Tag Archives: country


As there has been a decided tendency on my part to write these things with numbers—many of which have something to do with an alphanumeric that ends with “19,” which I promise not to go into today—here are some numbers that, unless you are into the pickup version of trainspotting (the actual British pastime, not the Irvine Welsh book or the Danny Boyle film), you’re probably unaware of.

In 2020 Ford sold 787,422 F-Series trucks. That means that every single person in Seattle could have gotten an F-Series truck last year. The F-Series has been the best-selling pickup for 44 years. That goes back to 1976. The top three songs Billboard Top 100 singles list for that year are (1) “Silly Love Songs” by Wings, (2) “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” by Elton John and Kiki Dee, (3) “Disco Lady” by Jonnie Taylor. Yes, a long time ago.

There’s more.

Ford hired the Boston Consulting Group late last year to run some numbers on the importance of the F-Series to the U.S. economy. And it turns out that the F-Series supports about 500,000 jobs in the U.S. (this doesn’t mean there are 500,000 people building pickup trucks but that if you take direct employees and dealer employees, there is a multiplier effect leading to that figure). And another multiplier figure: the F-Series contributes about $49-billion to the U.S. Gross Domestic Product.

All of that may seem rather nebulous (unless “Silly Love Songs” is now stuck in your head and you’ve pretty much glazed over the preceding paragraph).

So here’s something that makes it more tangible, perhaps.

The revenue for the iPhone in the U.S. is $55-billion, which explains, in part, why Apple is so valuable. The revenue for the F-Series is $42-billion. The revenue for the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL combined is $40-billion. (And you might have thought the Super Bowl was a huge deal.) And speaking of sports, all of the Budweiser product sold in the U.S.: $15-billion. (Don’t drive an F-Series, or anything else, for that matter, after consuming some of that.)

And in the context of companies with which we’re all familiar, the F-Series has more revenue than McDonald’s, Nike, Coca-Cola and Starbucks.

A final thing about Ford and pickup trucks: Henry Ford is credited with inventing the pickup, with the first model rolling off the assembly line in 1925. (Among the popular songs in 1925 were “Ah-Ha!” by Ted Lewis and His Jazz Band, “Let’s All Go to Mary’s House” by Savoy Orpheans and “Yes Sir, That’s My Baby” by Ace Brigode & His Fourteen Virginians.)

Yes, there actually is something to do with music in all of this.

It’s the phenomenal popularity of trucks in country music.

For a reason that is absolutely mysterious, a British vehicle insurance site, money.co.uk, worked with a U.S. data scientist, John Miller, to analyze country music and trucks. There were more than 16,000 songs analyzed from the past 50 years.

From that base it was determined that 4.16% of all country music has a reference to trucks. The decade of the 2010s had a full 8%.

Continue reading Truckin’

Listen: Cosmic Cowboys, Longhaired Rednecks and Other Troublemakers

So every couple of years I like to re-read the 2012 Texas Monthly feature (“That ’70s Show”) on the 1972 Austin music scene that birthed the outlaw country movement. If you haven’t read it yet, just stop now and go read it and come back after you’re done.

Every time I read this fantastic oral history I pick up on new artists that for whatever reason I’ve overlooked before. The first time I read it I went out and tracked down a copy of Willis Alan Ramsey’s album. It’s amazing. This most recent time inspired me to look into the work of Mickey Newbury, which is kind of funny since he’s not even mentioned in the article. You know how it goes: you start googling around and one thing leads to another and all of a sudden you’re obsessed with something you’d never even thought about before.

It’s weird, though, that I’d never come across Mickey Newbury. “Luckenbach, Texas” is one of my all-time favorite songs and he’s namechecked in it: “Between Hank Williams’ pain songs and Newbury’s train songs…” How is it that I’d never bothered to look it up before? I’ve been listening to that song all my life — I still have my dad’s copy of Ol’ Waylon. I’m a music nerd; I feel compelled to uncover every reference and backstory of every song I love. Back in college I figured out who the “Jerry Jeff” from Willie’s chorus was and picked up a wild live two-record set that features the drunkest version of “Up Against the Wall, Redneck” ever recorded. But Newbury escaped me.

Newbury was pals with Townes Van Zandt and wrote “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)” and arranged “An American Trilogy.” These are songs I have known and loved for decades yet I never looked into their composer. All the best songwriters have proclaimed their love of Mickey Newbury (Kris Kristofferson said, “I learned more about songwriting from him than any other writer”), and in 2011 Drag City reissued his most highly regarded three albums plus a disc of rarities in a fancy box set featuring liner notes written by Ben Fong-Torres, Chris Campion, Kenny Rogers, Kristofferson, and Will Oldham. It’s available on streaming services…minus the liner notes, of course.

