one might actually be #11. The 2005 release Little Rock was actually the sophomore effort for Hayes, but this is the one that put the Houston born songwriter on the map. It’s full of the same sort of rough edged tunes that have become the calling card of this road worn artist. You can actually feel the road beneath Hayes’ wheels on tunes like “Wish I Hadn’t Stayed So Long,” “Sit in with the Band” and the title track.

Little Rock also holds the distinction of being the first independent release to make it to the number one spot on the Americana Album Airplay chart. Hayes is still one of only two artists (Band of Heathens) to accomplish that feat. We’ve played this album so much at WDVX that it will no longer load in our CD players.

Hayes Carll: Down the Road Tonight (Buy Album)

If I had made a list of favorite artists of the decade, there is no doubt that Patty Griffin would be at or near the top. Her body of work is incredibly strong, and I don’t think there is a finer vocalist working in the business today. What she doesn’t have, however, is that one album that grabs hold of me and keeps me enthralled from start to finish. Her albums in this decade are a little more serene overall than the two she put out in the 1990’s.

All of them except for her unreleased gem Silver Bell from 2000. This album brings the fire on songs like the punkish title track, the churning “Sorry & Sad,” and the rollicking “Boston.” Of course, the quieter moments are here as well in early versions of “Making Pies” and “Top of the World.” There’s also a great, country duet with Emmylou Harris on “Truth #2.” Patty’s label refused to release the album because it wasn’t radio friendly enough. Idiots.

Patty Griffin: Boston (You can’t buy this album, but Patty has tons of other great stuff out there)

The most surprising album of the decade may have been Loretta Lynn’s 2004 release Van Lear Rose. Loretta had been largely absent from the music world for most of the 1990’s and had all but disappeard from the public consciousness. Like many of her contemporaries, she had been rendered mostly irrelevant by the changing aesthetic of popular country radio. That all changed with this album when Loretta teamed with producer Jack White of The White Stripes to blend her classic country sound with his modern rock production.

There is also a certain geographical element that speaks to me on this album. I grew up in the same rural Eastern Kentucky county where Loretta was raised. I spent a good part of my childhood in Van Lear, KY… my babysitter lived there. The song I’m featuring here may be about the West Coast, but I’m always transported back home when I listen to this album.

Loretta Lynn: Portland, Oregon (Buy Album)

Todd Snider: The Excitement Plan

Posted in Loretta Lynn, Todd Snider on April 28, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

Todd Snider’s new album The Excitement Plan doesn’t come out until June, but you can stream the whole thing now over at Yep Roc’s Website. You can also listen in on the nifty little widget posted above. Pay extra attention to “Don’t Tempt Me,” a duet with Loretta Lynn. I’ve been anxiously waiting to hear that one since I first heard about it a month or so ago.


Also… Todd’s website lists him as performing at the Bijou Theatre in Knoxville on May 27th… the final Wednesday of the month. Seems like something else usually happens at the Bijou on the last Wednesday of the month

Notes & Links

Posted in Loretta Lynn, Rob McNurlin, The Monkees, Todd Snider, youtube on March 13, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

*** Todd Snider’s new CD, The Excitement Plan, will come your way this June from Yep Roc Records. The full scoop on the album is over at Twang Nation (scroll down), but here’s the biggest thing you need to know. The album will feature a duet with none other than Loretta Lynn. It’s safe to say that I’m excited to hear their collaboration.

*** The evolution of No Depression continues. The stalwart Americana and Alt-Country (whatever that is) magazine ceased publication in its print form a few months ago and moved to an online only format. Last week, ND launched a new, community based website that seems designed to get readers more involved in the proceedings. Users can create their own profile and use it to upload photos and videos, participate in the forums, and even contribute their own blog posts to the site. There’s also a facebook-like feature that allows you “make friends” with other users. It’s still a relatively new undertaking, but something worth keeping an eye on.

*** A bit of sad news here… Former Monkee Peter Tork was recently diagnosed with a rare form of head and neck cancer called Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma. Tork underwent successful surgery last week and is now resting at home and preparing to begin radiation treatments. You should know that I hold a special affection for the music of The Monkees. Here’s hoping for a full and speedy recovery.

*** Had a comment and a couple of e-mails concerning my post on Rob McNurlin earlier this week… so I thought I’d give you another little taste of his music in this space. Here’s a youtube video of Rob with Dave Prince on guitar doing a song called “Deep Deep is the Blue.”

