In 1971, country music was ever so slightly starting to turn toward the "sappy". Most of the year's awards don't reflect that; however, as you watch the progression from the 1971 awards into those of 1972, I think you will start to see a trend emerge.
Overall, the 1971 CMA's rewarded some stellar songs and stellar performers. And the best news of all was, they eliminated the Comedian of the Year category!
I'm going to run these two awards by you early in the post, because frankly, these performers kept winning these awards year after year, and I've run out of videos.
INSTRUMENTALIST OF THE YEAR
INSTRUMENTAL GROUP OF THE YEAR
Danny Davis & the Nashville Brass
VOCAL DUO OF THE YEAR
Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton
Technically, this single was released in 1971, so it didn't help Porter and Dolly win the 1971 award, but geez, give me a break. I'm running out here. They just keep winning.
This performance of "The Right Combination" is from the Porter Wagoner Show, and once again, I must comment on P & D's lack of color coordination. The deep red "cactus" coat with the princess pink dress just clash, in my estimation. Nevertheless, they do have matching towering blonde bouffants, so that's a plus.
Dolly has a bit of a laughing fit during this performance, and I think I can guess why. It seems to me that fiddler Mack Magaha was just a bit too "enthusiastic" during his solo. Not that I'm complaining - it was fun! And I guess when you've got the spotlight, even for four bars, you've gotta make the most of it!
VOCAL GROUP OF THE YEAR
The Osborne Brothers
Wow, I love these guys! Sonny and Bobby, the Osborne boys. Bluegrass, yes, but some really great bluegrass! As Sonny notes in his introduction here, the Osbornes were the first to record the song, "Rocky Top", and I think they did it the best out of the hundreds who subsequently recorded the song, including our female vocalist listed below.
I love the banjo here; I love the mandolin. I love the harmonies. Gee, I kinda miss these guys.
ALBUM OF THE YEAR
"I Won't Mention It Again" - Ray Price
Funny, but considering that this was the album of the year, the only way one can buy it on Amazon is in the LP format. Now granted, if this was 1971, sure, I'd buy an LP. But I'm not what they call an "audiophile", which is just a fancy word for people whoe are living in the past. I no longer own a turntable.
You see, I'm old enough to remember how aggravating the whole vinyl record-playing process was. Almost as aggravating as computers! You'd either have to listen to the whole album, or else get up off your chair, go over and lift up the stylus and try to place it exactly at the beginning of the song you wanted. Oh, and you'd have to scrape the dust off the needle every so often with your fingertip. Then, sometimes you'd get records that weren't exactly "round". You'd hold them up at eye level, and the warpness was evident. And I don't know why, but some of the albums were of a harder vinyl material, while others were like limp paper. And then storing them. You'd have to have a whole long bookcase row of LP's, and then, because they were positioned right up against each other, some of the album covers would have those black round indentations on them, from snuggling up too close to their next-door neighbor.
So, I'm not gonna buy this, or any other, album on LP.
But, all ranting aside, Ray Price is one of the legends of country music, and one of my all-time favorites. YouTube doesn't seem to have any of the cuts from "I Won't Mention It Again" available, so I just thought I'd throw in this one, because, after all, it is on the list of my top twenty country songs of all time.
Wow, not only a steel guitar prominently featured, but three, count 'em, three fiddles! Nice going, Ray!
SINGLE OF THE YEAR
Help Me Make It Through The Night - Sammi Smith
I'm psyched to get to include another of my top twenty country songs of all time here! This song, as you know, was written by Kris Kristofferson; one of many great songs by a "how does he do that?" songwriter. Man, if only I could write like.......oh, sorry; I'm off topic again.
A lot of people recorded this song, but Sammi had the hit, and while a lot of people did a great job on it, none did better than this (even if she had to sit on a hay bale in her evening gown to sing it):
MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
While this is not a vintage performance, it's still a good quality video (not one of those hand-held video camera operations), and thus it is actually enjoyable.
Well. It seems that old Charley has put on a few pounds since 1971. And I'm glad he could come in from doing his gardening to perform this number. What's with the lime green sweatshirt?
I don't know why none of these videos of this song have him whistling at the end, like he did on the record. Has he lost his whistling capabilities? And it was just a sorry sight to see him try to hit a low note instead of doing the whistle, and he couldn't quite do it. Low note, indeed. Not to pick on ol' Charley.
I'm just going to get this out of the way now, with apologies. There's no embeddable video of the song of the year winner by the original artist. I will give you a link to a non-embeddable version, however. But since I still wanted to include this category, I did find an alternate version, done by, I'm sure, the runners-up for the Vocal Duo of the Year award. So, here's:
SONG OF THE YEAR
Easy Lovin' - recorded by Freddie Hart; written by Freddie Hart; done here by Conway & Loretta:
I don't want to be mean to C & L, since they are the substitutes here for the original, but they really did this badly! Why were they so far behind the beat? Geez, did they just get awakened from a nap?
Here's how it really goes: Easy Lovin' - Freddie Hart
Just so you know, Freddie is a very nice gentleman. I have an autograph from him on my bulletin board (on the same sheet of paper as MERLE HAGGARD's autograph!), where he wrote, "To Shelly, a little doll" (I was just a kid then). This version is the superior version of the song, by far.
FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR
Now, I like Lynn Anderson. She had a lot of great songs, especially during her Chart Records years. You know, she did do other songs besides "Rose Garden". As I've mentioned before, yes, she is a distant relative of mine, a fifth cousin once removed or something equally obscure, but that's neither here nor there. I just happen to like her.
This video is from a 1970 single, and probably helped her win the award. It's an old Hank Snow song, without the nice lead-up, which she just conveniently left off...."I was totin' my pack along the dusty Winnemucka road......." (you know how it goes). This song is a tongue-twister, and I was just dorky enough back then to learn it. I could probably remember it now. Let's see.....hang on.......Reno, Chicago, Fargo, Minnesota, Buffalo, Toronto, Winslow, Sarasota........yup! I can remember it!
Funny that this performance is from the Lawrence Welk Show (she was, early in her career, a regular). Lawrence, you know, is from Strasburg, North Dakota, not too far from my old stomping grounds. And I used to play the accordion, too (dork alert #2!)
So, here we go with "I've Been Everywhere"
Okay, hold on here. First of all, she's lip-synching this! And thus, I feel kinda sorry for the goofy guy who has to "fake" playing that xylophone/harmonica contraption (what the heck is that?). Then, did you notice that she looked down at her wrist before one of the verses? She's cheating! She wrote the words on her arm! Lynn, Lynn, Lynn. I took the stupid time to memorize this song; you could have at least done the same. I'm terribly disillusioned.
Well, that just leaves the Entertainer of the Year, and here we go again.....
Now, I see this video is also from the Lawrence Welk Show. Hey, I didn't plan this! I didn't even know ol' Charley ever appeared on the LW Show.
But I will say this: Charley certainly looks younger and thinner here, and he was nice and polite. And Lloyd Green is here on the steel! Okay, Charley had two hits in 1970 that probably garnered him this award, and I already featured one of them. The other one, "Wonder Could I Live There Anymore" isn't available on YouTube, so I decided to just go with one that I like.
So, here's the 1971 ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR