Saturday, June 09, 2018

ILL-USTRATED SONGS #45 CURLY CHALKER! (Can't Buy Me Love)


    In the world of country music, a guy named “Curly” was more likely to actually have curly, wavy hair than be bald. That was the deal for “Curly” Putman, songwriter of “Green Green Grass of Home,” and of steel guitar session man Harold Chalker (October 22, 1931 – April 30, 1998).

    Both guys had trouble getting record deals; they were better known for what they could do behind the scenes. There were so many singers around, Curly Putman’s fine but not too distinctive stylings failed to find an audience. As for Chalker, was there really a big market for entire pedal steel albums? Evidently not.  Two or three albums on either would take a long time to find, especially now that so few record stores are left standing. 


    In the 50’s and 60’s, Chalker played in a number of bands, and had a steady gig in Las Vegas with Hank Penny’s group. For a while, he had a reputation for being erratic. Hank Thompson famously recalled that Curly would sometimes miss a note, and give out with a shout of ‘SHIT!” Hank said that Curly might “bear down and play the best you ever saw” for an important gig, but on some routine night on the road, “hell, every other song he’d mess it up.” 


        Curly moved to Nashville for lucrative session work (back when recording studios were prospering and there was no such thing as Pro Tools).  His first solo album was “Big Hits on Big Steel” for Columbia in 1966. It wasn’t a big hit, but he remained in high demand for a variety of artists from rockabilly types (Bill Haley), to country stars (Ray Price, Willie Nelson) to even mainstream performers (he’s on “The Boxer” by Paul Simon). He was in the band that backed all the performers on “Hee Haw,” a show that ran on network TV and in syndication for 18 years. 


    Curly did do a pedal steel cover of Paul Simon’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” but let’s go with something mainstream but a little more upbeat for your download sample:
CAN'T BUY ME LOVE - no stupid egocentric PASSWORDS, no obnoxious demand for Paypal donations, instant download or listen online from a non-Putin company

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