You may have never heard the name Ray Edenton, but you surely heard his rhythm guitar on the Everly Brothers songs “Bye Bye Love” and “Wake Up Little Suzie”. Top Nashville studio guitarist Ray Edenton recorded with Eddy Arnold, Johnny Cash, Little Jimmy Dickens, Pats Cline, Sammy Davis Jr., Elvis Presley, Neil Young, Brenda Lee, Loretta Lynn, Roger Miller, Charley Pride, Bob Wills and many more.
Last year I had the pleasure to hear Edenton talk about his career. He was interviewed at the “Country Music Hall Of Fame” in Nashville as part of the Nashville Cats series. This series honors country musicians who played a crucial role in the past. He told many interesting stories from his life as a top Nashville studio musician. What I found noteworthy – besides his incredible amount of work in the Nashville studios from 1953 until 1991 – was the “high third” and “high string” tunings that he often used. These tunings are simple but they sound very good, especially in combination with other guitars. Let’s have a look at these tunings.
“High third” tuning: only the third string (G) is tuned one octave higher. The other strings remain in standard tuning.
“High string” tuning: only the first and second strings (E and B) remain in standard tuning. Strings three to six (G, D, A, E) are tuned one octave higher.
Further information about Ray Edenton
If you happen to pass trough Meridian, Mississippi and are interested in country music be sure to stop at the Jimmie Rodgers Memorial Museum. It’s not easy to find, so be sure to take your time. But when you get there you will be rewarded by a nice little museum with wonderful staff. Not too many people come by, it’s nothing fancy, very down to earth and the whole place breathes the spirit of a long forgotten past. They have many music sheets, lyrics and letters on display, some furniture and one of Jimmie Rodgers’ guitars. In front of the museum there’s a steam engine, because Jimmie Rodgers used to work as brakeman for the railroad. That’s why he got his moniker «The Singing Brakeman». Meridian is Jimmie Rodgers birthplace and also the place were he was laid to rest.
Jimmie Rodgers (1897-1933) had a short but huge career. His early death was caused by tuberculosis. His music unifies influences from folk, country and blues and he tells stories of sadness, loneliness and unfulfilled romance. Still today his songs sound fresh and timeless.
To most people Lee Hazlewood will always be the one who wrote and produced “These Boots Are Made For Walking” for Nancy Sinatra and sang timeless duets such as “Some Velvet Morning» and «Summer Wine” with her.
But Lee Hazlewood was not just Nancy Sinatra’s sidekick. He had a career before and after he worked with Nancy. Before Lee Hazlewood met Nancy Sinatra, he had made a lot of money as a producer and songwriter for Duane Eddy and others. From time to time he released his own records with mostly self-penned songs, but he wasn’t very successful. After his successful Sinatra stint that lasted from 1966 until 1968 he again started releasing his own records. But they mostly went unnoticed by the public. Lee Hazlewood’s last record was released in 2006.
On “Strung Out On Something New: The Reprise Recordings” Rhino-Handmade reissued a limited edition of hard to find material that has been out of print for a long time. The two disc set consists mainly of songs from the Reprise LPs “The N.S.V.I.P.s” (Not So Very Important People)» (1965), “Friday’s Child” (1965) and “Love And Other Crimes” (1968). The collection gives a good impression of Hazlewood’s songwriting craft. He definitively knew how to tell a story. His lyrics are full of wit and melancholy.
“The N.S.V.I.P.s (Not So Very Important People)” has a strong Country and Folk flavor. Lee introduces every song with a short story, and he’s accompanied by acoustic guitars and string bass. “Friday’s Child” (also released as “Houston”) and “Love And Other Crimes” blend Country with a little bit of Blues and Folk-Rock.
Included in the collection are also some weaker songs that he produced and wrote for the teenage-market.
See also: Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood: The Forgotten CD
Legendary Country singer and songwriter Johnny Cash hosted the unique «Johnny Cash TV Show» from 1969 until 1971. It was shown on the US network ABC. Cash not only presented country musicians. He also invited singer/songwriters, folk, rock, rhythm and blues musicians and others – a very eclectic blend of music. The double DVD set The Best Of The Johnny Cash TV Show takes you on a fascinating musical journey back in time.
For contemporary ears it’s surprising to hear that the musicians on «The Johnny Cash TV Show» performed live. Live performances is something that only happens very seldom in today’s television shows. Back than there was no playback. The music was really live. It’s a pleasure to see the different musicians that Cash invited to the show. The show was open to country legends, rockstars and soul singers – there were no restrictions. Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, Ray Charles, Chet Atkins, Derek And The Dominos (with Eric Clapton), Stevie Wonder, Loretta Lynn, Charlie Pride, Kris Kristofferson, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Marty Robbins: they all were welcome.
Johnny Cash sang duets with many guests. He sang with Bob Dylan, Louis Armstrong, Jony Mitchell, and Pete Seeger. These duets are not too perfect, but very likeable. The charisma of Johnny Cash is breathtaking and he touches the soul with his deep religiousness, that doesn’t have a hypocritical undertone.
There are over 50 songs on the DVDs, the package is well done, and the booklet is informative. Besides the show there are interviews with Johnny Cash’s son John Carter Cash, Hank Williams Jr., musical arranger Bill Walker, and others. Theres only one downside: after seeing «The Johnny Cash TV Show» you won’t accept musicians that play playback. Because you have seen and heard the real thing. You may even catch yourself mumbling something like «back in the old times everything was better». And you’re right – at least where music is concerned.
Short men and tall men and all the rest
Please don’t blame me I didn’t start this mess
Some of us stay and some of us go
Sooner or later we’ll all make the little flowers grow*
Lee Hazlewood 1929-2007
Photo: Kevin Cummins
*«We All Make The Flowers Grow» (von der LP «Trouble Is A Lonsome Town» 1964)