Dusting My Shelves: Tammy Wynette, D-I-V-O-R-C-E

Artist: Tammy Wynette  Album: D-I-V-O-R-V-E

As any music aficionado, I live by the adage, “So much music, so little time.” That is exactly where I am coming to you with this post.

I am a big fan of classic country music. I love the likes of George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Johnnyimg_3033 Cash, and Patsy Cline. These artists have made some of my favorite albums, but I have neglected one founding country queen, Tammy Wynette.

The loss has been completely mine. When I listen to Tammy, I hear the sweetness of Parton, the brashness of Lynn, and the stylings of Cline, yet I think that is an understatement to her career for these leading ladies are not her predecessors, they are her contemporaries.

Saturday evening I decided to finally spin her album from 1968, D-I-V-O-R-C-E. I picked this album up years ago, but I can’t recall where. The title immediately caught my attention, but I wasn’t 100% into classic country at the time. We all make mistakes in our early age.

Starting off D-I-V-O-R-C-E is the Glen Campbell classic “Gentle on My Mind.” Hearing a woman’s heartache over these lyrics opens up a new aspect to this true country tune. Then comes “Honey (I Miss You).” This song completely broke my heart. As I was listening I thought they just couldn’t be together for unforseen circumstances, not for the reason this song revealed.

Later on side A, we come to a cover of the Patsy Cline favorite, “Sweet Dreams.” Wynette brings her own timing and reason to this song. I had the feeling that she may have sweet dreams of you now, but you better act quick, this country girl don’t wait. Closing out side A, we have a cover of the Beatles “Yesterday.” A classic country twist of a Beatles classic done by one of its leading ladies? Yes please.

Side B continues with Wynette’s number one hit “D-I-V-O-R-C-E.” This song immediately breaks my heart. I know the content too well. Wynette sings this song with a whole heart for she had lived and would continue to live its lyrics. Later on side B, we come to “Kiss Away,” a Billy Sherrill penned tune originally recorded by Ronnie Dove. The album then closes with a cover of Kitty Wells’ “Lonely Street.” This song is a perfect coupling with the title track.

After listening to this early, yet classic Wynette album, I can’t help but think, “Where have I been?” I know exactly where I have been. I’ve been flipping through Dolly and Loretta vinyl. Now I am going to have to add Wynette to my ever-growing list. I sure hope New York, my new resting place, has as many classic country bins as Oklahoma.

George Strait, Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind: I Guess I’m a Honky Tonk Boy

First let me start by asking forgiveness from all my fellow country music enthusiasts. I have a terrible debt that I must confess.

I’ve barely ever listened to George Strait.

I truly apologize. He has charted 44 number one singles on the Billboard charts and has 60 number ones when counting other charts. He has also sold nearly 100 million records worldwide. To say the least, I’m late to the game.

IMG_2439What better day to educate myself about the King of Country then the eve of his birthday? I have around 4 of his albums in my collection due to my mom buying them for me. She always buys albums for me when she finds them. We are both constant garage-salers and thrift store hoppers.

In one of the piles that my Mom bought me was George Strait’s Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind. Honestly, I didn’t think much of the record. I already had other country favorites and I was really tired of hearing how amazing Strait was, then there is my mom’s endless talk about his butt.

Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind was released in 1984 and quickly shot its way to the top of the Billboard country chart. This album generally comes a little late in country music for my tastes. I don’t listen to much 1980’s country unless it’s The Judds, Reba McEntire, or Dwight Yoakam. I’m more of a 1960’s and 1970’s classic country fan, but yet again, I have been proven wrong.

This album opens with the title track “Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind.” To my surprise Strait’s vocals didn’t remain on a stagnant line like I always thought, yet they came full of tear drops and intricate country stylings. This broken heart ballad comes with all the fixens’: pleadin’, reminiscin’, and drinkin.’ It’s the sequel to “By The Time I Get to Phoenix.”

Next is one of my favorites, “Any Old Time.” It comes with a heavy country swing rhythm and some rather fancy fiddlin’. Strait was clearly no longer thinking of Fort Worth.

IMG_2440“Honk Tonk Saturday Night” finishes out side A. This song is another ballad of sorts that echoes Loretta Lynn’s “Honky Tonk Girl.” Strait’s vocals convey the same contentment and loneliness Lynn’s did years before.

