It”s time to tell the truth. I’ve never been to The Grand Old Opry..Nashville or Glasgow. I pass the Glasgow version every Friday night on my way home and metaphorically tip my hat. I often think it odd that the people inside might not know much about us down at the AC Coral and likewise we would be strangers to their local ways. (I’ve heard there are mock gun fights) For those who don’t know about this fine piece of Southside Glasgow mythology it is a country (and western) club/venue in Kinning Park to which all manner of stetsonned, nudie-suited Scottish cowboys and girls pay regular homage of a weekend.
It’s with this in mind that I have been reflecting on the nature of the country music we play. Sometimes we skirt around the edges and at other times we hold more towards the ‘Another” than the ‘Country.’ I’m guessing the secret is to keep the country purists – like a dear recent correspondent from Edinburgh who digs Hoyt Axton and Boxcar Willie -and those who like something dark and strange – like my music loving hairdresser pal John, who today was getting ready to buy Lera Lynn on the back of last week’s show – all listening together. Like any radio audience I’m sure we are a diverse bunch.
What probably holds us together is something we all heard once and immediately loved. Perhaps it’s that ‘High Lonesome’ thing talked of by Bill Monroe or that Sparkle and Twang so beloved of Marty Stuart or perhaps it’s just those harmonies from Emmylou and Gram that came into our consciousness so unexpectedly and made us realise perhaps we did love country after all. In my case the last two are to thank……..so God Bless The Broken Road. Sometimes, and this can happen in the States, you can tire of it. Save me from another city boy in a hat eulogising about his truck, beer or church attendance. Give me Johnny Cash’s struggle, Merle Haggard’s solidarity and Tammy Wynette’s heartache. Don’t think this means I’m only listening in the seventies. I’ve grown to love the authority of Alan Jackson’s voice and last week we celebrated the pipes of Josh Turner. As ever we will bring all this together and add in an artist seldom played on the AC – Todd Snider whose recent profile in Music City has been very high indeed. We’ll have some lovely new things from the current Queen of country pop, Carrie Underwood, Willie Nelson, Darrell Scott and Beth Neilson Chapman. It’s all good. Plus we’ll have a rather special second hour with these people…..
My Darling Clementine have listened to Dolly and Porter as well as Tammy and George and I suspect they have spent some time listening to Roy Orbison along the way. They have distilled all of this perfectly in their album, How Do You Plead and I’m delighted to say they will be with us live in Studio One tomorrow evening for the second half of the show, playing live and explaining where all that heartache came from. It all starts at five past eight on BBC Radio Scotland.