Sunday, January 16, 2022

WSM Legend and Country Music Hall of Famer Ralph Emery Passes Away At 88

For the third time this week, following the passing of songwriter Jerry Crutchfield and legendary tunesmith Dallas Frazier, we pause to say goodbye to one of country's greats.

Country Music Hall of Fame member Ralph Emery passed away this morning (January 15) at Centennial Medical Center in Nashville with his family at his side. 

What did Walter Ralph Emery do that was so great in country music?  He just talked.  And talked.  And talked.  His resonating voice boomed out of the 50,000 watt clear channel signal of WSM to much of the country in the 1960s and 70s, giving country music what was more or less its first "national network."  Yes, WSM was just a "local" station, but people all over the country could hear it.

And, in the process, they could hear Emery interviewing the newcomers in country music who became legends.  He played their records, often before anyone else in the country could (or would).  A play on Emery's overnight radio show was massive exposure in those days.  (In his first memoir, Memories, Emery claimed that he used that clout to make then-wife Skeeter Davis' song "The End of the World" into the massive country and pop crossover hit that it was in 1962.)

Emery's popularity with and brilliance at interviewing country stars was so good that, later in the 60s, he had an hour-long Monday-through-Thursday night (taped) program where he would interview the superstars and the up-and-comers. 

Emery took his talents to television, hosting the widely-syndicated program Pop! Goes the Country (with its theme song by the Statler Brothers).  And, when the Nashville Network decided to start a nightly country music talk show, it was Ralph Emery who sat behind the desk at Nashville Now.

Emery's popularity made him one of the preeminent authorities on the "Nashville Sound" era of country music.  His books (including Memories, More Memories, 50 Years Down a Country Road, and The View From Nashville) sold well and contained a treasure trove of stories about the stars, the city, and the industry as it evolved through the decades.

He was also in songs, whether it was humorous (check out his "interview" with Lester "Roadhog" Moran sometime), a tribute (the Statlers' "How to Be a Country Star" included the advice to "talk plain like Ralph Emery"), or even an unflattering attack (the Byrds's song "Drug Store Truck Drivin' Man" was Gram Parson's scathing rebuttal after Emery didn't appreciate the Byrds' appearance on the Opry in their Sweetheart of the Rodeo days).

He was rightfully inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame as well as the National Radio Hall of Fame and the Country DJ Hall of Fame.

That voice entertained and educated country music fans for two generations.  And now it's sadly silent.

Ralph Emery was 88.

K.F. Raizor, author of the website Raizor's Edge and the book We Can't Sing and We Ain't Funny: The World of Homer and Jethro is our guest writer today on That Nashville Sound. She's ever so gracious to provide wonderful tributes to honor those to whom the music we treasure just wouldn't be the same without. Thank you, K.F.

Friday, January 14, 2022

Legendary Songwriter Dallas Frazier Passes Away At The 82

The first major sad announcement from the world of country music for 2022 came today (January 14) with the news of the passing of Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member Dallas Frazier. 

Frazier’s family announced on Facebook that the songwriting legend died this morning from complications of a stroke he suffered late last year.

Dallas June Frazier was born October 27, 1939 in Spiro, Oklahoma.  His parents went to California, landing the youngster in Bakersfield.  There he discovered the fertile ground of the Bakersfield sound, performing when he was just 14.

His first songwriting hit was hardly a country standard:  the Hollywood Argyles’ novelty hit “Alley Oop.”  The road was paved, however, and soon Frazier was writing and performing songs that would last generations.

One of them was another novelty-type song Frazier wrote and recorded in the late 50s:  “Elvira.” That song is now legendary, thanks to the #1 version by the Oak Ridge Boys in 1981. 

Frazier’s composition list reads like a compilation album of country’s greatest hits: “Beneath Still Waters” (Emmylou Harris), “All I Have to Offer You (Is Me)” (Charley Pride), “Fourteen Carat Mind” (Gene Watson), and “What’s Your Mama’s Name” (Tanya Tucker).  

In 1967 he received the first “song of the year” award from the CMA for the Jack Greene hit “There Goes My Everything.”  He was also nominated for a Grammy for that tune.  A devoted Christian, Frazier reworked the song into a praise song, “He Is My Everything.”  It was first recorded by Roy Clark on Clark’s gospel album The Magnificent Sanctuary Band.  Jack Greene frequently did “He Is My Everything” after “There Goes My Everything” while performing on the Opry.

In 1988, a dozen years after his induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, Frazier walked away from music.  He became a full-time minister at Grace Community Fellowship in White House, Tennessee.