Side B starts with “I Should Have Watched That First Step” and “Love Comes From The Other Side of Town.” Both of these songs have classic country themes with a little extra boot scootin’ mixed in. The true highlights of side B though are the last two singles from this album “The Cowboy Rides Away” and “The Fireman.”

“The Cowboy Rides Away” is 80’s country at it’s best, sprinkled with the heritage of the legends before. It’s the confidence in Strait’s voice that catches my attention. Although the song comes from a vulnerable state (a breakup), he finds his confidence in riding away, knowing there will be something else along the path. That mixed with the instrumentation of this song makes this an undeniable hit.

Lastly, we have “The Fireman,” the last single from this album. It’s a close relative to “Any Old Time.” I can imagine a group of couples two steppin’ to this song easily. Strait’s consistent vocals give this song sustainability while showing Strait’s versatile vocal ability.

So as I sit here on the eve of George Strait’s 64th birthday, I find myself musically improvished. I hate the fact that I have not given Strait the time he deserves until now. What I find the most exquisite about Strait is how his voice is always stable. It never seems to give out or lose pitch, but it always conveys a direct fluid emotion.

With the discovery of George Strait, I have realized I am just another honky-tonk boy. You see, honky tonkin’ is a style of living. It’s about hitting the high of highs and the low of lows while maintaining a sound character. That’s what Strait’s voice, the longevity of his career, and his character portrays. When was the last time you saw George Strait in the tabloids?

I now realize I have always been a honky-tonk boy. Now I have a Strait road to travel.

 

Dolly Parton, “New Harvest…First Gathering:” Live Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a bittersweet holiday for me. At one time I had a tight-knit family that willfully and joyously spent the day together. Unfortunately, that family has dispersed and disappeared. Cousins start having their own kids, grandparents start going downhill, and bonds break. Sadly nobody has acknowledged what has been left behind.

I have come to a realization in my life that Thanksgiving is more than just turkey, stuffing, and Grandma’s peach cobbler. Instead I am chosing this time to focus on the life I live. It’s easy to ignore the good things in life, things we should thank God for everyday.

600x600srThe other night I came home and was extremely angry and upset. It’s never easy fighting with someone you are close with. So I did what I always do, I threw on a record. I’m not sure what prompted my choice, but I decided to give Dolly Parton’s 1977 album, New Harvest-First Gathering a spin.

The album opens with “Light of a Clear Blue Morning.” This was the only single from this album and it climbed its way to eleven on the Hot Country Charts. The message of this song immediately impacted my emotions. Parton sings, “Cause I can see the light of a clear blue morning. I can see the light of a brand new day….It’s gonna be ok.”

The lyrics resonated with my exact situation and how I was feeling. Parton showed me that there was still tomorrow and she assured me through her brisk and sweet, yet potent voice, that it was all going to be ok, even if I could not see it now. With its gospel infringed instrumentation and backing vocals, this song is nothing but inspiring.

Following this hit comes “Applejack.” A classic Parton story tune where she tells stories of a man who was once called Applejack. He also happened to make the best applejack in town, but he could play the banjo too. We all know Parton can’t give good strumming of a banjo. The song ends with her remembrance of good ol’Applejack and how she is thankful for the lessons she learned on his porch. I cannot count the number of people who fit this exact impact Parton speaks of in my life.

Dolly-Parton-1970s-4Parton then gives Motown a twist with Smokey Robinson’s “My Girl.” She changes the
lyrics to “my love” while giving this song a complete new image. She sings this song almost as a whisper which chimes of her own story and romance. Parton’s husband is much more reclusive then Parton, and there is barely ever a sighting of him. She has a quiet, but strong love, and she doesn’t need to scream that into the world to validate what she has. She was simply contemplating her thanks.

She ends side A with a ballad she wrote both the music and words to, “You Are.” She expressed her love for her husband by stated that he is her inspiration, what makes her happy, and everything she would ever want. If you take this song and mix it with “My Love,” I am convinced that if clouds could sing this is what they would sound like. Her voice is heavenly.

She opens side B with “How Does it Feel.” I was expecting a heart wrenching break up Parton song that she can so generously write, but instead she simply had one question. How does it feel knowing that there’s someone who loves you? It made me think and identify those I am thankful for in my life.

This song is followed by “Where Beauty Lies in Memory.” The song tells the story of a woman that remembers her life as it once was in which Parton concludes “When beauty lives in memory, it lives forevermore.” That’s where my Thanksgiving is. My memories will always live in my mind. I have just not decided exactly what to do with them yet.

