Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Ray Price 1926-2013

Though Jack Greene had the nicknamed the Jolly Greene Giant had a wonderful voice and his string of hits in the late 60's including some country standards like There's goes my everything and statue of a fool was impressive. It's Jones and Price who were truly the "Giants" That's not a shot at Jack whom I am also a fan of. George Jones was the soul of country music. Country Music was his love. His taste in music unashamedly ran from country to country and back to country and if you want to tell me he was the best ever at it you'll get no argument from me.

But Price's influences went beyond Hank Williams and Bob Wills. To the likes of Sinatra, Crosby and Cole. Price's first big hits Please Release me Crazy Arms are country standards. Any song covered by Patsy Cline, Jerry Lee Lewis and Louis Armstrong has to be great right? Of curse then followed a slew of Country standards City Lights, Heartaches by the Number etc. In 1963 he recorded what is considered the gold standard of Honkey-tonk albums Night Life. By the mid 60's he begun to evolve in to a more polished balladeer. By the 70's and his recording of For The Good Times his music had evolved enough that he was actually physically attacked at many personal appearances.

In terms of record sells his "snub" of country music didn't cost him. His records sold better than they ever had. In terms of his standing in the community of Country critics it cost him dearly. He wasn't elected to the country music hall of fame until 1988 when he famously said "about damn time"

At the time of his passing when Country music bears almost no resemblance to what it once was his career decisions have been more than justified. Today those records that once angered some are now regarded as Country music at it's finest. I love the Jack Greenes and George Jones of the world. Jones especially is a favorite and for sure their likes will never be seen again. Their legacy some of the greatest music ever recorded. But the Ray Prices, Jim Reeves and Patsy Clines of the world, the folks who left behind the twang, hay stacks and went "uptown" while keeping their country roots were the greatest talents on earth.

Part of the backlash against Price in the 70's came because some felt he was acting as if he was "too good for Country Music." Well I doubt that was the case but if it was...you couldn't really argue with him could you?

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