Down without Pitney

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'60s pop singer and songwriter Gene Pitney died early Wednesday of a heart attack in Cardiff, Wales, where he had performed the night before. In 1993, Dawn Eden interviewed Pitney for Goldmine magazine; today National Review Online has her reflections on his life and career:

When the hits stopped coming, Pitney knew when to ditch the record-biz merry-go-round in favor of his always-supportive live audiences. He wed his high-school sweetheart, stayed married, raised three sons, invested well, and never wrote a kiss-and-tell tome.

The author of Ricky Nelson's unassuming hit "Hello Mary Lou" never tried to be an Artist with a capital A. He avoided the clichés of 1960s rock stardom at every turn — which is why he's so much more interesting, and in many ways more artful, than so many of the performers who replaced him on the charts.

The article includes several anecdotes from her interview with Pitney -- there's a funny one about the sound effects his record label used to create a fake live album. Eden and Pitney agreed that his voice had matured, lost that "high-pitched nasal sound," which made me wonder if he had re-recorded any of his hits later in his career. (He had.) It would be interesting to hear the difference.

In looking for the answer to that question, I was intrigued to discover that Pitney had done two albums with country music legend George Jones, backed by the Jordanaires.

Pitney is one of three songwriters of note that we've lost in the last couple of weeks. Buck Owens was another. The third? You Don't Know her (probably), but you know her songs. Expect a tribute here late tonight. (UPDATE: Come back tomorrow night.)


W. Author Profile Page said:

Ah, yes, Cindy Walker. The dean of Texas songwriters. She practically was Bob Wills' personal songwriter.

I've re-acquainted myself lately with Cindy Walker because of Willie Nelson's new tribute album, "You Don't Know Me: The Songs of Cindy Walker." It sounds more like a Western swing album than a Willie album -- having Texas Playboys fiddler Johnny Gimble and pedal steel guitar legend Buddy Emmons in the studio will do that for you. It Willie's best album in quite some time. When I saw Willie in Austin a few weeks ago, he even squeezed "You Don't Know Me" into his enormous set list.

Hope my musings didn't steal any of your thunder, Michael. ;-)

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on April 7, 2006 10:52 AM.

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