My previous post name checked two old time country singers – Marty Robbins and Don Williams. I love country music, or as it used to be called, at least some of the time, country-western music. Another aspect of country music is bluegrass music which I don’t like particularly – too much nasal twang, gets on my nerves. New country music, not such a big fan, I don’t follow it much, occasionally trip over a song or two, I’m just not all into the whole country-bro thing (which is what I’ve read newer country music is all about. Spare me.)
The question for me is – where in the heck did I get exposed to country music? New York City is not a big country-western music town.
I took out my husband’s book “Billboard Pop Charts – 1955-1959” and checked the Top 100 for the week ending October 17, 1956 – my 10th birthday. Elvis was #1 with ‘Don’t Be Cruel’ but Johnny Cash was #37 with “I Walk the Line”.
Having taken a short break to have coffee with my husband after his post-prandial nap, we got into a big discussion about early country crossover hits, 1950’s – ’60’s television variety shows, white groups covering black groups and BOTH charting at the same time on the Top 100, and Louis Prima and Keely Smith – the original Sonny & Cher – and a whole bunch of other music stuff.
Back to country music for a moment. Marty Robbins charted on the Pop 100 in 1957 with “A White Sport Coat” at #2 and in 1959 at #1 with “El Paso”. Patsy Cline crossed over in 1961 with “I Fall to Pieces” and “Crazy”.
Not wanting to fall even further down the rabbit hole of chasing down early country crossover hits, I can only say that it seems country music was all over the place even back in the 50’s, certainly by the late 1960’s when Johnny Cash had a network show – but by then I was all grown up and already a fan.
You know what’s fun, and what you younger folks probably have no idea about – is television in the late 1940’s through the 50’s. Whee-oo but it was fun. First off it was live and secondly, shows had crazy formats – there were 15 minute shows – Nat King Cole had a 15 minute show starting back in 1956. And then there were the variety shows. Y’all don’t know Garry Moore but he had a morning variety show way back in 1950, I remember that show vividly. (Yes, I grew up with tv, I was born in 1946 and I don’t remember ever NOT having a tv.) But you know that’s a whole ‘nother post, or many, many other posts.
I will leave you with the perfect country and western song – and in case you don’t want to listen to it, I’ll put one of the verses here first that explains it all –
“Well, a friend of mine named Steve Goodman wrote that song
And he told me it was the perfect country & western song
I wrote him back a letter and I told him it was not the perfect country & western song
Because he hadn’t said anything at all about mama
Or trains, or trucks, or prison, or getting’ drunk
Well, he sat down and wrote another verse to the song and he sent it to me
And after reading it I realized that my friend had written the perfect country & western song
And I felt obliged to include it on this album
The last verse goes like this here“