Surely that was enough time to meet some nice Carolina guys, right? “I just can’t get past the Southern thing,” she told me when I asked. “Like the pickup trucks, the plaid shirts and how they talk.” She basically described the perfect man, and yet, it sounded like she doesn’t have quite the same reverence for Southern men that I might. Where did I go wrong?
In my mind, I’ve been celebrating those traits — their trucks, twangs, pearl snaps, chew, manners, boots, haylofts, salt-cured hams, ‘shine, and camouflage britches — for decades. But I think the problem is that girl singers have not been celebrating them enough. Men do it plenty, with songs like Blake Shelton’s backwoods “Boys ‘Round Here,” Trace Adkins’ “Ladies Love Country Boys” and Luke Bryan’s “Country Man.”
But I think rejoicing in all things masculine would sound completely different if it came from a woman. More believable, at least.
God knows, the country guys have perfected the art and science of singing about the Southern opposite sex. Now is it too much to ask for the girl in the cherry lip gloss and cut offs with the jug of sweet tea to move over to make room for songs about a litany of good things about the guys?
There was a song on the Pistol Annies’ debut album called “Boys From the South,” but it was never released to radio. And then there was Trisha Yearwood’s “Cowboys Are My Weakness,” but come on. That one is from a 6-year-old album, and it was never a single.
This is my plea to every Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Kacey Musgraves, Sara Evans, Kellie Pickler, Hillary Scott, The Band Perry, Lauren Alaina , Ashley Monroe, Karen Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman out there: Please, please, please write a song that puts Southern boys on a pedestal.
It’s time, girls. Do us proud.
- 2009, Billy Currington sings “People Are Crazy” on a train float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from New York. Also in the NBC lineup: Andrea Bocelli, Jimmy Fallon, Carly Simon and Gloria Gaynor, singing “I Will Survive”
- 2002, Curb releases the album “Tim McGraw & The Dancehall Doctors,” while Simon & Schuster publishes a companion book about the album’s creation, “Tim McGraw & The Dancehall Doctors: This Is Ours”
- 1984, Guitarist Mike Gossin is born in Utica, New York. In 2007, he’s a founding member of the harmony-laden Gloriana, which earns hits with the 2009 single “Wild At Heart” and 2011′s “(Kissed You) Good Night”
- 1962, Linda Davis is born in Dodson, Texas. Her 1993 pairing with Reba McEntire on “Does He Love You” earns a Grammy, and Davis nets a 1996 solo hit, “Some Things Are Meant To Be.” Davis’ daughter, Hillary Scott, co-founds Lady Antebellum
- 2008, Zac Brown has Lasik eye surgery in Atlanta
- 2003, NBC-TV airs its second Shania Twain special of the year, “Shania Twain: Up! Close And Personal,” with special guests Alison Krauss + Union Station
- 1997, Capitol releases Garth Brooks’ album “Sevens”
- 1976, The Band performs its farewell concert, “The Last Waltz,” at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco, leading off with “Up On Cripple Creek.” The show is filmed for movie release. Among others on the bill: Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, Joni Mitchell, The Staple Singers, Van Morrison and Neil Young
- 2007, Dierks Bentley rides to #1 on the Billboard country singles chart with “Free And Easy (Down The Road I Go)”
- 1998, Ashland, Kentucky, proclaims Billy Ray Cyrus Day, presenting the singer with a key to the city. A section of Kentucky Route 693 in nearby Flatwoods is renamed Billy Ray Cyrus Boulevard
- 1976, “Wanted: The Outlaws”–featuring Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Tompall Glaser and Jessi Colter–becomes the first country album to receive the new platinum certification, signifying one million units shipped
- 1958, Decca releases Brenda Lee’s holiday classic “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree”
- 2006, Carrie Underwood sings “Before He Cheats” during halftime of an NFL Thanksgiving Day game at Texas Stadium in Irving, while Kelly Clarkson delivers the national anthem. The Dallas Cowboys win handily over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 38-10
- 1996, Deana Carter ices the top spot on the Billboard country chart with “Strawberry Wine”
- 1992, Destiny Hope Cyrus born in Nashville to Billy Ray Cyrus. Using the name Miley Cyrus, she comes to prominence as an actor on the Disney show “Hannah Montana,” joining her father on a 2007 country hit, “Ready, Set, Don’t Go”
- 1968, Tammy Wynette sits at #1 in Billboard with “Stand By Your Man”
- 2011, Keith Urban has surgery to remove a polyp from his vocal cords
- 2008, Tim McGraw sings one verse of “Real Good Man” during the opening monologue as he hosts NBC-TV’s “Saturday Night Live”
- 1985, George Strait’s “Greatest Hits” is certified gold
- 1973, George Jones & Tammy Wynette sing “We’re Gonna Hold On” in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
President Barack Obama honored 16 recipients, including Chicago Cubs legend Ernie Banks, women’s rights activist Gloria Steinem, former Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee and the late astronaut Sally Ride. Lynn and Cuban-born jazz trumpeter, pianist and composer Arturo Sandoval were the only musical artists to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom this year.
The award is the nation’s highest civilian honor presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the U.S., to world peace or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.
Lynn who was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1988. In presenting her latest accolade, Obama noted her humble beginnings.
“Loretta Lynn was 19 the first time she won big at the local fair,” he said. “Her canned vegetables brought home 17 blue ribbons and made her canner of the year. Now that’s impressive. For a girl from Butcher Holler, Ky., that was fame.
