Paul McCartney in Nashville 1974

Back in the early seventies, there was a line between rock and country. Now that line is blurred quite a bit but when Paul came to Nashville…it was a huge deal here. Some country artists wondered why a Beatle was coming here.

I’ve written some here but I don’t do it justice… His month stay involved an emergency room visit, a visit to Johnny Cash, Loveless Motel (great place to eat), and many other places. Please read this.. https://www.nashvillescene.com/news/article/13007056/when-we-was-fab

People here still talk about this visit to the city. I was only 7 and it was one year before I got into the Beatles. I faintly remember the newscasts. On June 6, 1974, Paul arrived and said he chose Nashville for his month’s stay as a rehearsal base for an upcoming tour. He also planned to enjoy himself while here, socializing with the community and horseback riding.

Paul said: “I rather fancy the place,”  “It’s a musical center. I’ve just heard so much about it that I wanted to see for myself.”

He recorded songs, went to the Grand Ole Opry, met Porter Waggner and Dolly Parton, ate some Kentucky Fried Chicken, and visited Printers Alley. Paul and Linda lived on a farm in Lebanon that  Curly Putman Jr rented…that is where the title Juniors Farm came from. Putman was a songwriter who wrote some huge songs like The Green Green Grass of Home, He Stopped Loving Her Today, D-I-V-O-R-C-E, and many more.

I have a cousin that lives down the road from the farm Paul and Linda stayed at…he got this shot but it’s a little dark. They added some columns since 1974.IMG_2102.PNG

Former Beatle Paul McCartney takes his wife, Linda, for a spin around the lawn of the home of songwriter Curly Putman July 17, 1974, where the McCartneys have been living during their visit to Nashville.

As his time in Tennessee came to a close, McCartney told a group of local reporters that he hoped to mount a U.S. tour the following year and that if it happened, Music City would definitely be on the itinerary.

McCartney didn’t come back until 36 years later in 2010 and I finally got to see him.

Paul McCartney's Nashville past

 

 

 

 

 

Neil Young – Heart Of Gold

A giant hit for Neil Young.

James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt sang backup on this song. They don’t come in until the end of the song. Like Young, Taylor and Ronstadt were in town to appear on The Johnny Cash Show (the song’s producer Elliot Mazer had produced Ronstadt’s 1970 Silk Purse album). Young convinced them to lend their voices to this track, and they came in the day after the rest of the song was completed.

This song was recorded in Nashville in just two takes. The musicians were not familiar with Young or the song. This spontaneity created just the right feel for the track…something that would have never come about through additional tweaking. This style of recording, where top-tier studio musicians are asked to give total focus to a take with little instruction, is something Bob Dylan often did.

By far, this was the biggest hit for Young as a solo artist, Peaking at #1 on the Billboard 100 in 1972…the Harvest album peaked at #1 a week earlier,

Linda Ronstadt: “We were sat on the couch in the control room, but I had to get up on my knees to be on the same level as James because he’s so tall. Then we sang all night, the highest notes I could sing. It was so hard, but nobody minded. It was dawn when we walked out of the studio.”

 

From Songfacts

With a straightforward metaphor and complete lack of pathos, this is not a typical Neil Young song. It finds him mining for a “heart of gold,” which depending on your perspective, is either a touching and heartfelt sentiment, or a mawkish platitude. Rolling Stone took the churlish view, complaining that the album evoked “superstardom’s weariest clichés.” The listening public and Young’s fans were far more accepting, and the song became his biggest hit.

Young wrote this in 1971 after he suffered a back injury that made it difficult for him to play the electric guitar, so on the Harvest tracks he played acoustic. Despite the injury, Young was in good spirits (possibly thanks to the painkillers), which is reflected in this song. The next few years were more challenging for Young, as he suffered a series of setbacks: His son Zeke was born with cerebral palsy, his friend Danny Whitten died, and he split with his girlfriend, Carrie Snodgress. His next three albums, which became known as “The Ditch Trilogy,” expressed these dark times in stark contrast to “Heart of Gold.”

