Wednesday, December 21, 2005

If they'd only put the western back into country

Remember when country music used to be called country and western?

Those days are long gone. Course, country music doesn't even sound country anymore, let alone western.

But it's a shame. I heard the late Marty Robbins on the radio this morning and had forgotten how good that sound was.

His best collection of such music, "Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs," was recorded in one afternoon sometime in 1959. Robbins wrote most of the songs. Included in the set are the classics "Big Iron," "Cool Water" and Robbins' best-loved song, "El Paso."

The tune was almost revolutionary when it was released in 1960 because it ran for four and a half minutes. This was back when radio singles lasted three minutes or less. Period.

Indeed, the record label released an edited three minute version of the song. But disc jockeys flipped the single over and played the full-length version on the "B" side of the 45 rpm. It became a No. 1 pop and country smash in 1960.

I don't really know why westerns in general have gone out of favor with the public. People probably think they are too sophisticated now for such fare. John Denver tried to keep recording songs with western themes before his untimely death in 1997. Nashville told him to take a hike.

And yet John Wayne consistently is at or near the top of annual lists of favorite American movie stars. He's been dead since 1979. Tom Selleck's TNT westerns are always ratings winners. "Lonesome Dove" was one of the highest rated miniseries of all time.

But about the only place you can catch a good oater is on cable or at the video store.

It's too bad. Go back and listen to a Marty Robbins record. It will make you wish such talent was still around in country (or any other kind of music) these days.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a damn shame...

but I get the priveledge of reading another perfect example of music nostalgia. :)

A white sportcoat and a pink carnation
I'm all dressed up for the dance
A white sportcoat and a pink carnation
I'm all alone in romance

3:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's No Santa Claus--I believe was written by Boston Singer Bob Dini and sung by him in 1959 Dini also Sang for DERBY Records -Remember Me and Too Long Too Long and others on Coral Bob Tierney -Dedham Ma.

12:51 PM  

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