Friday, July 26, 2013

Sweethearts of the Rodeo - 2011

One of the best country groups to come out of the late 1980’s were the Sweethearts of the Rodeo, who take their name from the Gram Parson’s inspired album title “Sweetheart of the Rodeo” which was recorded when Gram was a member of The Byrds in the late 1960’s. Parsons left The Byrds in England en-route to a segregated concert in South Africa. When he found that out; from Keith Richards; he quit the band and spent the next few years living with him. The Rolling Stones and The Beatles were among the first of the rock bands who refused to play there. That’s the story behind the name of this band.

Sisters Janice and Kristin Oliver formed the band when they were in their teens, playing under the name The Oliver Sisters, and performing bluegrass music in their native California. Emmylou Harris is credited with “discovering” the two sisters and getting them work with other artists. Through Emmylou Harris, Janis Oliver met Vince Gill in 1977 when he was 19 years old and she was 23. Vince Gill was a member of The Pure Prairie League at the time. They were married and later divorced. Kristine married Leonard Arnold of the band Blue Steel and soon after the turn of the decade stopped touring while raising kids.

My favorite album of theirs was the least popular one at the time of its release, but has become somewhat of a legend in country circles. “Buffalo Zone” was the next to the last album they recorded for Columbia in 1990. Although none of the songs became smash hits, the album is still held in high regard. Of the 4 albums and twelve singles they recorded for Columbia between 1986 and 1991, they reached the Top Ten on the Country charts seven times in the 1980s. Their two landmark singles peaked at No. 4 on the charts. Those recordings were "Midnight Girl/Sunset Town" and "Chains of Gold," which were both recorded in 1987. At the time they had 7 singles in the Top Ten on the Hot Country Songs charts.

In the mid 1990’s they began to tour and record again for Sugar Hill Records, releasing 2 albums before they seemingly disappeared for a while. They owned a clothing store in Franklin, Tennessee called “Gill and Arnold.”

This video was taken around 1992 and contains some of their best work, including the song “Como Se Dice” which has become a signature song they still perform today. It’s the 5th song in the video and well worth the wait if you have never heard it. The story revolves around a woman who roams the barrios asking  how to say I love you in Spanish. The title actually translates as “How Do You Say” in English, with the phrase “I Love You” in parenthesis. Her lover has been talking Spanish in his sleep and she is desperate to find out what he has been saying, suggesting that he has taken a lover.

Here is a list of the 6 songs in this video;

1) Wake Me Up
2) Blue to the Bone
3) Uphill All The Way
4) This Heart
5) Como Se Dice (I Love You)
6) Satisfy You

Beneath the video there is some French writing which compares the sisters to the Everly Brothers, due mostly to their tightly knit high harmonies, often referred to as a “high lonesome sound.” Apparently this video is from a television show called Country Box. The last line seems to lament, or perhaps deny, the death of true country music, citing the two women as staving off the death of true country music. At least that’s what I think it says.

I could use the translator option, but that takes all the fun out of guessing. Plus, if I’m wrong, I get more e-mails. Everyone loves to tell you when you’re wrong about something. But no matter what, I’m right about these two truly talented women and their contribution in keeping country music alive.

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