Whitney sent me a note asking about a song she hears when line dancing. She thinks it's called, Sweet Country Music. Well yes, it was a BIG hit, from a band called Atlanta!
Seldom has a country band come out with expectations as lofty as theirs. Almost as large as the band itself, which had 9 members. They had a big, full sound and many in Nashville thought they were going to be THE band that mounted a charge on super group Alabama, which was without question the number one act in all of Country and beyond. Alabama's popularity was enormous at that time, and that time was 1983. For the record, I loved Atlanta's first album, as it was powerful, original, and really well done. They were beyond terrific vocally with the firepower of a battalion of instruments backing them up.
Sweet Country Music - Was A Smash!
They formed in 1982 from a very talented group of musicians, and a producer who had a lot to do with the early success of Alabama. It was all there for success, the musicians, the right people, and seemingly the right climate. Alabama, from a country group perspective, was unchallenged then. There was literally no other country band having any success, just solo acts. (The Oak Ridge Boys and Statler Brothers were relevant then, but to me, they were vocal groups - not bands). Atlanta was big, new, young, and had a logo that looked a lot like Alabama's. (I was not sure the logo was a good idea for a lot of reasons. I think in the long run, it was a bad one.)
Their First Song Was A Great Debut Single That Fans Loved
The first album, Pictures was a darn good one. It spawned 5 releases with 3 going top ten. Sweet Country Music swept into the top 5. But to me, it was a #1 song as their third release. That song was very special. There was not one thing wrong with it, as it showcased all the great things they could do. We could see why people were excited about them.
Their first hit was a kick-butt song, Atlanta Burned Again Last Night, which went to #9. Then the great Dixie Dreamin' made it to #10. I feel that song deserved a better chart number as well. The title cut, Pictures was next, a song I liked, but didn't do well, and neither did Wishful Drinkin'. They may have gone too deep on that album as far as singles are concerned. But Atlanta had it going in the right direction. A big first album with a real chart presence. But things would change.
Dixie Dreamin' - Was A Great Song! - Look Beyond The Silly Video
I have always believed that in Country Music the first album is easy, and the second album is hard. I say that in this spirit, (No album is easy, clearly) but there have been many country artists that record a really great debut album, and a not so good second one. Some never to be heard from again. Whether Atlanta's second album was good or not of course is subjective, but there was no success on the charts at all. And poof, it was over as fast as it began. By 1988, it was like it never happened. The song, Why Not Tonight from the second album was supposed to get them back on track. It did not.
Why Not Tonight - Not The Success They Wanted From This Song.
Sweet Country Music still gets played at clubs, bars and celebrations, as it was a legit big hit. But Atlanta is a great example of how tough it can be to really make it. They were poised for a long run, but there were obstacles. One - Alabama, fans loved them. Two, country was starting to very slowly pivot about the time of their introduction. The new traditionalists were arriving quickly, and even Alabama would eventually feel that change and their long run would slow down and finally end. Pop Country songs with big arrangements were being phased out, with a more simple, rooty approach from Randy Travis, Dwight Yoakam, Patty Loveless, Holly Dunn, Keith Whitley and others. I feel musically, Atlanta was a victim of times. There was word too of behind the scenes issues, but who really knows?
But, the Pictures album is worth a listen, a download or a YouTube session. For a brief time, we all loved them and I think we were cheering for them. But in the end, they were great musicians and a good story. Glad for the digital saving of music, you can find them if you wish.
Over the weekend, the Beautiful Windy and I were watching the Tribe game on TV, and we saw Delino DeShields Jr., make a GREAT catch in the outfield. Big dive, full speed running, laying out for it. Tribe announcer Rick Manning says, "That's just a fantastic catch!!!" I've heard that saying about a thousand times, but for some reason this weekend it resonated.
When I was 11 or so, me and about 3 neighborhood kids would gather in our backyard and play a game we called, Fantastic Catches! What we would do is, get our baseball gloves and a ball, and we would throw the ball high and away from one of the other kids, and you would have to run after it, and make a "fantastic catch." Or not. LOL. We would dive, and lay out for the ball. Jump high, and run at full speed to this. It was a blast. I'm not so sure our moms thought so with the grass stained jeans we came home with. There was no point system, or winner, or time out to take pics.
THE PICTURE ABOVE WAS ME AT 11, DURING A GAME OF FANTASTIC CATCHES - FOOTBALL EDITION. MY SISTER TOOK IT FOR HER SENIOR PHOTOGRAPHY CLASS AT BEREA HIGH SCHOOL!
