Wednesday, November 19, 2014

JIMMIE RODGERS - TROUBLED TIMES "Do they Know He has a Christmas Album?"

Yeah, the TV commercials are blasting away and stores are full of seasonal goodies. It's THAT time of year. For the older musicians, it's a time when the year end royalty check either doesn't come, or it's chump change. Joining the rest of their albums on the "music should be free" Internet, are any Christmas they made. What would Jesus do? Set up a Christmas blog and give away every seasonal album from Dean Martin to Bob Dylan? Some people must think so!

Jesus could also turn water into wine while mere mortal singers and songwriters can't magically fill the kitchen with loaves and fish sticks. They need payment.

Millionaire Bob Geldof isn't concerned with pioneering figures of the 50's and 60's who aren't getting decent royalties and can't tour 100 dates a year in their old age. Charity begins at home, Bob. Do you know how most in the music industry spend Christmas? Clue: the problem is people NOT spending money on music.

Jimmie Rodgers has a Christmas album and you can order it at He'll even autograph it. The tracks include: O Holy Night, The First Noel, Silent Night, We Three Kings, O Little Town of Bethlehem, Come All Ye Faithful, White Christmas and more. They're sung in what is actually a pretty unique style. Rodgers, a folksinger originally, with country leanings (we all remember "Honeycomb") did have a gentle Como-type of voice. It was well suited to the gentle protest song "Child of Clay," which was a big hit before he got "the big hit" from an insane cop who pulled him over on the freeway and nearly killed him.

At the time, Rodgers was enjoying a well-deserved "second act" in his career. Signed to the same label as Phil Ochs, he was balancing social conscience songs with the moody pop hits of the day ("Windmills of Your Mind," Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne," Joni's "Both Sides Now") as well as genial up-tempo numbers. He had grown up from the simple days of "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine," without alienating the old fans. He was finding new ones. But after the attack, the handsome singer lost vital months to rehab, and his momentum was lost. The affects of his near-fatal beating haunted him and hindered him.

"Troubled Times" was the appropriate name of the "lost" A&M album that came out after "Child of Clay." While Collector Choice put his first two A&M albums on a CD, this one, no. Other cuts include "Woman Crying" and "The Good Times Are Gone."

Rodgers' "Troubled Times" album isn't really that gloomy. It reflected a kind, optimistic personality. Now about 80 years old, he still likes to get out there from time to time, and appear at a "celebrity show" if he can. He and his manager run the website and a Facebook page, and he has music and even an autobiography for sale. Geldof was proud to say he raised a million dollars in less than a day with his latest starfest Christmas song, the money disappearing into some black hole (as has happened since George Harrison and "Bangla Desh"). Too bad Geldof and the others aren't concerned with the pioneer singers and songwriters who came before them and built up the pop industry they plunder.

Jimmie Rodgers has a Christmas album for sale (and not on Spotify; something Taylor Swift understands, but Geldof and his pals do not). Blessings to those who know it's out there, and want to buy it.

Jimmie Rodgers "Troubled Times"

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