Wednesday, August 12, 2009

you don't know me but you don't like me...

along w/faron young's bc powder commericals, porter wagoner was a huge joke during my early years. his show came on saturday afternoons & was always good for an unintended laugh. this was no-holds-barred hillbilly music. it sure wasn't the beatles or even the association. it was just so awful you had to laugh & that's w/o dragging early dolly parton into the discussion.
i was wrong about most of this. by the time i was listening to hank williams in high school, i think porter was off the air & drifting off the radar. i didn't cover any of his songs once i started including country music in my repertory. he kept his gig at the grand ol' opry. in fact, for a long time, wagoner was the embodiment of the establishment in nashville. the haven hamilton character in robert altman's nashville was known to be a composite figure of roy acuff, hank snow, & wagoner. many of the mainstream nashville stalwarts from the 50s & 60s got buried in dismissive neglect as the millenium approached.
i'm glad that wagoner lived long enough to see his legacy given its just due. his last album had some good stuff on it, including this harrowing johnny cash cover about breakdowns & failure.

buck owens is another story. buck was as far from a nashville regular as willie or waylon but never got the respect for several reasons. first & foremost was his gig on hee-haw. he figured it out & bailed after a while but the damage was done. second, the "bakersville" sound" that he invented was pretty damned country. it incorporated the "high lonesome" vocal harmonies of bluegrass(a la bill monroe & the stanley brothers)w/electric instruments(a twin telecaster attack!)& driving beats. he was in direct contrast to where porter wagoner & the "nashville sound," all slick strings & echo chambers, was in the 60s.

buck wrote a number of great songs & i still play a few of them. who the hell knew he was so cool that the beatles would cover him("act naturally")?

thanks to dwight yoakam, buck lived to see his legacy celebrated too. he's stopped performing live when his fantastic singing partner & co-telecaster master, don rich, was killed in a motorcycle accident. yoakam's admiration & celebration of his mentor brought him back to the stage.

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