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Jimmie Dale Gilmore: A Honky-Tonk Sound From Texas.

The alternative country singer from West Texas pays tribute to his late father on an album of honky-tonk country classics, Come on Back. He describes his introduction to country music -- and seeing Johnny Cash perform for the first time -- in a 2005 interview with Terry Gross.

This interview was originally broadcast on Nov. 23, 2005.

20:44

Other segments from the episode on August 30, 2010

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, August 30, 2010: Interview with Jimmie Dale GIlmore; Interview with Charlie, Tanya, Rachel, and Petra Haden; Review of Patsy Cline's album "Sweet Dreams: Her Complete…

Transcript

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Jimmie Dale Gilmore: A Honky-Tonk Sound From Texas

TERRY GROSS, host:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

It's become a FRESH AIR tradition to devote the week leading into Labor Day to
a theme. This time, we've chosen country music. We'll be hearing from great
songwriters who’ve written about falling in love, falling out of love,
jealousy, despair, and of course, drinking. And we'll hear from great singers
who have channeled these emotions.

We'll features interviews from our archive with Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard,
George Jones, Charlie Rich, Doc Watson, Waylon Jennings and more.

We'll start with some classic songs performed in our studio by Jimmie Dale
Gilmore back in 2005. His voice would make even Hank Williams cry, wrote
Nicholas Dawidoff in The New York Times Magazine.

Gilmore is a singer from West Texas who writes songs that would be described as
alternative country. But he sang country classics on his 2005 CD, "Come on
Back," which he dedicated to his father, who had died five years earlier of
ALS.

"Come On Back" features songs his father loved, including one by Jimmie
Rodgers, who Jimmie Dale Gilmore was named after. Gilmore brought his guitar to
our studio and also brought along guitarist Robbie Gjersoe, who performed on
the CD. Later in the show, Gilmore's son Colin joins them with some vocal
harmonies.

Welcome, everyone, to FRESH AIR. It's really a pleasure to have you here.
Jimmie Dale Gilmore, this new CD is dedicated to your father, who died a few
years ago. I want you to start with a song, "Pick Me Up On Your Way Down." And
what did this song mean to your dad?

Mr. JIMMIE DALE GILMORE (Musician): Well, actually, it represents an entire
style that I really associate with him. It's this old - it's honky tonk dance
music is what it amounts to, and it is one particular one that he really loved.

I just, I have this one memory of him just, you know, with his kind of head
tossed back and his eyes closed, just grinning when this kind of music was on.

GROSS: Would you play it for us?

Mr. GILMORE: Yeah. One, two, one, two...

(Soundbite of song, "Pick Me Up On Your Way Down")

Mr. GILMORE: (Singing) You were mine for just awhile. Now you're putting on the
style, and you never once looked back at your home across the track. You're the
gossip of the town, but my heart can still be found where you tossed it on the
ground. Pick me up on your way down.

Pick me up on your way down, when you're blue and all alone. When their glamour
starts to bore you, come on back where you belong. You may be their pride and
joy, but they'll find another toy, and they'll take away your crown. Pick me up
on your way down.

Mr. GILMORE: That's the way we fake being the band playing the song.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: And that's Jimmie Dale Gilmore on guitar and singing; Robbie Gjersoe,
who is singing harmonies and playing guitar; and that song is from Jimmie Dale
Gilmore's new CD "Come On Back."

That sounded really great. As we mentioned before, this CD is dedicated to your
father, who died of Lou Gehrig's disease. Did he introduce you to country
music?

Mr. GILMORE: Oh yeah, yeah for sure. He was – from my very, very earliest
memories, that music was always pervasive. You know, it was radio. We didn't
have a phonograph until I was actually in high school.

GROSS: Wow, that's pretty late.

Mr. GILMORE: And we always had the radio going, you know, and my dad played. So
he'd be sitting around the house, playing his guitar along with the radio or
actually, you know, sometimes playing with bands for dances.

GROSS: And you quote a great advertisement for a dance that he was playing,
where – apparently he was one of the first musicians in West Texas to use a
solid-body electric guitar.

Mr. GILMORE: That's right.

