Tag Archives: johnny cash

Music on Mondays—Working for a living

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

There are many things I don’t like from my childhood. Okra gumbo, eggplant, salmon croquettes, potato cakes, oatmeal, and grilled cheese sandwiches come immediately to mind. And blue jeans. I had enough of those while living with my wise old grandmother from December 18, 1965, to August 30, 1973, to last me several lifetimes. So I don’t do those anymore.

I also had quite a bit of country music, which could explain why I don’t have an abundance of country music in my non-classical music collection. I probably have no more than one album from any of the country stars, and that album usually is a “Greatest Hits” album. Marty Robbins. Johnny Cash. Hank Williams, Junior & Senior. George Strait. Alabama. Maybe I have more if we include The Eagles in the country category but I tend to put them in “country rock.”

Here’s what is quite possibly my favorite song by Alabama, somewhat prescient in today’s world of Twitler destruction of all things that used to make the United States a great country and a great place to live.

“40-Hour Week (For A Livin’)” by Alabama, 1985

Alabama formed in Fort Payne, Alabama, in 1969 as Wildcountry. Founded by Randy Owen (lead vocals, rhythm guitar) and his cousin Teddy Gentry (bass guitar, background vocals), and soon joined by their other cousin, Jeff Cook (lead guitar, fiddle, and keyboards). They changed their name to Alabama in 1977.

Alabama’s greatest success came in the 1980s when they had over 27 number one hits and seven multi-platinum albums. Their first single, “Tennessee River,” began a streak of 21 number one singles, including “Love in the First Degree” (1981), “Mountain Music” (1982), “Dixieland Delight” (1983), “If You’re Gonna Play in Texas (You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band)” (1984) and “Song of the South” (1988).

They have sold over 75 million records, making them the most successful band in country music history.

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Music on Mondays (11-20-17)—Lost on a desert island, 1969

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

My Lost On A Desert Island music collection would have 22 songs from 1969 on it, 4 by The Beatles, all from Abbey Road. Original Beatles songs are not available as videos on YouTube so I cannot provide any links to such videos. I leave it to you to search out Beatles videos or simply put on your own music and start singing! Here are the 4 from 1969:

  1. Come Together
  2. Something
  3. Maxwell’s Silver Hammer
  4. Here Comes The Sun

Following are the other 18 songs from 1969 that I would take with me if there were a possibility of being lost on a desert island.

A Boy Named Sue by Johnny Cash
#2 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
Johnny Cash’s only Top 10 hit

And When I Die by Blood, Sweat & Tears
#2 hit on the Billboard Hot 100

Cold Turkey by Plastic Ono Band
#30 hit on the Billboard Hot 100

Cotton Fields by Creedence Clearwater Revival
A non-charting single released in 1982

Day Is Done by Peter, Paul & Mary
#21 hit on the Billboard Hot 100

Dear Diary by The Moody Blues
From the album On The Threshold Of A Dream

Honky Tonky Women by The Rolling Stones
#1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
Kept Johnny Cash from having a #1 hit

I Can Hear Music by The Beach Boys
#24 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
One of my favorite songs by The Beach Boys

In The Year 2525 (Exordium & Terminus) by Zager & Evans
#1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
Probably my favorite song from 1969

Laughing by The Guess Who
#10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100

Lazy Day by The Moody Blues
From the album On The Threshold Of A Dream

Make Your Own Kind Of Music by Mama Cass Elliot
#36 hit on the Billboard Hot 100

Marrakesh Express by Crosby Stills & Nash
#28 hit on the Billboard Hot 100

Pinball Wizard by The Who
#19 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
Other than chess and 42, I have never been much of a games person.
I did, however, play a lot of pinball at the Dixie Chicken during my college days at Texas A&M University, 1973-1977.

Sugar, Sugar by The Archies
#1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
And they weren’t even a real group!

Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond
#4 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
Probably my favorite song by Neil Diamond

These Eyes by The Guess Who
#6 hit on the Billboard Hot 100
Their first Top 10 hit in the United States.

Undun by The Guess Who
#22 hit on the Billboard Hot 100

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Music on Mondays (10/2/17)—The start of my favorites list

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

I’m into another rotation of my non-classical music collection, and this time I’m making a list of my favorite songs with the intention of eventually making a USB drive for my portable music player that will play all the time, wherever I am, when I’m not in the office or the car.

Following are the first five on my list, the only ones from before 1960.

“The Wayward Wind” by Gogi Grant, 1956—My youngest uncle was still living at home and going to college when my wise old grandmother adopted me. This was one of his favorite songs, and although we became estranged from each other in 1994, I still love this song.

“I Walk The Line” by Johnny Cash, 1956—I heard through the grapevine that I used to sit in the backseat of the car and sing along with Johnny Cash whenever this song came on the radio.

