Today we pay tribute to a country music legend. There has been a long tradition of country comedians that goes on to this day, and none have even come close to the longevity and popularity of Sarah Ophelia Colley Cannon, known throughout the world as the Gal from Grinder’s Switch, Minnie Pearl. Cannon was a theater major in college who developed the Pearl character in 1939, picking up her signature hat in a Nashville department store for $1.98. One year later, she got her first chance on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry and was an instant success, and was regular at the Opry until her stroke in 1991. During those 51 years, she performed with everyone (on the Hank Williams at the Opry disc, Hank does two routines with Minnie) and as the years went on, she not only encourage other comedians, but she mentored artists like Vince Gill, k.d. lang and Chely Wright. Minnie was a breast cancer survivor who campaigned to fight the disease. Rare is the entertainer who can say he or she was a star for a half a century. Minnie Pearl was one of those rare entertainers, who made generations of fans laugh with her traditional homespun humor. Give Minnie a big birthday How-dee!!! by grabbing your iPod or MP3 player, hitting shuffle and sharing the first 10 songs that come up.
The Vapors – Daylight Titans (Magnets): One of my favorite songs off the second and final album from this underrated one hit wonder. This song is definitely cut from the same cloth as fourth or fifth album stuff from The Jam. A nifty post-punk song with a great melodic middle eight. David Fenton was a really good songwriter.
The Dickies – Shadow Man (Incredible Shrinking Dickies): A deep cut from the debut LP by this L.A. punk band with a real glam rock influence. This is not as hooky as their best stuff, but it still rocks well and is a lot of fun, especially the horn section playing “Tequila” near the end of the track.
The Wildhearts – Geez Louise (Stop Us If You Heard This One Before, Vol. 1): This is from The Wildhearts’ all covers album. I don’t know the original, which is from a group called The Unband. But this big riff rocker is right up The Wildhearts’ alley. UPDATE: I watched a video for the original – great tune, but The Wildhearts top it, with stronger vocals, in particular.
The Urinals – U (Negative Capability...Check It Out!): Barely a half a minute hardcore number from a band making back-to-back shuffle appearances.
The Fall – Fit and Working Again (Palace of Swords Reversed): Playful early Fall single. This takes their scratchy, wobbly rockabilly sound into a bit more polished territory, with the bass and keyboards dominating in an unusual performance where the instruments are subdued, with Mark E. Smith’s less cranky vocals up front.
Diana Ross & The Supremes – You Can’t Hurry Love (Anthology): Perhaps the most ripped off bass line in history. A song so great, even Phil Collins couldn’t kill it.
Joey Burns Creamy Originals – Do It All the Time (Abridged Perversion): An odd number from a Shrimper Records compilation from Joey Burns, later of Calexico. This is a twee moody guitar lament.
The Fall – I Am Damo Suzuki (This Nation’s Saving Grace): Classic track with Mark E. Smith invoking the lead singer of Can. This song has a crazy build up and is full of furious percussion and sounds not quite like anything else in The Fall’s considerable catalog.
Roger Miller – Lou’s Got the Flu (King of the Road: The Genius of Roger Miller): The first verse alone is worth the price of admission, with Miller’s loopy lyrical logic. Miller wrote the same basic tune, over and over, with a mid-tempo twang supporting his oddball observations. It works every time.
Graham Parker – Silly Thing (Howlin’ Wind): The early Graham Parker is full of fine R & B fueled rock numbers in the vein of early Van Morrison. This is one of them. Parker never hit it big in the U.S., and one wonders if Mercury had promoted his first two albums more he could have gotten a bigger foothold in the market. If Southside Johnny could garner significant airplay, catchy tunes like this should have too.