Parton then turns “(Your Love Is Taking Me Higher) Higher and Higher,” a number one for Jackie Wilson in 1967, into a gospel medley that you can see any choir swaying to. A good song never dies and ten years later when this album was made, it was resurrected into a new being. This sentiment ties right into Parton’s closing song “There.”

b7569341a49066f8b4179e8af8f97b17“There” is a song of hope that ensures us of a clear blue morning. She sings of what is to become when push comes to shove, when weapons are set down, and peace is resonated among God’s people. She wants to be taken where “lambs lie with lions,” “the meadows grow greener,” and “where there is complete love.” She incases this in a powerful composition that will leave you in goosebumps. The song’s beginnings are chilling, but you can’t utter any other word but Hallelujah when it ends.

She gives the message everybody wants to hear and be a part of, an eternity of love. There is no damnation in her voice; she is simply reminding everybody of God’s promise of eternal life and love.

So in the end there is no need for Thanksgiving, or this time of year, to be bittersweet for me. I am thankful for the memories I have, the people who have impacted my life, and a God that promises me eternal love. I will eventually live a life of Thanksgiving with Him, but for now I must make the best of it on this earth.

It amazes me that Parton nearly wrote the lyrics and music to every song on this album. This record is a testament of her love for family, friends, and Savior. For me it was not just a collection of tunes, it was a reminder.

A reminder of blessings and a God of love that has a place for me. I will see the light of a clear blue morning. I will remember all the blessings in my life and give thanks for what was then and now. I will be taken there.

This album also reminded me that everybody needs to listen to a Dolly Parton album every now and then. I highly suggest it. It’s rejuvenating. As I approach this Thanksgiving, I plan to live it, and I am prepared for a new harvest and who knows what its first gathering will provide.

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Thanks Dolly.

 

A Playlist for Your Labor Day

Here we are! Another year has almost come and gone and now we can no longer wear white. Labor Day is the signal of great things to come and that statement does come with a hint of sarcasm.

Labor Day was created in 1887 after the Central Labor Union and Knights of Labor had their first parade, or strike if you will, in New York City. President Grover Cleveland signed it into law declaring the first Monday of every September Labor Day. I guess back then one day was enough,  but couldn’t we have at least gone for a week?

Nonetheless, for your listening pleasure, I have collecting some labor songs to commemorate this monumental day.

“She Works Hard for the Money,” Donna Summer, 1983 

Everybody loves this disco and dance infringed number Donna Summer so graciously gave us in the early 1980’s. This song reached number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was later nominated for a Grammy. Inspired by real events, Summer wrote the song after talking with a restroom attendant in Los Angeles.

“9 to 5”, Dolly Parton, 1980

There isn’t a better way then to start your day then with a cup of ambition. Parton released this pop infused tune as a companion to her movie of the same title starring Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda. Has there been a song that commemorates a working person better than “9 to 5?” I think not. Once I hear the opening of this song and its piano infringed riff, there is no stopping me. I’ll belt this song at the top of my lungs till it’s over….and then start it again.

“Take This Job and Shove It,” Johnny Paycheck, 1977

This song was originally written by David Allen Coe, but eventually fell in the lap of Johnny Paycheck. This song peaked at number 1 on the Billboard Hot Country charts. As “9 to 5” explains getting ready for the grind, this song aptly explains one’s attitude once 5 rolls around. Another interesting fact about this song, it was produced by the late and legendary Billy Sherrill.

“A Hard Day’s Night,” The Beatles, 1964

We can’t forget about the bit of romance there is in working a job….or can we? This song hit number one in both the U.S. and U.K. and was also a companion piece to a movie of the same title. The song generally speaks of one who works all day so that his girl can have everything she wants. I just hope she has a job too. Nonetheless, it’s just one of the nice sentiments that the Beatles left us. I’m sure they’ll regret this when yesterday comes.

“Is There Life Out There,” Reba McEntire, 1992

Now when one initially hears this song, they don’t think of a hard day’s work, but I think we need to leave this list on an optimistic point. This song talks about a girl, both working in her personal and private life, wondering if it is all worth it. As Reba reminds us, there is life out there and endless potential. This song is just one of Reba’s 377 number 1 singles on the Hot Country charts.

That my friends is what you can all enjoy on this fine Labor Day Monday. Sometimes working is a joy, sometimes it’s rough, but it is always worth it in the end. We may always work hard for the money, and it often takes us 9 to 5, but we can’t ever truly just take the job and shove it. Remember after a hard day’s night there is always life out there…..

