Friday, May 25, 2525


Hello and welcome to Honky Tonk Merry-Go-Round!

This blog was created to celebrate my love of vintage country music. I'll be featuring a wide variety of country, bluegrass, and other occasional related genres from roughly the '20s through the '60s in a hopefully creative and entertaining way.

I'm hoping that visitors like what I do here (and that there ARE visitors!), but that either way, you will feel free to comment on the posts. Getting comments from you and having a dialog among hopefully like-minded passionate fans is of paramount importance. That's what keeps the Merry-Go-Round spinnin'!

By the same token, if there's something posted here that anybody feels infringes on them (other than just not liking it), I'll remove it.

Thanks, and have fun!

Joaquin LeFleur - May 25, 2010

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Classic Recording Sessions - On This Date (3/19)

Buck Owens & Rose Maddox - 50 years ago
Tuesday, March 19, 1963 (1:00 pm - 4:00 pm)
Capitol Recording Studios, 1750 N. Vine St., Hollywood, CA
Buck Owens: vocal/guitar • Rose Maddox: vocal • John Calvin "Cal" Maddox: guitar • Don Rich: guitar/fiddle • 
Jay McDonald: pedal steel guitar • "Gentleman" Jim Pierce: piano • Kenny Pierce: bass • Ken Presley: drums
Producer: Ken Nelson

As mentioned in yesterday's post, this is the second and last session by the duet team of Buck Owens & Rose Maddox. They were a great, but short-lived duo that only recorded eight masters - four released over two singles, two originally unissued, and two thought to be lost (or as I prefer to think of them - yet to be found). Rose recalled, "Buck called me and asked me if I would like to do a duet session with him, and of course, I was in the top ten, and it wasn't gonna hurt me one bit, it was gonna do me good. He said he had asked Wanda Jackson and she said absolutely no, and asked a couple of other girl singers and they told him no. So he asked me and I said 'Sure, I'll do it.'" It's not really clear why they made so few recordings together. Their first release (see below) "Mental Cruelty" c/w "Loose Talk" was a reasonably big hit with both sides charting at #8 & #4 respectively. So after that kind of success, it's a little bewildering as to why they waited over two years for another session together. One possible reason they didn't continue after this last session is that Buck had a pretty significant change in approach during this time. Exactly one week before this session on March 11, "Act Naturally," Buck's first record featuring his new "freight train" sound, was released and would be his first #1 hit by the time the songs from today's session were released. Also, this second duet record didn't fare as well as the first, though both sides charted again ("We're The Talk Of The Town" at #15 and "Sweethearts In Heaven" at #19). Whatever the reason they decided not to continue, I'm very glad we have the six tracks that we have (though it's tempting to consider what "Mental Cruelty" would have sounded like with Wanda Jackson!).
Rose's brother Cal and session piano player "Gentleman" Jim Pierce from yesterday's session join Buck's current edition of the Buckaroos for today's recordings. Three of the four songs from this session were also written or co-written by Buck. "Sweethearts In Heaven" had already been recorded twice by Buck - once as his fourth and last single for Pep Records in 1956, and again with The Buckaroos at their previous session on Valentine's Day 1963. Buck also returned to this song later in his career, recording a new version in 1972 for his In The Palm Of Your Hand album, another duet version with Susan Raye in 1973, and again for his 1988 comeback album Hot Dog! There's no other song in Buck's canon that he made six records on, so clearly, this is a song that meant a lot to him. Buck & Rose's version was the only charting one, so I guess this is the "hit" version. We're also quite fortunate to have the two outtakes from today's session. Let's hope that someday the two outtakes from the first session surface. For now, we have six tracks by them that I enjoy immensely! I hope you do as well...

And as an added bonus (quickly becoming a new trend around here), since there are only two other songs available by Buck and Rose, I'm going to post them here as well. So, here is the entire recorded output of Buck Owens & Rose Maddox!

