Dolly Rebecca Parton was born January 19, 1946, in Sevierville, Tennessee. She is a Grammy Award-winning, Academy Award-nominated, Tony Award-nominated, and Emmy Award-nominated singer-songwriter, author, actress, and philanthropist. Mostly, she is the Queen of Country!
She remains one of the most successful female artists in the history of country music, with 25 Number One singles and 41 Top Ten country albums. Dolly has the distinction of having performed on a Top Five country hit in each of the last five decades and is the only artist to score a Number One country single in each of the past four decades.
Visit Dolly’s official site: DollyPartonMusic.net
Sing it, Dolly!
Better Get To Livin’
Coat of Many Colors
Islands in the Stream with Kenny Rogers
9 to 5
Earlier this week, I requested that my readers send me their thoughts on Elvis: favorite songs, movies, memories, and/or overall impressions. And here they are:
I remember singing “Hound Dog” from the hearth of my fireplace (that was my stage) and listening to my dad’s records. My all-time favorite Elvis song is “It’s Now or Never.” My family was very connected to Elvis because my father loved him. For a few reasons: Elvis was very spiritual, had a good heart and was generous, and was Southern. My dad also grew up listening to the gospel singers that Elvis always had singing backup: Jake Hess (The Imperials), The Jordanaires, The Jubilee Four, and probably the biggest name in southern gospel music: JD Sumner and the Stamps. I remember listening to JD Sumner and the Stamps way before Elvis. I think a lot of people probably don’t even know Elvis had so many gospel singers singing with him. Lastly, I have probably listened to Elvis’s gospel music more than his mainstream music. By the way, the only 3 Grammy Awards he won were for his gospel music.
-Jeremy L. Beck (singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer)
I am not a huge Elvis fan, but I have to acknowledge him as a great performer in American popular music. Besides the fact that he was very attractive, charismatic onstage, and had an amazing voice, I think he was a very interesting person, too, and people responded to that. Not everyone knows that he had a very diverse ethnic background, including some Native American heritage, and I think that helps to make him an American icon. My favorite periods for Elvis are the very beginning of his career (before he went into the army, and then did all those movies) and later during his resurgence in the late sixties. I like some of his lesser known songs, such as his cover of the old Hank Snow country song, ” A Fool Such as I” and “Love Me.” From the later period I like “A Little Less Conversation” ” In the Ghetto,” and “Suspicious Minds.”
-Sue Bachner (singer/songwriter of Ether Park)
Elvis’ profound mark on popular music was, by most accounts, a happy accident. He was not a songwriter, and did not aspire to be an innovator. He was a kid who wanted a record deal. The result of Sun Records’ discovery was nothing less than the gift of “black music” – and essentially rock’n’roll – to the rest of the country. Elvis was the messenger – an interpreter of music considered taboo by white America. Once the secret of this sonic groove and soul was out, it could not be stopped, and it changed the world.
-Doug Hinrichs (percussionist)
I cannot remember when my fascination with Elvis began, but I have always loved him. His voice is like velvet and of course, he was easy on the eyes! Even today, I still wrap my Christmas gifts while listening to Elvis’ Christmas album….I can’t do it any other way! Below, are my top ten Elvis songs and movies.
Top 10 Elvis Songs: (in no specific order, although #1 is my favorite)
1. Kentucky Rain
2. Always on my Mind
3. Suspicious Minds
4. In the Ghetto
5. Can’t Help Falling in Love
6. It’s Now or Never
7. If Everyday was like Christmas
8. If I Can Dream
9. A Little Less Conversation
10. That’s All Right
These last 2 were hard for me to let go of…
The Wonder of You
Top 10 Movies:
1. Jailhouse Rock
2. Paradise Hawaiian Style
3. G.I. Blues
4. Blue Hawaii
5. Viva Las Vegas
6. Fun in Acapulco
7. Frankie and Johnny
8. It Happened at the World’s Fair
9. King Creole
For many people, songs like Hound Dog, Don’t Be Cruel, Jailhouse Rock, etc. are all they know about Elvis Presley. And it’s these same people who might not think too much of him or wonder what the big deal is. And of course, everyone has a right to his or her opinion. However, one of the things that really makes Elvis so extraordinary, besides his good looks and onstage charisma, is the fact that he did a great deal in a short amount of time. Yes, he started early, but he also made his departure at the relatively young age of 42. It is true that he didn’t write his own songs. But frankly, with all the acting, dancing, recording, and touring he did, I wonder if he’d ever find the time to write anything.
If someone would sit and watch his movies, listen to the soundtracks he recorded while acting and dancing in those movies, listen to his numerous gospel and country western albums, along with his mainstream rock and roll material, it would be quite exhausting. So, I would like to give him credit for all his contributions to American culture: an extensive catalog of music, memorable and pelvis-shaking live performances, and many films. His legacy is still strong, even 31 years after his last performance.