This song was recorded at the first sessions for the Harvest album, which took place on Saturday, February 6, 1971 and were set up the night before.

Neil Young was in Nashville to record a performance for The Johnny Cash Show along with Tony Joe White, James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt. Elliot Mazer, a producer who owned nearby Quadrafonic Studios, set up a dinner party on February 5, inviting the show’s guests and about 50 other people. Mazer was friends with Young’s manager Elliot Roberts, who introduced the two at the gathering. Young and Mazer quickly hit it off when Neil learned that Elliot has produced a band called Area Code 615. Young asked if he could set up a session the next day, and Mazer complied.

Nashville has an abundance of studio musicians, but getting them to work on a Saturday could be a challenge. Mazur was able to get one member of Area Code 615: Drummer Kenny Buttrey. The other musicians he found were guitarist Teddy Irwin, bass player Tim Drummond, and pedal steel player Ben Keith. All were seasoned pros.

Keith, who had never heard of Neil Young, recalls showing up late and sitting down to play right away. He says they recorded five songs before they stopped for introductions.

A very influential musician, he was never too concerned about making hit records. His next-highest Hot 100 entry was his next single, “Old Man,” which reached #31.

At the time, Taylor and Young were huge stars, but Ronstadt had yet to land a big hit. Her talent was obvious to those around her, but poor song selection and promotion kept her from the top ranks. Young exposed her to arena crowds when he brought her along as the opening act on his Time Fades Away tour in early 1973, but it was another two years before she landed that elusive hit, going to #1 with “You’re No Good.”

In the liner notes to his Decade collection, Young said: “This song put me in the middle of the road. Traveling there soon became a bore so I headed for the ditch.”

This statement reflected Young’s aversion to fame, and was not meant to demean the song. In a later interview with NME, he clarified: “I think Harvest is probably the finest record I’ve made.”

Before separating them into two songs, Young wrote this together with “A Man Needs A Maid” as a piano piece – he described it as “like a medley.”

This was the song that tweaked Bob Dylan; Young had made no secret that he idolized Dylan, but when Dylan heard “Heart of Gold” he thought this was going too far. As quoted in Neil Young: Long May You Run: The Illustrated History, Dylan complained, “I used to hate it when it came on the radio. I always liked Neil Young, but it bothered me every time I listened to “Heart of Gold.” I’d say, that’s me. If it sounds like me, it should as well be me.”

“Heart Of Gold” is the name of the spaceship stolen by Zaphod Beeblebrox in Douglas Adams’ book, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. 

Young became the first Canadian to have a #1 album in the US when Harvest topped the Billboard 200 for two weeks in April 1972.

This song appears in the 1984 film Iceman, and on the soundtrack of the 2010 movie Eat Pray Love.

Lady Gaga references this in her song “You and I.” The line goes, “On my birthday you sung me ‘Heart of Gold,’ with a guitar humming and no clothes.”

In 2005, the CBC Radio One series 50 Tracks: The Canadian Version declared “Heart of Gold” to be the third best Canadian song of all time.

Stryper frontman Michael Sweet covered this for his 2014 I’m Not Your Suicide album. He also recorded a second duet version with country artist Electra Mustaine, who is the daughter of Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine.

Young revived the guitar riff for this song on CSN&Y’s “Slowpoke” in 1999.

Young has made it clear that the musicians who played on his tracks had a lot to do with their success. In an interview with the Musicians Hall of Fame, he said that “Heart of Gold” would not have been a hit without drummer Kenny Buttrey.

Tori Amos covered this on her 2001 album Strange Little Girls. She was trying to demonstrate how men and women hear different meaning in the same songs.

Heart of Gold

I want to live
I want to give
I’ve been a miner for a heart of gold.
It’s these expressions I never give
that keep me searching for a heart of gold
and I’m getting old.

