Mrs. Twitty was not having it.
January 7, 2015 11:26 AM   Subscribe

Award shows used to be a little different than they are today: 1975 Charlie Rich lights John Denver's award ballot on fire (SLYT)
posted by josher71 (71 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Jesus those clothes. And Glenn Campbell (I think?) smoking a cigarette during his intro. Different times.
posted by Clustercuss at 11:36 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Is anyone else getting a weird pareidolia thing where they see Liza Minnelli in his shirt?
posted by phunniemee at 11:36 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Oh god are there any videos from the 1970s that aren't horrible?

So awesome. Everyone on that stage is under the influence of something. I love that the MC, whoever he is, is smoking a cigarette. Probably helps calm the jitters from all the cocaine.
posted by bondcliff at 11:38 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


I can smell the bourbon from here (and now).
posted by codacorolla at 11:38 AM on January 7, 2015


Farva: "In 1974 the great Charlie Rich won country musician of the year award, in 1975 he had to pass that award on and do you know to who? Mr. Sunshine on my god damn shoulders, John Denver, yeah can you believe it replaced by John fucking Denver. I'll be damned if Mr. Rich didn't take out his lighter and light that award on fire in front of everybody right there ... you get it?"

Rabbit: "You sayin your going to set my country music award on fire?"

Farva: "I'm saying when my suspension's up, you better watch your ass."

Rabbit: "Oh you'll light my ass on fire?"

... that's some shenanigans right there.
posted by RolandOfEld at 11:45 AM on January 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


"In 1974 the great Charlie Rich won country musician of the year award, in 1975 he had to pass that award on and do you know to who? Mr. Sunshine on my god damn shoulders, John Denver, yeah can you believe it replaced by John fucking Denver. I'll be damned if Mr. Rich didn't take out his lighter and light that award on fire in front of everybody right there ... you get it?"

Eh, watching it I don't actually think it's a comment on Denver at all. He's reaching for that lighter almost as soon as he's picked up the card with the winner's name on it. I think it's all just part of his "heh heh heh, I'm going to drag out the tension" schtick: the implicit threat being that he'll just burn the card and no one will know who won.
posted by yoink at 11:51 AM on January 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


whoever he is

It's not Glen Campbell?
posted by Cosine at 11:51 AM on January 7, 2015


It's not Glen Campbell?

I was six when that was going on, so I really have no idea who it is and can't be bothered to Google. I'll just assume it's some dude who was bigger in 1975 than he is now. I'll be perfectly happy to go with Glen Campbell.
posted by bondcliff at 11:54 AM on January 7, 2015


I assume calling Glen Campbell "whoever he is" is a gesture similar to that of burning the card.
posted by The World Famous at 11:55 AM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


First -- no applause after each nominee was announced. Please, Award Show Gods, bring this back.

Also, from the YT comments:

shit, john denver weren't never no country musician. He's just a goddamned hippie pinko.
and furthermore, I'll bet he voted for barack hussein ebola for president.
There's some top gun ghost-voting right there!
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 11:56 AM on January 7, 2015 [16 favorites]


I assume calling Glen Campbell "whoever he is" is a gesture similar to that of burning the card.

Nope. No insult intended. I know a grand total of two of his songs by name and MTV never had him on rotation in the 1980s so I never really knew what he looked like. I only know what John Denver looks like because he was always surrounded by Muppets when I was a kid.

I could probably draw a picture of Wayland Flowers and Madame from memory, however. The 1970s were a very strange time.
posted by bondcliff at 12:02 PM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Off topic a bit, but Glenn Campbell is worth catching up on for this. (Warning: possibly weepy.)
posted by Pater Aletheias at 12:06 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


(And, yeah, that's definitely Campbell hosting.)
posted by Pater Aletheias at 12:07 PM on January 7, 2015


Glen Campbell and Charley Pride.

I grew up listening to Glen Campbell. Probably knew half his songs by heart by the time I was six. Cornwall's the country music capital of the UK (or was in the 70s) and you still see old guys with 1975 Glen Campbell hair there today.
posted by pipeski at 12:09 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I totally learned to play guitar from Glen Campbell.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:13 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Glen Campbell and Charley Pride.

Yup. Easy to forget, but mainstream country music used to be an entirely more interesting scene.
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:15 PM on January 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


I know a grand total of two of his songs by name and MTV never had him on rotation in the 1980s so I never really knew what he looked like.

