Country Singles Jubilee 11.24.08: Lead Singer of Tesla...Go With God, Brah!
Posted by Jasper Jones on 11.24.2008
Inside the Jubilee this week you'll find a Cali girl, cowgirls with issues, a not so fine songwriter, a new buddy, and you'll find out which country song is my all time favorite! Who could resist that?
Happy Thanksgiving everybody! With Turkey Day only a few days away, I began to wonder why there aren't as many songs about Thanksgiving as there are about other holidays like Christmas and Halloween. The only ones I can think of are Adam Sandler's "Thanksgiving Song" or maybe "Turkey In The Straw". Kind of lame, right? Thanksgiving gets the shaft in general. As soon as the Halloween decorations go down, the Christmas ones go up. Poor Thanksgiving is merely a speed bump on the way to Jesus' birthday. So this year, have some extra turkey and dressing and take the time to enjoy Thanksgiving, for Pete's sake!
Top 40 Country Singles Reviews
Gary Allen - "She's So California"
Gary Allen first hit the country charts in 1996 with "Her Man", but really became a country superstar in 1999 when his third album, Smoke Rings In The Dark, went platinum. How he got into the business is a funny story. Gary took a job selling cars in California, but he really wanted to be a musician. He snuck a demo tape into the glove compartment of a car that was bought by a wealthy couple. The couple listened to the tape and were so impressed they wrote Gary a check so he could move to Nashville and help get a professional demo recorded. This eventually lead to him being signed to MCA in 1995.
"She's So California" is the third single from Gary Allen's 2007 album Living Hard, which previously produced his number two hit "Watching Airplanes". In the song, Allen compares a woman to California and the Cali lifestyle. He compares her to earthquakes, beaches, convertibles, and the "Hollywood" sign among other things. He warns that the girl lives life in the fast lane and won't think twice about breaking someone's heart. The song has Gary's signature sound, the laid back Bakersfield sound. I like to call it "Surfin' Buck".
Favorite Lyric: "She's an earthquake and you're the fault line / so when you feel the ground start moving around / hold on tight you're in for a ride"
Cool Gary Allen Quote: "...the songs have got to have soul, have real meaning. Country music is what happens during the week. Rock 'n roll is about what happens at the weekend." (NuCountry.com)
Rating: 3/5 - "She's So California" is a good, but Gary Allen has had catchier and more memorable songs.
Brooks & Dunn - "Cowgirls Don't Cry"
If you're reading an article called The Country Singles Jubilee and you've never heard of Brooks & Dunn, you are very lost. Brooks & Dunn are arguably the greatest country duo of all time and have dominated country music since their debut in 1991. They've won The Country Music Association Duo of The Year Award every year from 1992 to 2006. (With the exception of 2000 when it went to Montgomery Gentry.) That's pretty damn impressive. Ronnie Dunn is usually on lead vocals with Kix Brooks on back up and guitar, but Kix has sang lead on a few hits.
"Cowgirls Don't Cry" is the fourth single from Brooks & Dunn's 2007 album Cowboy Train. It was written by Ronnie Dunn and Terry McBride (of McBride and the Ride fame). Dunn claims that Reba was an inspiration for the song, but I can't find out exactly why. Some claim that "cowgirls don't cry" was a phrase that Reba's father said to her before he died, but I can't confirm that.
The song itself is just ok. The first verse sends out a positive message. If something goes wrong, don't cry about it. Just brush it off and try again. On the other hand, the second verse sends out a terrible message. The second verse tells ladies to suck it up if they're in a terrible relationship and that's not a good idea. If your husband is "coming home late at night", something is wrong. Either fix it or get the hell out. Don't be stoic about it.
If you want a Reba/Brooks & Dunn song, just listen to "If You See Him/If You See Her". It's much better than this song. If it's a song about Reba's relationship with her father you want to hear, just listen to "The Greatest Man I Never Knew". It's also much better than this song.
Rating: 2.5/5 - The mixed signals in the song are a bit confusing. Plus, there are better songs out there that cover the same topics.
Josh Turner - "Everything is Fine"
Let me start this review by saying that I do not hate Josh Turner. I think he's talented with tons of untapped potential. "Long Black Train" and "Would You Go With Me" are great songs, and I even kind of liked his last hit, "Firecracker". BUT, "Everything is Fine" is awful.
"Everything Is Fine" is generic country at it's worst. The song was blatantly written to pander to conditioned country fans and move cd sales. I was really hoping that Turner didn't write the song, but unfortunately he did. "Everything is fine through the sunshine and the rain" is a lazy lyric used to fill space. Is everything really fine through the sunshine and the rain? Did Josh Turner write the lyrics while on Zanax?
