Friday Five: Actors

Juli Thanki | March 4th, 2011

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.

  • Heartache Looking For A Home5. “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.

  • Sirens of the Ditch4. “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.

  • Thank Heavens for Dale Evans3. “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.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5IiJ0b-Q7M

  • The Very Best of Robbie Fulks2. “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.

  • I Would Like to See You Again1. “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.”

  1. Stormy
    March 4, 2011 at 10:05 am

    What ever happened to Randolph Scott?

    Sorry, just had to ask.

  2. timeo
    March 4, 2011 at 11:48 am

    You’re right Stormy. The movies are great medicine. Thank you Thomas Edison!

  3. Stormy
    March 4, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    The DBTs also had a point when they said that:
    George A. never saw John Wayne on the sands of Iwo Jima

  4. Fizz
    March 4, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Didn’t somebody do one about Buck Jones and the Coconut Grove fire?

  5. Ben Milam
    March 4, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    one of my favorite drive by trucker songs: steve mcqueen. “never had an empty bottle or an empty bed and as cool as paul newman was, old steve could still whup his ass”

  6. Ollie
    March 4, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    “James Dean” -The Eagles

  7. Fizz
    March 4, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    Not technically a country song (although it was reworked and re-recorded with the subtitle “Country Version” for a later EP) but I always loved “The Ballad of Jayne” (Mansfield” by L.A. Guns. “You were always on my mind / Childlike summer days in the sun / Slowly wishes turn to sadness / Time don’t heal a broken gun …”

  8. Donald
    March 4, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    Not strictly country, but kinda…he called Johnny Cash father-in-law for some time. Nick Lowe’s “Marie Provost” has always been a fave, even before I understood what the song was about.

    Antsy McClain’s “Ron Howard’s Brother” is down-right brilliant…’hang out with other famous people like Jim Beloushi and Randy Quaid.’

  9. Rick
    March 4, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    I think rock and pop artists have crafted better tribute songs to well know thespians. At the top of the heap is Elton John’s “Candle In The Wind”, followed by the aforementioned Eagles song “James Dean”. Honorable mention goes to the Kinks’ song “Celluloid Heroes” for its name checking of early film stars. And how can we forget the Counting Crows song “Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby” inspired by one band member’s desire for actress Monica Potter! (lol)

    Here’s a link to what appears to be an interesting book about real women who inspired many a famous rock song although few are actresses. Oh well…

    Link: http://www.amazon.com/Girl-Song-Stories-Behind-Classics/dp/1569765308

  10. Bob
    March 5, 2011 at 7:22 am

    From Doug Stone’s “Too Busy Being in Love” written by Victoria Shaw & Gary Burr.
    “I could have written a play so sweet and so funny
    Given old Mr. Shakespeare a run for his money”
    and
    “I could have written the part to make young lovers crazy
    I could have written the movie for Hepburn and Tracy”

  11. Paul W Dennis
    March 6, 2011 at 3:57 am

    Bertie Higgins had some great lines in “Key Largo” about Bogie (Humphrey Bogard) and Bacall (Betty “Lauren” Bacall)

    “We had it all
    Just like Bogie and Bacall
    Starring in our old late, late show
    Sailing away to Key Largo”

  12. luckyoldsun
    March 6, 2011 at 11:17 pm

    Alan Jackson’s “Here In The Real World” kind of fits the bill.

Tagged In This Article

// // // // // // // //

Current Discussion

  • Jeff Miller: Yeah, the first time I played Jimmie Rodgers for my wife & daughter- they were aghast that he was singing …
  • David Cantwell: I think it more helpful to think of Americana not as a genre but as a format--and, perhaps better, and …
  • Juli Thanki: That would definitely be better than Marvel's hilariously terrible Billy Ray Cyrus comic book, released in 1995. http://4thletter.net/2009/02/billy-ray-cyrus-the-marvel-comic-book-yes-really/
  • Applejack: "I’m sure there are many ways to lasso in and constrict any genre or format, any of them, so tightly …
  • Emily: Wow!! Fabulous! Love those boots and you all look stunning! xo
  • Leeann Ward: Bangor is named somewhat commonly in country songs. It's usually their example of the most north you can go: Vince …
  • bob: Portland West was almost Boston West. From Names on the Land by George Stewart: "When more people arrived in Oregon, Amos …
  • Jack Williams: There's "Eight More Miles To Louisville", where Portland is referred to as Portland East.
  • nm: Of course, Bangor is also mentioned in "I've Been Everywhere."
  • Stuart Munro: As if that's what this discussion is doing, Barry. I'm for the online commenters thinking about and discussing the music …

Recently Reviewed Albums

  • paulthorntooblessed
  • duhksbeyondtheblue
  • kelleymickwee
  • sandrarhodes
  • candi staton
  • sturgillsimpsonmetamodern
  • raypricebeautyis
  • rodneycrowelltarpapersky