Now I'm imagining a bizarro-world 80s MTV where Glen Campbell had music videos played in heavy rotation along with ZZ Top's "Legs" and "Rock Me Tonite" by Billy Squier.
posted by The World Famous at 12:16 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


The silly thing is, John Denver was probably much more straight-laced than most of the Nashville Mafia Elite that Charlie Rich represents.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:16 PM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


mainstream country music used to be an entirely more interesting scene
posted by Cosine at 12:17 PM on January 7, 2015


I feel badly for mistaking Ronnie Milsap for a snarly lady.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:25 PM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Charlie Rich's son, I just learned, agrees with my take on the moment. He says his dad never had a bad word to say about Denver and was deeply opposed to the entire notion of dismissing someone as "not country enough." He thinks it was just a joke that got misread.
posted by yoink at 12:25 PM on January 7, 2015 [13 favorites]


I agree that this wasn't probably a commentary on John Denver - although it seems to have been taken that way. It's funny to look at it from here, but John Denver seems to be more on the side of traditionalism and "right" than so much of the country music that was even nominated that year (I love all those performers, genuinely, but Ronnie Milsap and Conway and even Loretta (then) are really the slickest of the slick. John Denver was cute, but pretty folky.

The year before, 1974, the Pointer Sisters, up til that point an R&B group, won best Country performance by a duo or group.
posted by dirtdirt at 12:34 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


It's funny to me to hear Glen Campbell being held up as some kind of icon of former country authenticity, too, because I grew up with his weekly TV special and endless AM-radio cross-over hits and to me he always seemed precisely the image of smoothly manufactured media-ready "country."

Which is not to say that that view is "correct" but just that "authenticity" is always a weirdly fickle and constructed concept.
posted by yoink at 12:40 PM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Cosine: mainstream country music everything used to be an entirely more interesting scene better in the good ole days
... thanks to poor human memory.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:42 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Rolling Stone:
Following the introduction, Rich lumbers up to the stage, blows a kiss, holds up the Entertainer of the Year trophy and slurs, "This is the most beautiful thing in the world right here." He then announces the nominees – John Denver, Waylon Jennings, Loretta Lynn, Ronnie Milsap, Conway Twitty – awkwardly asks Lynn out on a date and opens the envelope to read the winner. Before he announces "My good buddy, John Denver," however, he takes a lighter and sets the card on fire.

Most people interpret the event as a protest against country music's pop crossover (the CMA blacklisted him from future shows), but Rich's son disagrees, blaming the incident on an accidental combination of prescription pain medication and a few too many gin and tonics: "Anybody that knows anything at all about the history of my father will know that it simply wasn't in his mind set to judge someone for not being 'country enough,' 'blues enough,' rock enough' or 'anything enough.'"
posted by stbalbach at 12:45 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I used to work with a girl who was an Ayn Rand-reading, Nietzsche-quoting, practicing Satanist. She was trained as an opera singer and used to perform (mostly naked) in dark, avant-garde musicals at a local black box theater. Any time she gave me a ride, her car stereo inevitably would be blasting either Pantera, Slayer, or Tool.

And this gal loooved John Denver. Just adored him and his music.
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:46 PM on January 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


> He thinks it was just a joke that got misread.

This is why you should never, ever do something that could easily be misread while you're a) lit up and b) in front of an audience.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:47 PM on January 7, 2015


This is why you should never, ever do something that could easily be misread while you're a) lit up and b) in front of an audience.

True, but if your To Do list reads:

1) get lit up
2) get in front of an audience
3) don't do something that could easily be misread

1 and 2 are often going to make it hard to get to 3.
posted by yoink at 12:52 PM on January 7, 2015 [19 favorites]


The definition of "country music" is whatever is being played on country music radio stations. So if a country music station played John Denver, it was country music even if at the same time the pop music stations were playing John Denver.
posted by tommasz at 12:54 PM on January 7, 2015


I dare you. I fucking dare you to tell me Joshua Jackson isn't Conway Twitty's direct descendant.
posted by echocollate at 12:56 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Let's not let the whole torching the paper thing obscure this critical fact: Charlie Rich was fantastic.

Don't Put No Headstone on My Grave
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:00 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Jon Denver was OK and he testified against record labeling with Dee Snider. And yes, Charlie Rich was fucking great.
posted by jonmc at 1:06 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Charlie Rich and Conway Twitty are always tied for me as the performers of the best "skinny Elvis" knockoffs ever done ("Lonely Weekends" and "It's Only Make Believe," respectively). The best "fat Elvis" knockoff is of course Hamilton, Joe Frank, & Reynolds, "Don't Pull Your Love."
posted by jonp72 at 1:17 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


If that were Metafilter, I'm pretty sure Cortex would have deleted the whole damn thing. Sadly, live television offered no such option.
posted by Naberius at 1:18 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Jon Denver was OK and he testified against record labeling with Dee Snider.

