Sadly, I have only seen her live (despite so many opportunities to do so previously) at a tiny street festival in Lincoln Park in Chicago. It was a little over two years ago now, and she opened for Foxygen. The crowd at her set was criminally tiny, and oddly enough, I recognized a friend from Nashville that was in her band and got to say hello. It is a very small world.
“Our Hearts Are Wrong” is probably her most popular song, and for a good reason. Jessica Lea Mayfield’s voice has a smokey and comforting quality to it. The style reminds me of country singers from 70s and earlier. The lyrics of the song itself create a lot of tension that is backed up by confidence and certainty.
My inner child has been delighted this morning by this truly wonderful video featuring one of my current faves, Orville Peck, and one of my perma faves, Shania Twain. BOTH CANADIANS. The “Legends Never Die” song is great, but the video makes it wonderful.
Along with Shania, several other Friends of Orville appear in the video including Jaida Essence Hall, Teddy and the Rough Riders, Emily Nenni, Miss Toto and others.
As I’ve written about before, I am super excited about this batch of alt. country performers, and it’s exciting to see O.G. Queen Shania tag along with them.
The DNA of the American South was changed forever when 6’4″tall, mustachio’ed, Adonnis and drink of Georgia water Alan Jackson emerged from the Chattahoochee River atop two water skis, clad in ripped jeans, a cowboy hat, and very 90s life vest (I think this is one of the greatest things I have ever written in my life).
Alan Jackson’s “Chattahootchee” was one of the last great country songs for quite some time, though many tried to create the pure vibe of “Chattahootchee”. I believe we are seeing an active country music renaissance right now, but they harken back to the country of the early 80s and before. There was a nice time pre-aughts, pre-crossover that was sort of its own category before “the darkness”.
I would argue that Alan Jackson has maintained a steady stream of bangers throughout his career. However, “Chattahoochee”, will always stand out to me.
There is nothing like a good drunk story, and luckily, there is no shortage of drunk celebrities to provide those.
Enter the rich-voiced country singer and songwriter George Jones. Known as ‘The Possum’ because of his beady little eyes and long nose, he was so devastated by alcoholism, he was in and out of medical treatment the majority of his life. Additionally, he was often so sauced he wouldn’t show up for concerts which earned him the name: ‘No Show Jones’.
One of my favorite George Jones song is “The Race is On”. Here is an early live performance where The Possum is very obviously hammered.
While we have no shortage of vids of drunken celebrities now, pre-Internet and smart device society made it more difficult to have access to these exploits. However, that are plenty of tales of The Possum’s drunkness as well as videos like the one I posted below.
While The Possum’s exploits are entertaining, reading about the length of his alcoholism and the issues it caused for himself and those who worked with him and loved him is heartbreaking.
Here is a short list of more infamous drunken or drugged up George Jones incidents:
Drove a lawnmower to the liquor store (more than once) after his car keys were taken away.
Flipped over a table at after future wife Tammy Wynette‘s second husband called Tammy Wynette a “son of a bitch” (I actually don’t know if he was drunk during this, but it’s a pretty crazy story, regardless).
Checked into a neurological unit of a hospital to get treatment for drinking problems
Was committed to a psych unit (in a strait jacket) more than once delusions caused by alcoholism
Allegedly shot at Tammy Wynette with a shot gun and beat her (alleged by Tammy Wynette)
Shot at a friend and almost hit them while drunk
Started doing cocaine
Missed shows; garnered lawsuits
Didn’t pay child support
Was homeless and living in a car
Lost weight to the point he was under 100 lbs.
Wrecked his finances
Wrecked multiple vehicles
His daughter got kidnapped because of his issues with drug dealers
In 1999, had his last drunken car crash and pleaded guilty to drunk driving charges. If you’re not counting at home…that’s at least roughly 34 years of being an alcoholic.
After that list, Mississippi girl Tammy Wynette is going to get her own post on this blog because she seems like the kind of person who makes me want to believe in heaven. She was down here as an Earth Angel, cleaning up some stuff and doing her own suffering, before God called her up, rather early at age 55, to the big leagues.
So after all of this, I feel like I would dislike George Jones. However, he appeared to be a very troubled man with many vices that needed serious help and at times, couldn’t be helped. Luckily, he appears to have cleaned up for over a decade before passing away in at the surprisingly ripe old age 81 in April 2013.
There is plenty more I could write about the man as he is a legend and, from what it appears, despite being afflicted with a terrible disease, had plenty of good intentions and a good heart. By all accounts, I’ve read he was sheepish and self-deprecating when it came to recounting his issues with drugs and alcohol. He certainly left us with some entertaining stories as well as cautionary tales (why not both?).
While I’m losing my shows, there is a slew of new alt country coming out the last few months. Orville Peck released a new single a few weeks ago with another release planned this week. Emily Nenni, whose song “I Owe You Nuthin'” I discussed in a previous post, also released a new album.
Now we can add 😍Charley Crockett😍 to the list of performers with new music with his new single “Welcome to Hard Times”, which is honestly vibes for the whole world right now.
I was reading this article about the new single and album, and Charley said something that really stood out to me:
“This record is for the folks who feel like everything is fixed,” Crockett says of the new album, “If you think you’re playing a rigged game, you’re right. If it seems like all the cards are marked in advance, they are. But you still gotta roll the dice, even when you know they’re loaded.”
You still gotta roll the dice, even when you know they’re loaded, indeed. I think in these times for the world and for me personally, those are words to walk with. It doesn’t matter what hand we’re dealt, the world keeps turning and we can keep walking or, as Charley put it, roll the dice knowing failure is ahead. Then try again.
Charley’s musing reminds me of something my favorite Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius said: “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” Trials and failures are inevitable. In both times of reward and challenge, we should expect trials and failures and, better yet, welcome them.
P.S. This new WordPress editor is my latest trial and so far, failure. 🙂 Pardon any errors while I am re-learning the editor.
As I mentioned in my Raw Yee-Haw post, country and honky-tonk has always had a variety of rebels. I use the term “variety” because the type of rebellion is really up-for-grabs. For example:
David Allan Coe: He really deserves his own post: spent a large part of his life in prison, lived in a hearse, says the “n-word” quite a bit (yikes), and made a country-metal album with Pantera. Many of his songs cover issues of class-consciousness.
Dixie Chicks: America’s sweethearts until they pissed off much of the conservative country fandom when they were critical– rightfully so– of George W. Bush and the Iraq War. The Dixie Chicks held their ground, never apologized, and, honestly, it was awesome. “Not Ready to Make Nice” was a song that was a result of the incident. It’s also a song that has gotten me through some of my most pissed off times.
These are two different presentations of rebellion with quite different motivations. I could discuss so many other examples, but these are two that come to my mind more immediately.