Tuesday, March 30, 2010

From a Fender VI

Though technically not a country artist, Glen Campbell was quickly adopted by country music fans and had unparalleled crossover success: "Wichita Lineman" was a hit on the pop, country, and adult contemporary charts simultaneously in 1968. Glen was just as comfortable on stage with The Smothers Brothers as he was on "Hee Haw", and although he must have seemed impossibly square back in the day, he was something of a Silent Majority sex symbol, in addition to being one of the best session guitarists ever (and an occasional fill-in for Brian Wilson in The Beach Boys). His 8-tracks were a constant presence in my household, but this isn't kids' stuff: you really have to be a grown-up to appreciate "Wichita Lineman".

I think Dylan Jones is on to something when he describes it as "the first existential country song" (although Hank Williams might disagree). If you love this song, like me, you feel the longing and the emotional depth, but you probably can't quite describe it. Maybe it's the Gulbransen synthesizer.

Nerd alert: the studio recording featured a Danelectro 6-string bass (baritone guitar) hastily borrowed from Carol Kaye, not the Fender VI shown in this clip. You knew that, of course.

From "The Smothers Brothers", 1968, live vocals and Fender VI solo!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Long before Gram and Emmylou...

...there was Porter and Dolly. There's an incredible wealth of clips out there from "The Porter Wagoner Show", which ran (incredibly) from 1960 - 1981. Wagoner was the living embodiment of the Nudie/Manuel suit, and his voice never sounded better than the years (1967-1974) when he was paired with Dolly Parton. These also happen to be, for our purposes, the prime Percy and Eunice years, so expect to see plenty more from this truly golden era.

Joined here by rhythm guitarist George McCormick of The Wagonmasters, Porter's house band, 1968.

Satan's got a river.

Here at Percy Me! we don't make any claim to spiritual knowledge. Eunice once told me that she saw more Christian acts performed in bars than in churches, and I believed her. But on this Passover evening, let's be thankful for all of the incredible music religion has inspired. And forget all of the other crap.

Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton do a sacred number, 1973, "The Porter Wagoner Show".

Sunday, March 28, 2010


Johnny Cash and June Carter, circa late 60's...I'm guessing '68 or '69, by the clothes and the obligatory sad and unnecessary attempt on someone's part to "blow your mind" with a pathetic, groovy light show. Put your food coloring and overhead projector away, hippy, it's Johnny and June - their charisma alone will suffice.

Smoking version, complete with ridiculously inappropriate psychedelic backdrop, and the cutest "awww..."-inducing ending ever.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Cool It.

One more from Leon Rhodes on the flat top Grammer guitar, with Buddy Charleton on pedal steel, 1966.

Oh, and Ernest Tubb might kill you if you look at him cross-eyed. Jesus, he makes me nervous.

I turned twenty-one in prison...a colorful carousel prison, but still.

"Mama Tried", 1968. Brief glimpse towards the end of the amazing Roy Nichols, Hag's longtime guitarist, who died in 2001.

our theme song

This one's for Percy and Eunice.


Alvino Rey, 1959. Check the use of the volume control to make it "talk"...knocks me out. This is not your, er, grandparents' "Lawrence Welk Show". Possibly your great-grandparents, though.

(h/t: Ernest Salaz)

Jazz phrasing. Amphetamines. Sans-a-Belt.

Ah, the casual elegance of a thirty-something Willie Nelson: wardrobe by J.C. Penney, hair by Brylcreem, and talent bursting at the seams. From "The Ernest Tubb Show", which is proof by itself that television programming hasn't always completely sucked. And Leon Rhodes is possibly the greatest guitarist alive at this moment in time, while also contractually obligated to look completely ridiculous.

The youthful, sinister Waylon Jennings

Another masterpiece from '66, written by Mel Tillis, covered a couple of years later by those filthy hippies in the The Flying Burrito Brothers (see Live at the Avalon 1969, released by Amoeba Records in 2007). That white Tele looks an awful lot like the same one he played for his entire career, minus the leather saddle accoutrements. Guitar nerds, a little help here?

This marks the first time in recorded history the words "Waylon Jennings" and "accoutrements" have ever appeared in the same space.