A lot of that had to with how his "Rocky Mountain High" was banned, because drugs...
posted by jonp72 at 1:18 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Just to back up jonmc: Feel Like Going Home
posted by Splificator at 1:28 PM on January 7, 2015


People can't recognize the Witcheta Lineman by sight? I guess not everybody was raised watching Hee Haw, like I was. And, by that, I mean I was a latchkey kid and Hee Haw happened to be on when my parents weren't home.

There was also a commercial for country's greatest hits that ran for 300 years and included Campbell singing "I am a lineman for the county" and that was it. Just that line. But, my god, it is burned into my brain.
posted by maxsparber at 1:35 PM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


Whatever his sins, I will always offer John Denver absolution for his having led me to John Prine as a result of having included a cover of "Paradise" on Rocky Mountain High, having found the latter in my dad's record collection when I first figured out how to work the record player. Plus, his testimony in front of the PMRC doesn't hurt. He was no Frank Zappa about it, but still, he spoke out.

Don't forget that John Denver's environmentalism kind of ran afoul of the political consensus of Nixon-era Nashville - I mean, Waylon Jennings, nominated in 1975 with Denver, was asking Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way? It was called "outlaw country" for a reason.

Similar to yoink, I read Charlie Rich's burning of the ballot as taking the piss out of the "that ain't country enough" criticism of Denver at the time. Maybe attempts at wink-wink nudge-nudge irony don't come off so well when attempted on heroic doses of pain meds. I dunno.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 1:45 PM on January 7, 2015


Heh.

When I was little, when I heard "Wichita Lineman" I thought he was signing about painting lines on the highway. Never occurred to me that he was climbing poles, even with the lyric about hearing her singing in the line.

I was not a careful listener to pop music in my youth.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 1:47 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]




Okay, I'll say it: I love just about everything John Denver or Glen Campbell ever sang. I don't give a damn if somebody thinks they were or weren't "country enough" or slick or whatever the heck the label du jour might be: both were great performers, and I thank them for it.

And you'll get your hands on my original records of both singers only when you can pry them from my cold, dead hands.
posted by easily confused at 1:58 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


I used to work with a girl who was an Ayn Rand-reading, Nietzsche-quoting, practicing Satanist. She was trained as an opera singer and used to perform (mostly naked) in dark, avant-garde musicals at a local black box theater. Any time she gave me a ride, her car stereo inevitably would be blasting either Pantera, Slayer, or Tool.

She sounds both fascinating and exhausting. But probably in a really fun way.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:13 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


But....would she go to a museum on the first date?
posted by OHenryPacey at 2:21 PM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm glad that there's video evidence of the seventies because no one younger than me believes me when I talk about it.
posted by octothorpe at 2:24 PM on January 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


She sounds both fascinating and exhausting. But probably in a really fun way.

Oh, she was a peach. And this was Austin in the 90s, so it wasn't that unusual...

posted by Atom Eyes at 2:33 PM on January 7, 2015


Bonus track; Glen Campbell & Roy Clark Play an instrumental version of "Ghost Riders in the Sky". Introduced by Grandpa Wilkins.

Rhinestone Cowboy though, Dammit. Gah.
posted by vapidave at 2:36 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I used to watch the Glen Campbell show, before I knew he was part of the Wrecking Crew.
I just thought he was a country pop singer, but I loved it when he played the William Tell Overture.
(Bonus bell-bottoms)
posted by MtDewd at 2:40 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Nope. No insult intended. I know a grand total of two of his songs by name and MTV never had him on rotation in the 1980s so I never really knew what he looked like. I only know what John Denver looks like because he was always surrounded by Muppets when I was a kid.

Heh. I was also also a Hee-Haw kid, so I recognized all these people, even though I haven't thought about some of them in years. At any rate, this video of Glen Campbell and Stone Temple Pilots was probably made long after MTV stopped showing music videos, so I guess no help there. It is, however, a great version of "Wichita Lineman".
posted by oneirodynia at 2:47 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I dare you. I fucking dare you to tell me Joshua Jackson isn't Conway Twitty's direct descendant.

The hell is wrong with you? That is clearly a picture of Peter Bishop from a different universe.
posted by The World Famous at 2:59 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


The silly thing is, John Denver was probably much more straight-laced than most of the Nashville Mafia Elite that Charlie Rich represents.