We would do the same thing during football season. Throw the football high and wide and we would have to dive after it to make a "fantastic catch." I think we played this game more than an actual game, because you could do it just a couple of guys. We wanted to be like our heroes on TV, and this was a great way to do it. Funny, all the hours we played this game, diving at full speed, crashing on the grass, sliding feet or head first, I don't remember anyone getting hurt. It was just fun, and we did it by the hour.
I shared that story with Windy, and she laughed and so did I. It was great to look back and remember a made up game from a thousand years ago and it seemed like yesterday. Maybe you made up games like that too. If so, take a minute right now and remember.
That memory which has been in my mind for decades finally made its way out. My brain, with a Fantastic Catch!!!
For the past couple months, I've written articles entitled Country Music Memory Lane on Thursdays. In each one I feature a Country star from years ago. I wanted to do this for a few reasons. One -It's fun to look back on what I remember from my seat behind the mic in 41 years so far in Country Radio. And Two, I think it helps fans find out how we got here, to the best 35 plus year run in Country Music history. At least it is from the numbers side, sales, concert tickets, overall exposure and Country Radio popularity.
All of this didn't happen overnight, it took time. And for those of you born into the Country boom, maybe you can discover some artists you didn't know and expand your playlists on your phone. And for those who were there, it's fun to look back and think of songs and stars you haven't thought about in years!
This week, we will chronicle some of the women from my Memory Lane articles. There will be many more, but here are the ones we've talked about so far. We honor their incredible contribution to Country Music. Thanks for checking these out!
My goal too, is to remember the intangibles that they brought to the format that is outside the music as I remember it, because I think every star does.
BONUS - Ashley McBryde "One Night Standards" (Song Review)
Thanks for reading, feel free to share.
Wynn's Weekend Watch - Since there is nothing new on, if You've Never Seen It - Or see it again - On Demand - The Town - Ben Affleck - (2010) Fantastic! Highly recommend it! Help you flip through Netflix quicker!
AMC Theaters – 15 cent admission the first night open! (Story)
Stairstepping Approach - To theaters opening. 100 the first weekend, and so on for a few weeks (Story)
#1 - The Tax Collector - A crime thriller starring Shia LaBeouf and George Lopez, is the No. 1 movie at North American theaters (About $350,000)
A New Knight Rider - Movie is in the works, based on the series which ran on NBC from 1982 through 1986 (Story)
Will Smith - Is producing a Fresh Prince reboot movie! (Story)
Jared Leto - Will play Andy Warhol in a bio-pic. (Story)
Zac Efron - Is starring in a Disney + remake of Three Men And A Baby. (Story)
Mulan – Disney Plus September 4 ($29.99) (Story)
The Rock – Highest paid actor, this year made 87 MILLION (Story)
Music In Your Weekend? - Looking for some Classic Country on YouTube? - John Anderson (Story)
Roger sent a note asking about his favorite from long ago, John Anderson. Roger, there was a time he was many people's favorite and what an interesting career he had. I played all his songs on radio stations around the country. John Anderson's gift in addition to the music, was being a MAJOR musical influence on the stars that would follow.
John Anderson came up during the Urban Cowboy craze, but his sound was anything but UC. Anderson was country with no apologies. His then very brave and exceedingly traditional sound was incredibly distinct in the era of pop-country. His style was as unique as his songs, and his voice, as Anderson possessed an enviable trait, you KNEW it was him singing on the radio. His powerful song, 1959 I think is one of the most underrated country singles ever, released 1980. His album, John Anderson 2 came in 1981, with the big song, I'm Just An Old Chunk Of Coal, was Grammy nominated. Also his next album, I Just Came Home To Count The Memories was critically acclaimed.
Wild And Blue - This was a huge fan favorite!
But in 1982, he really broke through with the album Wild And Blue. It was a gigantic hit, with 3 really big songs, including Wild And Blue, Goin' Down Hill, and the smash, Swingin'. He was nominated for a ton of awards that year, and Wild And Blue was a whole lot of fans very favorite album and song. He was deep, deep country when the format was not, and true country fans loved him for it. John Anderson had arrived, big time. The next album, All The People Are Talkin' had the #1 song, Black Sheep, which was a fan favorite as well, and classic Anderson!
Swingin' - HUGE song, #1. As big as songs were then.