And a paycheck.

A Not So Obvious Rose

Last weekend I went by one of my favorite vinyl spots, Trolley Stop, to dig for some Jody Miller albums. The owner, John, let me go to his back storage where he has multiple boxes of classic country lps. I was successful in finding many Millers, but I also came across an artist I don’t see often, Rose Maddox.

806a4aac7022870e4ada31adb4cd65f2The career of Maddox is largely a mystery to me and a lot of her career still remains this way. I knew she had hit songs, yet I couldn’t name them. I mostly heard her name when she had been cited as an influence to many greats like Dolly Parton, Kitty Wells, Wanda Jackson, and Emmylou Harris. So there has to be something about this lady.

My limited research foretold that Maddox started her career with her brothers, Fred, Cal, Cliff, Henry (after Cliff’s death in 1949), and Don. They performed what I would classify as “rhythmic country.” The music they performed ranged from bluegrass to classic country and a bit of early rockabilly. The band eventually dismembered and Rose set out on a solo career.

The album I found was 1961’s, A Bouquet of Roses. This album contains her top 20 hit, “Conscience, I’m Guilty.” It’s a mix of western swing and country. It contains the classic country and pop hit, “Lonely Street” and the rock and roll smash, “Jim Dandy.” The versatility of Maddox’s vocals are well on display in this bouquet.

My biggest take aways from this album are “Tall Men,” “Early in The Morning,” and “Read My Letter Once Again.” Maddox’s voice doesn’t flow over these tracks, it demands sentiment. She sings gently at times, yet she always has command. Her voice is a pillar of strength, portraying both a strong person with a gentle heart and one who isn’t to be messed with.

rosemaddoxFrom this album it is easy to see where the above mentioned singers found inspiration. Maddox was one of the first “flamboyant” western swing singers, wearing full rhinestoned, sequined, fringed, and ric-raced ensembles. Although her influence is obvious, she doesn’t receive the recognition she deserves. She should be mentioned with Kitty Wells and Patsy Cline, yet I discovered her in a dusty shed.

Many founders are rarely recognized for their complete impact, but the greatest country stars have cited Maddox as an influence. It seems that she didn’t seek the spotlight, it looked for her. Her legacy is cemented in those who are performing today. The stars of yesterday look at her as an influence and today’s stars look at them as their influences.

So in essence, she may not be an obvious rose, but she has received a lot of water through the years. Her vocal style, fashion, and pioneering performances are mimicked time and time again.

maddox_rose_1377187743274Her legacy and influence is apparent through her voice. She’s heard all the way
from Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” to Miranda Lamberts “My Little Red Wagon.” You see, Rose’s voice is as pretty and soft as a rose petal, yet she can cut you with her thorns if you do her wrong.

That is the essence of the female country singer. They are always pretty, yet never mess with them, they have thorns, shotguns, and skillets. Maddox has taught me that’s not something new. They have had it them for a while.

More Than The Queen of The House: Cleaning Up With Jody Miller

I often say that you will discover the best people you will ever meet down a red dirt road. Last weekend I found out you will also find the best music down those same roads.

4py19c0rowb444yoI had the chance to sit down with Jody Miller. She invited me over to her home to sit down and talk about her career and life. As I walked up to the door of this country house, I felt right at home in the middle of a pasture with the red dirt still in the wind from my tires.

I received a hint from a friend of Jody’s, that she was quite fond of Vanilla Sonic Milkshakes. On my way to her home, I stopped by Sonic and purchased her a milkshake and myself a Vanilla Dr. Pepper.

As I walked to the front door, I had my hands full of records, my notebook, and these two drinks. Jody’s dog greeted me with nothing but charm. I later learned he was nearly 14! I then knocked on the door and was greeted with one of the friendliest smiles I had ever seen.

“How did you know I liked those shakes?” said Jody.

It’s easy to say it was love at first sight.

She ushered me in and as she went to the kitchen to grab a spoon, she told me to go look at her records and memorabilia. On the wall hung every album she had made under the Capitol and Epic labels. Then as my eyes slowly looked down, I saw one of the most coveted awards every singer longs for.

After I was finished gawking at her albums and her Grammy, we went and sat down at her dining room table. That’s where our conversation began. I started out with a question I wonder about every singer.