Turner sings, "ain't ever been rich, but I sleep at night". What? Does that even make sense? I've never flown in a plane, but I eat my meals with a fork. Where's my country music contract?
"I'm feeling good and everything is fine". Way to strive for the status quo, Josh Turner! Come on, you are capable of so much better than this drivel!
Favorite Lyric: None
Rating: 1/5 - This song is a metaphor for just how manufactured and emotionless mainstream country music is right now. Plus, its a boring video to boot. I hope Josh Turner can pull his head out of his ass long enough to realize that he's too good for this garbage.
Retro Country Single Review
Bobby Bare - "That's How I Got To Memphis"
I wonder if Chet Atkins knew that he was signing a future legend when he signed Bobby Bare to RCA Records in 1962. Bare is responsible for such classic hits as "Marie Levoux", "Detroit City", "500 Miles Away From Home", "Dropkick Me Jesus", and "Daddy What If". He's also responsible for my favorite country song of all time, "That's How I Got To Memphis".
Tom T. Hall wrote it and it's been covered by Deryl Dodd, Solomon Burke, Newfound Road, and countless others. However, never did "That's How I Got To Memphis" sound better than it did coming from Bobby Bare. His recording can be found on 1970 album This Is Bare Country and on a few compilations.
After a break up with a loved one, the singer has tracked her down to Memphis, TN in an effort to win her back. He's asked people all over the city if they've seen her, but no one has and he's growing concerned. "I'll never rest till I find out why she had to go". Bobby Bare's honest, mournful tone is absolutely perfect for the song. The music is bare bones and appropriate. Let this song be a lesson to young lovers, "If you love somebody enough, you'll go where your heart wants to go."
Favorite Lyric: "I know if you've seen her you'd tell me cuz you are my friend / I've got to find her and find out the trouble she's in"
Cool Story: I used to work with a guy at work named Lucas. Picture stoner-Jesus with a devilish beard and you'll have Lucas. He was a metal-head and a lover of hippie jam bands all rolled into one. He was always wearing some Jimi Hendrix or Black Sabbath shirt to work. Tool was another favorite, and he's probably seen Umphrey's McGee more times than I can count. One day he asked me, "Who sings that song about Memphis that you're always playing at work?" I told him it was Bobby Bare and Lucas replied with, "That's a good song, dude!" Shocked the hell out of me.
SPEED BUMP: I couldn't find a video of Bobby Bare singing the song on YouTube, so I decided to use the best version of it I could find on the site. The video I chose is of the Avett Brothers performing the song at a music festival. They do a great job, but it really doesn't compare Bare's version. Do yourself a favor and find it.
Rating: 5/5 - Did you expect anything less? I already told you it's my favorite country song of all time.
I Bet You've Never Heard This Song, Review
Buddy Miller - "Worry Too Much"
Buddy Miller is a respected country singer, songwriter, musician, and producer from Ohio. He's worked with the likes of Steve Earle, Shawn Colvin, Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams, and even Robert Plant. He was named Instrumentalist of the Year at the 2008 Americana Music Association Honors and Awards. Buddy was presented the award by Alison Krauss and Robert Plant. Then he joined on stage by Plant himself to sing a song from Buddy's upcoming 2009 album. Good enough for Robert Plant's seal of approval, good enough for me.
"Worry to Much" is from Buddy Miller's 2005 album Universal House Prayer. Soul and emotion are overflowing in this southern blues song about someone who has a very rough outlook on life and bleak hope for the future. Is the singer worrying too much, or is he right? Miller's gruff voice is perfect for the subject matter and is a nice contrast to the smooth music the smooth voice of the back-up singers. This song picked up Song of the Year and the album from which it came picked up Album of the Year for the 2005 Americana Music Association Honors and Awards. Buddy deserved both awards and he deserves to have his music heard by a broader audience.
Bonus Points: Buddy Miller was named No Depression's Artist of the Decade in their June 2008 issue.
Favorite Lyrics: "Sometimes it feels like bars of steel I cannot bend with my hands"
Rating: 5/5 - Buddy keeps winning all these awards for a reason.
Thanks for tuning in this week. Just incase you were wondering, this week's title "Lead Singer of Tesla...Go With God, Brah!" really has nothing to do with the article itself. It's a funny quote I heard today. Self amusement is grand. Happy Early Thanksgiving and be safe!