Thursday, May 10, 2012

The most underrated duo in country music history

So, about six months or so ago, I was driving down the road and as usual was listening to station 850 on my AM dial.

Yes, you read right. Country music, the real kind anyway, has been mostly relegated to AM radio. Example two as to why I hate the 21st century.

Anyway, I was somewhere between Halls and Fountain City when I heard two voices blending together like blue-hued sky and golden sun.

I don't want to have to marry you; I don't want to have to say "I do..."

Jim Ed Brown and Helen Cornelius. Hadn't thought about them in years, much less heard them on the radio.

Thought to myself, "When I get home I'm going to download their songs."

Guess what? Yep, it's all out of print.

So, I got online and ordered a "Greatest Hits" CD that was released in 2000. Boy, howdy.

I started to write that I don't know why Jim Ed and Helen have yet to receive their just due, but I do know. I'll get to that in a minute.

Meanwhile, surf on over to YouTube, type in their names, and turn up the volume. Oh, yeah.

Watch them nail Tom T. Hall's "I Washed My Face in the Mornin' Dew" on the Grand Ole Opry stage.

Hear them sing "Heaven's Just A Sin Away" better than The Kendalls.

Don't miss their best song together: "Saying Hello, Saying I Love You, Saying Goodbye."

And, if you're lucky enough to find it, listen to them do a "dang, that's darn good" cover of "You Don't Bring Me Flowers."

Here's why they haven't gotten recognition.

1. They had an affair a long time ago.
2. What now passes for country music ignores its past.

By chance, I found several original RCA vinyl releases from the collection of two dear souls, Ruby and the late John Hitch. Listening to them only confirmed my opinion.

Country music has had great partners. Conway and Loretta. Porter and Dolly. George and Tammy. Johnny and June. Kenny Rogers and anybody with whom he sang.

(Hey, Blake and Miranda: Forget about it. You ain't in the ballpark.)

All of those I mentioned before the last two are great, kings and queens, no doubt about it.

But, for my money, the most underrated duo in country music history is Jim Ed Brown and Helen Cornelius.

Don't take my word for it. Look it up. Find the original recordings. Let me know what you think.

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Blogger Spencer Solomon said...

"What now passes for country music ignores its past."

Absolutely true!

3:50 PM  
Blogger Love My Labrador Retrievers! said...

I don’t have to look it up…..I personally know Jim Ed & Helen. I’ve known Jim Ed since 1986 and Helen since 2003. I agree with your statement they’re the most underrated due in country music history. They had a string of hits and even their non-hits are great. They still have chemistry together onstage like you wouldn’t believe! Many people think they’re married to each other (we won’t go any deeper into that subject). I saw them recently in Louisburg, Kansas, and they sounded terrific. Gotta say, though, even they do a good job of “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” since I’m also a huge Neil Diamond fan, I give a slight edge to Neil & Babs on that song.

Today’s crop of country music singers can’t hold a candle to the “real” country singers of yesteryear. I just about gag every time I hear Taylor “Swiftless” open her mouth. I can’t carry a tune in a bucket but I dare say my singing isn’t as any worse than hers. Nuff said.

5:25 PM  
Blogger Jake Mabe said...

I couldn't agree with you more! Thanks so much for the comment.

And, yes, while I too give the nod to Neil and Babs's version of "You Don't Bring Me Flowers," I was rather impressed with Jim Ed and Helen's cover. Don't think I'd ever heard it before, or if I had, I'd forgotten it.

5:52 PM  

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