A Mind That Suits What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

Sunday, June 29, 2003 :::
Strange Google Searches...Traffic In Wilmington: Still Horrible...A "Greatest List" Worth Looking At...June Carter Cash's Great Album, Back in the Stores...The Latest Carter with an Album, And It Ain't Country!!!...A Country Group Bares Its, Well, Not Soul, Exactly...and Harry Potter, Briefly...

You're looking for WHAT? A Mind That Suits gets a fair amount of traffic from Google searches, which is certainly gratifying. And it is interesting which posts Google finds highly pertinent for which subjects. If you enter "university administration software," for intstance, A Mind That Suits is the 11th site, which as you all know puts him on the top of the second page, and thus likely to get hits. It is therefore somewhat interesting that this most illustrious site comes in fifth if you enter "Dana Carvey Strom Thurmond pictures," a category that does not immediately suggest itself to the inquiring mind.

A Mind That Suits, he hastens to add, is not an expert of university administration software, though he does have strong opinions about PeopleSoft.

The Traffic in Wilmington, NC. A Mind That Suits spent another lovely weekend in this formerly obscure but rapidly growing coastal city. They are riding out the economic downturn well: the major Corning plant, judging by the cars in the parking lot, is near full capacity after a couple of years of near silence. The movie industry also is doing well here, the third largest production center behind California and New York (make that WAY behind, but silll...) Dawson's Creek may have passed on to the land of eternal reruns, but there is reportedly a new series going into production there.

Which means they should do something about the traffic. They have a full beltway planned, but it is crawling along. A tragic accident on one of the two main roads shut down traffic Friday afternoon, which came just before a huge military convoy returning troops home to nearby Camp Lejeune shut down the other one.

"A Great List, and Dear June gets her Rightful Place On It." A Mind That Suits does not have cable. Not that he hasn't tried, but THREE afternoons waiting for the DC Comcast people to show up was too much, and he gave up. He therefore o.d.'s on music and documentary channels when he is at his father's house in Wilmington. This weekend, CMT (i.e., Country Music Television) did what many cable networks do, and that is produce a show about a list. Only the list this time was worth sitting through: 100 Greatest Songs of Country Music

Remarkably for such a list, there is little to quibble about. Perhaps the rules permitted only so many wins per songwriter, because Hank Williams, Sr.'s 20 or so truly great songs would crowd out a lot of other worthies, and not necessarily on merit. He had only a couple, though, which certainly opened up the field.

However, part of the fun of these lists are the quibbles, so here they are:

If there was going to be only one Garth Brooks song, and that is probably about right, then it should have been his signature, "If Tomorrow Never Comes," and not his biggest hit, the sentimental "The Dance" (14?!?!?!)

Although it provided a suitable showcase for Glenn Campbell's awe-inspiring fretwork in the concert portion, the only hit from his long collaboration with songwriter Jimmy Webb was..."Galveston" (8)? Its patriotic Vietnam-era sentiments probably pulled it up to the top, but where was "Gentle on My Mind" or--this ommision was inexcusable--"Wichita Lineman"? Besides, "Galveston" is really a pop hit, and not a country song.

If using the country music scale and typical chord changes had been the criterion, and it should have been, then several other pop songs by country artists would not have been considered. That starts with "The Dance," but it also includes "I Will Always Love You," (16) by Dolly Parton. At least that is a great song. It is also a reminder of that Ms. Parton is one of the most talented entertainers alive today. To be honest, A Mind That Suits did not know it was an old song, having first really noticed it when Whitney Houston did it, 20 years or so after it was written. A Mind That Suits, whose mother grew up outside Bakersfield, CA (i.e., Nashville West) is mainly interested in traditional country, of which Ms. Parton is a master, but she has kept her career in the air for four decades by hopping the border and doing pop, which A Mind That Suits eskews. "I Will Always Love You" is pop.

The pop song thing might also have knocked out Randy Travis's biggest hit, "Forever and Ever, Amen" (15), not a favorite in this corner, and almost certainly Willie Nelson's haunting "Always on My Mind"(33). (Just to set the record straight, "Forever and Ever, Amen" was written by Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz.) That Nelson also hops over the border with great skill should not mean that there is no border.

