CMA and Grammy-award winning songbird Patty Loveless revisits some true country classics with her new CD, "Sleepless Nights," which hits stores and airwaves today.
Patty Loveless decided to honor the traditional sound of country music with the release of her 19th CD.
Patty Loveless: 'Bringing forth what was past'
By TERRY MATHEWS, News-Telegram Arts Editor
Sept. 9, 2008 - If you ever get the chance to chat with Patty Loveless about country music, you'd better be ready to talk about the classics, and I don't mean Bach, Beethoven and Brahms. Loveless grew up listening to the sounds of Webb Pierce, the late Porter Wagoner, Dolly Parton and Skeeter Davis, and traditional country music is at the heart of everything she sings.
Wagoner died in October of 2007.
"I had all the records that Porter and Dolly ever did as a duet," Loveless said. "I used to sing with Porter some. I can't believe he's gone. When we celebrated his 50th anniversary on the Opry [in May of 2007], he was very frail. I didn't think it was going to be long. He talked to me a lot about God that night.
"I feel really good that on this CD, I was able to go back and reminisce about the times I spent with Porter and Dolly. "
Loveless's 19th CD, "Sleepless Nights," (Saguaro Records - $18.98) hits stores today. Loveless took time from her busy pre-release schedule to talk about her childhood love of music during a telephone interview last week.
"When I was a little girl in Pikeville, Kentucky, I used to go in my room and lay out the records and just listen to them over and over, until I learned the song," she said.
One of Patty's early influences was her late sister, Dottie, who performed with their brother Roger.
"Dottie was a great singer," Loveless explained. "I recall going to hear her sing when I was about 7 years old. The whole audience was just mesmerized. I thought, 'I want to do that.'"
When Dottie married at age 19 and retired from singing, Roger brought his baby sister into the act.
According to a press release from Loveless' record label, the Wilburn Brothers heard the duo, and when Patty was just 14, they invited her and her brother to Nashville. It was there that she first sang for Wagoner, beginning a long professional relationship.
During her last three years of high school, she worked at the Wilburn Brothers' publishing company. She's been singing and writing songs ever since.
Along the way, she's racked up a five platinum and three gold records, a whole trophy chest full of awards, including 1995's CMA's Female Vocalist of the Year and a Grammy for best country vocal collaboration in 1998.
In 2005, Loveless stepped away from the recording studio and life on the road. That was the year her mother-in-law passed away. Then, her mother died in 2006.
"It was pretty devastating," she said, "When your loved ones start passing away, you try to recapture memories."
Along with "Sleepless Nights," her first CD?in three years, Loveless will be touring through November.
When it comes time to release a CD, Loveless doesn't have to leave home for professional advice. Her husband, Emory Gordy Jr., handles recording and producing duties.
"Emory has been my producer for years," she explained. "We work really well together. He just knows what sounds right."
A native of Atlanta, Ga., Gordy is no slouch in the music department, either. He was a member of Elvis Presley's TCB band and has toured with Emmylou Harris and Neil Diamond. He's also produced a number of country stars, including Vince Gill, Alabama, George Jones and Roy Orbison. Gordy co-wrote the 1969 rock hit, "Traces" for the Classics IV. He is a member of the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.
A childhood accident with a chemistry is responsible for teaching Gordy how to really listen to music.
"Emory's always had an interest in chemistry," Loveless said. "When he was 11 or 12, he was in the basement of his home in Symrna, Georgia, and an experiment exploded in his face. He was blinded for about two or three weeks."
While he was in the hospital, Gordy's parents brought him records and a radio. According to Loveless, those weeks were what really "encouraged him to listen more. That's probably the reason he analyzes everything."
When it comes to picking pure country songs for the new CD, Loveless and Gordy had plenty of choices. Their to be recorded list numbered close to 500. Their selections are top shelf.
"Why Baby Why" was a number one hit for Red Sovine and Webb Pierce in 1956 and again for Charley Pride in 1983. Loveless brings the right mix of anguish and anger to the song. And there's a touch of Elvis between he lines. It zings.
Loveless really gets down to the basics when she covers, "The Pain of Loving You," a duet originally done by Wagoner and Parton.
In "He Thinks I Still Care," Loveless revisits the 1962 number one hit for George Jones. The irony in the lyrics are captured perfectly in Loveless' plaintive interpretation.
"Sleepless Night," the title cut, was a 1960 hit for the Everly Brothers. Emmylou Harris covered it in 1975. Anyone who has suffered a broken heart will immediately identify with this getting-over-you lyrics.
"Crazy Arms" was a 1956 number one hit for East Texas native Ray Price and has been covered by almost everyone in country music. Loveless' arrangement is stripped down to just her and a small back-up band. The effect is stunning.
"There Stands the Glass" was another number one song for Webb Pierce, and is a classic country anthem. Loveless' heart seems almost as sad as the slide guitar.
Other hits like "Color of the Blues," "I Forgot More Than You'll Ever Know," "The Next in Line," "Don't Let Me Cross Over," "Please Help Me, I'm Falling," and "There Goes My Everything" are solid trips down Memory Lane.
"Cold, Cold Heart," the song's final cut, begins with Loveless' strong vocals and Gordy's acoustic guitar.
"I had already done some pre-production on it at our little studio," Loveless said. "When we played it for the musicians while we were recording the CD, they said, 'Aw, man, this is the record right here.' It was just magical."
Loveless and Gordy have given us a look into the heart of classic country music. It's not perfect, and thank goodness for that.
"We have the privilege of having technology where we can perfect the sound, but sometimes you can perfect too much and it takes away the feeling," Loveless said. "Emory is real good at not abusing those privileges"
Loveless should be credited, too, for not stepping into the world of slick production, orchestras and a gazillion backup singers. She keeps it real - the way we remember it and the way it was meant to be.