Tony Joe White passed away on October 24, 2018. He died suddenly at home of a heart attack only weeks after the release of his album Bad Mouthin’. The following piece is adapted from a review of White’s album The Heroines with additional observations on his collaborations with Shelby Lynne.
Tony Joe White’s music is generally described as swamp rock, and it is true that he was one of the first performers to have a hit record with that sound. Back in 1969, when “Polk Salad Annie” became a hit record, there were a few other performers, mostly black, playing a swampy cocktail of sounds from the southern United States, but the mainstream public had never really heard most of them.
Songwriter: Jimmy Webb Recorded by: Don Ho, Glenn Campbell, Jimmy Webb
In 1969, public sentiment against the Vietnam War had grown strong in the United States. It was a year after the TET offensive and Richard Nixon, who had campaigned on the promise of peace with honor was the fifth US president looking for a way out of the war. As ’69 wore on, there was outrage over the senseless loss of American soldiers at Hamburger Hill, and the NY Times broke the story, exposed through leaks, of the secrete bombing of Cambodia. In addition, two of the largest anti-war protests draw crowds over 250,000 to Washington D.C.
Ira and Charlie Louvin are links between so many worlds: the sepia-toned individualism of what Greil Marcus refers to as ‘The Old, Weird America,’ the traditional country music background of performers such as Johnny Cash, the bluegrass tradition—Ira and Charlie were considered one of the best bluegrass duos at a time when Bill Monroe was already an established star—and straight into the heart of rock and roll and pop music with the success of the Everly Brothers, who modeled their work on the Louvins’ ‘close harmonies.’ They began, and first gained recognition, as a gospel recording act, and they never completely abandoned that aspect of their work even as their star rose in the mainstream country music world. Continue reading The Louvin Brothers: Tragic Songs of Life and Satan Is Real→