As a singer myself, I know what makes me tick. So I wanted to ask, why singing?JodyMiller-1 When you were little, what possessed you to start singing?

“Well I came from a family of music people. My dad played the fiddle and my mother sang real good. I had four sisters. We would get together and harmonize and dad would play the fiddle. We would dance and sing every Saturday night. It was a lot of fun, but I knew the rest of them couldn’t sing the way I could [she said this through laughter]. So I had that feeling that I was really good. 

As we cracked a few more jokes, I had to learn about her other musical talents and what instruments she played. The answer surprised me.

Now you play the fiddle, correct?

“No, I make it look good for two songs. If you notice [in a “Thank God I’m a Country Girl” Youtube video] I don’t crack a smile. I was so serious, thinking I was going to mess this up. I do play guitar. I have a four string tenor that I bought back in 1962. It was 8 years old when I bought it!” 

We then jumped into the beginning of her music career. We briefly discussed her time with singing in a local folk act, until she and her husband started making their way to LA to begin her singing career. Along this path is where she met up with fellow Okie, Dale Robertson in 1963.

“He is really a brilliant artiste. He has a lot of taste in the music world, acting, and everything else. He’s gone now, but boy he was smart. I went to visit him unannounced. I had no invitation, but he heard me. When he heard me, he contacted Capital Records. He was doing an animated feature at the time. He was using all of Walt Disney’s artists and then he contacted the people at Capital for some one to do the music.” 

From there, she went on to try out for the Capital records. They were immediately smitten with her as a folk singer.

As Jody admits humbly, “At least I could carry a tune, they thought.” 

11881409_10200899605530180_404911533_oCapital was attempting to jump on the successful folk band wagon of the early and mid 1960’s with the likes of Joan Baez and The Kingston Trio. She said that they wanted somebody who presented themselves like the former, but that didn’t bother her at all. At the time, she had no direction in where she wanted to go with her music.

Jody also really enjoyed the men who backed her during her audition, Glen Campbell and Billy Strange.

“I got my foot in the door and they weren’t going to get it out,” Jody quipped.

What was it like being a Oklahoma girl and walking into a Capital recording studio?

“I was overwhelmed really. You could have knocked me over with a feather. I couldn’t believe it.”

I then pulled out her first album, Wednesday’s Child is Full of Woe. This album is beautifully arranged and folk to its core. Yet, as Miller pointed out, it wasn’t a hit. The majority of the songs on this album were story songs and she explained how at the time she knew 200 folk songs and the stories that went behind them. That’s where she found her conviction, which is one of her ultimate strengths to this day.

Wednesday’s Child is Full of Woe did not garner any hits and didn’t make it on to the
charts, but that did not detour Miller’s dream and determination to cut a hit record.

Jody“I have always believed in my talent and knew that I could sing better than anybody else. I hate to say that, but I really felt that and I believe we have to feel that way or we can’t push ourselves into doing the job. If you keep on going with what you have, you’re going to make it. I don’t care what anybody says.”

After her first album, Miller was then teamed up with a young Joe Allison. He placed her with 42 musicians, which quite intimated Miller, and they cut her first hit single “He Walks Like A Man.” She then had a brief stint in the Italian music world, where she debuted “Io Che Non Vivo,” which later became “You Don’t Have to Say you Love Me” in English. The Italian version was written especially for Miller.

She then began work on her next recordings in 1966. It just so happened that Mary Taylor had written a song, which she wanted to record, but she already had a hit song on the charts. In those days an artist did not have multiple songs on the chart at a single time.That song was “Queen of The House.”

Miller recorded this song in just one day. This was another one of her strong suites as an artist.

How long did it take you to record an album?

“Well not too long. I was a one take wonder. I could go in and learn a song just like that and go into the studio and cut it. It was one of the things that made me good.” 

DSC00235Once the single “Queen of The House” was released, the pressing plant for Capital could not press the single fast enough for it’s demand was so high. This all happened right before she was to deliver her daughter.

We then went on to discuss whether it was an answer record to “King of The Road” by Roger Miller. Jody then stated that this wasn’t an answer record, but it was a stand alone tune that used the same melody.

There was a Scopitone “music video” made to “Queen of The House.” Scopitones were jukeboxes that featured a screen which projected three-minutes of what we would now call music videos. Although the Scopitone quickly faded, many of its originally videos have been recovered, which include 3 starring Miller.

These videos were often thought to be risqué which took Miller by surprise.