I’ve been to Hollywood
I’ve been to Redwood
I crossed the ocean for a heart of gold
I’ve been in my mind, it’s such a fine line,
that keeps me searching for a heart of gold
and I’m getting old.

Tornadoes in Nashville

I was driving to work this morning oblivious to the world around me listening to an audiobook. I got a call from the Mother In Law asking if I was ok. I was confused but she then told me about tornadoes on the ground in Nashville last night.

I live around 20 miles outside of Nashville in a small county. We had bad weather last night but nothing like that. I started to run into traffic and I saw huge tree branches on the interstate.

I got to work this morning and found out they touched down around 2-3 miles from where I work. I’ve seen a few buildings destroyed and it is heartbreaking to witness this. Over 40,000 are out of power and right now the death toll is 22 on the last report that I heard. In 1998 a tornado went through downtown Nashville.

This is the worst damage Nashville has had since the 2010 flood.

 

 

Buddy Holly – Blue Days Black Nights

This is a Holly song that you don’t hear much and has been a favorite of mine. The sessions didn’t go the way that Buddy would have liked. His songs had more of a country feel than Holly would have liked.

I really like the rockabilly guitar played by Sonny Curtis.  It was recorded at Bradley’s Barn in Nashville Tn in January 26, 1956.

This was Buddy Holly’s first single in April 1956, “Blue Days, Black Nights” was not a Buddy Holly composition; it was written by Ben Hall. The song was the B side to Love Me.

Due to a misspelling on Holly’s recording contract, his name was changed from Holley to Holly. This release is the first to use this spelling, He would go with that spelling the rest of his career.

 

Blue Days Black Nights

Blue days, black nights
Blue tears keep on fallin’, for you dear
Now you’re gone
Blue days, black nights
My heart keeps on calling for you dear
And you alone

Memories of you make me sorry
I gave you reason to doubt me
But now you’re gone and I am left here all alone
With blue memories, I think of you

 

Blue days, black nights
I didn’t realize I would miss you
The way I do
And now somehow I know I will pay
For the times I have made you blue

Buddy Holly – Rock Around With Ollie Vee

This song was first recorded at the Bradley Film and Recording Studios, 804 16th Ave. South,  Nashville, Tennessee. It was written by Sonny Curtis who later joined the Crickets after Buddy died. It was the first song of his ever recorded.

The song was the B side to That’ll Be The Day. It was credited to Buddy Holly and the Three Tunes…that was the group that recorded with Buddy Holly in Nashville on July 22, 1956, for Decca Records. The group name used was Buddy and the Two Tones (Buddy Holly with Sonny Curtis, guitar and Don Guess, bass). The recordings were supported by session musicians.

Buddy would record it later on with the Crickets.

 

Rock Around With Ollie Vee

We-ell, we’re gonna rock
To the rhythm and the blues tonight
Rock ’cause ev’rything’s gonna be all right
‘Cause tonight, we’re gonna
Rock to the rhythm and the blues

Well I got a little gal I call, Ollie Vee
Ollie Vee comes from Memphis, Memphis Tennessee
And tonight, we’re gonna
Rock-a-rock around with Ollie Vee, Olli-olli Vee

Ollie Vee says she’s gonna treat me right tonight
I’m gonna wear my blue suede shoes tonight
And tonight, we’re gonna
Rock-a-rock around with Ollie Vee, Olli-olli Vee

We-ell, we’re gonna rock
To the rhythm and the blues tonight
Rock ’cause ev’rything’s gonna be all right
‘Cause tonight, we’re gonna
Rock to the rhythm and the blues, go!

