A good many people who are unfamiliar with country music—including those who wouldn’t listen to it if you placed a gun beside their temples—are probably asking right now: “Vern who?” But to country fans, he was known simply as “The Voice.” (Not to be confused with the major domo of a company that preserves radio’s past for the future, I hasten to add.) During his nearly thirty-five-year career in music, Gosdin was a consistent country hit-maker with number-one charters like I Can Tell By the Way You Dance (You’re Gonna Love Me Tonight), Set ‘Em Up Joe and I’m Still Crazy.
It was at this point in Gosdin’s career that one can help but think of the adjective “resilient.” He left Elektra to sign with independent label Ovation (a company that had success with country acts; their biggest was father-daughter team The Kendalls) in 1981 but after a few chart hits (including the Top Ten Dream of Me) the company went bankrupt and Vern found himself at A&M, where his hit streak continued with the title of this post. He then signed up with Compleat Records in 1983, where the hits just kept on coming: If You’re Gonna Do Me Wrong (Do It Right), I Wonder Where We’d Be Tonight, Way Down Deep. The following year, Compleat released an album called There is a Season which the L.A. Times chose as Best Country Album of the Year—and included Dance and the Top Ten hits Slow Burning Memory and What Would Your Memories Do. Compleat Records then went bankrupt in 1987.
Gosdin finally found a home at
From 1984 to 1986, I worked at a teensy, weensy 1000-watt radio station in Savannah, GA that started out with a news-talk format but switched to country in April 1985 (on April Fools’ Day, of all days—we had one hell of a time explaining to our many listener that it was not a joke) and I remember our oldies library had a record by Gosdin that had reached the top twenty back in 1977, Mother Country Music. Unfortunately, we also had a program director to which the words “country music” were a complete anathema; he wanted us to play more of the soulless pap that they often try to pass off as country at the time. (I won’t mention any names, but the initials of the first name are “Kenny” and the initials of the last name “
R.I.P. Vern. Thanks for helping me stick it to The Man…because you will be sorely missed.
Today My World Slipped Away - Vern Gosdin