Old Country Music: What Do You Dig?

I was surfing round iTunes earlier, picking up some random jams here and there that I hadn’t heard in a while, and I found myself searching for a lot of the old-ish country my parents used to listen to. Ronnie Milsap, Charley Pride, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Alabama – all stuff I was raised on. Luckily, my parents were confined to no single genre and I was raised with an appreciation for everything from Streisand to Cash to Joni Mitchell. For all they did wrong, that’s the one thing I’ve always been grateful to my parents for.

My friends are always amused/shocked to rifle through my music collection and see the old country lined up next to PJ Harvey, Snoop, Ozzy, Joan Baez, Aretha Franklin, Coltrane, Judas Priest, Courtney Love, et al. My theory has always been this – if it’s good, if it’s real, I’ll like it.

So my question is this: Country music is something that most people won’t admit to liking. I myself don’t have a taste for the newer country, which I call pop with a twang. But the old stuff? Oh, yeah!

I just downloaded the following tracks:

Ronnie Milsap: I Wouldn’t Have Missed It for the World
Charley Pride: Kiss an Angel Good Morning
Willie Nelson: You Were Always On My Mind
Alabama: Song of the South, High Cotton
Elvis [not country per se, I know]: Kentucky Rain
Dolly Parton: Here You Come Again, I Will Always Love You
Johnny Cash: Ring of Fire, Hurt [new, I know], I Walk The Line
June Carter Cash: Ring of Fire, I Used To Be Somebody
Kathy Mattea: Where Have You Been, Fort Worth

Good quality stuff. Anybody else with me?

  • Childhood’s End, Southbound and Little Brown Bottle *by Hoyt Axton
  • The World’s gone Crazy Cotillion, What Goes Around, If You See Her & I Got the Train Sittin’ Waitin’ *By Waylon Jennings
  • Mammas, Don’t let your Babies Growup to be Cowboys* by Willie Nelson

Conway Twitty: “Rocky Top”, “Hello Darlin’” (if I drank, it would be to this song)

Loretta Lynn: “You Ain’t Woman Enough To Take My Man” (if you don’t think Loretta will kick your ass, think again)

Charlie Pride: “All I Have To Offer You Is Me”

Jean Shephard: “Slippin’ Away”

Johnny Cash: “Folsom Prison Blues”, “Ring of Fire”

Leroy Van Dyke: “Walk on By”

Bobby Bare: “Detroit City”

Susan Raye: “LA International Airport”

Statler Brothers: “Flowers on the Wall”, “Do You Remember These?”

Merle Haggard: “Mama Tried”, “The Ballad of Bonnie & Clyde”

Lynn Anderson: “Rose Garden”

Grandpa Jones: “Mountain Dew” (if you gave awards for bad rhymes, he’d get one for this song (rhyming “giant” with “pint” is brilliant)

Ronnie Milsap: “Pure Love” (probably the only song ever to mention Cap’n Crunch)

I’m a huge fan of Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline, and I also like the “Western swing” of Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys. Other than that, I tend to prefer modern alt-country musicians who pay homage to the sounds and styles of the past, like Neko Case and Rilo Kiley. Of course, Loretta Lynn’s most recent album, Van Lear Rose (produced by Jack White), was awesome. I can’t stand Shania, Faith, Toby, Big ‘n’ Rich, and the rest of the polished, overproduced pop that comes out of Nashville.

I agree with you on your tastes, Voodoo Lou. In fact, I had a copy of The Corn Sisters’ The Other Women, which I saw that you mentioned in another thread about Neko. I can’t find it not (must have misplaced in in my last move). That’s okay though, I didn’t like it as much as Neko’s solo albums or the New Pornographer releases. I’m a big fan of the music released by Bloodshot Records, which includes some Neko records, Kelly Hogan, various Jon Langford projects, and the Waco Brothers.

To reply to the OP, I love Cash, including his last few releases on American Records.
I like Buck Owens and the Bakersfield sound (including Dwight Yoakam).
Hank Williams and Hank Williams III. Not Junior!
Patsy Cline
And various songs from the 70’s (when my mother listened to a lot of country music).

Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, The Statler Brothers, Asleep at the Wheel, The Kendalls, Don Williams, Hank Williams, Tom T. Hall, Flatt & Scruggs, and a handful more I’ll think of after hitting submit. :wink:

In addition to the great stuff already mentioned, I’d add

Marty Robbins – especially Don’t Worry and Ribbon of Darkness.

Faron Young – After the Lovin’ - I heard him sing this in concert once and thought my heart would melt

Not real old country (maybe middle-aged) – but Ricky Van Shelton has a lovely, warm voice – Loving Proof is a great album, his version of From A Jack to A King is as good as the original, and I’ll Leave This World Loving You is a heartbreaker

Rodney Crowell – his voice isn’t spectacular but he can write a song – I Couldn’t Leave You If I Tried is my favorite

Can we include Billy Joe Royal here, or is he too pop?

