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MY COUNTRY ROOTSTHE ULTIMATE MP3 GUIDE TO AMERICA'S ORIGINAL OUTSIDER MUSIC
By ALICE RANDALL CARTER LITTLE COURTNEY LITTLE
NAKED INKCopyright © 2006 Alice Randall, Carter Little and Courtney Little
All right reserved.
Chapter OneWho We Are
We are the icons who define what it means to be Country-or at least, the roles country folk are most likely to be playing when you find them at the center of a Country song. These cast-in-song-heroes and heroines represent aspects of what it means to be human that often go ignored for being too simple, too ugly, too ordinary, or too far beyond the law. You'll find yourself both comfortable and uncomfortable among the raggedy and righteous souls who populate the Country landscape.
1 Honky Tonk Angels
Offering an invitation into a world of intoxication, danger, and companionship, honky tonk angels inhabit and provide a way into a realm set apart from home, nature, or work (that is, unless you are a waitress). Partly victims, partly free agents, transcendent and transgressing, the women who frequent bars are powerful and alluring creatures of the night. Always female, the particular character of an individual honky tonk angel is often revealed by examining why she is in the bar, what she does while there, who she does it with, who she has left behind to do it, and who's watching while it all goes on.
It Wasn't God Who Made Honky TonkAngels Kitty Wells
Honky tonk angels are man-made.
Barroom Girls Gillian Welch
A Gillian Welch masterpiece, this song captures the ephemeral but real joys of being a barroom girl. From the opening metaphor that compares the night that falls apart to a dress that falls open, to the closing refrain that compares the jewelry and finery worn by young women to stars of the morning, the women described and the language used are divinely beautiful. After listening to this song, you may want a little smoke in your curls, too.
Rita Ballou Guy Clark
With an exuberant "rawhide rope and velvet texture," Rita Ballou entrances and inspires the men of the Texas hill country.
Fist City Loretta Lynn
Honky tonk Angels battle each other and many a catfight begins in a honky tonk.
She's More to Be Pitied Than Scolded The Seldom Scene
A patronizing apology, this song describes one woman's descent from honky tonk angel ingenue to a very different sub-genre of the genus, the aging honky tonk angel. This tired and overly painted cherubim attempts to hide a youth, which is fleeing faster than bad friends and too many nights of too much beer, too much wine, and too many parties.
Queen of the Silver Dollar Emmylou Harris
Her highness holds court at the local tavern, where jesters with drink in hand try to woo her to their bed. The song leaves open to interpretation whether or not these jesters have to "pay to play" (in silver dollars, of course). Written by Shel Silverstein.
'Cause Cheap is How I Feel Cowboy Junkies
Here we have an urban honky tonk angel in a big city bar, but the fear of the cold and the fear of poverty, almost as much as the steel guitar and delicate mandolin dancing across the track brushing against the brazen slide guitar, mark this honest expression of "you give what you get"-a country song. Though the intoxications are different and the dangers new, the pain of transgression and the promise of transcendence remain.
Wild Side of Life Wanda Jackson
A furious man writes his wife a letter accusing her of being-among other things-an "anybody's baby," who drinks in liquor and glamour instead of milk.
Pay No Attention to Alice Tom T. Hall
It doesn't sound like Alice is the only one who's drunk all the time. Where do you think the husband, army buddy, and wife, were off to when they ran the car into a ditch? We see through the haze of the grape to the farm girl charm that allows Alice to make apple pie and biscuits from recollection.
I'm A Honky Tonk Girl Loretta Lynn
An abandoned woman becomes a honky tonk prototype, craving drink and loud music, crying tears, ashamed of what she has become.
Honky Tonk Badonkadonk Trace Adkins
Honky tonk angels often look life-changingly good in tight britches.
You Ain't Woman Enough to Take My Man Tina Turner
A honky tonk declaration, written and made famous by the woman from Butcher Holler, Kentucky, is sung here by the woman from Nutbush, Tennessee
Honky Tonk Women The Rolling Stones
The Stones testify that honky tonk angels, snatches of heaven on earth, are not bound by geographical or cultural borders. The singer encounters both the hard-partying ways of a Memphis "queen" and the contained refinement of a New York divorcee. Both take him for a whirl and leave him begging like a baby for more soul saving-even though he knows it's gonna hurt like hell in the morning. The sounds of Mississippi, Chicago, and London are wrapped together in a bar-shaking tune.
2 Honky Tonk Men
White southern men who revel and rebel in the part of life not defined by family, work, or God. Often found near honky tonk angels, these notably secular and universal characters are not to be confused with barroom devils.
Live Fast, Love Hard, Die Young Faron Young
He doesn't need your approval. He tells grandiose lies, particularly to himself. He wants to satisfy a whole lot of women. He's a honky tonk man.
Guitars, Cadillacs Dwight Yoakam
Honky tonk men have style.
There's a Honky Tonk Angel (Who'll Take Me Back In) Conway Twitty
Honky tonk men have "other" women.
