Tag Archives: Roy Acuff

Rock Died When Guns N’ Roses Broke Up

11 Dec

The other night, my wife and I were riding down the interstate and having a conversation about music. I cannot remember the context, but, at some point, I said, “Rock died when Guns N’ Roses broke up.”

My wife said that I had to remember that line because it would make a great title for a blog post. I knew that she was right, but I had no idea what should go under that title. Now, I may have figured it out.

I am a fan of most musical genres, but Rock has always been my favorite. It is a genre that changed the musical landscape in the 1950s and found itself changed in the decades that followed. Rock and Roll. Psychedelic Rock. Prog Rock. Punk Rock. Glam Rock. Southern Rock. Heavy Metal. There are different styles. They are all Rock, and I like them all.

I could list many Rock Stars, but the list would go on and on. Instead, all the Rock Stars and Rock Bands, no matter the style, fit within the lines of an AC/DC song.

There was sound.

There was light.

There was drums.

There was guitar.

Using the past tense is fitting because Rock is dead.Rock Dead

Some people are going to argue that point and mention that Rock Bands still exist. That is true. However, Rock as the dominant genre is dead. In my opinion, current Rock Bands perform on the fringes of popular music. In the old days, Rock Bands were the leaders of popular music. They ruled the airwaves and the charts.

All of that ended when Guns N’ Roses broke up. This does not mean that it is the fault of Guns N’ Roses. Plenty of groups before them broke apart, and they were only following an established pattern. The difference is that there was, in my opinion, no Rock Band to replace them. They were replaced by Grunge. The flamboyant clothes were replaced by cardigan sweaters.

Rock Bands still tour and fill up arenas, but they are the bands of old playing for people reminiscing about their younger days. The Rock Stars are graying, and their fans are retiring. It is strange to hear someone who qualifies for AARP singing lyrics that relay the feelings and thoughts of their younger selves.

When I was in high school, there was an awesome Rock station in Nashville. 103.3 WKDF played all of the great stuff. I laid in my bed with headphones over my ears and listened to Metal Shop. Many years ago, that station changed to a Country format. It was a sad day, but it was a fitting and smart business decision.

At times, I lament that state of Country music. The genre should be a singer standing behind a microphone and singing about heartbreak and loss. Instead, it is a genre about partying and having a good time. A contemporary Country concert would be unfamiliar to Hank Snow, Patsy Cline, Roy Acuff and others. However, it is familiar to me because it has sound, light, drums and guitar.

Country has filled the void of Rock. Today’s Country fans would have been Rock fans in the past. A while back, we went to a Kenny Chesney concert, and Joe Walsh, a guitarist who epitomizes Rock music and its culture, was his special guest. At the time, I thought it strange. However, it was the only place for Joe Walsh to go.

I know the history of music from the 1990s until now. I know the bands and the singers. However, I still think Guns N’ Roses was the last great Rock Band. When they broke up, Rock as I knew it died.

 

Grand Ole Opry Song

29 Mar

Most people probably know that Nashville is known as “Music City”, and those same people probably know that it is called that because of the country music industry. Nashville actually has been a hotbed of several musical genres. At one time, there was a strong R&B scene, and Jimi Hendrix honed his craft in the clubs on Jefferson Street. Bob Dylan spent a great deal of time in the city, and Elvis Presley recorded here all the time. Heck, the Black Keys and Jack White currently call Nashville home.

Despite a diverse history, country music was and continues to be the dominating form, and, these days, it is dominated by performers like Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood, Zac Brown. I can’t name them all because I don’t really like what they do. Today’s country seems like a Frankenstein’s monster to me. Take a little bit of country. Take a little bit of rock. Throw in a few more things. Once, you are finished a monstrosity has been created. Personally, I blame Garth Brooks.

Nashville didn’t become “Music City” because of today’s stars. It became “Music City” in the early part of the 20th Century because of a radio show, the Grand Ole Opry. It could be heard every Saturday night on WSM, a powerful AM station that took its signal throughout the United States. In the days before nationwide concert tours, artists could get their music to the masses over the radio. Since the performers gathered in Nashville to perform on the Opry, it made sense for record companies to set up studios nearby. As years passed, Nashville became the destination for those who wanted to get in the country music business.

Sometimes, I think that story gets lost in the glitz and glamor of the modern country music industry. In the old days, country artists didn’t have laser shows at their concerts. They definitely didn’t run around the stage and shake their asses. They stood behind the microphone and sang about heartbreak and trains.

Jimmy Martin was one of the old-time singers.

Jimmy Martin

Jimmy Martin

Known as the “King of Bluegrass”, he performed on the Opry many times. Unfortunately, he faced the demons of alcohol abuse, and uncertainty kept him from becoming a full member of the Opry. Despite that, he recorded “Grand Ole Opry Song“, an ode to the show and the people who made it special. I thought it would be interesting to use that song to introduce (or remind) the blogosphere to some of the people who turned Nashville into “Music City”.