So anyway, I made a mix. 21 songs, 69 minutes long, one song per artist, sequenced to maximize listenability but it’s loosely chronological. It tells the story of what happened when country songwriters, mostly in Texas, stopped caring about Nashville conventions and started to embrace the hippies. The bulk of these songs are from 1972 and 73. Tom T. Hall joked about the “illusion of literacy” this new type of songwriting brought to the country music scene.

Buckle up as we take you from the sublime to the ridiculous (and back and forth again) across this sad and beautiful country where someone’s always doing something dirty that decent folks can frown on.

Praise the lord and pass the mescaline!

Continue reading Listen: Cosmic Cowboys, Longhaired Rednecks and Other Troublemakers

Who The Fuck Is Julie?

I spent a week or so with my grandparents in the spring of 1977 when my sister was born. I was very close with my grandparents and loved getting to stay with them for a WHOLE WEEK. As a bonus, my aunt secured permission from her principal to let me attend a day of classes at her high school.

If you’ve seen Dazed & Confused, you have a good idea of what my experience that day was like…with a rural flair. There were a lot of muscle cars mixed in with non-ironic overalls and cowboy boots. Of the many memories I have of that time what I remember most clearly is the music. There was one song in particular…

Jessi Colter wrote “I’m Not Lisa” and recoded in 1975 (I guess it took a while to catch on in the Midwest) with her producer and husband, Waylon Jennings. On its surface, it’s a pretty standard country tune about a woman lamenting the fact that her man isn’t over a previous lover. The first verse of the song is:

I’m not Lisa…
Lisa left you years ago
My eyes are not blue
But mine won’t leave you
‘Til the sunlight has touched your face

Who can’t relate to that? Competing with the ghost of a lost lover is frustrating, if for no other reason than having to answer the phone with, “No, I’m not Lisa. Can I take a message?”

But then things get weird. Because I left out part of the first line of the song.

I’m not Lisa, my name is Julie

Wait, what? Colter made it clear she’s not Lisa, we understand that. But guess what? She’s not Julie either! She’s Jessi! Who the fuck is Julie?

We know she’s not Lisa, because Lisa was “your morning light/Her smile told of no night/Your love for her grew/With each rising sun.” Lisa sounds pretty awesome. I wonder what happened to her?

And then one winter day
His hand led hers away

Of course! It was…HIM! But maybe Lisa wasn’t so awesome if she could simply be led away by some dude in the middle of a winter day. It wasn’t even under the cloak of night!

I’m still wondering though: WHO IS JULIE? Did Jessi Colter have a breakdown of some sort? Was she in witness protection and just blew her cover in a highly successful MOR country ballad in heavy rotation?

I don’t have any answers, I don’t even have a conclusion to this post. But this song has baffled me for years.

Kacey Musgraves continues to uplift America’s spirits

Video: Kacey Musgraves – “Biscuits”

I love Kacey Musgraves. This song might not be the best thing she’s ever written, but the video is fantastic. Hee Haw and the Muppets? What else do you need? “Biscuits” sounds like a sequel to “Follow Your Arrow” and I guess that’s pretty much what it is.

“Arrow” blew me away when I first heard it. It gave me hope for America’s future. In times like these when the Michigan state government is allowing state-funded adoption agencies to discriminate against gay people and cutting assistance to poor families if kids miss school, it’s important to remember that those old assholes are dying off and being replaced by kids like Musgraves.

Pageant Material is due June 23 on Mercury Nashville.

Continue reading Kacey Musgraves continues to uplift America’s spirits

Glen Campbell’s Last Video: I’m Not Gonna Miss You

The connection between music and memories is as fundamental as that between heart and soul. We write songs about things we’ve done and people we’ve loved and those songs remind us that we are human. To be robbed of either is heartbreaking, to be robbed of both is tragic.

Glen Campbell has been frank about his battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He announced his affliction in 2011 and embarked on a farewell tour—one that he had to take while he still could. If you love songs but aren’t familiar with Campbell’s work then you are missing some of the 20th century’s most endearing music. The towering shadow of his career is summarized in just the opening paragraph of his Wikipedia entry:

Campbell has released more than 70 albums. He has sold 45 million records and accumulated 12 RIAA Gold albums, 4 Platinum albums and 1 Double-Platinum album. He has placed a total of 80 different songs on either the Billboard Country Chart, the Billboard Hot 100, or the Adult Contemporary Chart, 29 in the Top 10 of which 9 peaked at number one on at least one of those charts.

And now he has one more song and album. His 78 years are reflected in this video, his last.