GROSS: Would you describe that ad?

Mr. GILMORE: Yeah, it said - at this time, when I was very small, we lived in
Tulia, Texas, from the time I was – until I was about five years old, on a
dairy farm. And my mom recently, you know, a few years ago, found a little
clipping from the Tulia Herald, a little, tiny ad. It said: Dance at VFW hall
featuring – with the Swingeroos(ph), featuring Brian Gilmore and his electric
guitar.

GROSS: That's great. So did your father teach you guitar, or did you learn that
on your own?

Mr. GILMORE: He taught me just a little bit. He taught me how to play "Wildwood
Flower." The thing is that I fell in love with the acoustic guitar, and my dad
was an electric player. And I never did, to my regret now, I never did really
learn to play the electric well.

My dad taught me a tiny amount, and then I kind of went off and really more in
the folk and blues direction as I was learning to play.

GROSS: How did you start singing?

Mr. GILMORE: I can't remember when I didn't sing. That was just – I even think
in a way that I might have been, even though I thought about other things, I
think I maybe was already predetermined to be a musician. Singing and music was
so deeply important to me, and I think it came from my dad a lot.

GROSS: I want you to do another song from your new CD, "Come On Back." And the
song I'm going to ask you play is a Johnny Cash song called "Train Of Love."
But tell us first how you first heard Johnny Cash and what he meant to you.

Mr. GILMORE: Well, I may have heard a few of his recordings on the radio, a
little bit. This was when I was very young. But my first real memory of it was
my dad took my sister and I to see Johnny Cash with Elvis Presley. And I was
about 12. I think she was about 10.

I suspect that that night completely determined the rest of my – I think that
was one of those places where a little deflection happened - that I loved that
music so much. I loved both of them.

My sister has this memory, and I think her memory is better than mine, but she
remembers talking on the way home from the thing that night that she loved
Elvis the most and that I loved Johnny Cash. The way I remember it is that I
loved both of them so much that there - it was just the best music I'd ever
heard in the world, and I already loved music.

GROSS: Although you sing in a completely different range than Johnny Cash does,
there's something about Johnny Cash that I hear in your voice.

Mr. GILMORE: I think he probably affected my way of understanding phrases, and
he affected me so much from such an early time that I'm pretty sure it's – it's
not deliberate, but it's in there. It's for sure.

GROSS: Boy, I wish I was at that concert. It must've been really early in their
career, right after they both signed with Sun Records...

Mr. GILMORE: Yes. It...

GROSS: ...at that concert with Presley and Cash. Wow.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: Well, would you do that song for us, "Train Of Love"?

Mr. GILMORE: Yeah, I will.

(Soundbite of song, "Train Of Love")

Mr. GILMORE: (Singing) Train of love's a-comin', big black wheels a-hummin'.
Sweetheart's waitin' at the station, happy hearts are drummin', oh. Trainman
tell me maybe, ain't you got my baby. Every so often everybody's baby gets the
urge to roam. But everybody's baby but mine's comin' home.

Train of love's a leavin', leavin' my heart grievin' but early and late I sit
and wait because I'm still believin'. Oh we'll walk away together though I
might wait forever. Every so often everybody's baby gets the urge to roam. But
everybody's baby but mine's comin' home.

Train of love's a goin', and I got ways of knowin' you're leaving other
people's lovers, but my own keeps goin'. Oh, trainman tell me maybe, ain't you
got my baby. Every so often everybody's baby gets the urge to roam. But
everybody's baby but mine's comin' home. Every so often everybody's baby gets
the urge to roam. But everybody's baby but mine's comin' home.

GROSS: That's singer and guitarist Jimmie Dale Gilmore, accompanied by
guitarist Robbie Gjersoe, performing in our studio.

Jimmie, your father died of ALS, Lou Gehrig's Disease, in, what, 2002, was it?

Mr. GILMORE: Yeah.

GROSS: How close did you live to him at the time?

Mr. GILMORE: Well, we lived in Austin, which is pretty far away. It's, you
know, it's a full day's – it's about, almost 400 miles. And my mom and brother
still lived, you know, in Lubbock with my dad. They were like 24-hour
caregivers for him all that couple of years. And my sister also lived in
Lubbock, although not – she and her husband were a few blocks away.