“Tom Dooley” by The Kingston Trio, 1958—This was one of my wise old grandmother’s favorite songs. She had it on a vinyl 45, which she gave to me in 1994 when she moved from her home of 57 years into an assisted living facility, called nursing homes back then.

“Soldier’s Joy” by Hawkshaw Hawkins, 1959—Each day I go through a couple of pages of Joel Whitburn’s “Top Pop Singles” book looking for songs that I like but for some reason missed. This is one such song that I discovered.
Interestingly, according to the Library of Congress, “Soldier’s Joy” is one of the oldest and most widely distributed tunes in the English-speaking world, showing up in sheet music on both sides of the Atlantic from the late eighteenth century.
Also interestingly, soldier’s joy can also refer to morphine, although morphine was not isolated until the early 1800’s. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean people didn’t know that they could get a natural high from poppie.

“The Battle of New Orleans” by Johnny Horton, 1959—I first heard this song in February 1974 at Mardi Gras in New Orleans. In the following months I discovered much more in the Johnny Horton catalog.

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Music on Mondays (4-20-13)—You can’t catch me but we can all come together in Folsom Prison

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Many decades ago when personal computers were just hitting the market, I got a gig with Fulbright & Jaworski LLP, Houston’s largest law firm at the time, merging the computer culture with their corporate culture and teaching their secretaries, paralegals, assistants, and attorneys how to use computers and the prevalent software at the time, which was Lotus-1-2-3, PC Write, WordStar, and WordPerfect.

Ever since those days I have had an inordinate interest in the law, often making it an avocation wherever I have been.

Perhaps the aspect of law that I most enjoy is copyright law, so it’s only natural that when my love of music butts heads with the law, I find it interesting. I mean, after all there are only so many notes, chords, and riffs that can be strung together to make music and songs. Over time, then, there’s bound to be a little borrowing here and there, even if only subconsciously.

Here are two music lawsuits involving the very rich and famous, and that the richer and more famous person lost:

The great Johnny Cash was sued by Gordon Jenkins who claimed that Cash used lyrics and melody from Jenkins’ 1953 composition “Crescent City Blues” in his 1955 hit “Folsom Prison Blues.” Even the opening lines are similar. Cash paid up, to the tune of $75,000.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

There’s no question that in the realm of music, Chuck Berry was rich and famous. However, he sued someone even richer and more famous, John Lennon, and won.

Berry’s publishing company sued Lennon, claiming that lines and melodies for “Come Together” were taken from Berry’s 1956 song, “You Can’t Catch Me.” As part of the settlement, Lennon agreed to record three songs owned by publisher Morris Levy, including a cover of “You Can’t Catch Me” for Lennon’s 1975 covers album Rock ‘N’ Roll.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Music on Mondays (3-9-15)—A hundred and eighty were challenged

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

I was born and raised in the small ranching and farming community of Kingsville, Texas. I graduated from Texas A&M University, the first public institution of higher education in the State of Texas. I’m pretty much a Texas boy except for their weird politics that seem to have gripped the state within the past twenty years. Coincidentally, I left in April 1993. Maybe if I had stayed, the State would have joined the 21st Century….

When my wise old grandmother took me to HemisFair ’68 in San Antonio, I was overjoyed. Not because I was going to get to go to HemisFair but because the Alamo was close by, and that’s where I really wanted to go. I was more into history than carnival rides….

Scott #1043, The AlamoThe Alamo, a mission in 1843, is now the most visited tourist attraction in the State of Texas. I was familiar with the Alamo only through my hobby as a stamp collector because it was featured on a postage stamp issued on June 14, 1956.

The Alamo is most famous as the site of the Battle of the Alamo, a 13-day siege of the Alamo by Mexican forces under General Santa Ana. The Mexican forces won that battle and it looked like the end of the road for Texas forces. The fall of the Alamo, though, seemed to embolden Texas forces, ultimately resulting in the victory at San Jacinto that won Texas its independence from Mexico.

The Alamo has also been featured in books, in movies, on television, and in song. Here is my favorite song about the Alamo, Marty Robbins’ 1960 hit, “Ballad of the Alamo, from the movie “The Alamo” starring John Wayne:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Alamo in music is more interesting if we start in 1955 with “Remember The Alamo” written by Texas singer/songwriter Jane Bowers. Tex Ritter released the song in 1955 as the B side of his “Gunsmoke” single.

“Remember The Alamo” didn’t make much impact at the time, but through the years it has been covered by the Kingston Trio, Johnny Cash, Donovan, and Asleep at the Wheel, as well as many others.

I’m a big fan of Donovan but I was unfamiliar with his version of “Remember The Alamo” so I went to find it. Here it is:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Donovan would have been at the bottom of my list of people to sing about The Alamo. He’s a British singer, songwriter, and guitarist! I tried to find out why a British singer would record a very non-British song, but nothing special is showing up anywhere. I guess he just liked the song….

“Remember The Alamo” is listed by the Western Writers of America as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time.

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Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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