When I was watching the “Queen of The House” video I found that it was pretty risqué for the time period?

“I didn’t know they were going to do all that. People don’t believe me, but I didn’t know.”

Now you weren’t risqué though. You were classy. 

“Yeah, I was dressed.”

In 1967, is when Miller won the Grammy for best female country vocal performance at the 8th annual Grammy awards. She was up against some of the most iconic country singers including Skeeter Davis and Dottie West.

Who did you thank?11120051_10200917721703073_1782923907_n

I didn’t have a speech prepared. I said ‘I’d like to thank everybody that knows who they are.’ [laughs] Jerry Lewis cracked up and said can I use that? I meant those people who helped me, but it came out like there was a psychological thing people were going through [thanking those who KNEW who they were]. 

After the overwhelming success of “Queen of The House,” Miller’s next hit came in the shroud of the Vietnam war. She sang a song entitled “Home of the Brave,” that many country music disc jockeys were weary to play due to its content. Her producer, Joe Allison, grabbed this song from his friend Ronnie Spector, because he knew it was a hit.

She then recorded The Nashville Sound. This album contains her hit “Long Black Limousine.” Miller was again teamed up with Joe Allison. She stated that this was her favorite album and that she loved how glamorous the cover was. She fondly took my album and looked over the songs and cover in admiration, silently reminiscing over her work.

At the beginning of the 1970’s, Miller slightly fell off the radar. She said it was due to a change in record labels and a fuss between her and legendary producer Billy Sherrill, who passed away on August 4th. She thought he was supposed to bring songs and he expected her to bring songs. After the confusion came the “Look at Mine” album. The title track proved to be a smash on the charts along with “If You Think I Love You.”
Jody_Miller_-_He's_So_FineMiller then said how her and Sherrill became wonderful friends. They cut many songs knowing they could find a hit. He went on to produce her album, He’s So Fine and There’s A Party Goin’ On. Both title songs were hits. These albums also contained her well-known version of “Baby I’m Yours” and “Darling You Can Always Come Back Home.” By the end of the 1970’s, Sherrill and Miller had worked on 8 studio albums.

“He was such a wonderful musician to work with. I just had a ball working with him.” 

Although Miller was achieving success any singer would die for, she stated that the 1970’s were not a very good time for her.

“I was working a lot. The 70’s was not a very happy decade. I didn’t get any joy out of them and what I was doing. I had a family back here [Oklahoma], my daughter and my husband, and I missed them so much. I was on the road all the time. So I said ‘Hey, life is too short for this, I’m going home.'”

You’d rather have your family then your music career?

“Yes.”

Then Miller returned home to Oklahoma to continue raising her daughter and spend time with her husband, Monty. She had achieved musical success, but she was ready to head back down the red dirt road. Her and her husband went into the horse business, raising more than 90 head of horses at one point. They reared many championship horses and her house is adorned with these trophies.

At this point, Miller became the most proud during the interview. She loved talking about her husband’s love of horses and how he raised and trained them.  I told her about how I had read she was a family woman. I loved her response.

“Well why not? They are just gorgeous kids and my husband was one in a million.”

jody2Yet Miller’s carreer still was not over. She went on to record a patriotic album in the 1980’s. She was always told that wouldn’t sell, but she really wanted to make one and it did catch the attention of then presidential hopeful, George H.W. Bush. She went on to sing at many of his campaign stops and at one of his inaugural balls. She then had huge success in the gospel world, being inducted into various gospel hall of fames and working with Dove award-winning producers.

To this day, Jody still performs with the act she is most proud of. It’s called Three Generations and it consists of herself, her grandson Montana, and daughter Robin. They play all the instruments, including piano, bass, drums, and guitar. You could tell by the smile that shinned across Jody’s face, that this was her pride and joy. Those hit records and million sellers are a by-product of what she is doing with her family today.

We haven’t missed a standing ovation yet,” stated Miller with pride.

After around nearly two hours, Jody and I concluded our interview. She ended our time together by taking a genuine interest in what I wanted to do with my life. I told her about my dreams to be a performer myself and start my own record label here in Oklahoma. She was ecstatic to hear of my dreams, and provided encouragement. She even showed me a book to read to learn more about the industry and how to start my label.

This further set in cement what I thought of Jody after our time spent together. Yes she is an extremely succesful performer, having numerous million sellers and winning numerous awards, but she is still that girl from the plains of Oklahoma. She is a family lady who places God first in her life and is genuinely concerned about others above herself. She is a superstar, but by more than musical means.

