Interview Date: July 8, 2011 @11am EDT
Special Guest: Country Hall of Fame Artist Ray Price (recorded July 8, 2011). In this podcast we finish our interview with Ray Price by talking about the studio, "New Country", and his insightful thoughts on computers and the internet. He also gives a heartfelt story about his good friend Hank Williams Sr.
It can't be said any simpler, or stronger than to say that Texans love their music. Texas is home to SXSW and Austin City Limits. National Public Radio co-produces a weekly program, This Week in Texas Music History. There are many ways and means for Texans to show their love for the music that comes out of Texas. Even the Governor of Texas (the republican nomination hopeful Rick Perry) is sure to include his name on the Texas Music Office website in big letters. There you can even buy a Texas Music licence plate in homage to the pioneers of Texas' musical history to prove your love to everyone who drives behind you; currently it comes with a picture of “Blind”Lemon Jefferson. For those who don't know, the music from Texas is much more innovative and broad ranging than what one might think first-hand. There is so much more to Texas' music than Marty Robbins' El Paso. There's almost an endless supply to draw from when it comes to Texas music, but it's the innovation, influence, and particular flavour that Texas, and Texans has had on the face of music I want to touch upon here.
Music icons Stevie Ray Vaughn, Buddy Holly, Bob Wills, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, and Waylon Jennings all came out of Texas and shaped the history of music. There are many more names that can be noted, and I'll touch on some later. Yet it's not only individuals from the state that influenced and permanently changed the face of music; the history, politics, geography, and cultures of Texas have all been contributing factors in producing innovative sound that now is considered foundations of musical style.
It was in Texas and the intermingling cultures of Germans and Tejanos that lent to the crossover of the accordion which produced Conjunto music, and led to the accordion becoming implemented as a featured instrument in Western Swing. The accordion's influence crept into French Creole style which produced Zydeco; Zydeco is known to have emerged from Louisiana, but the French immigrants and Creole culture, in fact, span the border into Texas as well. The first known recordings of Zydeco took place in Texas.
But more than the accordion and the styles that were created from it, Texas has been a place of musical innovation in many more ways. Of course, when one thinks of music and Texas, one immediately thinks of Country, Texas Blues, and Western Swing, but Texans have stamped their indelible influence in Jazz, Rock, Gospel, Folk, Hip-Hop, Experimental, and Ragtime as well. Pulitzer Prize winner Ornette Coleman is one of the major innovators of free jazz in the 1960's. Eddie Durham, also notable as one of the pioneers of electric guitar, came from Texas and influenced Jazz during the swing years. Kenny Dorham, a notoriously underrated musician was one of the most active bebop trumpeters and came out of Fairfield, Texas. Buddy Holly--never enough can be said about him. Buddy Holly defined Rock & Roll. MC900 Ft. Jesus, his work said to be well ahead of it's time, merged and then obliterated the borders between Jazz, Hip-Hop, and Experimental music. Red Garland, who played with Miles Davis and John Coltrane, heavily influenced Jazz pianists for ages to come with his block chord style. Roy Orbison spanned genres and defied conventional style, time and time again. Sly Stone of Sly and the Family Stone, and namesake to Reggae great, Sly Dunbar, is a Funk, Psychedelic, Rock, and Soul progenitor. Scott Joplin, aka “King of Ragtime,” favourite son and forefather of Ragtime came from Texarcana.
Ray Price, from Perryville, Texas, diverted the path of country music more than once, be it taking it out to a new frontier, or bringing it back to it's original roots, he was often the one to give Country music what it needed when it needed it. Don Helms, a member of Hank William's Drifting Cowboys said he created an era, speaking of Price's style of Honky-Tonk. The 4/4 shuffle became known as the Ray Price beat. Years later, he diverged from form and leaned towards Popular music, singing ballads backed with full orchestration. He lost many established fans with such a change, but gained a new audience. All fans came together, though, in his version of Kris Kristofferson's For the Good Times which scored him a #1 hit for Country, a Grammy in 1971 for Best Male Country Vocal Performance, and Single of the Year in 1970 from the Academy of Country Music. His album, also titled “For the Good Times”won Album of the Year in 1970 form the Academy of Country Music. These days, Price leans towards Country classics and Gospel. He is on tour with Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard.
But what can be said about all these musicians, much more than just being notable, or masters of the craft, is that they are innovative, prototypical, or founding fathers in the history of music. What it is that leads musicians from Texas to be full of ingenuity and creativity has yet to be defined. Some have suggested that it comes from the expanse of the land, Ray Price laughed it aside as being“something in the water.”I would suggest that, not necessarily opposed to the expanse and emptiness of the land, for you can't talk of Texas without it, but that it is the people of Texas; more specifically, I think it is the richly diverse cultures and ethnic heritage and intermingling of them that lends itself to drawn upon for inspiration and implementation into the art form. I think it has something to do with breaking down barriers and building up a greater fusion. Whatever it is, it's undeniable that Texas' music has had a permanent mark and continued influence in music both fine and broad, and Texans know it, and love it, and they are right for doing so.
Guthrie Alan Corwin
For all you Ray Price fans out there there is a great website to check out:
Also I'd like to thank a bunch of websites that were kind enough to link to me. They are really cool sites and I recommend you check them out:
For all Marc Bolan and T-Rex Fans
Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett Fans: