New Month, Same Stuff

It's now officially Hurricane Season. This doesn't mean that we are all suddenly threatened by spiraling storms, but it does mean increased vigilance. We have some tropical moisture coming our way today, which should bring some much-needed rain, but is unlikely to develop into anything stronger than a tropical depression.

It was country music night on the iPod last night at work. First, I listened to all 32 tracks on the digitally remastered Dwight Yoakam CD set I wrote about yesterday, then all 26 tracks on HAG: Merle Haggard's Greatest Hits, followed by Kelly Willis' Easy.

I had listened to the entire Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. while my computer ripped it to my iTunes folder yesterday, but I was even more impressed with it the second time through, especially the demo tracks from 1981. My main thought after listening to them was "What were the record people in Nashville thinking, that it took Yoakam over four years to get a recording contract when those demos had HIT! written all over them?" Indeed, once Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. was released in 1986, it went to #1 for two weeks and stayed on the Country Album chart for three years. Yeah, that's a hit, alright.

It was interesting to see how the demos evolved into the studio album over that four year period. It's hard to second-guess any of the changes, but the demos show an amazing amount of polish. One excellent choice was the duet with Maria McKee on the studio version of "Bury Me." The addition of her voice and the powered-up fiddle turned a good song into a great one.

My favorites off the Merle Haggard CD? About what you'd expect: "Walking On the Fighting Side of Me," "Okie From Muskogee," "Mama Tried," "The Bottle Let Me Down." There's also a nice duet with the late Johnny Cash, "I'm Leaving Now." It brought a smile to my face. One song, "I Take A Lot of Pride In What I Am," had a real Glen Campbell "Gentle On My Mind" kind of vibe to it. And then there was one song that was just perfect for me: "Honky Tonk Night Time Man." Yup, that's me for sure.