I hadn't ever considered Denver in this light, because he was such a pothead, but I think he was probably the kind of pothead that would get all wigged out if you passed his joint to someone he didn't know. I remember his nickname during the oil crisis was His Rocky Mountain Highness because he bought a giant tank of gas and sunk it in his backyard or something. Regardless, "Annie's Song" is one of the most evocative and rich love songs ever penned by anyone. Dave Alvin of The Blasters used to say you couldn't be a good singer-songwriter if you weren't capable of communicating what your song was about when you sang it- Springsteen and "Born in the USA" was the example he always gave of poor communication. I think whether or not John Denver was a bit of a control freak, he was a pretty sweet singer-songwriter. "Country Roads" is perfectly crafted for AM radio, windows-down, dusty road trip singalongs, and even as a kid I could imagine the landscape he sung about in my mind's eye.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:02 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I never knew about Denver's folk singer history until way after all those Muppet Show episodes. Blew my mind.
posted by JoeZydeco at 3:06 PM on January 7, 2015


mandolin conspiracy: "Whatever his sins, I will always offer John Denver absolution for his having led me to John Prine as a result of having included a cover of "Paradise" on Rocky Mountain High, having found the latter in my dad's record collection when I first figured out how to work the record player. "

My family (of almost exclusively Republicans) only had one 8-track we could mostly agree on for family trips - John Denver's "Aerie". A Prine cover, A Kristofferson cover, a Buddy Holly cover, three Bill Danoff tunes, and a song about a pet rabbit that still makes me tear up at 40.

John Denver's ok in my book.
posted by notsnot at 3:12 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


When I was little, when I heard "Wichita Lineman" I thought he was signing about painting lines on the highway.

When I was little I thought "lyming" was a regional dialect word for feeling nostalgic.

I still like the song. Gotta pretty guitar solo alright.
posted by ovvl at 3:32 PM on January 7, 2015


that's a baritone guitar solo - they do pretty very well
posted by pyramid termite at 4:41 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'll always remember Charley Pride for having one of the first copy-protected CDs with his Jim Reeves tribute album in the early 00's.

I'm sure both people who bought the record were disappointed they couldn't easily burn that sucker.
posted by dr_dank at 4:58 PM on January 7, 2015




Just to back up jonmc: Feel Like Going Home

Oh HELL yeah. If you guys (and geezers) only know Charlie Rich from his countrypolitan days, please cue up that sucker. Or click that link, as the kids say these days.
posted by maudlin at 5:17 PM on January 7, 2015


The Mitchell Trio (including a young John Denver), 1965: The I Was Not A Nazi Polka.
posted by the bricabrac man at 5:19 PM on January 7, 2015


There’s an strange sense of unease after Denver finishes his acceptance speech. It’s like there was an unexpected 30 seconds left to fill. Campbell shifts his eyes off camera a couple of times and makes some false starts before slipping into the rehearsed patter. Are there meant to be jokes in this? I can’t tell. It’s like Eurovision banter.

- It’s been a great evening, Charley, and it’s nearly time to say good night.
- Now, not without regard for the Bicentennial, Glen.
- You’re right.
[pause, no laughter]
- Now, without, any regard, I’ll tell ya -- let’s have -- it seems fitting that we call on a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, and the man known far and wide as Mr. Nashville, and that’s up next after this word from Kraft.
- Right
[slooww fade into advert, smirking and bopping]

The whole thing is what I imagine corporate awards shows nowadays are like, where they give out prizes for best car salesman in a hotel ballroom.
posted by rollick at 5:56 PM on January 7, 2015


Darn - I never heard that "Tools" song before. [Goes and pets rabbits.]
posted by lagomorphius at 6:01 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Bourbon and quaaludes are a


hell

of a thing
posted by clvrmnky at 6:16 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


oneirodynia: "Dave Alvin of The Blasters used to say you couldn't be a good singer-songwriter if you weren't capable of communicating what your song was about when you sang it- Springsteen and "Born in the USA" was the example he always gave of poor communication."

Wow, that's not even wrong.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:59 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Conway Twitty.
The Residents.
Conway Twitty and the Residents.

Who's country now?
 
posted by Herodios at 7:31 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Please, Award Show Gods, bring this back.

I wonder if those helmets most of the men are wearing will ever come back? Must be hard to get a new one if even Donald Trump can't get a decent one.
posted by juiceCake at 9:30 PM on January 7, 2015


"Dave Alvin of The Blasters used to say you couldn't be a good singer-songwriter if you weren't capable of communicating what your song was about when you sang it- Springsteen and "Born in the USA" was the example he always gave of poor communication."