I am not ashamed to say I bought the boxed cd set “Country Music Classics” a few years ago after succumbing to the temptation of the late night informercial. I grew up on 70s era country music also.

Roger Miller
Glenn Campbell
Kenny Rogers–his early (1960’s) version of “Ruby” is simply gorgeous
Loretta Lynn
Hank Williams
George Jones
Marty Robbins
Dolly Parton
Waylon Jennings
Eddie Rabbit
Johnny Cash
The guy that wrote “Take this job and shove it” and “When you’re hot, you’re hot, when you’re not, you’re not” (too lazy to google)

:confused: Since when is Rilo Kiley alt-country? I’d classify them more as plain indie pop.

Anyhoo…chatelaine, you might want to check out the Swingin’ Doors show on KEXP. They play a variety of good country from different genres and eras. It’s on Thursday nights from 6 to 9 Pacific time, but they should also have a couple of shows archived on their web site.

Johnny Paycheck

Ive actually been getting into a lot of older or ignored country music lately; the stuff that was before my time. Some of my favorite older country songs are “Harper Valley PTA” “Folsom Prison Blues” “Coal Miner’s Daughter” “D-I-V-O-R-C-E.”

I much prefer his version of “Making Memories Of Us” from the Notorious Cherry Bombs CD than Keith Urban’s version.

I, along with many of you, absolutely despise new country. Some of the older stuff is amazing, though.

Johnny and Hank and Waylon and Merle and Willie have all been talked about already. George has been mentioned but no songs listed, so I’ll just throw out there that He Stopped Loving Her Today, is, IMO, one of the best country songs ever written.

He also did a lot of happier and fun songs like White Lightnin’, Rockin’ Chair, Good Hearted Woman, Hotter than a $2 Pistol, etc.

Wouldn’t that qualify as “Waylon and Willie and the boys.”? :smiley:

Maybe, but you can hear some pretty strong country influences in their music. Calling them alt-country isn’t all that off-the-mark.

Only in Luckenbach, TX. :wink:

Marty Robbins. I listen to his music more than anything else.

I do have downloaded on the computer:

Tennessee Stud by Eddy Arnold

A Boy Named Sue by Johnny Cash

Pancho and Lefty by Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard

16 Tons by Tennessee Ernie Ford

Big, Bad, John by Jimmy Dean


Gallo del Cielo by Joe Ely (doesn’t count as he’s current. But it’s a great song.)

I grew up listening to my Dad listening to country music, so I kind of like it. He’s an old time country music listener, big fan of Buck Owens, George Jones, Vernon Oxford etc. (This is in Liverpool UK, I have no idea why the old man got started on country when he could literally have been watching the Beatles at the Cavern club).

Two names not mentioned so far are Nanci Griffith and Iris Dement, beautiful voices both. Nanci’s version of John Prine’s “Speed of the sound of loneliness” is really good. Iris Dement somehow managed to get herself promoted in the mainstream UK music press a few years back, she was popular with students and Indie music fans for a time. Both singers are maybe more folk music than real country, whatever that means.

I get my Dad cds now and again from today’s country stars, they generally go down terribly. I bought him one recently by a woman with a German-sounding name, (can’t remember exactly, it began with a G) who I’d seen on the country music awards and he damn near through the stereo at me. 'kin hated it!

One of my favourite singers all-time is Will Oldham, so I guess all that vicarious country music listening I did as a kid got some sort of a grip on me.

Seeing as most have mentioned people already on my playlist, I’ll mention a few others.

Hank Snow, Ian & Sylvia Tyson, Jimmie Rodgers, Johnny Horton, Red Sovine and The Highwaymen (Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson).

I admit to enjoying some of the more modern stuff, okay I kinda have a thing going for Big & Rich right now… but I still love and listen to the classics.

Hank Wlliams, Jim Reeves, Charley Pride, Hank Snow, Dolly Parton, Johnny Horton, and Merle Haggard are all currently gracing the cd changer in my car.
Superb stuff, all of it.
(The other one’s Shirley Bassey, but I probably shouldn’t mention her in this thread!) :eek:

Trio by Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, and Linda Ronstadt. It takes an old-fashioned, acoustic, approach. If you listen to this, and you don’t get a hardon or a tear in your eye, you ain’t a country boy. Just The Pain of Loving You is worth the price, and that’s only the beginning.

Johnny Gimble, who played fiddle in Bob Wills’ Playboys band, did an album called The Texas Fiddle Collection. It is pure, unadulterated pleasure.

Hank Cochran, “It’s Only Love.” That song should come with a warning label.