While he should have been in the Country Music Hall of Fame a good 20 years or so ago, that honor, when it comes, will be posthumous.

Farewell to the legendary Dallas Frazier, who was 82

K.F. Raizor, author of the website Raizor's Edge and the book We Can't Sing and We Ain't Funny: The World of Homer and Jethro is our guest writer today on That Nashville Sound. She's ever so gracious to provide wonderful tributes to honor those to whom the music we treasure just wouldn't be the same without. Thank you, K.F.

New Song Released Off Of Upcoming Dolly Parton Book & Album Project Featuring James Patterson

Dolly Parton’s just released the first song off of her upcoming album set for release with a matching novel- both entitled "Run, Rose, Run."  The novel is set for release on March 7, 2022 with an accompanying album of twelve original songs. 

Parton has teamed up with the world’s bestselling author, James Patterson, to write a new book. “Run, Rose, Run,” Dolly’s first-ever novel. An album of the same name, consisting of twelve original songs by Dolly, will be released in conjunction with the book. The novel also includes lyrics to the songs, which are essential to the story. This dual release will mark the first time a #1 bestselling author and an entertainment icon who has sold well over 100 million albums worldwide have collaborated on a book and an album.

Set in Nashville, “Run, Rose, Run” is a novel about a young woman who comes to country music’s capital city to pursue her music-making dreams. The source of her heart-wrenching songs is a brutal secret she has tried desperately to hide, but the past she has fled is reaching out to control her future—even if it means destroying everything she has worked for. 

The album, also entitled “Run, Rose, Run,” will be released in March 2022 and is co-produced by Richard Dennison and Tom Rutledge. Dolly’s new album will be released on her own Butterfly Records, in partnership with another record label that has yet to be determined. Dolly shared,

“I cannot be more excited about the release of my very first novel ‘Run, Rose, Run’ with the great James Patterson. I also have a new CD to go along with the book. All new songs written based on the characters and situations in the book. I hope you enjoy the book and the songs as much as we’ve enjoyed putting it together.”

James Patterson said, “It’s been an honor—and a hell of a lot of fun—to work with the inimitable Dolly Parton, whom I’ve long admired for her music, her storytelling, and her enormous generosity. The mind-blowing thing about this project is that reading the novel is enhanced by listening to the album and vice versa. It’s a really unique experience that I know readers (and listeners) will love.”

The first song off of the project was released today and is entitled "Big Dreams and Faded Jeans." 

New Music Video From Cole Swindell & Lainey Wilson - "Never Say Never"

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Write You A Song Podcast - An Interview With Jimmie Allen

This morning we share another new podcast from host Tom Mailey from Bonneville radio station New Country 105.1 KNCI in Sacramento. Tom is a country radio veteran with over 30 years of experience in Seattle and Sacramento and a key partner in our Golf & Guitars Children's Charity Music Festival, a little event in our fourteenth year that has raised well north of a million bucks for kids and individuals with disabilities. It highlights the songwriters in our industry and is entitled Write You a Song. 

It's his hope that this podcast will shine a little overdue spotlight on the talented men and women who, mostly behind the scenes, write the songs that become part of our lives. You know their words and music, but maybe not their names: Write You a Song will feature some of country music’s biggest songwriters--like Jeffrey Steele, Brett Warren, Ashley McBryde, Tim Nichols and more.

This month’s guest has wasted little time making the most of his growing career. It hasn’t been that long since he was literally living out of his car on the streets of Nashville. His debut single shot to #1 in November 2018. His 2nd single also went to number 1 and as I put together this podcast, his 3rd single has cracked the top 10. He’s also won awards (2021 CMA New Male Artist). Done TV shows (Dancing With The Stars). Written a children’s book (My Voice Is a Trumpet). Had a couple kids (Naomi and Aayden). Sang with Elton John (The Lockdown Sessions). Started a production company (JAB Entertainment). All while reminding anyone who brings it up that country music isn’t, never has been nor ever should be a space reserved for white artists only.

The lengths it took to set up this interview is a good way to introduce you to Jimmie Allen. It took almost six months before we were able to connect. Once, I managed to pin him down while he was en route to a concert right the day after one of his appearances on Dancing With The Stars. And it was going great until he hit a bad cell service area, and our next chance didn’t come along for another month. That he never gave up on doing this interview- which is such a minor thing in his life – says a lot about who he is. 

And that drive, that thing that keeps him daring to dream some really big, challenging dreams while still making sure to connect with some schlep DJ with a podcast...?  I think it can all be traced back to challenges he first had to face as a young kid, and the people who helped him overcome them. You put that kind experience together with real talent as a singer and a songwriter, and you’ve got something special.