Monday, January 16, 1961 (1:30 pm - 4:30 pm)
Capitol Recording Studios, 1750 N. Vine St., Hollywood, CA
Buck Owens: vocal/guitar • Rose Maddox: vocal • Don Rich: fiddle • Ralph Mooney: pedal steel guitar • George French, Jr.: piano • Al Williams: bass • Pee Wee Adams: drums
Producer: Ken Nelson

Monday, March 18, 2013

Classic Recording Sessions - On This Date (3/18)

Rose Maddox - 50 years ago
Monday, March 18, 1963 (1:30 pm - 5:30 pm)
Capitol Recording Studios, 1750 N. Vine St., Hollywood, CA
Rose Maddox: vocal • John Calvin "Cal" Maddox: guitar/vocal • Joe Maphis: guitar/fiddle • Roy Nichols: guitar • Ralph Mooney: pedal steel guitar • "Gentleman" Jim Pierce: piano •  Lawrence B. Wooten: bass • Gwynn M. Nichols: drums • Henry K. Vernon: unknown
Producer: Ken Nelson

50 years ago today, Rose Maddox entered the Capitol Studios in Hollywood, California to record these four songs. Rose didn't exactly set the world on fire during her time at Capitol, but she had a run of 14 Billboard charting hits from 1959 to 1964 and made some great sides. Two of those 14 hits were recorded at this session: "Down To The River" and "Somebody Told Somebody" - both #18 hits in 1963. "Down To The River" and "I Don't Hear You" are both Buck Owens compositions. Buck didn't play on these sessions, but they were, of course, duet partners at the time. In fact, Rose's very next session the following day was her second and last duet session with Buck. But we do have Joe Maphis (doubling on fiddle) and Roy Nichols on guitar - two of the west coast's finest players. Roy Nichols had a long history with Rose, playing as a teenager with The Maddox Brothers & Rose as his first professional gig. After subsequent stints with Lefty Frizzell, Cousin Herb Henson, and Wynn Stewart, Roy, as we all know, went on to be longtime lead guitarist with Merle Haggard & The Strangers. It all adds up to some great, spunky recordings by Rose Maddox & company that I find thoroughly enjoyable. I hope you enjoy them too...

As an added bonus, we also have a wonderful live version of "Down To The River" that was recorded at the Bakersfield Civic Auditorium as part of the Cousin Herb Henson Trading Post show. The song was released on an album of the show called Country Music Hootenanny. Rose's latest duet recording with Buck was in the charts at the time this was recorded on September 12, 1963, but this was her most recent solo hit. A couple months after this show, "Somebody Told Somebody" hit the charts. Hope you enjoy this bonus track...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Ray Price & The Cherokee Cowboys: Reunited

Here, by request, is the entire Reunited album by Ray Price and The Cherokee Cowboys. I'm not in the habit of posting full albums here at Honky-Tonk Merry-Go-Round, but we had a request, and this album is currently otherwise unavailable. (And I must give credit to the original uploader. Sorry I don't remember where exactly I got it...)

I'd have to say that I'm not sure the quality of the entire album is up to the standard of the previously posted lead-off track, "Different Kind Of Flower," but it's still a very enjoyable album. And again, more like what I love from Ray Price than anything he had done for more than 10 years at the point the album was released. He remakes some of his old hits, which are mostly enjoyable, but never top the originals. And his cover of Bob Dylan's "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight" is a nice bid to have some modern touches, but as much as I love Ray Price, this is one of my least favorite interpretations by him. In fact, it actually borders on being downright creepy. I don't know about you ladies out there, but I'm guessing that smirking, leering vocal isn't winning over anybody I'd want to spend the night with...

But with all those caveats, I still think this is an enjoyable album, and I hope you all enjoy it too...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Song Of The Day: Different Kind Of Flower

Hello Rounders! I'm doing a very brief little post today just to keep the train running on the tracks. I apologize for the lack of posts of late, but sometimes life takes over, and it's been a busy summer around these parts. But I didn't want anyone to think I'd gone away for good, so here's a song for your enjoyment.