So they all got the brunt of it. You know, they got – we drove down there as
often as we could.

GROSS: I'm going to ask you to do another song. The song is "Peace in the
Valley." What did this song mean to your father? All the songs on your new CD
are songs he loved.

Mr. GILMORE: There was a funny story behind this one because this isn't the
type of music that I really associate with my dad. He loved honky-tonk music
and, you know, just dance music. And he was a very, very spiritual person, but
as far as the music went, you know, he wasn't particularly interested in gospel
or any of that music.

But at the very last, there came this point one day, when my daughter
Alise(ph), who spent a lot of time with my dad in the very last, she asked him
one day: Granddaddy, what is your favorite song? Because, you know, everybody
knows, you know, it's part of the thing around him that music is his main
interest.

And she said that she thought he was going to say something like, you know,
"Walk The Floor Over You," one of those, or a Marty Robbins song or something.
And – but she said he just got, he just kind of got real quiet, and he said let
me think about that a little bit, which surprised her very much.

He's in bed, completely paralyzed. So she had probably gone about, done
something of the day, and then she went back and would just be with him, just
sit with him, sometimes for hours on end. All of us would do that.

But he said: I've been thinking about it. And he said – she said he said this
with, like, kind of a little – like a grin, a kind of a twinkle in his eye. And
he said: I guess now my favorite song is probably "Peace in the Valley."

So there was a little touch of my dad's humor there. She really couldn't tell
if he was kidding her or not. But the song itself, when I decided to try it, I
think Joe Ely suggested it after hearing that story. You know, I thought, well,
I can't do that. I don't know how to sing that music. And when I did it, I
just, for one thing, I think – well, Elvis Presley had done a very beautiful
version of it, and I think it was back there in my subconscious someplace.

GROSS: Well, whether your father was kidding or not, I'm awfully glad you did
this song on the CD, and I'm going to ask you to perform it for us now. I love
the way you do it.

Mr. GILMORE: Okay, I'll try it.

(Soundbite of song, "Peace in the Valley")

Mr. GILMORE: (Singing) Well, I'm tired and so weary, but I must go along 'till
the Lord comes and calls me away, where the morning's so bright, and the lamb
is the light, and the night, night is as fair as the day.

There will be peace in the valley for me, some day. There will be peace in the
valley for me, oh I pray. There'll be no sorrow, no sadness, no trouble I’ll
see. There will be peace in the valley for me.

Well, the bear will be gentle and the wolf will be tame, and the lion will lay
down by the lamb. And the beasts from the wild will be led by a little child,
and I'll be changed, changed from this creature that I am.

There will be peace in the valley for me, some day. There will be peace in the
valley for me, oh Lord I pray. There'll be no sorrow, no sadness, no trouble
I'll see. There will be peace in the valley for me.

GROSS: We're featuring a 2005 interview and performance with Jimmie Dale
Gilmore. More after a break. This is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: Let's get back to our interview and performance with Jimmie Dale
Gilmore, recorded in 2005, after he released an album of classic country songs.
The album was dedicated to his late father. Accompanying Gilmore is guitarist
Robbie Gjersoe.

I'm going to ask you to play a song that I really love, and I know it through
you, through a tribute record to Billy Joe Shaver. And Billy Joe Shaver is a
Texas songwriter and singer, and you know him. You're a friend of his.

And you participated in a tribute concert that ended up on a tribute CD, and
when Billy Joe Shaver was on our show, we played your version of this song. The
song is called "Hearts A'Bustin'" and Billy Joe Shaver wrote it for his wife.
Although it's a song about a wife's death, she was still alive when he wrote
it, and I think, as I recall, he didn't even tell her about the song.

Mr. GILMORE: Yeah, he said he never got around to playing it for her.

GROSS: So what do you think we should know about the song in order to fully get
it?

Mr. GILMORE: Okay, it's – first of all, hearts-a-bustin is a flower, is a type
of flower. These flowers bloom apparently at one time during the year. I guess
it's just on a certain day, and somehow also, a group, there's a tribe of
Indians that would return to an annual meeting ground, I guess, there. And he
said his wife would always know when that was, and they would go there.