Let’s explore some of Elvis’ lesser known songs, but which still deserve some recognition.
Below, some of his country songs:
Some of Elvis’ greatest performances were his inspirational and gospel songs. Here are a few of them:
“If I Can Dream” (in my opinion, his most passionate performance)
Vince Gill, a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and recipient of 18 CMA Awards, came on the national scene with the country rock band Pure Prairie League in 1979. Gill sang lead on the hit Let Me Love You Tonight. Gill went solo in 1983 with some success. In 1989, he joined MCA Records and recorded his breakthrough song When I Call Your Name. Since then, Gill has been a force in country music.
Vince’s velvety voice isn’t his only talent. He is a marvelous guitarist, and also plays banjo, bass, mandolin, and the fiddle. Gill has transcended genres by singing duets with leading ladies from country, pop, rock, and R&B, including Dolly Parton (I Will Always Love You), Reba McEntire (Oklahoma Swing, The Heart Won’t Lie, It Just Has to Be That Way, These Broken Hearts), Faith Hill (Let Me Let Go), Barbra Streisand (If You Ever Leave Me), Gladys Knight (Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing), and Amy Grant (House of Love).
In 2006, Gill released the Grammy Award winning-album These Days, a groundbreaking, four-CD set featuring more than 40 new recordings. Each album in the set explores a different musical mood – traditional country; ballads; contemporary, up-tempo; and acoustic/bluegrass music. The set features guest performers including Sheryl Crow, Phil Everly, daughter Jenny Gill, wife Amy Grant, Emmylou Harris, Diana Krall, Michael McDonald, Bonnie Raitt, Leann Rimes, Lee Ann Womack, Trisha Yearwood and more.
Check out some of Vince’s performances below:
House of Love
I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down, for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime, for the sick and lonely old.
I wear the black in mournin’ for the lives that could have been, for the thousands who have died believin’ that the Lord was on their side. I wear it for another hundred thousand who have died believin’ that we all were on their side.
Well, there’s things that never will be right I know, and things need changin’ everywhere you go. But ’til we start to make a move to make a few things right, you’ll never see me wear a suit of white.
Much of Johnny Cash’s music, like Man in Black quoted above, had a somber tone and echoed themes of sorrow, distress, and redemption. His signature songs include I Walk The Line, Folsom Prison Blues, and Ring of Fire. Some of his more light-hearted tunes include A Boy Named Sue and One Piece at a Time. Many of Cash’s songs had the rhythm of the railroad: Big River, Train of Love, and Orange Blossom Special are among them.
From his early days as a pioneer of rockability and rock and roll, along side Elvis Presley, in the 50s to his decades as a country music star and becoming a legend in his time, Cash has been a constant musical influence throughout the years. He left a body of work matched only by the greatest artists of his time who are still alive today. He sold over fifty million albums and composed over a thousand songs n his fifty-year career.
By the early 1970s, he had set his public image as “The Man in Black.” He regularly performed dressed all in black, wearing a long black knee-length coat. This outfit was a great contrast to the cowboy boots and rhinestones of the major country stars of his day. In 1971, Cash wrote Man in Black to help explain his decision to do so throughout most of his career.
Johnny Cash performances:
Jackson (with June Carter Cash)
It Ain’t Me Babe (with June Carter Cash)
- Any Best Of compilation will be an introduction to those who aren’t familiar with Johnny Cash and include several of the songs mentioned above.
- The American series has Cash covering more modern tunes: Depeche Mode’s Personal Jesus, Nine Inch Nails’ Hurt, and Moby’s God’s Gonna Cut you Down are among them.
- Unearthed, a box set was issued posthumously, and it included four CDs of unreleased material, as well as a Best of Cash on American retrospective CD.
For the celebrity-drenched video, click here God’s Gonna Cut You Down.
To tune in to Johnny Cash Radio, go to http://www.johnnycash.com
Reba McEntire’s 31st album, Reba Duets brings together artists from all sides of the musical spectrum. Country, pop, and rock talents join in the celebration of Reba’s versatile career. While all these singers are successful on their own, it’s Reba’s show, and it’s her distinct, powerful voice that shines brighter than the stars accompanying her. And that’s the way it should be. It’s no surprise that Reba Duets hit #1 upon its release. Perhaps it’s because she doesn’t give in to changing singing styles to accommodate various singing partners. Reba is country, and so is this album.
