Music Monday: January 16, 2023

Hi, everyone. Welcome to another edition of Music Monday.

Bruce quote 2023

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I just finished the Showtime mini-series, George & Tammy, based on the true story of star crossed lovers & country music royalty, George Jones & Tammy Wynette. From several reviews I have read online, both Michael Shannon & Jessica Chastain portrayed the title characters incredibly well. I am not familiar enough with the original artists to comment on that one way or the other. But I have loved Chastain since her performance as Celia Rae Foote in the 2011 film, The Help. I also thought the actress captured the spirit of the title character in The Eyes Of Tammy Faye beautifully in her Oscar winning turn as the former first lady of the PTL.

I was not familiar with any of Shannon’s work prior to this series, but was very impressed by both his performance as an actor and a singer in his turn as Jones. He and Wynette were not artists I listened to. Their brand of music was a little too country for me-the heavy twang guitar, the almost overwhelming background singers or the songs about the struggles to raise a family or to find love after a D-I-V-O-R-C-E just did not speak to me. I knew they were both successful artists but I had no idea about the extent of their fame until I saw this series.

Their relationship had been compared to the story in the film A Star Is Born because Wynette was on her way up when she met Jones, a singer she idolized but whose drinking put his once illustrious career on a down turn. At the start of the series an on-screen note named him “the undisputed king of country music” in the late 1960’s who was slipping due to his heavy drinking. But with his third wife-Wynette-he had several career resurges with their numerous hit duets along with prolific periods on his own. That included today’s song, which was a #1 country hit in 1974 and his 1980 smash, “He Stopped Loving Her Today”. In my reasearch on Jones during the series, I also learned that his first #1 country hit, “White Lightning” from 1959, was written by J.P. Richardson, better known as The Big Bopper.

Jones & Wynette’s story is quite sad without question and not just because they were divorced in 1975 after only six years of marriage. They both struggled with addiction issues, multiple marriages & neglected children. Yet it appears the great love and passion they had for each other continued even after their subsequent marriages. The series was based on the book written by their daughter, Georgette, so perhaps there is a bit of a slant here as her perspective is skewered as most children’s perceptions of their parents romantic bond usually is. Plus her own relationship with her father was spotty at best until Wynette passed away in 1998 and Jones became sober for good in 1999. He died in 2013.

I am very late to this party but I must admit I have been obsessed with today’s song since I heard it in Episode 4. Shannon & Chastain did their own vocals throughout the series and his performance, especially on this track, was fantastically on point. It is a sad love song and was a perfect fit for the scene it appeared in. George & Tammy had just spent their first night together after she moved to a new home on the heels of an especially violent bender Jones was on. She had also started divorce proceedings and George found the papers. That ended their reunion and he left her house despondent, heartbroken and angry.

After apparently drowning his sorrows with a few drinks, George ends up at the recording studio where members of his team watch him deliver the vocal for this track. Ironically it was co-written by the man who would become Tammy’s fifth husband, George Richey (played by the utterly delightful & versatile Steve Zahn in the miniseries). It tells the story of a broken marriage & the no longer happy house the couple once shared, now empty of their love but spilling over in heart-wrenching memories of their better days. Interspersed with George singing in the studio are clips of Tammy taking pills & then lying in a hospital bed after an alleged possibly accidental suicide attempt.

I prefer Shannon’s interpretation even if I had not heard it first simply because it does not include the heavy country elements of the original. But Jones’ version is music history and is a sad footnote & reminder of what he and Wynette had and lost. It is country heartache at its best.

I have nothing here to sell you
Just some things that I will tell you
Some things I know
Will chill you to the bone
“.

George and Rammy series

Tammy

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Top: Showtime’s promotional photo for its latest mini-series, “George & Tammy”. Middle: The real Tammy Wynette (L) and George Jones (R) circa 1972. Bottom: Jones’ 1974 album, The Grand Tour. (Images found online.  Original sources unknown.)

George Jones: “The Grand Tour” (1974, written by George Richey, Carmol Taylor and Norris Denton “Norro” Wilson).

Michael Shannon: “The Grand Tour” (2022, written by George Richey, Carmol Taylor and Norris Denton “Norro” Wilson).

Stay safe & well.

Let’s Take A Moment Day 467

Hi everyone.  Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing.  But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?

June 2021 blog

(Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

I know we are still facing a serious situation but a new year gives us hope for the new days, seasons, opportunities & moments ahead. Still, music is something that will never change for me. It is my refuge, the most comforting part of my life & the one thing I consistently count on. So until a more normal semblance of life returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day. And if this helps anyone else, even better.

I am a huge fan of anything weird and quirky, warm and funny, strange and cool. That is precisely why I fell head over heels in love with Showtime’s “The Chris Isaak Show” which ran from 2001-2004. I was already a fan of his music & his simply adorable dimpled face. And I always enjoyed seeing him on the late night talk show circuit because he was always so funny & entertaining. But he raised the bar even higher on his own show.

Isaak was born June 26, 1956 in California. He formed his first band after he graduated from college. In 1985 he signed a deal with Warner Brothers Records & released his critically acclaimed debut album, Silvertone. Today’s song is from his breakthrough album, Heart Shaped World, released June 13, 1989. It has been featured in countless movies & TV shows, but if you are a “Friends” fan, you will remember it playing the night of Ross & Rachel’s first official date. Before they were on a break.

Isaak has done some acting as well, including a guest spot on “Friends” and in the movies “Silence Of The Lambs”, “From The Earth To The Moon” and “That Thing You Do”, amongst others. Happy birthday, Chris Isaak. May you see 100 more.

The world was on fire and no one could save me but you
Strange what desire will make foolish people do
I never dreamed that I’d love somebody like you
And I never dreamed that I’d lose somebody like you
“.

Chris Isaak1990

Chris Isaak circa 1990. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Chris Isaak: “Wicked Game” (1989, written by Chris Isaak).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.

Stay well.