Elvis ended up mastering a great many styles and genres, including Gospel, Country/Nashville, Ballads, and…Rock & Roll. An astonishingly dramatic, riveting performer, right up to the end.
Composer/Vocalist Townes Van Zandt is responsible for many poignant masterpieces; this represents merely a small-ish sampling. Loretta would be a prime example; though the lyrics are warm, a sense of melancholy nonetheless pervades the song. His “hit” Pancho and Lefty was covered by Willie Nelson/Merle Haggard, and wistfulness clearly prevails. The powerful Waitin’ Around to Die speaks for itself.
Tremendously influential, Van Zandt led a life that was quite troubled, being tormented not only by his bipolar condition, but by numerous addictions which eventually cost the great man his life. He contributed in ways difficult to fathom, however, to the musical landscape, and will not soon be forgotten.
Dwight Yoakam can simply do the impossible with his voice. See North to Alaska, among many others, for evidence. He steps into the very large shoes of legend Johnny Horton, and…whoa. A transcendent, jaw-dropping, awe-inducing performance. And, the same can be said of his live 2013 reading of the Red Simpson-penned Close Up The Honky Tonks. Even a young, inexperienced Yoakam—in his 1985 performance above, he shyly asks the audience if they like the show—kills it. A not-many-times-in-an-epoch talent.
Titans of music abound in this post. From the preternatural pipes of Mr. Yoakam, to the not-in-need-of-rocking-chairs legend George Jones, to guitar legend Junior Brown, to the inimitable Hoyt Axton, to the Lanois-ing Willie Nelson…then the hugely underappreciated Dick Curless, the irresistible Lucinda Williams, to Dan Auerbach and his mesmerizing ways, Buck Owens in his prime with Don Rich, the great Merle Haggard, the Silver Fox…B.J. Thomas…and we conclude with Dwight once more, with Eddy Shaver.