Shine A Light: Dobie Gray

I saw Dobie Gray one day here in Nashville. I introduced myself and when I began to tell him about my favorite song of his, he got that look on his face like he’d heard it a million times and I was going to say how much I loved “Drift Away” ! While that is a fine song, it begins to fall in with songs that maybe I could never hear again and be just fine. And while it isn’t quite to the point of lets say “Sweet Home Alabama” or “Stairway to Heaven”, it is getting close ! But the song I had in mind and the song that it pleased me to see the smile on his face is the beautiful and haunting “Loving Arms”. I remember Dobie’s version many years ago and even more so, I remember a mood heavy version Elvis gave at the point of his life when not everything was turning out for the better. What a great song, and like the Dixie Chicks or not, they did a great version.

Dobie Gray has had a wonderful career and his voice like an Al Green or Billy Paul, is instantly recognizable. Born outside of Houston in Simonton Texas, Gray moved to Nashville in the 70’s and has continued as a writer. He has had cuts by some heavyweights like Johnny Mathis, George Jones, Charley Pride, Don Williams and Ray Charles.

Check out “Loving Arms”. They just don’t sing or write ’em that way much anymore !

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Shine A Light: Dobie Gray

Everybody in the world knows “Drift Away”, the great hit by Nashville resident Dobie Gray. It has become a classic. But my favorite is a Dobie Gray song called “Loving Arms”. I first heard it on an Elvis Presley record from about 1974, but Dobie’s version is the one.

Here is a version of Dobie doing his big hit “Drift Away”, which Uncle Kracker also recently revived.

Despite Dobie’s great selling singles, he remained a dedicated songwriter penning songs for many top artists including Ray Charles.

Go Check out some Dobie Gray. It’ll do your soul some good…

Shine A Light: Johnny Cash

Wow, it seems like before there was dirt there was Johnny Cash ! He is fixed in my memory with his trademark “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash” introduction on the Johnny Cash Show. Pretty cool stuff. What is even cooler than I didn’t understand then was just how brave his guest list was.

This was the late 60’s and he has folks like Bob Dylan on his show. That may not seem like a big deal now but in those days here in the Country Music Capital, they weren’t diggin’ the hippies ! But Cash didn’t care, black, white, hippie, redneck or conservative, he loved them all, and especially loved their talents. There’s good reason for argument, that the Oak Ridge Boys might have called it a day,  if it hadn’t been for support financially and tour wise from John R. Cash. The list of Cash helping folks would go for miles.

Johnny’s career spanned decades as well as genres. From the Rockabilly days at Sun Records with Charlie Rich, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley, to “I Walk The Line”, and the San Quentin shows; from gospel to his TV show, to the dark days of the mid 80’s when Cash found himself looking for a way to fit in with an ever changing musical landscape.

So why not hang out with some good friends and make music ! So they did, Kris Kristofferson,  Willie Nelson, former room mate Waylon Jennings and Cash formed the Highwaymen. After a great run, with several hits and worldwide tours, the Highwaymen came to and end with Waylon’s failing health and ultimate death.

Enter Rick Rubin, big time rock producer and possibly the last person one would think would have an interest in Johnny Cash, much less a person that would have a pivotal role in Cash’s career, and a role that sold him into one of the coolest cats forever !

Rubin was smart enough to get the essence of John Cash. Honesty was what provided the ride all along. That voice full of honesty and grit. Rubin stripped everything down and essentially left that voice…..and boy did folks respond, especially the younger market. As Cash closed out his journey here, he left this world the way he should have. An icon. A spiritual giant always wearing his faith and his failures on his sleeve. Go John Cash. Check the last couple of records that Rubin did. If you think you know Johnny Cash’s music and you haven’t heard “American Recordings” or “The Man Comes Around”, then you haven’t heard the whole deal. You may not find anything more honest on the market today.