We-ell, we’re gonna rock
To the rhythm and the blues tonight
Rock ’cause ev’rything’s gonna be all right
‘Cause tonight, we’re gonna
Rock to the rhythm and the blues

I’m gonna shout and a holla and a giggle tonight
I’m gonna shake it just a little in the middle of the night
‘Cause tonight, we’re gonna
Rock-a-rock around with Ollie Vee, Olli-olli-Vee

Well I think Mr. Cop’s on the beat tonight
He’s tryin’ to put a stop to me tonight
‘Cause tonight, we’re gonna
Rock-a-rock around with Ollie Vee, Oll-olli-olli

We-ell, we’re gonna rock
To the rhythm and the blues tonight
Rock ’cause ev’rything’s gonna be all right
‘Cause tonight, we’re gonna
Rock to the rhythm and the blues

We-ell, we’re gonna rock
To the rhythm and the blues tonight
Rock ’cause ev’rything’s gonna be all right
‘Cause tonight, well, we’re gonna
Rock to the rhythm and the blues

Jason & the Scorchers – Golden Ball and Chain

Jason & The Scorchers had a cult following in Nashville and around parts of the world in the 80s and got some airplay on MTV at the time…they were led by frontman Jason Ringenberg and they released a couple of EPs before releasing their debut album Lost & Found in 1985. They were classified at one time as alt-country but I would add rock/punk/rockabilly in there also.

One of the things that made the band different is Jason wanted to sound country but guitar player Warner Hodges wanted to sound like AC/DC…that interplay made them unique. This song was off of their 1986 album Still Standing. The album peaked at #91 on the Billboard album chart in 1987.

Golden Ball and Chain (written by Ringenberg) peaked at #16 in the Billboard Rock Mainstream songs.

Here is some information on Jason and the Scorchers http://www.cnn.com/2002/SHOWBIZ/Music/01/30/jason.scorchers/

 

Golden Ball and Chain

“Oh hello there” you coughed and smiled
Your hair messed up enough, a little wild
You said, “I’m sorry but it’s all a waste
Not a whole meal just a little taste”

Now you’ve nothing left to fight and gain
Another line another carved link of your name
On the golden ball and chain

L.A. it calls and London grooms the star
Get on the phone to find out who you are
But happiness was a dying trend
You say you saw that train around the bend

That was carrying its weight in pain
The engine straining on the full weight of your name
And the golden ball and chain

You saw it then, you saw the sign
A drowning sailor in a jug of wine
First it was her, but now it’s you
No psychoanalyst is there to tell you what to do

So now you whimper like a helpless child
You broke when they quit saying you were wild
But your tears they are like grass in sand
They speak to no one, they give no command

No there’s nothing left to cleanse the stain
Another line another carved link of your name
On the golden ball and chain

Dixie Chicks – Wide Open Spaces

I’m not a big fan of newer country music…but this song sounded fresh when it was released. The song crossed over and peaked at #41 in the Billboard 100, #1 in the US Country Songs, and #1 Canda Country Tracks in 1998. The song was on the album Wide Open Spaces and it peaked at #4 on the Billboard Album Charts, #1 on the Country Album Charts, and #1 in the Canadian Country Album Charts in 1999.

Susan Gibson wrote the song years earlier. Gibson was the lead singer of the alt-country band The Groobees. They decided to include “Wide Open Spaces” on their album and their producer was Lloyd Maines… the father of Dixie Chicks lead singer, Natalie Maines. He thought the song would be perfect for the Dixie Chicks and they agreed. After testing it on a couple of audiences, they made it the title track for their major-label debut.

This album was the first album which Natalie Maines was the lead singer.

Their career was going great until all hell broke loose in 2003 after lead singer Natalie Maines criticized George Bush and the invasion of Iraq during a London concert. Country radio led the backlash against the Dixie Chicks. Stations banned their music and even told listeners to trash their CDs.

This defiant, nude cover on ‘Entertainment Weekly’ added fuel to the fire.

Image result for Natalie Maines nude

If this would have been a rock act that did the same thing…would this have happened? I would say no…

On June 26, 2019, The Dixie Chicks has confirmed that they are returning to music with a new studio album after a 13-year hiatus. They are expecting to record their first new studio album since 2006’s Taking the Long Way.

