The River's Badge

Saturday, July 25, 2015

NItty Gritty!


I like to write about things that pop (POP!) into my brain at any given moment.

I'm not sure why I thought about the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band tonight, but maybe I was in a reminiscent mood.

When I slid back into country music in the late nineteen eighties, there were a few acts that resonated with me. One of them was the Sweethearts of the Rodeo, a duo that is long gone, except maybe for reunion shows (I honestly have no idea). One was Dwight Yoakam, who grabbed hold of my heart and has never let go. My parents were into George Strait, who I considered a "pretty boy" out of sheer obstinance (I think I was in the second coming of my rebellious stage). An upstart! I snickered. Good lord, I was a moron.

Another was the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

Oh sure, I'd heard of them. They'd done that awful song about some dude who jumped around and thumped a tambourine against his shin:


Honestly, I never grasped the appeal of that song. It seemed uncomfortable to me - a throwback to the days of Jim Crow. Jerry Jeff Walker wrote that song, and he's written some pretty tasty ones - just not this one. But I understand he's huge in Texas.

My next cognizance of NGDB was notable for the Linda Ronstadt solo in this song (written, by the way, by Rodney Crowell). Interestingly, we hear Linda in this video, but she's apparently not actually there:


And they did that "Circle" album, featuring a bunch of old-time artists that, honestly, I could take or leave. I wasn't in an appreciative frame of mind then. I kinda am now.

NGDT didn't, however, hit their stride until the eighties, when things took off rather rapidly. That's where I came in.

I started to hear songs like this:


I will point out, however, that this song is impossible to dance to. Try it.

And this one (I apologize for the pitifully poor quality of this video):


Don't forget this Bruce Springsteen anthem:


Naturally, my favorite NGDB song doesn't have an actual video. Here it is anyway:


The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band was a band-savant looking for their niche. They found it in the nineteen eighties.

But one more reason why I love eighties country music.



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