Saturday, March 25, 2006
RIP BUCK OWENS, who died today at age 76.
When I was a kid growing up, of course I had heard "Tiger By the Tale" and "Heartaches by the Number" on the radio, and they were OK, but I didn't go nuts over them. I kinda regarded him like Ray Stevens or Roger Miller, who had recorded a lot of goofy-sounding, silly twangy country songs. Of course, one of the few ways that I've grown wiser as I grew older was recognizing the genius that went behind these songs. When I first heard the Beatles' "Act Naturally", suddenly Buck gained about a million cool points when I noticed his name on the label credit. Then, of course, came Hee Haw, which pretty much squandered them all as Buck's goofy grinning persona became they way he would be perceived for all time. Not that I really had anything against Hee Haw, mind you- it was mindlessly funny sometimes but hey, I was a teenager and far too hip to admit to liking anything that had anything to do with the show.
But when Owens kept getting namechecked, in the 80's, by all sorts of alt-country stars that I kinda liked such as Dwight Yoakam (to name but one), I went back and relistened to some of those grand old Bakersfield Sound-era LPs (at least the ones I could find) and came away really liking a lot of it- cornpone, some of it, but there was a tough, lean sound that spoke volumes there.