The River's Badge

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Larry Gatlin and/or Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers


Saturday afternoon, I flipped on the news channel, to pass the time while I was eating my cottage cheese and carrot sticks (yep, back on ye old diet again!), and lo and behold, there was Larry Gatlin!

Larry was being interviewed about some political thing (I wasn't paying real close attention, as I was also reading the newspaper ~ I like to multi-task), and then he broke out his acoustic and started singing a song!  I thought, well, that's different!  "And now, let's welcome Karl Rove.  Karl, what are you gonna sing for us today?"  Just seemed a bit incongruous.

Nevertheless, I thought, wow, Larry Gatlin.  I hadn't thought about him since sometime in the early nineteen eighties.  And then I thought, well, he did have a bunch of great songs, he and his brothers, or just he.  Depends upon which iteration of the Larry Gatlin show we're talking about.

I had (have?) maybe three Larry Gatlin albums, and that doesn't sound like much, but I didn't have a bunch of disposable income back then, by the by.

We're such a disposable society that we are quick to forget artists who, at one time, were hugely popular.  Shoot, even I tend to forget them, and I'm supposed to be the historian here.

And there are a bunch from the 1970's.  Larry Gatlin is but one.

The sad (bad?) thing about guys or gals who toiled and toiled until they finally made it big, is that we remember the hit songs, but those are generally the ones that are the most annoying ~ if for no other reason than from the sheer repetition on the radio.  And we forget the little gems that maybe charted around number 45, but in hindsight, they were the better songs.

If you know the name Larry Gatlin at all, you're probably thinking, "All the Gold in California".  Right?  Sure, that's the one that people know.  It's not that that is a bad song, but it was the biggest hit, and therefore, I rapidly became sick to death of it.

But Larry recorded......and wrote, by the way.....a lot of good songs.  So, I'm going to try to find some of them on YouTube.

"Bitter They Are, Harder They Fall" was written by Larry, and surprisingly, to me, was also recorded by Elvis.  I don't remember this, but it must be true.  I may search out the Elvis version, but I will forewarn myself ~ I am not a fan of the 70's bombastic Elvis, so I probably won't like it as much as Larry's version.

Here, however, is a live performance of Larry with one of the truest country voices ever, Gene Watson, doing, "Harder They Fall":



My favorite Larry Gatlin song came early in his career; "I Don't Wanna Cry":



Here is Larry with the brothers, and "Statues Without Hearts":



Another with the brothers....Not overly fond of this song, probably because it has that dated, seventies, disco-like beat.  "Nighttime Magic":



And now the one we've all been waiting for.  I was a bit harsh earlier, because this is a good song.  Again, I am a bit biased because I heard it thirteen million times on the radio, and I don't care if the song is by blah blah blah (insert the name of the most wonderful artist in the world here), if you hear a song thirteen million times, you're going to grow to hate it.  Although it did have that excellent cowbell at the beginning, and one can never have enough cowbell (as we are well aware).

I apologize in advance for the mono sound quality, but I much prefer performance videos to a static picture of someone superimposed over a recorded song.

Thus, "All The Gold in California":



Aside from "I Don't Wanna Cry", my favorite Larry Gatlin and/or Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers song is "Houston", recorded in 1983.

I was able to find a live performance video of the song that someone was nice enough to upload.  It's the Larry Gatlin that I saw on the news channel; more mature.  The curly black locks have now become wavy-ish gray locks, but he still sings real good.  I did have to chuckle at someone's comment; "Why is one of the brothers wearing a dress?": 



As I said earlier, there are a bunch of artists from the seventies that we really shouldn't forget, and Larry Gatlin is definitely one.  I would like to turn this into a series; much like my writers series, that I started and sort of, well, to be honest, forgot about.

My theory (one of them) about music is that we get used to a certain "sound", and anything that doesn't sound like that "sound" is considered old; outdated; and therefore, inferior.  I have that problem with old Hank Williams recordings, for example.  I had to learn to appreciate the songs, and overlook the "sound", because it was tinny and mono, and I was used to something a bit fuller.

And, I guess, it's even worse now.  Everything now is recorded really "hot", so that's the sound people are used to.  I would argue that it's rather muddy and overdone, but that's my bias.

The problem with becoming enamored of a sound is that one tends to overrate inferior songs, and dismiss the really good ones.

What I would like to do with this blog is to highlight the "good ones".  Larry Gatlin is a good one.

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