Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Year’s Best: Pick Me Up on Your Way Down by Ray Price and Friends

Ray Price spans the early original country western era (early 1950s) to the baroque countrypolitan period (early 1970s) and, thankfully, beyond, creating a mess of great music along the way. At 81, he hit the hastings this year with Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, and the noble trio did a CD too.
Beginning as a somewhat Texas style troubadour, with equal parts Hank Williams (he befriended the drifting Hank and provided him a home during the last year of his life) and Bob Wills. Over time, he morphed, with a bit of laid back Eddie Arnold matinee crooner part added in, into his own self. Hits along the way truly numerous: City Lights, Crazy Arms, Heartache by the Number, Please Release Me, Invitation to the Blues, For the Good Times, Help Me Make It Through the Night, and more.

For my fathers day gift we saw Ray on tour with Willie and Merle. What a night. Merle Haggard was really strange and so wonderful, and he could play for hours without covering half of his oerve’s crème. Willie was in and out with both guys. Merle and Ray did the same. Wow! But seeing 81-year-old Ray Price was really something. I think he did all the songs enumerated above, as well as San Antonio Rose, and his backup was a 16-piece strong Texas fiddle outfit. [Each act on this tour had full ensemble backing. Big bucks but worth it.]

Ray’s stuff was slow in the old days, and at his age was slower even. Slower but truly heartfelt. In a year when so many country greats exited, whew, glad I saw Ray.

Also did Pick Me Up on Your Way Down, which is on the new CD and is one of my Year’s Best Picks. Its sung to this woman who is in a socialite whirl ignoring our narrator but no fear – he knows this too shall pass, and as the rungs splinter and she plummets down the social ladder she will be dragging her tail back to him.
You were mine for just a while
Now your putting on the style
And you never once look back
At your home across the tracks.
It is a great Texas fiddle shuffle, and Ray is cool, but, like I said, heartfelt. So wise. The other guys hand in there with him. Smooth, timeless. And thanks, Cecelia, for the Father's Day gift.

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