In the inexcusable category, Number Two went to "He Stopped Loving Her Today," George Jones's last really big hit, by Bobby Braddock and Curly Putnam. It is an original composition, but sounds very derivative of Kriss Krisofferson's style, particularly "Help Me Make It Through the Night," which is nowhere to be found. True enough, most of the songs would not be on the list if being derivative were disqualifying. The great thing about "He Stopped Loving Her" is the story. (I won't spoil it--it's a little like someone telling you that Rosebud...oh, nevermind.) On that score, it deserves a very high rank, but Number Two?

Worse, Kristofferson is represented, so far as a quick glance can determine, only by "Sunday Morning Coming Down." Unlike "Galveston," "Sunday Morning" is at least its composer's greatest work. Only it was NUMBER 92!!!


"Sunday Morning" at Number Two, and "He Stopped Loving Her" at, oh, 51, with "Help Me Make It Through The Night" and a few other Kristofferson songs distributed thoughout, and things would have been about right.

The nicest thing was that dear June Carter Cash got the recognition that she deserved. "Ring of Fire" came in at Number Four. She wrote it about falling in love with a certain volatile, black-clad singer from Arkansas, and took it to her friend Merle Kilgore for help in finishing it. Former Cash son-in-law Marty Stuart stood in for any of the actual Carter or Cash family members who might have done it, for obvious reasons, as June has only been gone for 6 weeks.

Speaking of June Carter Cash, A Mind That Suits, in a fit of nostalgia, finally bought June's classic roots-country 1996 album, Press On, recently reissued in a handsome package. A little of that real mountain music can go a long way, but this album gets put in the top ten personal favorite list. If you can listen to her and Johnny singing "Far Side Banks of Jordan" with a dry eye, you have no heart. The other songs are grand or funny or ornery, and it fully deserves its reputation.

Speaking of Carter Family Members. A very funny "warning" song on Press On was apparently inspired by a granddaughter's desire to appear in a Quentin Tarrantino film. That granddaughter is Tiffany-Anastasia Lowe, daughter of current Carter family star Carlene, who at one point was married to Nick Lowe, who adopted Tiffany-Anastasia. She has opted for a music career, and is following in her father's footsteps. As far as A Mind That Suits is concerned, this is fine, as Britpop is another favored style of music. The clips sound promising, and as soon as A Mind That Suits gets off his sentimental Carter and Cash phase, he'll pick up the album by the Carter who has branched off.

Country Music Backs into a Bad Cultural Trend, Led By a Carter. There is another Carter family in country music, the one that produced hotty Deana Carter. Her latest video features her prancing around in her underwear. The other Carters kept their dirty linen, as it were, in private, even though their personal lives were pretty much on a par with most entertainers'. I think Mother Maybelle might, well, have been surprised.

But country music has always followed American culture, even as it has served as a conservator of its best values. A delightful woman like Loretta Lynn could not wait to release "D-I-V-O-R-C-E" or extoll the virtues of "The Pill," despite her religious faith. (That may have had something to do with her choice of husbands. See "Fist City.") Once dominant Wynona, who has a cool jazzy voice, announced her departure from the country music circuit because of the pop-like raunch of Faith Hill's and Shania Twain's videos. Like all such renegade country stars, she could not find another home, but she may still be looking, given what this weekend has brought.

Hot on Deana Carter's undies comes Rascal Flats, without theirs. At least, deadly handsome guitarist Joe Don Rooney left his somewhere. The market for similar pictures of the other two would, one guesses, be not quite as wide. The band's latest video, "I Melt," is, thematically, an almost direct rip-off of an old 98 Degrees video in which all of the band members are seen snuggling with the same comely lass. (Actually, viewed now on computer, it's hard to tell if it is the same lass, although one or many, "comely" is the word.) In the old video, their deadly handsome singer was nearly naked, if memory serves, but Joe Don actually is. We see several shots, slightly fuzzed, of the young lady from the back and side, and part of young Mr. Rooney's own backside as he begins to wrap a towel around his waist with the exhausted lass lying asleep. Country music is indeed just following the general culture, and CMT, as MTV did before it, is garnering lots of attention for airing the video. The chat boards are ablaze with shock, delight, or a mixture of the two. This is not a great development, but the youthful fannies are photogenic.

Finished Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Drags a teeny-weeny bit around page 400, but the last 300 really zip. More later.

Have a great week. Check back more regularly. The old schedule has lightened up.

::: posted by A Mind That Suits at 8:33 PM



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What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

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