And I don't know if they met with the Indians or what. That's part of the –
it's almost like a dreamlike kind of image in this song. And it just, to me,
the song itself just somehow evokes a feeling out of Billy Joe that kind of
epitomizes how I feel about him.

He's just so sweet and wonderful and kind of strong at the same time. You know,
he's like, he's got that, kind of that West Texas macho thing, along with a
soft heart.

GROSS: So Jimmie, before you play "Hearts A'Bustin'," I want to mention that
your son, Colin Gilmore, is going to accompany you on guitar and vocal
harmonies on this one. And he's been performing with you on tour and opening
for you, as well.

Mr. GILMORE: That's right. He opens the show and then does about half of the
set with Rob and I.

GROSS: Okay.

(Soundbite of song, "Hearts A'Bustin'")

Mr. GILMORE: (Singing) Hearts-a-bustin grew down by the river that flows by the
old paper mill. In the springtime, we stood there together at the top of the
old stone fort hill.

Many is the time I've been lonesome. Since you left, I don't know what to do.
Like a flower that grows on the hillside, my heart's a'bustin' for you.

Hearts-a-bustin is a beautiful flower that looks like it's heart's burst
inside. I miss you so much, your sweet, gentle touch. I'll love you 'til the
day that I die.

One day in a year, when the time’s right, the Indians flow 'round the bend. I
don't know when I'll go, but somehow I know, someday I'll be with you again.

Hearts-a-bustin grew down by the river that flows by the old paper mill. In the
springtime, we stood there together at the top of the old stone fort hill.

GROSS: Jimmie Dale Gilmore, singing in our studio in 2005, after the release of
his album of classic country songs, "Come On Back."

Country music week continues in the second half of the show. I'm Terry Gross,
and this is FRESH AIR.
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Charlie Haden: A Bassist With A Country Pedigree

(Soundbite of music)

TERRY GROSS, host:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. As part of our country music series, we're
going to feature a 2008 interview with perhaps the greatest living jazz bassist
of our time, Charlie Haden. He's famous, among other things, for his role in
helping start a jazz revolution in the late 1950's with the Ornette Coleman
Quartet.

So what's he doing on Country Music Week? Well, he grew up in a country music
family, singing on their radio show. In 2008, he released an album called
"Rambling Boy" that returned to his country music roots and to the tradition of
singing with family. It featured his three daughters - they're triplets - his
son, his wife as well as friends.

Charlie Haden was born in Shenandoah, Iowa, in 1937 and two years later,
started singing with his family on their country music radio show. His CD,
"Rambling Boy," features a recording of him singing on the show at the age of
two.

Here's Charlie Haden's father introducing Little Cowboy Charlie.

(Soundbite of "Haden Family Band Radio Show")

Mr. CARL HADEN (Musician): Honey, say good morning to all the little boys and
girls. Say hello, all you little boys and girls.

Mr. CHARLIE HADEN (Musician): (Unintelligible).

Mr. CARL HADEN: Say I'm just fine.

Mr. CHARLIE HADEN: I'm just fine.

Mr. CARL HADEN: Just fine, and say I've got a brand new song to sing for you
this morning.

Mr. CHARLIE HADEN: I've got a brand new song to sing.

Mr. HADEN: This morning.

Mr. CHARLIE HADEN: This morning.

Mr. HADEN: There you are. All right. Little Charlie has had so many many
requests to sing that dandy little song, "Row Us Over the Tide," and then
momma's going to take him out and get his big bottle of soda pop. So you sing
real loud and nice here and a nice yodel. All right.

(Soundbite of song, "Row Us Over the Tide")

Mr. CHARLIE HADEN: (Singing) Row us over the tide. Row us over the tide.
(Unintelligible) row us over the tide.

Mr. HADEN: Yodel round.

Mr. CHARLIE HADEN: (Yodeling)

Mr. HADEN: All right. Thank you, Honey. Friends, that's was...