To give you a little background on today's choice, this is a wonderful track recorded in 1977 by a reunited Ray Price and the Cherokee Cowboys. Price had spent several years by this point in his crooner phase and pretty far removed from the classic honky tonk sound he forged with the Cherokee Cowboys in the '50s and early '60s.

This is the leadoff track from their Reunited album recorded for ABC Records. The song was released as a single but only made a very modest showing on the Billboard Country charts. I really love this song. It has the familiar Ray Price honky tonk shuffle, but the song, written by Gary Sefton, is more modern and keeps it from being a self-concious nod back to the old days. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Happy Birthday Cindy Walker!

Today is legendary songwriter Cindy Walker's birthday, and in tribute I've put together a sampling of some of her songs. Cindy Walker was born on July 20, 1918 near a town named Mexia, Texas which is east of Waco. She came from a musical family, and loved poetry as a child. As such, Cindy was a natural for a songwriter, although it was certainly less common to see successful women songwriters in her early years. One of the first songs she wrote was "Dusty Skies" after reading a story about the Oklahoma dust bowl. The song was later recorded by Bob Wills and is featured in today's post.

There's a great story about Cindy traveling to Los Angeles on vacation with her parents and making a gutsy approach to Bing Crosby to pitch him a song she'd written for him called "The Lone Star Trail." Bing ended up recording the song (also featured in today's post), and that basically launched her career in Hollywood. Walker appeared in movies and did recordings under her own name, but it was also in Hollywood that she began her association with Bob Wills providing songs for his records and movies. Wills recorded almost 50 of her songs, including several they wrote together, and they had an association that lasted from 1941 until Bob's death in 1973.

Cindy also had successful relationships with other artists like Ernest Tubb, Jim Reeves, and Eddy Arnold (with whom she co-wrote the standard, "You Don't Know Me") who all recorded, and in many cases had big hits with her songs.

In 1954, Cindy moved back to Texas and lived with her mother until her mother's death in 1991. Cindy was an only child and was very close to her parents throughout her life. Her mother was a piano player, and helped Cindy write her songs. When Cindy was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1997, she recited this verse in tribute to her mother:

In the 1980s, my mother bought me a dress for a BMI affair
and she said “when they put you in the Hall of Fame, that's the dress I want you to wear.”
And I said “Oh Mama, the Hall of Fame? Why that will never be.”
And the years went by, but my mother's words remained in my memory.
And I know tonight she'd be happy, though she's gone now to her rest.
But I think of all that she did for me, and tonight I'm wearing this dress.

She received a standing ovation and after blowing a kiss to the crowd left the stage in joyous tears. Cindy died on March 23, 2006 at the age of 87. Cindy Walker just seems like someone I wish I'd known. Through her songs, I feel I do a little bit. I hope you enjoy these songs as much as I do...

Cindy Walker's typewriter on which she wrote many songs

Thursday, July 15, 2010

In Memory of Hank Cochran (1935-2010)

I was in the midst of preparing a post celebrating the upcoming birthday of one of my favorite country music songwriters when I heard the sad news that today we lost another of my favorites, Hank Cochran. So today's post is in tribute to a man I consider to be one of modern country music's finest songwriters. There will be a lot written in the next few days about the life and songs of Hank Cochran, so I won't bother to fill up space with my version of that here. I'll let the man's songs do the talking. Here is a healthy sampling of Hank Cochran songs from the early '60s through the early '70s, including some of his biggest hits, and some a little more out of the way. Some of the songs he wrote by himself, and others he wrote with other legendary songwriters of the era, like Harlan Howard and Willie Nelson. The first song was not actually written by him, but to him by Johnny Paycheck and Aubrey Mayhew, begging for a follow-up to "A-11" (also included here). Thanks for the great tunes, Hank. Peace be with you...