jimjesseberry

Chuck Berry's second single on Chess Records was "Thirty Days (To Come Back Home)." Released in 1955, it added essentially new lyrics to an arrangement nearly identical to that of "Maybelline." It didn't score on the pop charts but reached # 2 on Billboard's R&B singles charts. 

Then, the same year, it became a hit for one of country's biggest stars.  And that was just the start.  Berry had been a country fan for years, and based "Maybelline" on "Ida May," a variation of the traditional fiddle tune "Ida Red," made popular by Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys.

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marty-way out west cover

Marty Stuart's latest album, Way Out West, due out March 10, is an atmospheric effort taking the Grand Ole Opry stalwart, country historian and traditionalist him beyond his usual Southeast-Appalachian-Delta roots to offer his reflections on the Far West.

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 My review of Cyndi Lauper's "classic country" album Detour

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There was a Cold War in the late 1950's but not a hot one. The US Army was being supplied with new recruits thanks to the Draft and enlistments. They did their share of radio and TV ads in those days, and this special production to reach younger country fans looking for a career change. From 1957-1960 the Army produced 52 filmed episodes of Country Style U.S.A., made available to local stations from 1957 to 1960.

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A couple years ago, I blogged here about Taylor Swift, contending while she could not be considered a country performer in the conventional sense, she had succeeded in doing something Nashville had tried to do for decades and failed: bring a younger audience to country with a totally different sound.  I said at the time that I doubted Music Row would jump on the bandwagon. 

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A wire service story today about country singer Tim McGraw's love of fast cars and speed  might surprise some, but ties between country singers and NASCAR, of course, have a long history that goes back nearly 50 years and involved one man: a singer in his prime equal to any current stars: the Marty Robbins (1925-1982) whose hit records spanned four decades. 

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Tuesday, 04 February 2014 06:31

Fuzztone: Who Used It First?

In discussing the fuzztone sound for guitars and basses, a lot of claims are made by fans about how it all began. Everybody knows Keith Richards' used it on the Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction.  And of course Paul McCartney played "fuzz bass," using the same or similar tone-altering device as Keith, on tune "Think For Yourself" on Rubber Soul.   As noted so often on this blog, for various reasons, the truth is often not that simple.  I'll try to put it in a coherent order. 

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George Memorial-11-18-13Photo Mark Humphrey, AP

The George Jones biography I'm writing obviously has an ending, but the coda to his life came into focus this week.  I knew the simple gravestone there after he died April 26 would be replaced by something more elaborate, but just how elaborate became clear Monday, when his widow Nancy unveiled the George Jones gravesite at Nashville's Woodlawn Cemetery.  The Associated Press photo above, taken at the ceremony, shows her seated at the memorial.

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The title of Breaking Bad's finale, "Felina," was partly based on a 54 year old song that became, and remains, a great moment in American country, western and popular music, sharing the episode's Southwestern locale and raw violence. Indeed, knowing the song as I do, the minute I saw the title, I had at least some idea what was going to happen.  

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Thursday, 15 August 2013 06:20

Tompall Glaser: Outlaw Visionary

Tompall Glaser isn't a widely known name today, but at one time he was one of the prime movers in country's Outlaw movement. Glaser died Tuesday at 79 after a long illness, less than a week after his friend and onetime producer Cowboy Jack Clement passed.

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