GROSS: Charlie Haden, welcome to FRESH AIR. Charlie, that is just about the
most adorable thing I've ever heard.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: Especially the yodel. Charlie, would you share one of your favorite
memories of your family's country radio show from when you were, you know, a
child?

Mr. CHARLIE HADEN: Every day was like a great experience for me. I just loved
it. You know, when we were in Shenandoah, we were there until I was four and
then we moved to Springfield, Missouri. My dad got a farm near my grandmother's
– near his mother's place and we did our radio show from the farmhouse. And my
brothers and sisters would go out and do the chores, and milk the cows, and
come in, have breakfast and my dad would crank the phone on the wall to let the
engineer in Springfield know that we were ready to go on the air and we'd do
the show. And every day was like a wonder to me. You know, I just loved it.

And then we moved to Springfield and we did all the shows from KWTO Studios,
which was - I loved that so much, I couldn't wait to get there. The double
glass windows and the acoustic tile and the air conditioning and all the
entertainers and, you know, that I met. And, you know, then the people from
Nashville started coming into Springfield to do this network radio show similar
to "The Grand Ole Opry" called "Corns a Crackin'."

And then, you know, Mother Maybelle and the Carter Sisters were coming into
Springfield and coming over and visiting my mother and I got to, you know, I
was a little kid and Mother Maybelle was singing all these great songs in our
living room and I was just thrilled.

GROSS: You grew up, you know, singing in a family act and I'm sure like your
parents you what to sing on stage. Now, managing, you know, like putting this
record together that features your whole family, your four children, your wife
Ruth, what were some of the differences between being, you know, like the kid
in the band, the kid in the family band and now being like the father in the
family band?

Mr. CHARLIE HADEN: I - as I was growing up, I became more and more a part of
the family preparations for the radio shows. We did two radio shows every day
and then later on, at the end of - before my dad got out of the business, we
had a television show in Omaha, Nebraska. That's when TV came in. And so I
became more and more a part of that, as far as the production of the show and
choosing the material and what songs we were going to do and what songs we
wanted to learn. You know, my brothers and sisters, especially Jimmy, my
brother who was five years older than I, he was a big part of, you know, the
repertoire and what we were going to do and I was very influenced by him and
his love of jazz, and that's when I started listening to jazz when I was just a
little kid.

With my family, it was like I wanted to make sure that they were all happy and
that they really wanted to do this and they all did want to do it. And, of
course, I hadn't done any country music since I was 15 and I was, you know, a
little bit apprehensive and a little bit nervous about whether I could really
pull this off. You know, I'm a jazz musician for 50 years, so the first
rehearsal we had over at the house with Ruth and the kids and I was, you know,
blown over about how great they were.

I mean they all sang with such great intonation. I played all these Stanley
Brothers songs for them and the Carter Family songs and Jimmy Martin and they
just, you know, took to it as if they'd been doing it every day, you know, the
girls and Josh.

GROSS: My guest is jazz bass player and composer Charlie Haden. Here's a track
featuring his triplet daughters, Tanya, Rachel and Petra, who have each had
careers in indie rock. They'll be with us in a minute.

(Soundbite of song, "Single Girl, Married Girl")

CHARLIE HADEN FAMILY & FRIENDS: (Singing) Single girl, single girl, going
dressed fine. Oh, going dressed fine. Married girl, married girl, she wears
just any kind. Oh, she wears just any kind.

Single girl, single girl, she goes to the store and buys. Oh, goes to the store
and buys. Married girls, married girls, she rocks the cradle and cries. Oh, she
rocks the cradle and cries.

GROSS: That's "Single Girl, Married Girl" from the new Charlie Haden Family &
Friends" CD, "Rambling Boy." And my guests are the three singers who we just
heard: triplets Petra, Rachel and Tanya Haden. Welcome all of you to FRESH AIR.
Your father, Charlie Haden, is in the studio with us as well. What beautiful
voices you have and what great harmonies.

Did you grow up singing harmonies like that with each other?

Ms. HADEN #1: Yes, we did.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: And what about the song we just heard? How did you start singing it? It
sounds like you've been singing it a long time.

Ms. HADEN #1: Um...

