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Friday, October 24, 2008

Musical Infatuation: Conway Twitty



I spent the evening last night with a selection of Conway Twitty songs on repeat. Oh, and Loretta Lynn was there too. I know that a bunch of people think that Barry White is the king of sexy music, and I guess he's alright. But when Barry White does a song, I'm not infatuated with him. When I'm in the mood for infatuation, I go see Conway Twitty.

I used to be all about promoting good music, and I loved to be an elitist about it, and there are still traces of elitism in me. It's hard to lose. But these days I don't give a damn what other people think about the music I listen to. So when you see a post from me about the music I'm infatuated with or the author I have begun to worship as the epitome of skill, I'm posting out of total devotion and adoration. It has nothing to do with trying to sell an artist or garner respect for my amazing opinions. It has everything to do with Infatuation.

Of late I've been very into older country music. It could be that I'm in Nashville. It probably is, because when I go to the used record shops, I'm swimming in old country LPs and it's difficult to resist their charm. I buy them based on their covers, and if I've recently been to the Country Music Hall of Fame and heard some cool, old song playing at an exhibit (the CM Hall of Fame is surprisingly good. I thought it would be lame. But it's not. They have Elvis' gold piano and Webb Pierce's silver dollar car) I will look for that album.

I have bought quite a few LPs of people I have been exposed to through the CM Hall of Fame. Ray Price, Marty Robbins, Webb Pierce, and others. I'm not sure how I stumbled across Conway Twitty. I mean, I knew who he was because the name Conway Twitty is a big name. It's . . . Conway Twitty, after all, and if you've ever uttered the name Loretta Lynn around your mom or dad, they're sure to say something about Conway Twitty. But I'd never listened to his songs. Right now there are probably about 5 million kids who should have been in bed already, whose parents shouldn't have let them watch it, but who saw the episode of Family Guy with a random clip of Conway Twitty singing "You've Never Been this Far Before" in the middle of the show. And it's a funny clip.

But the joke's on them. Because now those kids will always associate Conway Twitty with silly music and an outrageous red suit. At least I think it was red. It's hard to remember that kind of detail. In any case, "You've Never Been this Far Before" is sheerly great (is sheerly a word? I swear my coworker said that word the other day. And I stopped listening to what he was saying, thinking, "Did he just say 'sheerly'? Is sheerly a word? It seems like it might be, but it also felt weird, weird enough that I've stopped listening. Where have I heard it before? Have I heard it before? Would you spell that s-h-e-e-r-l-y? I've got to remember to look it up." And then I forgot to look it up. I just looked it up and I'll be damned. It IS a word. Go coworker, go!) and those kids will probably never give the song a real chance. I mean, it's more than just great. That song, in a word, is MASTERFUL.

That seems like hyperbole, because normally you'd call something like Beethoven's 9th masterful, or the entirety of Vivaldi's Four Seasons masterful, and other classical works that I don't know about. But if you listen to "You've Never Been this Far Before," you'll see what I mean. Granted, in the Family Guy clip, Conway didn't look as amazing singing the song as you'd want him to, it's hard to look sexy or cool saying, "Bump bump buuummm." Put the song on and listen to it, the "bump bump buuummm" actually works and you're compelled to sing along with it. The reason the song works is the build up to the chorus where Conway sings, "And as I take the love you're givin', I can feel the tension building in your mind, uuhhn uuhhnn. And you're wondering if tomorrow, I'll still love you like I'm loving you tonight, uuhhnn uhhnn uhhh." At that point the kick drum speeds up and a tambourine joins in and you know exactly what tension the singer is talking about without spelling it out. It's awesome.

I have only this to say to Family Guy . . . Nothing. I hate that show. That's all.

As for Conway Twitty and his music, both his solo stuff and the great duets he did with Loretta, all I can say is that it's great to have a crush on someone's opus.

My top Conway Twitty songs:

"I'd Just Love to Lay You Down"
"Feelins"
"You've Never Been this Far Before"
"Lead Me On"
"Easy Loving"
"Don't Take it Away"
"I've Already Loved You in My Mind"
"I See the Want to In Your Eyes"
"Touch the Hand"
"I Can't Stop Loving You"
"You Lay so Easy on My Mind"
"How Much More Can She Stand"

3 comments:

jenny said...

this made me want to listen to conway twitty. which i've never done before.

also, i too hate family guy. a lot.

Aries327 said...

You SHOULD listen to him. My mom called to tell me that she doesn't like him, she thinks he was a dirty old man. I can see that . . . I think. But as others have pointed out, he wasn't a misogynist. His music has a sensual tone, not all of it, of course. But a lot of it does. Anyway, he's got a great voice. You love it while recognizing that it's a bit ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Seth McFarlaine is actually a big Conway Twitty fan - hes trying to secretly Johnny-Cash-ize his reputation - which makes sence - I hadnt really listened to him much before - prefering Willie Nelson in that genre (and my dad listening to Merle Haggard quite a bit) - but it was no mistake he chose that song in the episode from a couple weeks ago to run as a full clip - go check the record sales....