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Category Archives: Outlaw Country

“Just Because You Ask Me To”

Songwriters are deep thinkers, contemplative, reflective kind of people. It seems fairly obvious to me that many, if not most, songwriters are ‘spiritual’ people. By that I mean that they believe in God. If you look and listen closely you can find bits and pieces of their spirituality in their body of work. Many are not part of a church or engaged in regular church services partly because of how they believe they might be perceived, or treated. I agree that some of that might be imagined…but, in the same token, some of it is probably real, too.

If you’re one of my regular blog readers you already know that I’m kinda mesmerized, fascinated I guess you could say, by good songwriters. There’s an art to songwriting; it’s definitely a gift. I think a lot of people probably have the gift….but only a few take the time…and energy to pen up a good one. And then there are those that seem to just crank ’em out one right after another. One such guy is Billy Joe Shaver. (click to check him out) He’s written a lot of good country songs, ….and if you do a little investigatin’, ……you’ll discover he’s lived most of ’em.

I’m always listening for songs, or pieces of songs, that might have a spiritual connotation. And, seriously, you really don’t have to look far. Shaver’s songs have been recorded by a virtual “Who’s Who” of country artists, none any more prominent than Waylon Jennings. In fact on Waylon’s, “Honky Tonk Heroes”, considered a country ‘classic’, all but one song on the album was written by Billy Joe Shaver.

One of those songs, “You Ask Me To”, (co-written with Waylon) is one that I think has a lot of spiritual implications. And while it obviously wasn’t written for that particular purpose we can still glean some good spiritual insight. This song could easily be about our relationship with the Lord. And with just a little work on that last verse it could totally be construed in a spiritual way.

Long ago and far away
In my ol’ common labor shoes
I turned the world all which a way
Just because you asked me to.

Like unto no other feel
Simple love is simple true
There’s no end to what I’d do
Just because you asked me to.

Let the world call me a fool
But if things are right with me and you
That’s all that matters
And I’ll do anything you asked me to.

Knowing how much I love you
And after all that I’ve been through
I’d turn and walk away from you 
Just because you asked me to.

The first verse could easily tell a lot of people’s testimony, maybe yours, and how those whose life was transformed became world changers.…..“Long ago and far away In my ol’ common labor shoes, I turned the world all which a way just because You asked me to”.

“Like unto no other feel, simple love is simple true”. Ain’t that the truth?! There’s just nothing that compares to the love of the Lord…..or the love of someone else, ….for that matter! 

“That’s all that matters, and I’ll do anything you ask me to”. *In our service and devotion to the Lord…it is, at it’s very purest….and simplest, done out of our love for Him!

“Let the world call me a fool, but if things are right with me and you; that’s all that matters and I’ll do, anything you ask me to.” It’s true that when we get obedient to the Lord that the world (family, friends, etc) sometimes just doesn’t understand. But because things are ‘right’ with God and us….we’ll be obedient to what we believe He’s saying to us, …..and do it!

I’ll bet you’ve heard some song lyrics, from what most folks would call ‘unlikely’ sources, that have some spiritual value. Post ’em if you do. Start lookin’ and listenin’ if you don’t…..they’re there!

(click here to hear Elvis’ version of “You Ask Me To”)

PS-Remind me sometime to tell you about Waylon’s spiritual orientation. You’ll probably be surprised.

Some more music blogs:

There’s a Lot More ‘Spiritual’ Music Out There Than You Might Think!

The Gospel According to Shaver!

No Country For Old Men

“If You Ain’t Lovin’, You Ain’t Livin’”

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“Nothing I Can Do About it Now”

A day or two ago I was listening to my favorite XM station and one of Willie’s songs I’d heard several hundred times before caught my attention. The words, that I’ve sang along with by memory for as long as I can remember, caught my attention. And I thought to myself, “I need to write a little something up about that.”. The song, “Nothing I Can Do About it Now”, (click here to listen) is probably a testimony of Willie’s about some of the mistakes he’s made in his life. I think the reason it resonates, so, with me is ……it’s kinda my testimony too. And, truth be known, probably about 90% of the people reading this little blog can readily identify with it, as well.