Mr. HADEN: I think I played a Carter family record for them one day, and they
just loved it, you know. And then I left the room. They took it from there.

GROSS: You know, it's amazing that you all have such great voices, and of
course, you grew up in such a musical family. What were you exposed to
musically of your father's music? Either, you know, his performances on record,
a concert, or just him playing or, you know, practicing around the house?

Ms. HADEN #2: I remember listening to whatever our dad was listening to. There
was always something playing musically, and a lot of jazz, of course...

Ms. HADEN #1: Classical music and jazz and, but I remember always sitting in
our dad's lap, and he would have big, huge headphones on. And I remember, like,
tapping him and trying to talk to him, and he'd say, just a minute...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. HADEN #1: ...because he was listening to something. I'm like oh, boy.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. HADEN #1: But...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. HADEN #1: But, yeah, there was always music playing.

GROSS: Now would you mind if I asked you three to just sing something a
cappella briefly, just to show us where your harmonies fit with each other?

(Soundbite of clearing voice)

GROSS: Just a few bars, just, like, maybe you could kind of chime in one at a
time just to hear where all three voices - how all three voices connect.

Mr. CHARLIE HADEN: When you sing "A Voice From On High."

Ms. HADEN #2: (Singing) It's - I hear Lord.

Ms. HADEN #1: Yeah. Yeah, let's do that one.

Ms. HADEN #2: Okay. You start it, Petra.

(Soundbite of song, "A Voice From On High")

Ms. PETRA HADEN: (Singing) I hear a voice callin' it must be our Lord.

HADEN TRIPLETS: (Singing) It must be our Lord. It's comin' from heaven on high.
I hear a voice callin'. I've gained my reward. I've gained my reward, in the
land where we never shall die.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: Oh, that's so great. Now do you trade off who sings high and who sings
low and who sings in the middle?

Ms. HADEN #3: Yeah.

GROSS: Do you have similar ranges in your voices?

Ms. HADEN #3: We trade a lot. Rachel likes to sing the pretty melody part, so a
lot of times I get scooted to the bottom without really knowing it.

GROSS: What was your reaction when your father proposed this CD to you of, you
know, a family album of country songs?

Ms. HADEN #1: Finally.

Ms. HADEN #2: Yeah. We said, about time, let's do it.

GROSS: As part of our Country Music Week, we're listening back to a 2008
interview with jazz bassist Charlie Haden and his daughters after he released
an album returning to his country music roots. More after a break. This is
FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: Let's get back to our 2008 interview with jazz bassist Charlie Haden,
after he released an album called "Rambling Boy," which returned to his country
music roots.

Charlie, the last track on your CD is you singing, and people who have followed
your career know that although you sang as a boy with your family on their
country music radio show, polio affected your voice and your vocal cords and
stopped you from singing. But a few years ago, you recorded a track again,
"Wayfaring Stranger," and you sing again on the final track on this CD. And the
song is "Shenandoah," which is also the name of the place where you were born.
This kind of tears me up every time I hear it. Tell me why you chose this song
as the one that you would sing on the CD and what this song means to you.

Mr. CHARLIE HADEN: It means a tribute to my parents who were traveling around
the United States before I was born, auditioning on all the big radio stations
with my brothers and sister. And they were on their way to Des Moines, Iowa, do
an audition, and there was a blizzard, and they stopped in Shenandoah at a
motel. And while we were there, my dad went over to the radio station in
Shenandoah and auditioned and got the job. And they stayed in Shenandoah for
four years, and that's where I was born, and that's where I started singing
with them.

And the two rare times I've sung since, you know, I've been in contemporary
music is the "Wayfaring Stranger," which was with Quartet West and Shirley
Horn, and Strings.

And then this time, and they were both a tribute to my parents. I don't sing
these songs as a singer. I sing it in tribute and thanking my mom and dad for
making this music and creating this music and my being a part of it and it
being inside my soul. And I want to thank them, you know, whenever I can thank
them. And this is the way that I can thank them because I know they hear this -
they hear this. So that's why.

