Saturday Morning Musical Musings: Alan Jackson & Story Songs

Driving home from work the other night, I heard Alan Jackson’s rendition of the 1973 Merle Haggard classic “If We Make It Through December,” from his Honky Tonk Christmas cd. It was more or less a faithful rendition of the original, but I don’t really see anything wrong with that. I think it’s cool to hear artists put their own stamp on the songs from the artists that influenced them, but one could say they do that even with the almost note-for-note renditions because they’re doing it with their own voice. Alan’s done this before with his Under the Influence cd — one I’d highly recommend, and something I’d love to see George Strait do before he rides off into the sunset — but I’d love to see Alan do something like “Alan Jackson Sings Merle Haggard’s Biggest Hits: ‘Mama Tried,’ ‘Ramblin’ Fever,’ ‘I Think I’ll Just Stay Here And Drink’ And More.” Maybe one day we’ll be so lucky.
Speaking of the Hag and that Honky Tonk Christmas cd, the title track has one of the best lines from a song I’ve ever heard…
“Hey Joe, pour me some Christmas spirit…if I make it through December, I’ll be fine…”

I’ve always loved the songs that told stories, and there have been some good ones through the years…a few that come to mind are Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode to Billy Joe,” Gordon Lightfoot’s “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” and even Cal Smith’s “Country Bumpkin.” Maybe I am biased on that last one because of the great memories it evokes for me, but I still love it anyway. But doing the blog-run this morning, I clicked a link that took me to another one of those story songs, one that’s always made the hair stand up on the back of my neck. There were a lot of Chris LeDoux’s songs I didn’t really care for too much, but there’s no denying he was the real deal. And I am not sure his version of the song featured in the video below was the original, but even if it wasn’t I could certainly see him writing it. I remember hearing another recording somewhere but for the life of me can’t find mention of it anywhere, but it was Chris LeDoux who took the song and made it immortal.

“…you’ll ride a black tornado, across the Western sky, take an old blue norther, and milk it till it’s dry…bulldog the Mississippi, and pin its ears down flat, long before you take this cowboy’s hat…”

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