Glen Campbell – “I’m Not Gonna Miss You”

Continue reading Glen Campbell’s Last Video: I’m Not Gonna Miss You

Kacey Musgraves gives me hope for America’s future

There’s no question that over the past couple of years Americans have really come around on two major political issues: gay rights and marijuana legalization. A poll from earlier this year found that 59% of Americans approve of same sex marriage. It wasn’t that long ago (1998) that Ellen DeGeneres lost her ABC sitcom after coming out. Later that year, NBC’s “Will & Grace” seemed positively subversive. That probably seems insane to kids today, but it’s true.

Acceptance of marijuana has been a lot more gradual, but it’s still shocking for those of us came of age in Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” 80s to see people finally loosening up about pot. Not only is recreational marijuana use legal now in Colorado and Washington, but 19 additional states allow medical marijuana and 12 more states have pending legislation in the works. A recent poll found that 55% of Americans believe that marijuana should be made legal.

These poll numbers are soaring and they’ll continue to climb as grouchy, uptight old people die off. Young people don’t care what you smoke or who you hook up with. It’s almost fun to watch the social conservatives freaking out and getting wackier as they realize they’re on the losing side of history. They know they’re going to be seen in the same light as the assholes with the “Whites Only” drinking fountains. Not surprisingly, bigots skew old, Southern, conservative, and less educated.

Continue reading Kacey Musgraves gives me hope for America’s future

Jamey Johnson – The Guitar Song

Jamey Johnson - The Guitar SongJamey JohnsonThe Guitar Song (Mercury Nashville)

Before you can begin a review of Jamey Johnson’s The Guitar Song, you must first look at its competition. It doesn’t include the straight-up Americana that most of you readers would typically champion, and it won’t match up against the retro acts that still make the rounds of juke joints, roadhouses and casino venues.

Jamey Johnson can’t really be compared to any of those artists because he’s part of the current country music establishment – the same network that runs the Nashville machine circa 2010.

Understand, we’re talking about the same guy that gave us “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk,” a guy that had a legitimate shot at banking an entire career on writing ridiculously stupid and clichéd hits for other artists.

Continue reading Jamey Johnson – The Guitar Song

For the morning after a work party…

Video: Blake Shelton – “The More I Drink”

I first heard this song while flipping through radio stations in West Michigan, and was hooked as soon as I heard the very first line: “He was sittin’ at the bar, sippin’ a Regular Coke.” Not a Rum & Coke, certainly not a Diet Coke, not even a Classic Coke. Nope, a Regular Coke. I love that. The video is good too. From the 2007 Warner Bros albums, Pure BS.

A couple members of the Glorious Noise posse had work parties for their day jobs last night. Since we’re all kind of newbies at this whole “alcohol consumption” thing, some of us aren’t feeling our best today.

So this post goes out to all the working stiffs who occasionally indulge in one (or two… or three… or…) too many on a Thursday night. The number one rule for work parties is you’re allowed to get as drunk as you want so long as you’re able to make it to work the next morning and pretend you don’t feel like you’re going to die.

Continue reading For the morning after a work party…

Country Fuzz

Holy cow. WFMU’s Beware of the Blog is hosting a Country Fuzz Spectacular featuring a bunch of classic country songs with prominent use of the fuzztone effect, including the following 1966 track, described perfectly: “The first few seconds of this record sound exactly like a scorching garage punk combo at work. Then the Willis Brothers start singing and it gets even better.”

MP3: Willis Brothers – “Soft Shoulders, Dangerous Curves”

Via lptj.

George Jones and Merle Haggard – Kickin’ Out The Floodlights…Again

George Jones and Merle Haggard - Kickin' Out The Floodlights...AgainGeorge Jones and Merle HaggardJones Sings Haggard, Haggard Sings Jones: Kickin’ Out The Floodlights…Again (Bandit)

Twenty-five years ago, country music legends George Jones and Merle Haggard recorded their first album together, A Taste of Yesterday’s Wine. A lot has changed since 1982; Merle and George are still be revered among country’s current contenders, but they’re certainly not selling the same amounts as the young’ens.

Kickin’ Out The Floodlights…Again is better than their previous collaboration, due in large part to the lack of pressure of trying to make a commercially viable record. With this burden gone, the two set out to make, and ultimately achieve, a true country music album that’s heavy on camaraderie and highlighting their talents while avoiding any hint of trying to rekindle the careers of two legends that’ve already burned brighter than most current country music stars could even imagine.

Make no mistake: their voices are completely in tact. If anything, Floodlights is a testament to how two elder statesmen of country music can overshadow minor production shortcomings with the use of their impeccable voices.

Continue reading George Jones and Merle Haggard – Kickin’ Out The Floodlights…Again