*** Since I already mentioned Loretta Lynn once in this post… I think I should also go ahead and mention that Saturday is Miss Loretta’s birthday. She was born in a cabin on a hill in Butcher Hollow (Holler), KY on March 14, 1934. Loretta is a hometown girl (Butcher Hollow is just outside the city limits of Paintsville, KY where I grew up) who made good. She had a ton of hits and caused more than a few controversies with her outspoken feminist lyrics in the 60’s and 70’s. Her success helped blaze the trail for every female country artist who followed. She is a Country Music Hall of Famer and truly one of the greats. Happy Birthday Loretta.

Loretta Lynn: Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind) (Buy Album)
Loretta Lynn: You Ain’t Woman Enough (Buy Album)

Americana Music Awards: Past Album of the Year Winners

Posted in Americana Music Awards, Buddy and Julie Miller, Buddy Miller, James McMurtry, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Patty Griffin on September 17, 2008 by AmericanaPulse

If you’ve been reading this blog at all, then you know that the Americana Music Honors and Awards Show will be held tomorrow night in Nashville and will be broadcast live on XM Radio’s X-Country channel beginning at 8:oo Eastern Time. This is just one more post celebrating the event and its past winners. I’ve written about most of this year’s nominees over the past month or so. You can read those posts here… a few of the songs have expired, but most of them are still there.

Anyway… today we’ll take a look at the recordings that have been honored as Album of the Year at past awards shows.

Buddy & Julie Miller from Buddy & Julie Miler
Buddy & Julie Miller: The River’s Gonna Run (Buy Album)

Buddy Miller is the most nominated artist in the history of the awards, and this was his first win. This album is a fine collection of duets with his wife Julie Miller. In fact, it was Julie’s unique voices (both her singing and songwriting voices) that initially drew me in to this album, and it has become one of my favorites. The song I’m sharing here is the first song I heard from the album, and the first time I heard Julie’s voice.

American IV: The Man Comes Around from Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash: Give My Love to Rose (Buy Album)

Johnny Cash swept all the major awards this year, winning Artist, Album, and Song of the Year. Johnny’s late career collaborations with producer Rick Rubin are among some of my favorite Cash recordings, and he was well deserving of winning at the 2003 awards. This is a re-recording one of Cash’s classic songs.

Van Lear Rose from Loretta Lynn
Loretta Lynn: Portland, Oregon (Buy Album)

2004 was my first Americana Music Conference and the first time I got to attend the Awards Show. I was so excited because Loretta Lynn was nominated for three awards, and I just knew that she would be there and I would have the chance to meet her. She is from my hometown, but I’ve never had the chance to see her in person. Lynn won for Artist and Album of the Year, but accepted her awards via videotape… she was out on the road. Nevertheless… Van Lear Rose is an amazing album, that despite some new-school production from Jack White, is purely classic Loretta Lynn.

Universal United House of Prayer from Buddy Miller
Buddy Miller: With God on Our Side (Buy Album)

Buddy was the big winner in 2005… taking Album and Song of the Year honors. Universal United House of Prayer is a country-soul study on faith and religion that spoke directly to the souls of award voters. The album was released just as the 2004 Americana Conference was being held, and the highlight of the entire 2004 conference was Buddy’s performance of Bob Dylan’s “With God on Our Side” at The Mercy Lounge. More than a few people were moved to tears listening to this thirty-year-old song that sounded as though it had been ripped from the headlines of the day.

Childish Things from James McMurtry
James McMurtry: Childish Things (Buy Album)

I still remember listening to this album for the first time and falling in love with it immediately. Above all else, James McMurtry is a storyteller… likely a trait he gets from his father, novelist Larry McMurtry. The stories on this album are about family vacations, young men preparing for war, a country losing its way, and just general tales about coming of age. The title track is one of those coming of age stories about the things we keep with us as we grow older, and the things we must leave behind. By the way, I think we all know someone like Aunt Clara from this song… I know I do.

Children Running Through from Patty Griffin
Patty Griffin: Heavenly Day (Buy Album)

I have seen it written that this album is Patty Griffin’s masterpiece. While I love each and every one of her albums and recommend each of them as “must own” records… it is hard to disagree with the previous statement. Children Running Through finds Patty equally at ease with the wisful folk ballad “Trapeze” as she is with the acoustic rocker “No Bad News.” There are even some hints of jazz and R&B in “Stay on the Ride.” The song I’ve offered up here, “Heavenly Day,” was nominated for Song of the Year. Patty says it’s a love song written to her dog.