GROSS: You know, I always say that you're the most melodic and emotional bass
player I've ever heard. And I think that that must have something to do with
the fact that you grew up with this - that you grew up with melody and harmony
and songs about life and death and love and loss. I mean, that's just - it's so
deep inside of you.

Mr. CHARLIE HADEN: Yes. The music, you know, both of the indigenous art forms
in music that come to the United States, you know, hillbilly music and folk
music came over from England and Scotland and Ireland into the Appalachian
Mountains and the Ozark Mountains where I was raised. And then, my attraction
to jazz was, of course, the struggle of the African slave and the Underground
Railroad and the music that evolved from that struggle.

And it seems like, you know, beautiful music, if it's from the United States or
wherever it is, it can be from Bulgaria, it can be from Spain, it can – it
comes from a struggle, you know, of people either in poverty or trying to – a
struggle for freedom. And so this music is very, very melodic. It's filled with
wonderful chords and voicings and harmonies, and I grew up with these
harmonies. And I'm so lucky because this was my early musical education, and I
feel very fortunate.

GROSS: Just one more thing about your singing. I know there was a long period
when you physically couldn't sing because of the polio that you got when you
were young. When you sing now, what does it feel like physically to sing?

Mr. CHARLIE HADEN: It's very difficult for me because intonation is one of the
priorities in my life is to play the music in tune, and I don't use my voice
every day the way a lot of singers do, you know, who are professional singers.
When I did the "Wayfaring Stranger," I hadn't sung in 40 years or whatever, you
know, since I was 15. And so - and I didn't practice, you know. And so I got in
the studio and just sang. And it was - I think I did one take or maybe two. And
on "Shenandoah," I was kind of nervous because I wanted to be in tune, and then
I started thinking, you know, I'm doing this for Mom and Dad. I'm not doing
this, you know, to be a great singer. I just want to do this, and so I just
relaxed and did it. But whatever.

GROSS: Well, I find it incredibly moving and I'm so glad that you sang it. So,
let's hear Charlie Haden singing "Shenandoah" from his new CD, "Charlie Haden:
Family and Friends." And Charlie, it's just been great to have you back on the
show and to talk with your family. Thank you so very much.

Mr. CHARLIE HADEN: Thank you, Terry, so much for inviting us.

(Soundbite of song, "Shenandoah")

Mr. CHARLIE HADEN: (Singing) Oh, Shenandoah, I long to see you away, you
rolling river. Oh, Shenandoah, I long to see you away. I found a way across the
white Missouri. Tis seven years since I last saw you away you rolling river.
Tis seven years since I last saw you away I found a way across the wide
Missouri.

GROSS: Charlie Haden from his 2008 album, "Rambling Boy," which returned to his
country music roots. Our interview was recorded in 2008. Haden has a new CD of
duets with pianist Keith Jarrett called "Jasmine."

Coming up, Ed Ward reviews a new CD of Patsy Cline's Decca recordings, as our
Country Music Week continues. This is FRESH AIR.
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Patsy Cline: A Country Career Cut Short

TERRY GROSS, host:

One of American popular music's great unknowns is what would've happened to
Patsy Cline's career if it had lasted longer. She was poised to revolutionize
the role of the solo female singer, as well as Nashville's place in the music
business.

With the release of her complete Decca recordings, rock historian Ed Ward takes
a look at a great talent.

(Soundbite of song, "Have You Ever Been Lonely")

Ms. PATSY CLINE (Musician): (Singing) Have you ever been lonely? Have you ever
been blue? Have you ever loved someone, just as I love you? Can't you see that
I'm sorry...

Mr. ED WARD (Rock Historian): Patsy Cline's career really only lasted three
years — and the complete recorded output from that career lasts two hours and
10 minutes — but her importance is out of proportion to those numbers.

She was born Virginia Patterson Hensley in 1932 to parents living in the hills
of West Virginia, and was performing as a teenager under the name Ginnie
Hensley. In 1953, she married Gerald Cline, a construction worker. A year
later, she signed a contract with 4 Star Records, which was mostly a vehicle
for recording songs from its owner's publishing house. 4 Star put out 18 songs
of the 51 she cut for them, and only one charted.

