Sunday, September 27, 2015

HEARTACHES BY THE NUMBER

This is another record I discovered through the auspices of David Cantwell and Bill Friskics-Warren’s entertaining and instructive book Heartaches by the Number: Country Music’s 500 Greatest Singles. I’ve enjoyed this song by Merle Haggard for more than 30 years, but when I recently heard Sammi Smith’s 1975 version, well, Merle’s just had to drop to a close second.
The essay in the above book juxtaposes this record with George Jones’ “He Stopped Loving
Her Today,” making them flip sides of the same coin, and describes Smith’s “nicotine-steeped alto” as desolate. Oh, yeah.*


Sammi Smith • Today I Started Loving You Again • 1975



*This entry was originally posted on October 4, 2014 before we decided to do the HBTN series.

7 comments:

  1. Wow, I really like this one! I usually turn up my nose at post-60s country, but I'll have to be more careful from now on, as I could have missed this.

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    1. Thanks. There were still some seriously dangerous country records being made after the sixties . . . this one's 100 proof.

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  2. Dear Mr. Jive... Thanks for the shout out for Heartaches by the Number. And for writing about Girl Hero, Sammi Smith. I see you also have written here quite a bit over the years about Today's songwriter Merle Haggard, so allow me to be so bold as to mention another of my books, Merle Haggard: The Running Kind, which came out last fall on University of Texas Press. If you think you might be interested in learning more about it, you can find excerpts and reviews linked here: http://livinginstereo.com/?p=591 . Thanks again, sir. --David Cantwell

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    1. Hi, David, Thanks for checking in here. Though I've long been a country music fan, there's still more good stuff out there and Heartaches by the Number has definitely pointed the way to a good many records I hadn't heard. (Also see my post of Gene Watson's "Farewell Party," another great discovery for me directly from your book.)

      I read Merle Haggard: The Running Kind as soon as it came out last year and enjoyed exploring his life via his records; a nice concept and in many ways more interesting than just the same old point A to point B to point C.

      Please keep 'em coming!

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    2. Yeah, Farewell Party is amazing, country music's greatest suicide note. (though Rex Griffin's The Last Letter comes close). Will check that one out, and very glad to hear you found The Running Kind helpful. Also, just fyi, you and your readers might appreciate my occasional country reissues column over at Engine145 (archived here: http://www.engine145.com/category/hereyoucomeagain/ ).

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    3. Thanks again. "Farewell Party" is the greatest record I ever heard that I never heard before! And I think I first heard "The Last Letter" on Waylon's live LP back in the day. . . .

      Will check out Engine145.

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  3. Here's another one I got via your durn book, David:

    http://magicjukebox.blogspot.com/search?q=martina+mcbride

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