I can honestly say, that I will never forget that gracious afternoon that Jody granted me a seat at her dinning room table to just chat. I had asked for an interview, but it became so much more about life, her interest in myself, and just down home country chatter.

Although Jody should be exclaiming “Look At Mine!” with all her accolades, she is doing “just fine” down the country roads of Blanchard. She doesn’t look at her music as her ultimate success, but yet a by-product of her family and faith. Being a musician is a way of life, and she is a true musician who doesn’t strive for money or fame, but to make a difference.

Humility and love were the undertones of this conversation. She taught me confidence is
key, but humility is golden.
I told Jody during our interview that she is a true artist who sings with so much conviction, that she literally paints a picture with her voice.

Jody felt like she didn’t deserve this compliment. In a humble laugh she answered, “I think I’m going to have to use that one.”

She is the true essence of a daughter of the red dirt

Thank God she’s a country girl.

Hello I’m Loretta…The Other Woman

“I’d like to introduce myself…I’m the other woman,” says Loretta Lynn on the third track from her 1963 debut album Loretta Lynn Sings. This was her first major album on Decca and she penned a total of 3 songs on the album.

This album is pure country and is the beginning of a massive stream of hits for Lynn. Omaeba- Loretta LynnThis record contains her first top 10 hit, “Success,” along with her top 20 hit “The Other Woman.” Not bad for a male dominated country music scene.

The road Lynn rode to stardom was not full of trailblazing female singers, especially not female songwriters. It’s easy to argue that Kitty Wells was the first in 1952 with her self penned, “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honkey Tonk Angels.”

Wells was the original. Then came the prodigy.

Five years after Wells entered the music scene, a jar of molasses was broken on every country music fan’s head. Patsy Cline, the undisputed queen of Country music, came out in 1957 with her song “Walkin After Midnight,” which charted at number 2. This was followed by a stream of country music classics that can never be replicated.

Then, around 1960, came a little honky tonk gal, Loretta Lynn. Cline and Lynn became good friends once Lynn started frequenting Nashville and became a hit on the Grand Ole Opry. Unfortunately, both Cline’s career and her friendship were cut short in 1963, around 2 months after Lynn’s debut album.

March 5, 1963, was a dark day for music.

Cline was gaining momentum daily as the top female country artist. This momentum, and all the work and strife that went into it, could not be ignored. Nobody could replace Cline, but someone could pick up where she left off. Although Lynn’s career really took off in the mid 1960’s, it was then that Cline’s legacy was continued.

photoThat’s where Lynn steps in and this album, Loretta Lynn Sings, becomes a pivotal point in music history. This album laid the foundation of what was to come from Lynn through her vocals and songwriting.

Lynn does not just sing, she feels. Sometimes I don’t think she is singing at all. She is making the sounds of pure emotion. That is what comes out on tracks such as “Success,” “The Other Woman,” Act Naturally,” and “Lonesome 7-7203.” All these tracks express heartache and sorrow from what used to be love. Lynn’s phrasing and vocal “give and take” was something not seen in an artist of that time and, quite frankly, is still rivaled today.

But what I love best about this album is “The Girl That I Am Now,” “World of Forgotten People,” and “A Hundred Proof Heartache.” Lynn wrote all three of these songs. The songs serve as a prelude to what was eventually to come. There was something extra in these songs that weren’t in the others. It’s like a twinkle in your eye. Once you hear it, it’s gone, but you know it was there.

Now at 82, Lynn has blessed the world with her God-given gift of writing and feeling through the channel of singing. She has seen controversy, death, sold out stadiums, and extreme success, all while getting supper ready on time for Doo and the kids.

So really, when you think about it, Loretta Lynn is the other woman. Not the one from Nashville.com-Loretta Lynnthe song (although it’s one of those tunes that proves I wouldn’t take her in a dark alley), but in country music. She was not Kitty Wells or Patsy Cline, but she was a female brave enough to take music by it’s ponytail and whip it in her direction.

I don’t find Lynn’s vocals in competition with Wells or Cline. They were equally talented, but Lynn kept the momentum going. Many that we consider great today can point their thanks straight back to these three ladies, especially Lynn. She showed that a woman could have a full-fledged successful career in music and stardom.

Now I don’t condone cheatin’, but I’m thankful God Blessed us with the other woman.