Songs that remind of other songs
By Reggie Ponder
Thursday, May 10, 2018
Earlier this week we had a couple of days marked by frequent rain showers, to the point that I was reminded of one of my favorite songs from 15 or so years ago: Gary Allan’s “Songs About Rain.”
The song is noteworthy for the way it name-drops other songs, many of them country songs by some pop or R&B group, including “Rainy Night in Georgia” and “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain.”
As I think about it now this is a time-honored tradition in country music — songs that celebrate other songs or the singers that made them famous.
Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson in 1977 hit it big with “Luckenbach, Texas,” which mentioned themselves and also included references to Mickey Newbury and Jerry Jeff Walker.
Waylon did a whole song celebrating Bob Wills in “Bob Wills is Still the King,” and also managed to work in a shout-out to Willie Nelson in the same song.
Waylon and Willie received their own tribute from David Allan Coe in “Willie, Waylon and Me.”
And David Allan Coe’s most famous song, “You Never Even Called Me By My Name,” mentions everyone from Waylon to Charley Pride to Merle Haggard.
David Allan Coe focused on just one singer, Hank Williams, in his haunting “The Ride.”
Since Hank Williams was one of the first superstars of country music and also one of the greatest it’s no surprise to hear tributes to him in songs by later country artists. There are numerous examples that could be cited, including some by Hank’s son, Hank Williams Jr., but one of my favorites is the musical question posed by Waylon Jennings: “Are You Sure Hank Done it This Way?”
Ricky Nelson in “Garden Party” didn’t mention any country singers but mentioned people from rock such as Yoko Ono and Bob Dylan as he reflected on his own turn toward country.
Allen Jackson’s “Don’t Rock the Jukebox” is a whole song built around the idea of being in the mood to hear George Jones rather than the Rolling Stones. That really isn’t a mood for me, it’s more a description of my whole life, but I get the point anyway. I remember how huge this song was when it first came out. One of the reasons I recall it so well is that Jane was one of the thousands of people who waited all day long at the State Fair to get into Dorton Arena for an Allen Jackson show when “Don’t Rock the Jukebox” was topping the country chart.
There are some big hits that don’t live up to their own hype but that one was as good as its best press. A quarter-of-a-century later, it still holds up as well as it did then.
Barbara Mandrell also honored George Jones in “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool.”
I could listen to any of these songs anytime, rain or shine.
Reggie Ponder is a staff writer for The Daily Advance.