This is so wrong. Born in the USA is very clear what it's about. I understand that people got it wrong, but that's not Springsteen's fault. It's pretty much all out there in that song.
posted by josher71 at 7:01 AM on January 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


I never knew about Denver's folk singer history until way after all those Muppet Show episodes.

I saw John Denver 10 years before the Muppets, in a <300-seat club a few weeks after his first RCA album came out. No big orchestra behind him, no other musicians at all, just him and his guitar. I thought he was fantastic; in fact, I went back to the same place nine months later to see him again.

I remember his nickname during the oil crisis was His Rocky Mountain Highness because he bought a giant tank of gas and sunk it in his backyard or something.

Some people say the gas tank thing was a bad rap.
posted by LeLiLo at 10:50 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's very obvious that the card burning was no comment on Denver. People just want to see controversy.
"Pain meds?" Country musicians were doing as much dope as rock musicians were. They just didn't flaunt it as much. And there was always a ton of booze backstage at any kind of event, and, as far as I know, still is. But yes, the seventies were certainly a much less conservative time than the last few decades have been. *sigh* I keep waiting for the pendulum to swing back...
So, what was Mrs. Twitty saying?
posted by sudon't at 11:46 AM on January 8, 2015


"Dave Alvin of The Blasters used to say you couldn't be a good singer-songwriter if you weren't capable of communicating what your song was about when you sang it- Springsteen and "Born in the USA" was the example he always gave of poor communication."

This is so wrong. Born in the USA is very clear what it's about. I understand that people got it wrong, but that's not Springsteen's fault. It's pretty much all out there in that song.


I think the delivery of the song is pretty much entirely Springsteen's fault. Unless someone else insisted he sing it and record it as it was introduced to the American public in 1984, he bears a significant proportion of the responsibility for its presentation. Of course the reception was not helped by George Will's salivating review of Springsteen's concert: 'I have not got a clue about Springsteen’s politics, if any, but flags get waved at his concerts while he sings songs about hard times. He is no whiner, and the recitation of closed factories and other problems always seems punctuated by a grand, cheerful affirmation: “Born in the U.S.A.!”' I think it is pretty clear that Springsteen understood that the original arrangement lead to confusion for many people:


"The sound of Born in the USA was martial, modal, and straight ahead. The lyrics dealt with the problems Vietnam gets faced when they came back home after fighting in "the only war that America had ever lost". In order to understand the song's intent, you needed to invest a certain amount of time and effort to absorb both the music and the words. But that's not the way a lot of people use pop music . . .

A songwriter writes to be understood. Is the way you choose to present your music its politics? Is the sound and form your song takes its content?

Over the years I've had an opportunity to reinterpret Born in the USA many times in concert. Particularly on the Tom Joad tour, I had a version that could not be misconstrued. But those interpretations always stood in relief to the original and gained some of their new power from the audience's previous experience with the original version. On the album, Born in the USA was in its most powerful presentation. If I tried to undercut or change the music, I believe I would have had a record that might have been more easily understood, but not as good. "

Springsteen says that he chose the "powerful presentation" over a clear message- which is entirely his right, of course. It doesn't change the fact that the most familiar version of the song by Springsteen happens to be a great example of presentation obscuring content.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:12 PM on January 8, 2015


In this instance clarity/being understood sounds a lot like "dumbing down". I understand your argument, I think, but just disagree.
posted by josher71 at 3:39 PM on January 8, 2015


yeah, there's something a little too celebratory and boastful about born in the usa as springsteen first did it - that, and it's got an overbearing drumbeat, a more or less one chord arrangement and vocals that obscure the message of the verses - especially when it's got a chorus that's made for singing at football stadiums by masses of patriots - and you just can't tell me springsteen didn't know that when he wrote the song - it's a monster hook and he knew it and probably knew some people would misinterpret it to the tune of millions of bucks in his bank account if he hit them over the head with it and let the rest of the song be obscured by it

i got tired of it pretty fast, even after i figured out what he was really singing about - dave alvin has a point - but dave alvin hasn't made millions by communicating poorly, either

at least bruce doesn't do that very often
posted by pyramid termite at 5:13 AM on January 10, 2015


I always felt like Bruce was intentionally trolling with the album version of Born in the USA. I'm sure he knew that it would be misinterpreted by people like George Will who didn't bother to listen to the verses or were too dumb to get that the chorus was ironic.
posted by octothorpe at 7:54 AM on January 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


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