Mickey Baker Passes Away; Christmas Music from Chuck Mead, JD McPherson; Best Live Acts of 2012

Juli Thanki | November 29th, 2012

  • Mickey “Guitar” Baker passed away at the age of 87. He might be best-known for “Love is Strange,” his hit with Sylvia Robinson.
  • Bart Crow was interviewed by CMT’s Craig Shelburne.
  • Justin Townes Earle, Gary Clark, Jr., and Neil Young & Crazy Horse made Paste’s Best 25 Live Acts of 2012 countdown. What were the best shows you saw this year?
  • Listen to a live performance of “The Poet at 33,” a song that’ll be on Drew Kennedy’s next record.
  • Sean L. Maloney wrote a Nashville Scene feature on John Dougan’s new book, The Mistakes of Yesterday, the Hopes of Tomorrow: The Story of The Prisonaires. An excerpt from the article: Rising from a rec-yard gospel quartet in one the state’s most brutal jails to the faces of prison reform in ’50s Tennessee, The Prisonaires were anachronism — prisoners granted greater freedoms precisely for what Dougan calls their “convictness.”
  • The Huffington Post put together a slideshow of Dolly Parton photos and quotes about her breasts.
  • An excerpt from Carrie Allen Tipton’s new PopMatters column, “Country Music Hollers Back at Hip Hop”: One of the easiest ways to set about explaining who you are is to explain who you are not. As Tichi noted, for country music, this enterprise has historically taken the shape of positioning rural social values against urban mores. What intensifies this longstanding tradition, however, is a pattern I noticed about five years ago. A lot of popular country songs that valorize rural life do so, somewhat improbably, by appropriating elements of hip-hop culture and rap music—the most “urban” of all music in the American imagination. The result? In satirizing musical and lyrical gestures drawn from a genre rooted historically in African American visions of the city, the songs launch a targeted critique of urban modernity and postmodernity that inescapably, though perhaps incidentally, also targets black cultural expression. On the flip side, when pondering exactly who possesses agency in this complex transaction, one considers the perspective voiced by Michael Eric Dyson in his essay “This Dark Diction Has Become America’s Addiction.” Dyson suggests that due to the globalization of black cultural products, particularly rap music, the colonized have become the colonizer, shifting the historic balance of power towards the marginalized. So, is country music poaching, or is rap music dominating? Probably the answer is—yes. It’s nothing new for this supposedly lily-white genre to interface with black music. Bill Malone’s book Country Music, U.S.A., documents exchanges between working-class blacks and whites in the genre’s formative years, resulting in white acceptance of “the spirituals, the blues, ragtime, jazz, rhythm-and-blues, and a whole host of dance steps, vocal shadings, and instrumental techniques.” So that’s old hat. What is new is country music’s use of black musical influences to construct a pointed critique of urban life—a critique that highlights another traditional sentiment expressed in country songs, ambivalence about the city. 
  • This Punch Brothers article from the San Francisco Chronicle mentions that Chris Thile has “been arranging and performing a growing catalog of solo mandolin interpretations of Bach’s works for violin, destined to become an album.”
  • And here’s video of Thile performing one of Bach’s violin suites at a recent Punch Brothers show.
  • Here’s an interview with Anna Roberts-Gevalt about her new project, compilation album The New Young Fogies, Vol. 1. 
  • Christmas with Scotty McCreery has gone gold.
  • Celebrate the 20th anniversary of James Reams & The Barnstormers with a free NoiseTrade download of their album Barnstormin’.
  • Paste shares some 1977 footage of .38 Special from the Video Vault.


  1. Barry Mazor
    November 29, 2012 at 10:20 am

    That’s good work from Carrie Allen Tipton, though there are no doubt examples of styles brought into country from black sources being used for some sort of urban critiques and differentiations before. I mean, there are blues by Jimmie Rodgers that mock urban cops, for instance..That’s not using black forms to draw a line exactly (Rodgers wasn’t much of a line drawer), but if we thought about it, I’m pretty sure we could find what she’s talking about in hillbilly blues, Western Swing, country boogie, rockabilly, countrypolitan–the succession of country sounds that took in black influences over the years.

  2. Saving Country Music
    November 29, 2012 at 1:28 pm

    Agreed, the Carrie Allen Tipton piece is top notch, except that she called me “polemical” and I’m not smart enough to know if I’m being praised or insulted by it ;). Good follow up piece here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/christandpopculture/2012/11/god-and-country-music-the-country-music-culture-wars/

  3. Barry Mazor
    November 29, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    You’re not being praised or insulted, Saving, just described! On the other hand, Ms. Tipton shows how illuminating NOT being polemical can be..

  4. Carrie Allen Tipton
    December 20, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    Great points, Barry–I appreciate the thoughtful engagement w/the piece, as well as the shout out here in this post. By the way, got your comment thru my website & have tried several times to respond but the email address you left has bounced back my messages several times–perhaps box is full?

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