The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

25 March 2006

He can play the part so well

If there's any single incident that sums up the life of Buck Owens, who died today at 76, it revolves around the ad he placed in Nashville's Music City News, which would appear in the March 1965 issue. It read like this:

I Shall Sing No Song That Is Not A Country Song.
I Shall Make No Record That Is Not A Country Record.
I Refuse To Be Known As Anything But A Country Singer.
I am Proud To Be Associated With Country Music.
Country Music And Country Music Fans Made Me What I Am Today.
And I Shall Not Forget It.

And on the first of March, 1965, Capitol issued Buck's ninth album, I've Got a Tiger by the Tail, which contained a cover of Chuck Berry's "Memphis." Buck, bless him, was unapologetic:

Listen to the lyrics. If they're not country lyrics... the melody... if that ain't a country melody....

Of course, he was right. As Dave Marsh might have said, and in fact did say:

When the Beatles chose to ennoble Buck Owens in the annals of rock and roll, they weren't choosing idly or for that matter, even just expediently, although "Act Naturally" of course provided Ringo the perfect vehicle to make mock of the group's movie career. More important, the Beatles were responding to an underlying similarity between Owens' music and theirs, for each threw at a hidebound establishment (one in London, one in Nashville) a brave and eclectic synthesis which respected only the broadest boundaries and closed the door to no influence whatsoever.

Even allowing for Marsh's tendency to slide off the edge into hyperbole, this seems indisputable: were it not for the ever-present pedal steel, you could have gotten lots of Buck's 45s onto R&B radio back in the day. And Ray Charles recognized this, putting out "Crying Time" and "Together Again" as singles of his own; he even dropped a version of "I've Got a Tiger by the Tail" into an LP.

How did he want to be remembered? In 1992, Buck said this:

I'd like to be remembered as a guy that came along and did his music, did his best and showed up on time, clean and ready to do the job, wrote a few songs and had a hell of a time.

And who made some damned good records along the way.

Posted at 7:40 PM to Tongue and Groove

TrackBack: 8:14 AM, 26 March 2006
» Crying Time Again from Harleys, Cars, Girls
Buck Owens died yesterday, as Dustbury reminds me. The great country songwriter and star of “Hee Haw” was 76 years old. Owens wrote “Crying Time:” Oh, it’s crying time again You’re gonna leave me I can tell by the far...[read more]

RIP, Buck, along with Grandpa Jones and Archie Campbell. Roy Clark is still kicking up dust somewhere around here, or maybe over in Branson. The Hagers are still around town. Saw them at a meeting recently where I serve with them on an advisory board to a non-profit org. Even now, stand them side by side and you cannot tell which is which. Buck had his own sound and it was even called the Bakersfield sound. One of a kind. Yep, he'll be missed...

Posted by: Winston at 8:06 PM on 25 March 2006

Oh wow, I hadn't heard. Buck Owens was one of my favorites growing up in a Country and Western household. The Grateful Dead did a cover or two of his songs in their day as well.

Posted by: Ted at 6:53 PM on 26 March 2006

I had not heard about Buck passing. I will be listening tonight to Buck as I finish my homework. I guess now it really is "Crying Time". Buck never hit the stature of Cash, at least that I heard of, but I think the man had a huge impact on the music industry as a whole.

I will miss him.

Posted by: Dwayne "the canoe guy" at 9:28 AM on 27 March 2006