Aug 032018
 
loretta lynn roger miller

“I’ve got half a mind to leave you, but only half the heart to go.” Those words, first recorded by Ernest Tubb but written by Roger Miller, are bittersweet and funny. The song it came from, “Half a Mind,” shared those traits with many of Miller’s other songs. His songs blend the heartstring-pulling storytelling of country with a wry wit that enhances rather than distracts. Ok, maybe rhyming “purple” with “maple surple” is a little distracting, but it’s a worthwhile distraction.

On King of the Road, an upcoming new tribute album, the personnel runs the gamut from country stars like Brad Paisley to unexpected alt-rock acts like Cake. Country music icon Loretta Lynn’s cover of “Half a Mind” is one of three tracks currently available to stream from the album, which is due out August 31st. Lynn’s strong voice duels with the steel guitar here and really highlights the sadder aspect of the lyrics. At just over two minutes long it’s short and bittersweet – and a winner.

The other two songs available are Dolly Parton and Alison Krauss’s equally sad and gorgeously sung “The Last Word in Lonesome is Me” and Brad Paisley’s super goofy “Dang Me”. If the rest of the album is as strong as these early releases this is going to be a can’t miss tribute.

Hear more great Roger Miller covers in our archives, or check out our favorite tribute albums from 2017

Jul 312018
 
Arctic Monkeys – Lipstick Vogue (Elvis Costello cover)

Arctic Monkeys got a lot of attention covering the Strokes last week (especially because on his new album, Alex Turner sings: “I just want to be one of the Strokes”). But I preferred their wonderfully sleazy “Lipstick Vogue” cover, played in honor of Costello as he recovered from cancer surgery. Turner’s a product of his influences; in addition to the Strokes and Elvis, he appears to have his Nick Cave snake slither down cold. Continue reading »

Feb 152017
 
alison krauss covers

Windy City is Alison Krauss’s first solo album in 17 years, but that tagline is a little misleading. Krauss has kept busy, recording recent albums with her band Union Station, one with Robert Plant (which won the Album of the Year Grammy no less), and dueting with Willie Nelson and John Prine on their recent albums. But in the midst of all that, she found time to record a new album of country covers and standards. It’s out Friday, but she’s released three tracks already, covers of Roger Miller, Brenda Lee, and the Osborne Brothers

Krauss digs deep for the songs she covers. “River in the Rain” hails from from Miller’s 1980s Broadway musical about Huckleberry Finn (the performance at the 1985 Tony Awards is worth watching). “Losing You” is one of two songs she covers by Lee (along with “All Alone Am I”), with whom she’s dueted in the past. The title track, most famous from bluegrass pioneers the Osborne Brothers, is perhaps the most obvious pick for Krauss, but she de-twangifies it significantly into a tender country-pop ballad. Continue reading »

Aug 112015
 
Mike Coykendall

Roger Miller had an amazing life in his short 56 years. He first learned to play the guitar by Sheb Wooley (yes, the “Purple People Eater” guy). He  went on to play fiddle for Minnie Pearl’s band, drums for Faron Young and wrote the music for Walt Disney’s Robin Hood, where he also played the voice for the narrating rooster. He also won a Tony Award for his musical Big River, which is inspired by Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Continue reading »

Jul 132011
 

Few bands can match the energy of The Avett Brothers. Relentless touring, releasing almost an album a year for the last 10 years, their work ethic seems more akin to the artists of yesteryear than to today’s one-album-every-three-years darlings. Fitting, then, that they should dig into the past in their recent appearance on CMT Unplugged. Continue reading »