Monday, November 09, 2015


"You're a hot country woman…" Well, just the slightest pause between syllables on country, and you've got some amusement. Sing about a woman wearing so little clothes you can see "all that skin wavin' in the breeze," and you have even a more bizarre and vivid picture. Add one of those Lee Hazlewood downward spiraling guitar licks, and you've got a near classic. That's "Don't Go City On Me," your choice to remember Tommy Overstreet by.

Instead of Jeannie C. Riley standing up against slut shaming, or Nancy Sinatra bitching about her boots goin' walkin', Tommy is goin' all Okie from Muskogee on a girl who has the NERVE to look "city" and wear her dang dress too dang high. (Tommy was born in Oklahoma). Lordy. Walter Brennan would've approved. Brennan, by the way, was once signed to Dot, the record label that in the late 60's relied on Nashville exec Overstreet for guidance.

What did he do? Within two years, he had signed HIMSELF, moving from the desk to the recording studio! Yes, if you want to get ahead in show biz, maybe acquire enough power to make sure your records get made and played!

Tommy (September 10, 1937-November 2, 2015), was the manager of the whole shebang at Dot Nashville. Overstreet didn't make a mistake in signing a virtual unknown named Overstreet, nor did he ask the guy to change his name. His first Top 100 hit was "Rocking a Memory (That Won't Go to Sleep)." Tommy also did well with girls names and a parenthesis. He had his biggest hits with "Gwen (Congratulations)" "(Jeannie Marie) You Were a Lady" and "Ann (Don't Go Runnin')."

If I'm Being Honest…Tommy, cousin of crooner Gene Austin, was not a favorite of mine. For me, the approach of Tommy, Vern Gosdin or Conway Twitty doesn't have the pathos of George Jones or the grit of Johnny Cash. Still, I think the track below would be of interest to most any C&W fan, and it's the only single of his that I have.

Well liked and genial, the handsome C&W star turned up on "Hee Haw," and toured enough to wreck his first marriage. As tastes in music changed, he spent the last years of his career in Branson, Missouri, the town that carved itself into an Old Performer's Home, with tourists flocking to hear everyone from Ray Stevens to Andy Williams.

He enjoyed the relaxed pace in Branson in the 80's. He had exhausted himself in the previous decade: "There were 329 one-nighters, then 36 days in Nashville in a year's time," he said. "I also recorded two albums and did a European tour for 18 days. Unfortunately, my ex-wife and I separated and divorced. The music business and what we do in that career is not great for relationships. You're gone too much. I wouldn't encourage anyone to work that hard. I shouldn't have. I should have stopped and smelled the roses and spent more time with my family. But you learn those things in hindsight. Hindsight is 20/20. As you go down this road, you do what you think is the best thing at the time, and I did. Unfortunately, it cost me some heartbreak and disappointments, but that's how life is."


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