Willie, whether you like him or not, will go down in history as one of the greatest country songwriters of all time. (I’m a huge admirer of songwriters!) Example: He wrote country classics, “Crazy”“Night Life”, and “Funny How Time Slips Away”, all in a 24 hour period! Think about that one for a minute! And, again, whether you like him or not he’s already staked his claim on country music immortality. Generations after you and I are gone when anyone mentions “Willie”, everyone’ll know exactly who they’re talking about. 

I first saw Willie in the ’60’s on the Wilburn Brothers Saturday afternoon TV show. It was a ritual in the Taylor household to watch country music on Saturdays. Willie was clean cut wearing a suit and tie and was an exceptionally good guitar picker. And he never really reached a broad following until the ’70’s when he donned the bandana and the braids. Armed with “Trigger” (his trademark guitar) he took on the ‘outlaw’ persona and literally millions of new, and younger, fans took note! And, as they say,…….the rest is history!

“Regret is just a memory written on my brow, and there’s nothing I can do about it now”. Like Willie’s song, most of us have a long, long list of regrets and if we’re not careful we’ll let those regrets affect who we really are and how we live out the rest of our lives. After the Lord rescues us we mustn’t let those blunders rule our lives. It just wouldn’t be right, considering what Jesus has done for us! Willie addressed that very thing, “And I could cry for the time I’ve wasted, but that’s a waste of time and tears” “And I know just what I’d change if I went back in time somehow, but there’s nothing I can do about it now”. 

Can’t do anything about it; its true. But what we can do is not keep on doing things that we know will bring deep regret; quit making the same old mistakes. And if you’re a youngster reading this, let the song,….or these words, (or better yet, the Holy Spirit) steer you away from doing dumb stuff. Life’ll be a whole lot better for ‘ya!

And for the rest of us….that got that news too late, ….we’re forgiven! Willie’s concludes his song by singing, “I’m forgiving everything that forgiveness will allow, and there’s nothing I can do about it now”.

Check these out:

“I Keep A Close Watch On This Heart Of Mine”

“I Ain’t No ‘Fortunate Son’”

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The Soundtrack of Our Lives

*(this blog was written a week ago, but not posted due to the passing of my Dad)

I was shocked today, and saddened, to hear of the untimely death of Glenn Frey, lead vocalist and founder of The Eagles. Glenn was a Detroit boy whose fate would cause him to cross paths with a talented Texas kid by the name of Don Henley. Those two and a handful of other great musicians and vocalists including, at one time or another, Timothy B. Schmidt, Joe Walsh, Bernie Leadon, Randy Meisner, Don Felder comprised the band known as The Eagles. Their compilation album, “The Eagles Greatest Hits, Vol. 2” has gone platinum (a million units sold!) every single year since it was released in’82! If you don’t have it….you should go to iTunes this minute, and buy it today! You’ll thank me for it!

Ever since my friend, Tom Stout, first played “Peaceful Easy Feeling” for me somewhere in the early ’70’s, I was hooked….and I’ve been an avid fan of The Eagles ever since! There’s nothing to ‘not like’ about The Eagles music. It appeals to a broad cross-section of music lovers worldwide. Their sound doesn’t neatly fit in the ‘rock-n-roll’ genre although R&R lovers can find way more than enough to relate to. You can’t just call it ‘rock music’ either ’cause, again….it’s not a perfect fit. It’s not what I’d call ‘pop music’ at all…but again many of those listeners love those Eagles tunes! And even the ‘hardcore’ country purists, like myself, can get some solid satisfaction from listening to the Eagles. To sum it up….they’re not really like anyone else….they’re unique in that way!

The band found their sound in California where one of their downstairs neighbors, who quickly became a great friend, was carving out a pretty decent career for himself, as well. Jackson Browne, (click! you’ll love the song!) who in my opinion, is one of the great singer/songwriters/artists to ever come along spent hour upon hour with Glenn, Don and the guys writing, pickin’ and singing. Then they’d have the occasional ‘drop ins’ such as J.D. Souther or the Allman Brothers….and the jam was on! And now, here we are 40 some years later listening to many of those very same songs! It’s no wonder that particular era produced some of the best music to ever hit the waves. 