Let’s start with the ladies. The strong opener, When You Love Someone Like That, pairs Reba with LeAnn Rimes. These two extraordinary voices harmonize perfectly in this soft country song that tells of heartbreak. The steel and electric guitars add a nice touch. Two women following in the footsteps of Reba and doing very well: Trisha Yearwood and Faith Hill give it their all. She Can’t Save Him and Sleeping With The Telephone are wonderful, musically and lyrically. These three queens of country should team up more often. Another woman who holds her own is Kelly Clarkson. Clarkson composed Because of You, and it offers a nice pop country feel to the album. Both women give a passionate performance. Miss Clarkson should be very proud of her work, because her song really does stand out in this collection. While this listener has the utmost respect for Carole King, Everyday People just doesn’t cut it. It’s a feel-good type of song, but the chorus does very little to inspire. For this occasion, perhaps Ms. King should have taken to playing the piano or composing a song – two things she does so very well.
Reba and some of her male colleagues of country team up on Reba Duets. Kenny Chesney, Rascal Flatts, and Ronnie Dunn of Brooks and Dunn, perform on Faith in Love, Every Other Weekend, and Does the Wind Still Blow In Oklahoma? respectively. Unfortunately, only the third one makes a mark. Ronnie Dunn co-wrote Does the Wind Still Blow In Oklahoma? with Reba. Dunn’s strong southern drawl and the fiddle make this the most ’country’ song on this album. Reba called upon Justin Timberlake to join her. Like Kelly Clarkson, Timberlake penned a song for their collaboration. The Only Promise That Remains comes to life with the fiddle, mandolin, and strings. Timberlake has soul and it comes through here. It’s hard to tell just from listening that it’s Timberlake on this tune until the very end, as he really does let Reba shine by sounding more like a back up singer than a duet partner. While this listener would have liked a little more Justin, this lovely song is one of the strongest contributions to Reba Duets. Don Henley is a superb singing partner on Break Each Other’s Hearts Again. Henley can do country very well, and proves it here. The Vince Gill tune, These Broken Hearts, with its piano, guitars and B-3 organ is a shining moment. When Gill writes a song and opens his mouth to let out his sweet tenor, special things happen. Gill can transcend genres with ease, and blends perfectly with Reba to make magic on These Broken Hearts.
Reba Duets brings together great talent, and will appeal to fans of various genres. It’s a formidable album that celebrates a very talented woman. Even after 31 albums, Reba McEntire still enchants and delights her listeners.
To watch the video for Reba’s classic Fancy, go to the Blogroll and click: Fancy.
Raul Malo’s latest solo release, After Hours, takes country classics to a new level, a more upbeat swinging one. The former front man of the successful country group, The Mavericks, has a powerful and soulful voice that transcends the genres he explores: country, Latin, pop, and jazz. Malo can sing anything and make it sound easy. It’s not an exaggeration to say that Raul Malo’s voice has helped fill the void left by the loss of Roy Orbison.
This ten-song collection opens with a slow burning – perhaps in a smoky room – smoldering take on Welcome to My World. Malo’s vocals need very little musical accompaniment here. Muted horns and the piano let him shine on this tune made popular by Jim Reeves. Malo gives You Can Depend On Me and Take These Chains From My Heart straightforward jazz interpretations. Kris Kristofferson’s For The Good Times gets a jazz interpretation as well, but the heartbreak and loss intended by the original remains and feels even stronger with Malo’s laments. The song that comes closest to staying in the genre of country is Roger Miller’s Husbands and Wives because of the pedal steel guitar. It’s quite bold to take on one of country music’s greatest songs already mastered by none other than Ray Charles, but Malo does. And here, he interprets Buck Owens’s Crying Time with great style. A somber clarinet, the upright bass, and a sparse piano arrangement work perfectly on this classic.
The three most up-tempo songs on After Hours prove that not all classic country songs are melancholy. Malo takes Dwight Yoakam’s already upbeat It Only Hurts Me When I Cry even higher with some horns. A little over two-minute, (Now and Then There’s) A Fool Such As I, popularized by Jim Reeves and Elvis Presley, gets a big band interpretation with horns and piano. This is definitely a track that earns repeated plays. Hank William’s Cold, Cold Heart gets quite a makeover. It’s reworked into a playful 1930s boogie-woogie swing. Certainly, this is the surprise gem of After Hours.
After Hours shows the elegant, more sophisticated side of country music. It’s a well-crafted album of carefully chosen compositions. Raul Malo doesn’t just sing them as they were sung years ago, but rather, gives them a modern day edge to be appreciated by listeners of today, expanding these songs’ appeal. And that’s a wonderful way to honor and emulate these talented songwriters. Hopefully, this album is just the start of more of Raul Malo’s inventive renditions of country classics.
To watch Raul Malo’s extraordinary live performance on CMT, go to the Blogroll on the right and click: Raul Malo Video