Friday, August 7, 2009

It Don’t Get No Better Than This

Laura at Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings mentioned in a post sometime back in mid-July about a new country single that’s been released by Larry Gatlin and The Gatlin Brothers, Johnny Cash is Dead and His House Burned Down. I got an opportunity to listen to it this morning (downloaded it in mp3 form) and I have to say it’s a first-rate little ditty. Very different from the usual Gatlin style—a rockabilly number that has a lyric I can certainly identify with: "I got nothin' against the young country stars/But I could use more fiddles and steel guitars..." (Tell me about it, son. I get the feelin’ that if George Strait ever packs it in the country music charts will resemble a tumbleweed-inhabiting ghost town—I mean, when Darius “Hootie” Rucker hits the top of the charts with his third single you know things are a bit sad in Nashville.)

Laura describes herself as a Gatlin devotee, and I, too, was a big fan of their music—though I prefer a lot more of their earlier tunes: Statues Without Hearts, I’ve Done Enough Dyin’ Today, Love is Just a Game and I Just Wish You Were Someone I Love are a few just from the top of my head. I’d be surprised if this new tune gets any airplay but then brothers Larry, Steve and Rudy always did stir up trouble in the past with radio programmers (I’m referring to their infamous 1980 recording Midnight Choir—a song I never could understand what all the fuss was about). Gatlin had an arrogance about him that kind of rankled many of his peers; when someone asked why he was reluctant to record anyone’s songs but his own he famously replied: “I’d rather take my daughter to the zoo than yours.” However you felt about him, you couldn’t deny he was a top-notch songwriter; in addition to his own hits (seventeen of which hit the Top 10, with three Number Ones) he penned hits for the likes of Elvis Presley (Help Me) and Johnny Rodriguez (If Practice Makes Perfect, I Just Can’t Get Her Out of My Mind). So here’s hoping somebody big in country radio programs Johnny Cash in heavy rotation.

Speaking of once-popular country artists, when I first signed up with Facebook I “became” a fan of Gene Watson (I put became in quotes because I’ve always been a Watson fan) and this is kind of neat because he “tweets” messages to his fans every now and then about where his next appearance is, how his latest album is coming along, etc. I’ve noticed that a lot of celebs have their own Facebook pages and accounts but the one that I really thought was unusual was that for some reason I kept getting a suggestion to “friend” Harley Jane Kozak, an actress who appeared in quite a few notable films (Parenthood, Arachnophobia) but who I always associate with a Guiding Light storyline from long ago (she played a character named “Annabelle”). I couldn’t figure out why she kept popping up under friend suggestions; I’m pretty sure we don’t travel in the same social circles and I thought it would be rather presumptuous to ask if she would add me to her Friends List because it goes without saying my reputation is not without its unsavory aspects. She’s gone now, but that doesn’t mean I still don’t think about what caused that every now and then.


Bill Crider said...

Gene Watson's great, and I like all those Gatlin Bros. songs you mentioned. Love those harmonies. Gatlin played football at the University of Houston, not far from here.

Harley's one of my friends on FB. She's a mystery writer now.

The Vintage Reader said...

I went to college with a bona fide Star of Stage and Screen who has a fan page AND a personal page on FB. I never get suggestions for her, even though a) I actually knew her, b) we have several mutual FB friends, and c) many of my FB friends are FB fans of hers--even some who didn't go to school with her. And yet, I keep getting suggestions to friend other famous people I don't know (or in some cases, even know of).

For my part, I can't figure out why it feels weirder and more stalkerish to friend someone famous I knew 20 years ago than it does to friend someone I didn't know as well back then who works for IBM or the local Quik E Mart or something. Isn't that odd?

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Bill: Thanks for clearing up the mystery of how Harley got on my suggested list -- I guess it's a case of "Any friend of Bill's..."

hobbyfan said...

I caught the tail end of the Gatlins' video for their new song the other day. They were great back in the 70's & 80's when they first climbed the charts. I'm actually surprised Larry and his brothers are still recording. It's been, what, nearly 20 years since their last #1 record?

What's next? Darius Rucker doing a duet with Charley Pride?

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Hob -- you're not too far off from your guesstimate...the last song to reach the number one position on the country music charts for the Gatlins was 1983's Houston (Means I'm One Day Closer to You)

I'd read somewhere where their careers stalled sometime in the 1990s because Gatlin succumbed to drug addiction, necessitating a "born again" experience and a brief shift to a gospel music career. (The last time I saw Brother Lar was on TV around 2000, where he made his famous observation that Florida Secretary of State Katharine Harris was the "moral equivalent" of Rosa Parks, something I don't even think Ripley would believe...) I'm just glad to see him and his brothers recording great music again, regardless of how it's labeled.

By the way, I don't think that Pride-Rucker duet sounds like too bad an idea...but only because I miss hearing Charley.

hobbyfan said...

I remember "Houston". Got plenty of airplay on the local country channels here in upstate NY. So it was really 26 years ago. WOW!