I’ve seen The Eagles in concert twice.We took Cameron, our daughter, on her 13th birthday to see them “LIVE”, 5th row on the floor at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Saw them again last year in OKC. I’m not saying I wouldn’t go see them again….but I kinda doubt it. It just wouldn’t be the same without Glenn. It’d be like Skynyrd without Ronnie Van Zant or Creedence without John Fogerty……I’m sure both are putting out some good stuff but I’ll save my money and reminisce about the ‘real thing’!

Here’s a few of my personal favorite Eagles facts:

‘Cleanest’ guitar playing, in my opinion,  of any band….ever! Flawless! Listen to their ‘lead breaks’ and I guarantee you’ll agree. Listen to the lead on Hotel California again….no, I mean really listen!

Steuart Smith – One of the all-time great guitar players. (my opinion) A fairly new addition to the band: (not necessarily a ‘member’ of The Eagles but a very key musician since ’01!; I saw him playing lead guitar for Rodney Crowell, mid ’90’s)

Although most people say that Glenn and Henley were co-founders…even Don said, “It’s Glenn’s band”!

Don Felder’s (former lead guitarist, composed the guitar licks for Hotel California) Book: Heaven and Hell: My Life in the Eagles (1974-2001) is a ‘tell all’. I read it through cover to cover almost without stopping. He’s still at odds with the band….and it doesn’t looks like it’s going to get fixed anytime soon!

If you like The Eagles you might appreciate these as well: Poco, Souther-Hillman-Furay Band, Desert Rose Band, The Byrds, Flyin’ Burrito Brothers

Of all The Eagles’ great songs, other than Hotel California, this is probably my all-time favorite: *A little something for you country fans! PS-You might’ve never heard it before! The Girl From Yesterday (click on it….and listen!)

The Eagles. Their music has played an important part in the soundtrack of my life.

 

*(Click on any of the highlighted links above for music performances and information!)

*Here’s just a few others that would be included in my soundtrack: Leon Russell, Ray Price, Faron Young, Johnny Paycheck, Delbert McClinton, Merle Haggard, Tom Petty, George Jones, ZZ Top,  Bob Dylan and the Allman Brothers, just to name a few.

What are some of yours?

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The Gospel According to Shaver!

Billy Joe Shaver, that is. If you don’t know who he is, I kinda feel sorry for you…so I’ve made it so you can ‘click’ on his name above and get in the loop, so to speak. He’s actually one of the great songwriters of our time but as a performer or Top-40 country artist…he’s pretty much been flying under the radar his entire career. Personally, I think that’s perfectly OK with him. From Waco, Texas and well into his 70’s now, his songs have been recorded by many of the iconic performers of our generation, including Kristofferson, Willie, Waylon and Elvis. You’ve surely heard of those guys!

Billy Joe wrote a song years back that was really more of a testimony than a song, his own personal testimony to be more specific. And, if you were paying attention to country radio in 1981 you couldn’t have missed John Anderson’s song, “I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal”.  (Shaver’s Version) The song reached #4 on the Billboard Country Singles Chart and still gets plenty of airplay on Classic Country Stations.

“I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal, But I’m Gonna Be a Diamond Someday”; It’s not just his testimony….it’s ours’ as well. And, even though it comes from one of ‘Outlaw Country’s’ most notable icons,….it’s actually extremely correct from a Biblical standpoint! You see, the Word says that we’re being conformed into the image of Jesus. It’s a lifelong process at best and the Lord is in for the long haul. He’s patient and long-suffering with us….and believes in us more than we believe in our own selves.

You may wonder why I’d post a song and a story from/about a bonafide outlaw country artist rather than a familiar Christian one. Fair question. I lean toward a lot of these guys that mainstream religion would reject as having anything of value, spiritually, to say…or sing. Their testimony (songs, art, poetry) is authentic, genuine and it appeals to a generation of misfits who don’t ‘fit in’ with the religious establishment. They’re ‘believers’, (or at least they’d like to be), in the truest sense of the word……they just don’t mesh in a ‘sterile’ church environment where everyone ‘looks’ perfect…and expects it of them. These artists like Billy Joe Shaver have a way of putting it….where normal people can understand it!

I may be closer in proximity to an ‘old chunk of coal’ than I am to a ‘diamond’….but at least I’m headed that way!

If you like this one…check these out:

“Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line”

“If You Ain’t Lovin’, You Ain’t Livin'”

There’s More Christian Music Out There Than You Might Think

“I Ain’t No Fortunate Son”

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