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

album

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 315

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?

Shakespeare music

(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.

One of country music’s most iconic & revered singers celebrated a milestone birthday last week. Dolly Parton, who was born in 1946 in TN, turned 75 years young on January 19. She has been a staple in the genre for over 50 years in a career that has seen her cross over into pop & mainstream music, acting, business ventures including her own amusement park, Dollywood, writing books and countless charity endeavors including her reading initiative, Imagination Library.

But it is her songs that she is probably most beloved for including her tale of confronting the other woman in “Jolene” to the famous theme song to the movie “9 To 5” to Whitney Houston’s chart topping rendition of “I Will Always Love You” to Parton’s work with fellow artists Kenny Rogers, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris and so many others. Another of her most cherished songs, “Coat Of Many Colors” inspired TV movies based on Parton’s childhood. There is almost nothing this woman has not tried or done in the last five decades. And currently 3.9 million followers on Instagram are eagerly awaiting her next move.

I have always thought of today’s song as the female take on Kris Kristofferson’s “Help Me Make It Through The Night”. It is from her 1977 album Here You Come Again & tells the story of a woman looking for company on a lonely night-a hook up, if you will. For a woman in any genre of music to tackle this subject in 1977 was controversial, but for a country artist it was down right risky. Yet for Parton it was a powerful statement that not only worked, it became a #1 song for two weeks in May 1978 & was featured in the 1979 film, “Norma Rae”. It is also one of the best vocals of Parton’s career. Happy birthday, Dolly.

The amber sunset glow has died
My needs are very much alive
Is it ok if I stop by
It’s all wrong, but it’s all right
“.

Dolly circa 2010

Dolly Parton circa 2010. (Image found online.  Original source unknown.)

Dolly Parton: “It’s All Wrong But It’s All Right” (1977, written by Dolly Parton).

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

Stay well.