Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Charlie Louvin: You can’t sell tobacco with gospel music



Today is Charlie Louvin’s 82nd birthday. (Actually, it was yesterday, by now. Gemini Spacecraft: bringing you the LATEST breaking news all the time!) Anyway, pictured above is Charlie on the left, with his fun-lovin’ brother Ira. Check out Ira’s boots! Man! Would I love to nab a pair as flashy as that some day.



Also pictured is the cover of what is probably the Louvin Brothers’ most famous record, Satan is Real, for my money their greatest collection of gospel performances. If, while listening to this one, you don't feel the spirit, for at least a few minutes anyway, then you're probably doomed. Personal favorites on this album include “The River of Jordan” and “There is a Higher Power.” AA types can put that last one in the jug and chug-a-lug it. I also love their song “Broadminded” (as in “That word, Broadminded, is spelled S-I-N"), but I have only a cassette copy, for which I lack both the means and know-how to digitize.

Spirituals might provide food for the soul, but, like the man say, you can't sell tobacco with gospel music. One of the rockinest Louvin Brothers singles has got to be “Cash on the Barrelhead,” good for a shot of the secular, not to mention sound economic advice. Works on the micro and macro-economic level. Like that tough old telephone operator says on the second verse: “That’ll be cash on the barrelhead, son/ Not part, not half, but the entire sum/ No money down/ No payment plan/ ‘Cause a little bird tells me/ You’re a travelin’ man.”

5 comments:

WESTEX said...

Love, love, love the Louvin Brothers. Few catalogs are deeper or consistently richer.

One of Charlie's best is "Drive Me Out of My Mind" from the late 60s.

I jukeboxed it here...
http://westex-countrywestern.blogspot.com/2009/05/urge-for-going-cheaters-jukebox.html

Bob Pomeroy said...

Thanks for the link Westex. I wonder, can you, or anyone else, recommend a good book on the Louvin Brothers, esp about wildman Ira? Who knows, maybe that one's still waiting to be written.

Westex said...

I don't know if a book about the Louvins has been written, but that would be an AMAZING story. The best I've so far read has been Nicholas Dawidoff's piece on them in his book "In The Country of Country".

The RedBoy said...

I love their version of 'Knoxville Girl' offa 'Songs of Tragedy'

Bob Pomeroy said...

Yes, "Knoxville Girl" is a good one too. Dress a murder ballad up in pretty church-sangin' and it becomes even spookier.

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