In the Jailhouse Now Webb Pierce
There is a very fine line that honky tonk men walk between drinking, shooting dice, picking up women ... and going to jail. This is a Pierce classic.
Understand Your Man Johnny Cash
Honky tonk men will leave you shamelessly.
Your Goddamn Mouth Freakwater
He's got his tongue inside a beer bottle and God only knows where else, and he's glad she's there to call him out on it.
Good Friends, Good Whiskey, Good Loving Hank Williams, Jr.
The basic requirements for a good life are available at a honky tonk.
Back Up Buddy Carl Smith
Honky tonk men fight with each other often, particularly over women.
All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight Hank Williams, Jr.
Honky tonk behavior sometimes happens outside of the honky tonk.
Tryin' To Find Atlantis Jamie O'Neal
Trying to find a good man in a honky tonk or elsewhere is like trying to find a mythical city.
Only Daddy That'll Walk the Line Waylon Jennings
Some honky tonk men do right.
All My Rowdy Friends Have Settled Down Hank Williams, Jr.
Honky tonk days inevitably come to an end.
Honkytonk Man Marty Robbins
A honky tonk man invites a sad honky tonk angel to walk through the world with him after both have been cuckolded by their respective partners. Their minds set on mutual rescue, in the end they walk out of the honky tonk with the best gifts it can possibly offer: love, music, and no pain, be it for a night or forever.
3 Good Women
Good women love well. They are committed, loyal, passionate, and patient. They are clear and uncomplicated compensations living complex lives.
Good Hearted Woman Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson
There's a certain naiveté in the confidence expressed by the "good timin' man" that sings this Country classic. Is she really that patient with him or is that what she wants him to think?
When I Think about Cheating Gretchen Wilson
Leave it to a woman to think about it-and really think about it hard-before deciding that her current love isn't worth jeopardizing. There is a moral here, folks.
Pearl, Pearl, Pearl Flatt & Scruggs
Flatt & Scruggs vie for the love of one, Pearl, in this simple bluegrass number. Note the strength and power of Scruggs's banjo playing.
My Elusive Dreams Tammy Wynette and David Houston
A husband and wife move from city to city looking for the work and dreams that continue to slip through their fingers. In the end, they find that all they have is each other. Thank goodness.
Good Woman's Love Tony Rice
He could have become a drifter, a drinker, a loner, and a goner if it weren't for a good woman and her capacity to hold his heart and steer him in the direction only she can.
Ruby Ann Marty Robbins
Somewhere between the honky tonk sound and the Buddy Holly sockhop sensibility lives this song about a woman who could have money and riches, but instead chooses the poor man she loves.
That's the Way Love Goes Johnny Rodriguez
A sweet love letter to the power of love to triumph over the pitfalls and travails of life by Country music's first Mexican-born star. Other recordings of note: Merle Haggard and Lefty Frizzell.
Sunday Kind of Woman Charlie Rich
For the man who has a tendency to wake up in beds not his own, there is always a moment of clarity when a good wholesome woman seems to be the remedy. If only he could be so lucky.
My Arms Stay Open Late Tammy Wynette
This song describes a tragically good woman, one who knows, acknowledges, and yet condones her man's cheating ways. Loyalty is loyalty, even if it is not reciprocated.
Van Lear Rose Loretta Lynn
In this biographical sketch, Lynn tells the story of a Kentucky beauty who chooses the heart of the poor boy over her other cocky suitors.
Nellie Kane Hot Rize
A rambling man quits his travelin' ways when he meets the love of his life and her son in North Dakota. Though Hot Rize was only together for a brief period in the 1980s, they remain one of the great bands within the bluegrass genre.
How Mountain Girls Can Love The Stanley Brothers
A bluegrass standard, this ode to the women of the Blue Ridge Mountains runs fast and furious, paced by a banjo and tight brotherly harmonies. The song possibly refers to the hills of Roane County Virginia where the Stanley Brothers grew up.
These descendents of the adventurous Huckleberry Finn and Natty Bumpo light out to see new territory even as it vanishes. Honoring the wild promise of America as an inviting wilderness to be explored, these characters complicate the lives of the people to whom they are attached while retaining their own ironic simplicity.
Rake and Rambling Man Don Williams
Love and a good woman are truly the only things that can make a wandering man settle down.
I'm a Rambling Man Waylon Jennings
A catchy, telecaster-guitar driven shuffle, this song serves as a warning to unsuspecting honky tonk angels about the pitfalls of fooling around with those who make a living rambling.
Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight Rodney Crowell
This is the story of a girl who falls for a rambler and the unfortunate ending that ensues down on the bayou. Other recordings of note: Emmylou Harris and the Oak Ridge Boys.
I Am a Pilgrim Doc Watson
This religious rambler is a pilgrim who wanders in search of a land beyond the skies. A mountain gospel standard, this song has been recorded by countless Country artists.
Don't Fence Me In Gene Autry
The famous Cole Porter cowboy ode to solitude and independence, originally written for the 1944 movie Hollywood Canteen.
