Friday Five: Actors
There are several songs about acting in general—Merle Haggard’s “Bad Actor” and Buck Owens’ “Act Naturally”—are two that quickly come to mind, but today we’ll get a little more specific.
- 5. “Ashley Judd” – Charlie Sizemore
This dryly humorous bluegrass tune is from Sizemore’s new album Heartache Looking for a Home. Her mother may be nice and her sister may “sing good,” but Sizemore is in love with the actress who doesn’t know he exists and also happens to be married to a race car driver. Hope springs eternal, Charlie.
- 4. “Brand New Kind of Actress” – Jason Isbell
The leadoff song from 2007’s Sirens of the Ditch is about Lana Clarkson, the actress who was shot and killed by Phil Spector. Here, Isbell sings from a couple perspectives, but when he sings as Clarkson, begging “just put the piece away,” it’s downright chilling.
- 3. “Thank Heavens for Dale Evans” – Dixie Chicks
This one’s from the band’s pre-stardom, pre-Maines days. It’s a rollicking tune with some excellent yodeling, and best of all, it pays tribute to that wonderful singing, songwriting actress who “made a cowgirl” of many a young lady.
- 2. “Jean Arthur” – Robbie Fulks
Fulks is pretty fond of this movie star of the 1930s and ’40s, as he sings that her beauty would stump the minds of all the Max Factor experts, and her voice puts violins to shame. I think a prewar Gibson banjo could give her a run for her money, though.
- 1. “Who’s Gene Autry” – Johnny Cash
When his son asks who Gene Autry is, Cash explains all about the singing cowboy (whose bullets never drew blood, but somehow seemed to drop the bad guys anyway) whose movies “made the world look better” to a poor country boy. For more on the man, check out Marty Robbins’ wonderful “Gene Autry, My Hero.”