“Fortunately for all of us, she decided to try her hand at things other than canning. Her first guitar cost $17 and with it, this coal miner’s daughter gave voice to a generation, singing what no one wanted to talk about and saying what no one wanted to think about. Now, over 50 years after she cut her first record and canned her first vegetables, Loretta Lynn still reigns as the rule-breaking, record-setting queen of country music.”
- 2006, Rascal Flatts walks off with two trophies at the American Music Awards, broadcast by ABC from Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium. Other country victors include Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Toby Keith and Carrie Underwood
- 1992, Alabama claims the top spot on the Billboard country singles chart with “I’m In A Hurry (And Don’t Know Why)”
- 1981, Hank Williams Jr.’s “All My Rowdy Friends (Have Settled Down)” settles in at #1 on the Billboard country chart
- 1955, In a deal engineered by Col. Tom Parker, RCA Records buys Elvis Presley’s contract and master tapes from Sam Phillips’ Sun Records for $35,000. The papers are signed at the Sun Studios in Memphis
A mandolin was more or less the unofficial mascot of the first night of Ricky Skaggs’ residency at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville. First, museum director Kyle Young, then Skaggs himself — the 11th musician to be named artist-in-residence by the institution — extolled the mystical powers of the $5 instrument Skaggs received from his father at the age of 5.
And when Skaggs recounted being hauled onstage by bluegrass patriarch Bill Monroe at age 6, he took care to note that the mandolin Monroe placed in his tiny hands that day is now on display in the museum.
But the rare treat was seeing Skaggs — who’s most often led unplugged string bands for the past decade and a-half — once more strap on his Telecaster electric guitar.
The evening was billed as “Country Boy At Heart,” and the museum’s gorgeous, new cylindrical CMA Theater was packed with people nostalgic for the neo-traditional sensibilities Skaggs brought to mainstream country music as a young star. For this occasion, he’d beefed up his bluegrass backing band Kentucky Thunder by substituting electric bass for an upright acoustic instrument and adding steel guitar, keyboards and drums.
Right out of the gate, Skaggs and company spryly shuffled through three honky-tonk numbers from his Epic albums. During “I Don’t Care,” in particular, his singing showed the light-footed, boyish quality so familiar to his longtime fans.
“Well, that’s some country music we used to play back in the ’80s,” he cracked. “Y’all remember that?”
To set up a duet rendition of “If I Needed You,” he and his wife of three decades, Sharon White, reminisced about their wedding and their CMA duo of the year win. Then the rest of the Whites — father Buck and sister Cheryl — joined them to reprise Skaggs’ original recording of the hooky, hard-country boogie “Honey (Open That Door).”
Skaggs’ reference to Webb Pierce’s earlier version of the song was a reminder of how rooted the former’s material was even at his commercial zenith, a notion echoed by Brad Paisley — a mainstream champion of tradition, in his own way — emerging to guest on “Highway 40 Blues.”
Throughout the night, Skaggs showed himself to be the consummate country showman, nailing the audience’s sentimental sweet spots, taking technical difficulties in stride with garrulous storytelling, slipping in mentions of his new memoir for sale in the lobby.
Skaggs spread his musical attentions more broadly during the second act, starting off with a traditional gospel tune — one he’d once recorded with Tony Rice — sung in tender three-part harmony with Sharon and Cheryl on the lip of the stage.
Then came a thoughtful tribute to those who’d given him his first break on a major country recording, his one-time Hot Band boss Emmylou Harris and her former producer Brian Ahern. Together, they performed Ralph Stanley and Carter Family tunes from Harris’ Roses in the Snow, an album with Skaggs’ contributions all over it.
Skaggs dipped into the pre-bluegrass Carter Family repertoire again for an old-timey duet with his gifted singer-banjoist daughter Molly, then made a stylistic U-turn, bringing songwriter-producer Gordon Kennedy and arena-rocking British guitar slinger Peter Frampton out on stage for impassioned renditions of a couple of burnished contemporary gospel tunes from Mosaic.
No matter who accompanied him, Skaggs had a way of tying it all together, presenting the array of pickers and singers as rightfully belonging in the musical orbit of a country boy. Of Molly, he playfully crowed, “Ain’t nothing like a young woman playing clawhammer.” He declared Frampton’s roaring rock solo “strong as an acre of mowed onions.”
And lest there be any question as to how Skaggs — the multi-talented, trend-transcending, prodigy-turned-next-big-thing-turned-standard-bearer — can make a performance feel so artfully balanced between the downhome and the sophisticated, he closed out the evening with Tele in hand, generously distributing solos among his band and his variously virtuosic guests as he led the way through a Flatt & Scruggs standby that he long ago took to the country Top 20. The title? “Don’t Get Above Your Raisin’.”
- 2010, Martina McBride and Train are teamed as a new edition of “CMT Crossroads” debuts. The set list includes “Wrong Baby Wrong,” “Drops Of Jupiter” and “A Broken Wing”
- 2003, Travis and Theresa Tritt have a son, Tarian Nathaniel Tritt, in Marietta, Georgia
- 1977, Josh Turner is born in Hannah, South Carolina. On the heels of 2003′s “Long Black Train,” he builds a line of tradition-minded, deep-voiced hits, including “Firecracker,” “Would You Go With Me,” “Time Is Love” and “Why Don’t We Just Dance”
- 1961, At the top of this chart stands a big, big man: “Big Bad John” takes Jimmy Dean to #1 on the Billboard country chart