I've Been Everywhere Hank Snow
One of the most fun songs of the genre it features the acrobatic delivery of a lyric that lists nearly one hundred towns in a little over two minutes. Snow's baritone articulation is without rival.
I'm a Long Gone Daddy Hank Williams
Recorded in 1949, too much nagging, pouting, and moaning sends a long, tall daddy out the door to ride the rails.
Wayfaring Stranger Johnny Cash
Recorded by everyone from Burl Ives to Bill Monroe to Emmylou Harris, this somber song is most honest in this Cash recording. Simple, stark, and spiritually hopeful.
Rambling Man The Allman Brothers
The band's signature anthem defines the archetype of the 1970s southern rock-and-roll musician. Listening to this just makes you want to get on the highway-right now!
Hello, I'm Gone Trisha Yearwood
A woman realizes that leaving is the only thing she has left and she couldn't be happier about it. This is an intimate, soulful track with a catchy chorus. Written by revered, but under-recognized songwriter, Kevin Welch.
Ramble On Rose The Grateful Dead
Vintage Jerry Garcia guitar dominates this mid-tempo masterpiece about the wicked, wild, and mythic Rose. This is psychedelic Country at its best.
A Rude and Rambling Man Jody Stecher & Kate Brislin
A rambler chooses to settle down and marry, and ends up in jail as a result. Mandolin/guitar interplay and tight harmonies move this song right out the door.
Along about Daybreak The Bluegrass Album Band
This is a "goodbye letter" of sorts from a husband to his wife and children, featuring a characteristic high-tenor vocal and an all-star bluegrass lineup.
Freeborn Man Junior Brown
Brown's striking bass/baritone vocals interplay with his virtuosic and bawdy steel guitar on this song about a rambling man, whom most are happier to see leaving than arriving.
He Went to Paris Jimmy Buffett
An aging international drifter looks back on a life in an honest and, ultimately, grateful way.
They are ramblers with a purpose and a motive. Sometimes criminal, at their most significant, they are committed to ideal purposes not supported by the majority. These men are willing to endure wrath and punishment to maintain integrity and freedom. Outlaws and bandits are of special importance to poor Southerners, both white and black, who share very different, but somehow common historical experiences of having the law against them.
Pancho and Lefty Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard
The archetypical "partners in crime" song about an unlikely duo. Pancho loses his life and Lefty loses his soul. The listener is left to decide which is worse. This one also appears on the Friends list.
Pretty Boy Floyd Woody Guthrie
A story of an Oklahoma outlaw, a Robin Hood of sorts, who is hung for the killing of a deputy, the song is a social commentary on the unjust punishment of good people. Note the similarity in language and subject to Bob Marley's reggae classic "I Shot the Sheriff" and Eric Clapton's subsequent cover of the same song, in which he poignantly claims he did not shoot the deputy.
Ballad of Spider John Jimmy Buffett
Written by Willis Allan Ramsey, this is a beautiful tale of a brokenhearted old thief who humbly recalls how gambling, booze, and robbery forced him down the road of solitude and alienation.
Been All Around This World David Grisman & Jerry Garcia
This is a song of traditional origin, which utilizes the call-and-response lyric, about an outlaw in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Wanted Man Johnny Cash
Being a fugitive in one state is bad, but being a fugitive everywhere is outlaw. A dark shadow of Hank Snow's "I've Been Everywhere."
Midnight Rider The Allman Brothers
A high school, southern-rock anthem, the song explores the existential outlaw in all of us and reminds us that the art of being an outlaw is thinking you can't be caught.
Real Mean Bottle Vince Gill
An ode to Merle Haggard, Country music's most famous graduate of the notorious San Quentin Prison. Was it the booze that made him do it?
Outlaws Like Us Travis Tritt
This tribute to Country music's renegades asks and answers the question, "Are the songwriting outlaws alive and well?"
Ain't No God in Mexico Waylon Jennings
Life in a Mexican prison will make any American outlaw think twice about breaking the law in a strange land.
The Road Goes On Forever Robert Earl Keen
A modern Bonnie and Clyde tale that you might find on a tabloid cover at the supermarket. But in this song, Bonnie walks off into the sunset.
6 Bad Mamas
These are affecting tales-not of women who do their men wrong, but of women who do their children, most often daughters, wrong.
Lucille Kenny Rogers
Over a tumbler of whiskey in an Ohio bar, a man falls in and then out of lust for lady who left her husband and kids at home. Having the conversation interrupted by her husband killed their flirtatious liaison.
The Sun Was Blood Red And Going Down Tanya Tucker
One of the darkest songs in Country music, this is a story of a man and his daughter on the hunt for mommy. They find her at a tavern with another man. Believe it or not, it gets even worse.
Excerpted from MY COUNTRY ROOTS by ALICE RANDALL CARTER LITTLE COURTNEY LITTLE Copyright © 2006 by Alice Randall, Carter Little and Courtney Little. Excerpted by permission.
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