 

From Songfacts

This song was written by Susan Gibson, who was lead singer of a Texas-based band called The Groobees. She wrote the tune back in 1993 in a spirit of rebellion during her first return home from the University of Montana for Christmas break. “My mom probably said something like, ‘What time did you get home last night, honey?’ Whatever it was rubbed me the wrong way,” Gibson told The Montanan. “I sat down at the kitchen table and wrote furiously for twelve minutes, and then I went and did something else. I forgot all about it.” 

The lyrics were so specific to Gibson’s own experience, including lines about her dad warning her to check the oil in her car, she was hesitant about giving away such a personal song. Then she heard the Dixie Chicks’ version: “It made me bawl my eyes out. It was so beautiful—it had this stunning musicianship and very professional production. I could still see my handwriting on the page, and here was this gorgeous recording of it.”

Lloyd Maines, father of Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines, worked with The Groobees, and brought the song to the Chicks. The Groobees recorded their version in 1999. 

Thom Oliphant helmed the music video, which intercuts touring footage with the girls singing in open fields of wildflowers as well as performing at Winter Park, Colorado’s annual West Fest. In a Songfacts interview, Oliphant recalled: “That song probably moved them from big clubs to arenas over the course of that year, so we were just out documenting.

A lot of that stuff was shot without a clock ticking. You’re on a bus and we would shoot some stuff, and then it all was woven together with a couple of big days of shooting out around Denver. It made it look like it was all about the same time, but it wasn’t.”

The video was named the Country Music Association’s Video of the Year in 1999.

The Groobees broke up a couple of years after this became a hit, partly because they couldn’t agree on how to handle the success. Susan Gibson, who collected the bulk of the royalties as the tune’s sole writer, explained in Lone Star Music Magazine: “We were once a unified band with nothing to lose and all struggling in the same direction. Some band members thought that the success of that song meant that we could afford to take those crappy-paying, but good-exposure gigs. Others thought it meant we didn’t have to. That discrepancy resulted in each of us taking our own piece of the pie and going forward in our different directions.”

Gibson has since carved a career for herself as a solo artist, but still delights in hearing fans talk about the song: “Because the Dixie Chicks made that song so huge, I have enjoyed the look on people’s faces when they hear that I wrote that song. About 80 percent of the time, somebody has a cool story attached to it about leaving home, getting married, getting divorced, and breaking down in Moab, Utah. 19 percent of the time it’s like, ‘Oh! My mom loooooves that song!’ And there’s 1 percent out there that are like, ‘I don’t really listen to music.’ That’s OK. It’s the stories that I hear back from people that put a face to the huge numbers associated with that song.”

This spent four weeks at #1 on the country chart.

Wide Open Spaces

Who doesn’t know what I’m talking about
Who’s never left home, who’s never struck out
To find a dream and a life of their own
A place in the clouds, a foundation of stone

Many precede and many will follow
A young girl’s dreams no longer hollow
It takes the shape of a place out west
But what it holds for her, she hasn’t yet guessed

She needs wide open spaces
Room to make her big mistakes
She needs new faces
She knows the high stakes

She traveled this road as a child
Wide eyed and grinning, she never tired
But now she won’t be coming back with the rest
If these are life’s lessons, she’ll take this test

She needs wide open spaces
Room to make her big mistakes
She needs new faces
She knows the high stakes

She knows the high stakes

As her folks drive away, her dad yells, “Check the oil!”
Mom stares out the window and says, “I’m leaving my girl”
She said, “It didn’t seem like that long ago”
When she stood there and let her own folks know

She needed wide open spaces
Room to make her big mistakes
She needs new faces
She knows the high stakes

She knows the high stakes
She knows the highest stakes
She knows the highest stakes
She knows the highest stakes