(Soundbite of song, "Walking After Midnight")

Ms. CLINE: (Singing) I go out walkin' after midnight out in the moonlight, just
like we used to do. I'm always walkin' after midnight, searching for you. I
walk for miles along the highway...

Mr. WARD: The recording is actually a remake of the original, which, like all
her other 4 Star records, was hard-core country. These recordings were made at
the famous Nashville studio, Bradley's Barn, where Decca's country recordings
were made. The minute her 4 Star contract expired in 1960, she signed with
Decca, and Bradley saw a chance to record a great pop talent. For her first
record, he found a song by Hank Cochran and Harlan Howard, two of the best
writers in town.

(Soundbite of song, "I Fall To Pieces")

Ms. CLINE: (Singing) I fall to pieces each time I see you again. I fall to
pieces. How can I be just your friend? You want me to act like we've never
kissed. You want me to forget, pretend we've never met. And I've tried and I've
tried, but I haven't yet. You walk by and I fall to pieces.

Mr. WARD: The instrumentation, which included steel guitar by Ben Keith, who
later worked with Neil Young, was country, but her phrasing definitely wasn't.
The song shot to number one on the country charts early in 1961 and got to
number 12 on the pop charts. Bradley's intuition was correct, so he started
looking for jazzier numbers from his songwriting acquaintances. A young Texan
friend of Cochran's came up with one and this did even better.

(Soundbite of song, "Crazy")

Ms. CLINE: (Singing) Crazy, I'm crazy for feeling so lonely. I'm crazy, crazy
for feeling so blue. I knew you'd love me as long as you wanted. And then
someday you'd leave me for somebody new. Worry...

Mr. WARD: Until "Crazy" hit number one in the country charts and number nine on
the pop charts, Willie Nelson was considered a bit too eccentric for
Nashville's tastes, but the song established him and his career took off.

Patsy, though, was faced with a problem. She'd joined "The Grand Ole Opry" and
seems to have been a bit freaked out by her pop success. She'd originally
resisted recording "Crazy," and yet her renditions of Hank Williams' and Bob
Wills' songs sound odd because the way she sings them is so pop. She found
herself performing at Carnegie Hall and co-headlining the Hollywood Bowl with
Johnny Cash. In 1962, she became the first female country performer to headline
in Las Vegas.

(Soundbite of song, "So Wrong")

Ms. CLINE: (Singing) I've been so wrong, for so long. Thought I could live
without the love that you give. I was wrong, oh, so wrong. I've been so
wrong...

Mr. WARD: By the time "So Wrong," co-written by Carl Perkins, hit the charts in
the summer of 1962, she'd earned enough money to buy a nice house for herself,
her husband, Charlie Dick, and her two kids. And her manager, Randy Hughes,
bought a small plane so she could get around quicker and spend more time at
home. Clearly a change was coming.

In March, 1963, even though Patsy had the flu, they flew to Kansas City to do a
benefit with a half-dozen other country stars for the family of DJ Cactus Jack
Call, who'd just died in an automobile accident. After the show, she and two of
the other performers, Cowboy Copas and Hawkshaw Hawkins, got in the plane —
although Dottie West offered to drive her home.

Don't worry about me, Hoss, she told West. When it's my time to go, it's my
time. The plane was delayed a day by bad weather, then only made it as far as
Dyersburg, Tennessee. Late the next day they took off, ran into bad weather,
and minutes later crashed into a hill. All on board were killed.

Patsy Cline's last sessions show a woman coming to terms with pop music, as
well as a voice that was learning to navigate some tricky directions. She never
had the chance to make the leap all the way, and left behind 41 songs that
still hold up.

GROSS: Ed Ward lives in the South of France. He reviewed "Patsy Cline Sweet
Dream: The Complete Decca Studio Masters 1960-1963."

Our Country Music Week continues tomorrow. You can download podcasts of our
show on our website, freshair.npr.org. I'm Terry Gross.

(Soundbite of song, "Back in Baby's Arms")

Ms. CLINE: (Singing) I'm back in baby's arms, how I missed those loving arms...
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Transcripts are created on a rush deadline, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of Fresh Air interviews and reviews are the audio recordings of each segment.

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