Artist: Ray Price
Album: Night Life
“When the evening sun goes down you will find me hanging round
Oh the night life ain’t no good life but it’s my life”
I regret what I said in my last post. I realise now the error I have made. I know, I know, I’ll admit I said I wanted change in music. I did. I was growing tired of the same old jazz instrumentals. I wanted to hear something different, break the mold a bit. But when I said that, this is not what I wanted or hoped for. You’re treading dangerous territory here 1001 albums list, very dangerous territory with me. I was hoping for rock or ska or world music or freaking anything but this. But you heard my plea and delivered. Next time I should be more specific.
For those who don’t know, I hate country music. I really do. It’s the only genre of music I cannot stand at all. Even though I have experienced country songs that I did like and said “This is not as bad as I thought it would be”, as a whole I try to avoid it best I can. Heck, I can tolerate folk music more than country, and folk I find boring as all hell. (That being said, it’s purely a personal taste and does not take away from the actual merits of folk music because I still respect it and can see why it’s a great genre that people love). Country on the other hand… I just can’t see it. I don’t get it. It feels like the music of the country hicks who get a kick out of simplicity. That’s harsh I know, but I cannot repeat it enough that I just can’t stand country music. I came close to loving it with Marty Robbins, but the big difference was his added a cowboy, western twang to it that I quite enjoy. Not this… not this at all.
I want to make it very clear before I start that yes, I am incredibly biased when it comes to country music. I’m completely aware that there are people out there who love it and hold it dear to their hearts and can probably argue why it is great. I have not met these people yet. Not one person has sold me country music yet. You like it, even love it? Fantastic! Great! I fucking hate it with a burning passion.
I’ll admit, with enough booze in me I can enjoy the hell out of line dancing, but for a limited time only. What is it with line dancing, especially within the french canadian community, that is so popular? I don’t get it. Everytime I go to a Quebecer wedding, it’s plagued with non-stop country music and just people line dancing the ENTIRE. FUCKING. NIGHT. WHAT THE HELL?! How do they not get tired of repeating the same exact motion over and over again for five goddamn hours. I got to say I do admire the level of dedication that these country lovers have to pure torturous monotony. In all honesty, you should probably never compete in a dance marathon against them, they will never drop or stop as they line-dance to any song that fucking plays.
Yee-haw, Mother fuckers.
Ok, Ok, enough Bosco. ENOUGH! We are nor here to shit on a perfectly fine, albeit annoying, genre. We are here to talk about Ray Price and his damn album, Night Life. Got it? Ok…
As a whole the album isn’t bad. Sure, I wasn’t crazy about it because I’m not a country lover, but for those who are this is definitely one for them. This came out at a time where Honky Tonk and Country were sort of being drowned out by the new-comers of British Invasion and were having a difficult time staying relevant. This album managed to hit the top of the billboards before there even was a Top Country Billboard (Which says a lot about the genre if they had to make their own damn Billboard chart). But I can see why.
This is a staple of Country music. Everything cliche and stereotype you can think of is in this album. For someone who never listens to country, this album is exactly what you would think country to be. It hits all the usual themes of romance, women, drinking, lonely nights, street corners and heartbreak. Musically it offers the same damn guitar chords over and over, with a corny-ass fiddle playing emotionally along, adding to that cheesy feel that most people dislike about country. Musically it’s so sappy, making you feel this level of melo-drama you see in shitty romance films. It’s not cringey, but you can’t help but want wine with that cheese. When he sings about leaving his lady but not really wanting to because it’s his lady, how can you not feel like telling him to shut up and make up his damn mind already. Heck, you already know what you’re getting into when he opens a song singing about getting loaded on a bottle of gin. fantastic, a drunk women-lover.
I’m doing it again. I said I’d do this with an open-mind, I really did. I gotta try again. Positive Country thoughts…. Ok. I got it.
When I was in University I had a class called Roots of Rock N Roll, which was a fantastic class that exposed me to so many genres and songs I hadn’t experienced before. it really expanded my mind and gave me a butt-load of knowledge about music history. As part of an assignment we had to go visit this country type club that had musicians go up and perform songs (one of whom was our teacher). Cool, he was always playing music in class, so we knew he was damn good. Would be fun.
For the write-up, we had to write about our experience and include the songs that were sung during the performances. Should be easy right? yeah, if we could understand a damn word they were saying.
Every performance basically went like this:
“Ok so now I’m gonna sing a song called I wahnergettbabhatning”
…what? What was the title? What the hell did they say? No worries, the title is always repeated in the chorus, we will be hearing it multiple times.
The singers would repeatedly sing the entire song perfectly clear, every word crisp as day, enunciated beautifully. But when that fucking chorus came along, suddenly they developed this heavy southern drawl that garbled up all the words together and became complete gibberish. Boy did we have a good laugh about that.
I will say this, Ray Price’s southern drawl, which isn’t that strong, actually adds a lot to the performance. It’s hard not to hear country music without it and it does add another layer to the proverbial onion that is country music. Especially when the album starts with him interrupting his song by talking over it and introducing the album to us. Thanks for that Ray, that’s what I was hoping for, three minutes of you telling us about the album and how you made it for us (us being his fans and clearly not me). Thank you for informing me about all the topics you’re going to sing about and thank you for telling me to enjoy it. Don’t patronize me, you bastard. It’s great that this is immediately followed by a repeat fo the song he was talking over, just to make sure we got to hear it in all it’s glory. The album starts with the same exact song played twice. Fucking twice.
Honestly… if I wasn’t paying attention I would have never noticed because stylistically it’s so damn repetitive. There’s absolutely not musical diversity to it, with each song sounding almost exactly alike, played in the exact same style, with some minor differences to make it a different song… I guess. Heck, the way he sings barely changes in tone form song to song and follows the same pattern. I think that’s one of the main reasons I dislike country. It’s heavily formulaic and doesn’t move away from this apparently winning formula. It almost always all sounds the same to me. I have a hard time differentiating between the songs because of how similar they all are. Imagine my excitement when the song “Bright Lights and Blonde-Haired Women” kicked in with something that was actually different. Then imagine my disappointment when it immediately devolved right back into this magic fucking formula it has to follow. Dear god… CHANGE! BE DIFFERENT FOR ONE SONG. It was so hard to choose a song of choice because all the damn songs sound the fucking same.
I’ve done it again. I can’t seem to help myself when it comes to Country… I’m sure there’s something I’m just not quite grasping or understanding or… getting. Maybe it’s just me, my ears aren’t in tune to country music and for all I know each song is it’s own unique specimen and I’m completely crazy that I just can’t hear it. Maybe Country music lovers are on a whole different level than us haters when it comes to listening. Ray Price is a completely charismatic dude and plays and sings damn well… so there must be something I just can’t hear… right?
Until then though my feelings won’t change. I still fucking hate country music.
Song of Choice: Night Life
p.s. In case you were wondering, the company I work for ended up winning that Oscar! Pretty awesome.