But things would change. Funny, he was way ahead of the new traditionalists that were a few years away yet, but as they came to be popular, his own charting success slowed down. It was hard to understand. He was way out in front of it to begin with, maybe a bit too far, but he would have his biggest day, beit a while ahead. He continued to record albums and singles, but things had changed.
Almost ten years went by and country music had changed so much. Garth, Clint, Randy, Dwight, Alan, George, Reba, Holly Dunn, Patty Loveless, The Judds, Brooks And Dunn all where having big success. And as that wave was riding high, back came Anderson with the crowning jewel of his career. In 1991 the classic album, Seminole Wind was recorded and released. Many feel it is one of the best country albums ever, and I would agree. It became the biggest album of his career, multi-platinum and flat out great. It was good to see that country had changed, but John Anderson, at his core, had not. He was still deep country, but he re-emerged reinvented but still true to himself.
This Song Brought Anderson Back - All The Way Back
Straight Tequila Night, the first single, I feel is the best "comeback" single and song in country music history, bar none. It rocketed to #1, and is a song many artists would have loved to have, and it's so John Anderson. Then the gem, When It Comes To You with Dire Straights Mark Knopfler on guitar. Seminole Wind, the song, was a smash and the album was nominated for a ton of awards. It made me happy at that time, as I feel he should have been given more credit for being a bold artist when the format was anything but bold in the early 80's.
This Haunting Song Is A Work Of Country Art
I worked with John Anderson a number of times at various concerts and he and his people were among the nicest I've ever worked with. His career has spanned over 40 years, and he has been nominated, won, voted in and honored in about every way a country singer can be. Awards, Halls Of Fames, the whole thing. Six number one songs too, and some 68 singles! The kid from Apopka, Florida in the end, really hit it big.
Seminole Wind - As Requested As Any Song In Its Time
John Anderson gave the fans a voice that didn't have one. He reminded us of ourselves as he sung about simple pleasures and feelings. Fans identified with him, and he sang for them. Anderson was as regular as we were, and we loved him for it. I was so thrilled that Seminole Wind was the success that it was, because he deserved to sing along side the new traditionalists that he inspired, and be part of it. My gut feeling would be that if you asked many of the big stars of the 1990's, Seminole Wind is among THEIR favorite albums. Because for many of them, John Anderson was THEIR hero.
John Anderson. What an interesting career. In the beginning he dared to be very country in a time when that sound was not in fashion. He was the model for the next generation of traditionalists. What an important singer in our format.
If you like your Country -Country and are not familiar with Anderson because of age, he is worth a search, a YouTube Session and downloads.
Jon Pardi recorded a special performace of 'Heartache Medication' for the TODAY Show with Hoda & Jenna on Monday (August 10)..
Luke Bryan was the musical guest last night (August 11) on Late Night With Seth Meyers, and sang the title track to his latest album Born Here Live Here Die Here...
The house where the movie Edward Scissorhands was filmed is for sale. It's located in Lutz, Florida, and although some of the house have changed, fans will still recognize many original elements. Click here to see pictures from People.
The Beautiful Windy and I took a short weekend away to a very remote bed and breakfast in Bucyrus, Ohio over the weekend. We learned so much. First, where it actually was, as it is about 40 minutes west of Mansfield on Route 30. (Yes the same Route 30 that runs through Canton and Wooster) And second, it is the Bratwurst capital of the world. Is that actually FACT? I don't know, and don't care.
But there is this - in 1970, Sheboygan, Wisconsin battled Bucyrus for the title, so you know it's good. They also have the Bratwurst Festival there. There is plenty of bratwurst and so is Carle's Bratwurst and it is delicious! They say they have "The Best Wurst" It's family owned and they make everything, and have for almost 100 years!
It's a small German-style grocery of sorts with a walk-up counter and a case full of hot dishes ready to be eaten. The bratwurst was incredible as was the Waldo Sandwich. And the German potato salad was easily the best I have ever had. They also offered you Rye Buns. And these were real rye buns, dark dough, they were amazing. Windy had the Bratwurst Sandwich on rye, and I had the Waldo Sandwich., also on rye. That was a huge thick piece of fried bologna with your choice of toppings. We split and shared. How good is this place? It's been there since 1929!!!
Brat and Waldo
This is a no nonsense place. You walk in, you order and you eat. The food was very, very good. And how many places can you get your picture taken with this guy?
Had to do it. If I was a local, I would eat there daily I think. We both love places that serve the real thing, and Carle's Bratwurst is the real thing.
Delicious. Taking a road trip sometime? Go there!