Come and listen to my story if you will I’m gonna tell

About a gang of fellers from down at Nashville

First I’ll start with old Red Foley doin’ the ‘Chattanooga Shoe’

Red Foley

Red Foley

We can’t forget Hank Williams with them good old ‘Lovesick Blues’

Hank WIlliams

Hank Williams

It’s time for Roy Acuff to go to Memphis on his train

Roy Acuff

Roy Acuff

With Minnie Pearl and Rod Brasfield and Lazy Jim Day

Minnie Pearl

Minnie Pearl

Rod Brasfield

Rod Brasfield

Jim Day

Jim Day

Turn on all your radios I know that you will wait

Hear Little Jimmy Dickens sing ‘Take an Old Cold Tater and Wait’

Little Jimmy Dickens

Little Jimmy Dickens

There’ll be guitars and fiddles, Earl Scruggs and his banjo too

Earl Scruggs

Earl Scruggs

Bill Monroe singing out them ole ‘Kentucky Blues’

Bill Monroe

Bill Monroe

Ernest Tubb’s number, ‘Two Wrongs Won’t Make a Right’

Ernest Tubb

Ernest Tubb

At the Grand Ole Opry every Saturday night

There  was Uncle Dave Macon his gold tooth and plug hat

Uncle Dave Macon

Uncle Dave Macon

Cowboy Copas singing ‘Tragic Romance’

Cowboy Copas

Cowboy Copas

Signed sealed and delivered with Sam and Kirk McGee

Sam and Kirk McGee

Sam and Kirk McGee

And the master of ceremony was Mr. George D Hay

George D. Hay

George D. Hay

There was Lonzo and Oscar a-poppin’ bubble gum

Lonzo and Oscar

Lonzo and Oscar

George Morgan singin’ ‘Candy Kisses’ yum, yum

George Morgan

George Morgan

‘Got a Hole in My Bucket’ ‘Bringin’ in that Georgia Mail’

We’ll sing ‘The Sunny Side of the Mountain’

And dance to the ‘Chicken Reel’

You can talk about your singers in all kinds of way

But none could sing the old songs like Bradley Kincaid

Bradley Kincaid

Bradley Kincaid

With his old hound dog ‘Guitar’ and the famous ‘Blue Tail Fly’

Stringbean with Hank Snow and old fiddlin’ Chubby Wise

Stringbean

Stringbean

Hank Snow

Hank Snow

Chubby Wise

Chubby Wise

Now, that’s country.

Questions of Great Importance

28 Oct

Why do Country artists sing about being Rock stars?

Elvis Presley – The King of Rock n Roll

Roy Acuff – The King of Country Music

Hint: You guys aren’t Rock stars.

Whatever happened to Gary Hart?

Yes, you mean more to me than being the president.

Why is it Hardee’s in the east and Carl’s Jr. in the West?

And, you thought the country was split between Red and Blue.

Who was the better fighter – Rocky Balboa, Apollo Creed or Clubber Lang?

Or, was it Drago?

Why do people believe that there is an invisible man in the sky?

This guy has been the reason for a lot of conflicts.

Who thought red light cameras were a good idea?

I’d better not run that yellow light, so I’ll just slam on my breaks and get hit in the ass.

How many bloggers are there?

I think there are more bloggers than people.

Seeing Stars

25 May

Last night, I was having dinner at a local Mexican restaurant when I looked across the patio and saw someone who I recognized. It wasn’t an old friend or acquaintance. It was Gretchen Wilson, a singer who has gained a modicum of fame. I didn’t think much about it, and it seemed that the other diners didn’t think much about it either. However, it gave me an idea for a blog post.

One of the great aspects of Nashville is that you can see someone famous almost anywhere you go. A greater aspect is that those famous people do not get harassed by fans or paparazzi. They do their thing while non-famous Nashvillians do theirs. For example, if you want to see Vince Gill, then all you have to do is go to a Belmont University basketball game. Kenny Chesney shows up each time the University of Tennessee has a game in town. Once, I sat in front of Reba McEntire at a Nashville Predators game, and, last summer, I sat behind Wynonna Judd at a U2 concert. Although I haven’t seen her, I understand that Carrie Underwood and her fantastic legs spend a lot of time at Whole Foods.

Never fear, country stars are not the only people seen in these parts. Once, I played pool at a table next to Nicole Kidman and her husband, Keith Urban. Also, Reese Witherspoon is a native of Nashville. It seems that artists from all genres and endeavors are attracted to our fair city. Nashville isn’t Los Angeles or New York (thank goodness), but it has its fair share of famous people.

As I chewed my enchiladas, I began to think about this part of the Nashville experience and thought about a couple of encounters of my youth.

When I was a kid, my mom and I spent a lot of time at Opryland, a theme park that used to be here and still should be. One afternoon, we were leaving, and my mom needed to go to the restroom. Being the days when parents could leave children for a few minutes without worrying, my mom left me sitting on a bench and eating an ice cream cone. As I sat, an elderly man perched down beside me with an ice cream cone of his own. He asked a few questions but only got one word answers in reply. It was typical nice old man questions, but I was too shy to say too much.

My mom returned and spoke with him for a few minutes before we went on our way. Once we left hearing range, she asked if I knew who that was. I said that I didn’t, and she told me that it was Roy Acuff. Don’t know who that was? He was known as the “King of Country Music” and was the genre’s first superstar. I had been eating ice cream with a legend.

As a teenager I, like a lot of teenagers in the 80s, hung out at the mall. Unlike  a lot of teenagers in the 80s, I hung out at the bookstore in the mall. One day, I stood in front of a bookshelf, the history section I guess, with my head buried in a book. In the midst of reading, I felt someone walk up behind me and just stand there. It was like they were reading the same book over my shoulder. Honestly, it wasn’t comfortable. I kept reading and hoping they would move when the man behind me yelled for his son. I knew immediately who it was.

I turned my head to say hello, and he replied, “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash.” Well, he didn’t actually say that. He said something along the lines of how are you. The most interesting thing was that the “Man in Black” was wearing black sweatpants, a black sweatshirt and white tennis shoes.

So, if you are ever in Nashville keep an eye open. You might see a star. Just remember to act like a Nashvillian and not bother them. That’s one of reasons Nashville is great. Although, it’ll probably be alright to say hello or stare at Carrie’s legs.