The Week That Was: Vacation Roundup

Posted in Loretta Lynn, Old 97's, Tift Merritt on July 28, 2008 by AmericanaPulse

Back in Knoxville this week after a much-needed and music-filled vacation. I know some things did not run smoothly here while I was gone, but all the scheduled posts went up on time. The other tech aspects I’ll look into more this week. If problems persist, I’ll move my files to a different host.

As for the vacation… The unofficial start to the trip took place last Friday night in tiny corner of Knoxville called the Pilot Light. The Pilot Light is a small, dark, pit in a part of Knoxville referred to as “The Old City.” These days the club acts mostly as a punk and metal venue. Friday night it hosted blog favorite and Grammy nominee Tift Merritt.

On Saturday, Tift and her band played the Grand Old Opry in Nashville. Friday night’s surroundings were decidedly less glamorous. Despite the drawbacks of the venue, however, it was one of the more enjoyable Tift Merritt shows I have attended (six in total). My wife and I got there early and were able to grab spots right in front of the stage in the center, and the small room meant a small crowd of mostly attentive, die-hard Tift fans. It made for a very intimate setting that seemed to energize the band and make it easy for them to play off the crowd… and in the crowd. As part of the encore Tift, bassist Jay Brown, and guitarist Scott McCall (drummer Zeke Hutchins rounded out the band) actually left the stage and waded into the crowd for an acapella version of “Supposed to Make You Happy” sans amplification. Throw in a blistering version of “Broken,” a finale of “Still Pretending” with Tift encouraging all the couples in the audience to slow dance, and a solo piano performance of “Good Hearted Man” (a song my wife and I used in our wedding)… and it was a pretty good night.

Here’s a live track from Tift’s 2005 concert recording Home is Loud.

Tift Merritt: Supposed to Make You Happy (Buy Album)

The vacation began in earnest on Sunday with a trip to Kentucky to visit some family and play a little golf. I grew up in Paintsville, KY… just a few miles from the birthplace of Country Music Hall of Famer Loretta Lynn and that now famous “Cabin on a hill in Butcher Holler.” Remarkably, in all my years of living there I had never visited, or even seen, Loretta’s childhood home. That changed Wednesday afternoon. Drive a few miles off the main road, another mile or two down a dirt road, then a little further on a twisting one-lane strip of blacktop, and you’ll see Loretta’s birthplace still looking mostly as it did when she was born in 1935. If you stop at the old general store at the mouth of the hollow, Loretta’s brother will take you to the cabin (pictured above) for a guided tour. We didn’t take the tour, but we did drive past the house to have a look. As we were driving by, XM’s classic country channel was playing a Loretta tune… a happy little coincidence.

Since most of you probably have heard “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” the song that immortalized the cabin on the hill… here is one of my favorite classic Loretta Lynn cuts.

Loretta Lynn: Fist City (Buy Album)

Thursday, it was off to Asheville for the Old 97’s at The Orange Peel. First off, The Orange Peel is a great place to see a show… just a truly great club that should be checked out if you’re in the Asheville area.

It was our first time seeing the Old 97’s, and the show was all we expected it to be. The band brought a high level of energy right from the start with Phillip Peeples providing a solid rhythm on the drums, Ken Bethea’s guitar ringing out like a siren, Murry Hammond keeping the beat on the bass and providing backing vocals (lead on a couple of songs), and front man Rhett Miller playing the part of the rock star. Miller has a certain captivating energy when he’s on stage that commands the audience’s attention throughout the show. That was never more on display than at the end of the night.

During the closing song of the main set, something happened that cut all power to the stage… and is wasn’t coming back. The show should have been over, but Rhett stayed on stage alone with his guitar and banged out acoustic versions of fan favorites “Timebomb” and “Niteclub” from 1997’s alt-country masterpiece Too Far to Care. The room was really too big and noisy for such a thing to have worked, but it did. The crowd gathered tight around the stage and sang along with Rhett as he wailed about getting drunk and burning the nite club to the ground. It was a unique experience and one I’m glad to have attended. A lot of bands would have simply walked away when the power blew, but Rhett stayed around and gave a crowd hungry for an encore exactly what they wanted.

Here are the studio versions of the two encore songs. “Niteclub” seemed an appropriate way to end the evening.

The Old 97’s: Timebomb (Buy Album)
The Old 97’s: Niteclub (Buy Album)