Last Thursday night Phil took me to Radio City Music Hall to see Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson and Ray Price – on their crazy fast tour of only 15 cities in 17 days – celebrating the latest album, “Last of the Breed,” complete with art work of setting sun. As Phil says, “with a combined age of 205,” these musicians can truly own the label, living legends.
I grew up on this music. On lazy Saturday afternoons, maybe it was 1975, my father thumbed through his record collection, pulled out vinyl and pointed out the rythms and melodies to me as I skipped in circles to the beat. To hear songs like “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” and “Pick Me up, on Your Way Down” and “I Don’t Want to Sober up Tonight” last Tuesday, time warped me back 25 years, when my uncle played guitar on the beaches of the Northumberland Strait, and we’d sing “Heartaches by the Number.”
I could go on about the concert, but Phil did it already for the New York Sun.
Here’s a piece:
“If country music is the single most forgiving genre for aging artists, it is because storytelling is as important as steel guitars and mournful fiddle fills. Indeed, lyrics are so central to Ms. Williams’s oeuvre that she had a music stand next to her onstage so she wouldn’t flub her lines.
And storytelling only gets better as one acquires wisdom, experience, and perspective. It’s no wonder that artists such as Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris, along with Ms. Williams and the “Last of the Breed” crew, are in their 50s and older and producing some of the best music of their careers.
Pop singers and rap stars should be so lucky.”