Monday, June 02, 2014

Song of the Day: 'Baby Ride Easy' by Carlene Carter (With Dave Edmunds)

Show business success is a strange thing -- you just never know when something's going to stick. When Carlene Carter began her recording career in the late '70s, she seemed like a shoo-in for superstardom. The daughter of music royalty, she was gorgeous, driven and, above all, extremely talented. Her albums were packed with catchy originals ("Swap Meat Rag," "Do It in a Heartbeat," "Madness," "Third Time Charm"), plus a few well-chosen songs by other writers (Rodney Crowell's "Never Together but Close Sometimes" and Elvis Costello's "Radio Sweetheart") -- and she worked with a top-notch collection of musicians and producers. And then nothing. (I can only imagine the looks of utter disbelief on the faces of her management and record label executives.) At the time, many felt she was too pop and too sexy to fit in in Nashville -- and her moving to London and marrying pub legend Nick Lowe certainly didn't make her a country insider. But listening to her early material now, it's startling how contemporary it feels -- almost as if all of these sexy blond chart toppers from the past 20 years actually had talent. People who are ahead of their time often don't get the recognition they deserve, but it must have been gratifying for Carlene when she returned in the early '90s and finally had some chart success working with her otherwise-disastrous lover/producer Howie Epstein. Carlene is on the road again, this time promoting her critically acclaimed -- but again commercially ignored -- new album of Carter Family songs, "Carter Girl." (See tour dates HERE.) My only complaint about seeing her live these days is that she completely ignores her first five album, which is where she often shines brightest. If I had to pick, I'd say her third LP, "Musical Shapes," is her masterpiece. (Have you heard "Too Bad About Sandy"?!!!) And it's this duet with Dave Edmunds that ranks as one of my favorite songs of all time, although I'm not even sure why. (I relate to nothing about the lyrics, yet get goosebumps every time I hear them. Maybe because it makes the complicated topic of romance seem so simple?) When I met Carlene at Joe' Pub in 2011, I told her I'd come prepared to sing the duet with her. Here's hoping she remembers this when she gets to the Cutting Room next week -- it's a standing offer.

UPDATE: I SWEAR I wrote this post before I saw THIS GREAT LIST of her best songs!

1 comment:

dishy said...

MUCISCAL SHAPES is indeedd, a masterpiece!