Jason Boland & The Stragglers – “Tulsa Time”

Paul Brian | May 17th, 2010

boland-tulsa-time

Red Dirt musician Jason Boland sets his “watch back” for a live cover of classic country tune “Tulsa Time.” Boland’s performance pays homage to recently-inducted Country Music Hall of Fame member Don Williams’ 1978 original, while simultaneously pumping up the tune with renewed vigor and a Red Dirt vibe. “Tulsa Time” will be the lead single off High In The Rockies: A Live Album, and despite the apparent (especially in light of recent developments with the Stragglers) reference to casual drug use in the album’s title, Boland and company serve up enough clean country over the course of the disc to ensure that even squares have a ball.

“Tulsa Time” leads in with a steady drumbeat and bass track, skillful steel guitar and snippets of a chomping-at-the-bit fiddle. Boland’s measured vocals–with their drawn out vowels and clipped consonants–firmly establish the pace and spirit of the tune, while still sounding natural and unforced. Boland’s website says his work shows the “undeniable capability of a natural born honky-tonk communicator,” and that is hard to argue with in this tune; his vocals are in fine form here, and certainly seem to have recovered from his vocal chord injury in July of 2008.

Williams’ hits have been covered well before (Josh Turner’s version of “Lord Have Mercy on a Country Boy” comes to mind), so this single is in good company. In this live capture, Boland and his band offer up an enjoyable and talent-filled showcase–countless hours of rehearsal and a passion for the music show clearly behind this tightly-woven end product. At some points, the playful fiddling is in danger of zoning out into its own world and leaving us behind, but it finds its feet again, and in fact works well as an instrumental commentary on the footloose traveler in the song.

Here, Boland’s Oklahoma-born perspective leads us along on the narrator’s ill-fated journey to California with confidence and good humor. Maybe some of Nashville’s country musicians-turned-wannabe-actors will muster up a smile. The single also brings a sawdust-floor-atmosphere to the forefront, in contrast to Eric Clapton’s great, but decidedly more rock, 1978 live release of the song. Boland’s cover of “Tulsa Time” is enjoyable and fun without sounding like it is trying to outdo the mastery and legend of Williams. Indeed, the singer does an excellent job of bringing this song back to its origins and then spicing it up a bit. “Tulsa Time” reminds us that there is still plenty of room in the future for sincere covers of hits from the past.

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  1. [...] Harrah native Jason Boland (and the Stragglers) recorded their version of “Tulsa Time” on their 2010 live album High in the Rockies. “Boland’s cover of “Tulsa Time” is enjoyable and fun without sounding like it is trying to outdo the mastery and legend of Williams. Indeed, the singer does an excellent job of bringing this song back to its origins and then spicing it up a bit. “Tulsa Time” reminds us that there is still plenty of room in the future for sincere covers of hits from the past.” - Paul Bryan (The 9513) [...]
  1. Drew
    May 17, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    Wrong link, it’s the McCurdy song.

  2. Janice
    May 17, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    Yuck… not just the wrong link, a totally different link.

    I have heard Boland’s Tulsa Time and give it a big thumbs up.

  3. Leeann Ward
    May 17, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    My favorite Don Williams cover is Alan Jackson’s “It Must Be Love” with this one right behind it. I didn’t really like Josh Turner’s Williams cover though.

  4. Mike Wimmer
    May 17, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    The song is great and so is the album. Grab it on iTunes or the like ASAP.

  5. Steve M.
    May 17, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    I love both this cover and the album. If only I would hear this on a over the air country station.

  6. luckyoldsun
    May 17, 2010 at 11:17 pm

    The best DW cover I can think of is Lee Anne Womack on “Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good.”

  7. Mikey T
    May 18, 2010 at 1:22 am

    The Bellamy Brothers had a really great cover of DW’s “Some Broken Hearts Never Mend”. Dunno what album,but hadda really cool reggea vibe.

  8. Jon
    May 18, 2010 at 6:22 am

    If only I would hear this on a over the air country station.

    If only…then…what?

  9. sam (sam)
    May 18, 2010 at 6:58 am

    I actually did hear this on an over the air country station a few weeks ago during a “Smash or Trash” type segment.

    Personally, I like this version but I’ve heard Don Williams sing it so many times that I really have no desire to hear it on an “over the air” station. I can hear the Williams version on my iPod almost whenever I want and that is enough for me.

  10. Leeann Ward
    May 18, 2010 at 7:40 am

    Okay, luckyoldsun, you’re right. I love, love that cover. Then again, it’s really one of my personal favorite songs.

  11. Jon
    May 18, 2010 at 7:47 am

    Another voice here for Lee Ann Womack’s “Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good,” with Dan Tyminski & Ronnie Bowman singing harmony.

  12. Drew
    May 18, 2010 at 12:42 pm

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