Harper Valley PTA, Part 2: Jeannie C. Riley
Jeannie C. Riley's debut single sold over a million copies within ten days of being released but she never wanted to record the song. She's often considered a one-hit wonder. We can easily disprove that. In the late '60s, Jeannie C. Riley became country music's most blatant sex symbol to date but she never wanted to wear those clothes. Small town girl with big dreams goes to the city and lets it break her in order to make her. Total cliche, right? Sure. Except Jeannie's choice to bury the...
Harper Valley PTA, Part 1: Shelby S. Singleton
Two words to sum up the career of Shelby Singleton? Publicity stunt. You think all it takes to make a hit record is to find a good song and get a good performance of it? That's cute. Have a seat and let an old-school record man show you how it's done. This is Shelby Singleton. When it took driving a trunk full of records around the country to make them into hits, that's what he did. Then he became a producer. Then he became a VP at Mercury Records. Then he founded an independent musical...
The Louvin Brothers: Running Wild
The Louvin Brothers are widely regarded as the most influential harmony duo to ever cut a country song. The way Charlie and Ira could sing together is downright otherworldly. There's even a special term we had to invent for family (it's always/only family) who can sing this way: blood harmony. That being said, it's possible we've never heard what they could really do. By the way, do you believe in evil? This episode delves in to exactly what blood harmony is and how the magic of it can't...
Breaking Down Merle Haggard's "Okie from Muskogee"
The song was just what so many Americans needed at the time, in 1969. Conservatives needed someone to stand up and defend small town, traditional values. Politicians needed someone to justify America's continuing involvement in the Vietnam War. Oklahomans needed someone to redeem the meaning of the word "okie," a hateful slur that arose from The Great Depression. The only thing is, Merle Haggard wasn't doing any of those things when he wrote the song. Then what the exact hell was he doing,...
Bobbie Gentry: Exit Stage Left - Cocaine & Rhinestones: The History of Country Music
In 1967, Bobbie Gentry's recording of a song she wrote, called "Ode to Billie Joe," directly influenced the future of every major musical genre in America. In the early '80s, she disappeared. What happened in the decade between? Why did Bobbie Gentry vanish? Who was she, even? Since we can't ask Bobbie for answers, these are mysteries we either have to learn to live with or try to solve for ourselves. People you'll hear about in this episode: Glen Campbell, Elvis Presley, Jim Stafford,...
CR 003 The Murder Ballad of Spade Cooley - Cocaine & Rhinestones: The History of Country Music
Spade Cooley came to California in the early 1930s, as poor as everyone else who did the exact same thing at the exact same time. Only, Spade became a millionaire. And all he needed to accomplish that was a fiddle, a smile and a strong work ethic. If it sounds like the American Dream, stick around to hear how it became an American nightmare of substance abuse, mental illness and, eventually, sadistic torture and murder. If this episode doesn't fuck you up, you're already fucked up....
The Pill: Why Was Loretta Lynn Banned? - Cocaine & Rhinestones: The History of Country Music
Maybe you already know Loretta Lynn's 1975 song about birth control, "The Pill," was banned from radio upon release. But do you know why? The real answer is not what many would assume. Recommended if you like: Kitty Wells, Webb Pierce, Jimmie Rodgers, Dixie Chicks, Conway Twitty, KT Oslin, Garth Brooks, Sunday Sharpe, Lorene Mann, Jeannie C. Riley, Hank Thompson and feminism. Also recommended if you don't like: Barbra Streisand.
Ernest Tubb: The Texas Defense - Cocaine & Rhinestones: The History of Country Music
Everyone loves Ernest Tubb. So when he straps on a gun belt one night to head across town and snuff out a character named Jim Denny, well, you might guess that ol' Jim had it coming. Maybe he didn't, maybe he did... For you to make up your own mind, we'll need to go behind-the-scenes of 650 AM WSM in Nashville, The Grand Ole Opry and the world of country music publishing companies. This episode is highly recommended for fans of Jimmie Rodgers, Johnny Paycheck, Justin Tubb, George Jones,...