Saturday, February 23, 2008

Queen Of The Coast - Laura Cantrell, Bonnie Owens, Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, and more!

Photo by Ted Barron (who also has a heck of a blog).

Laura Cantrell is one of the most interesting country performers to come along in recent years. As I noted in a previous post, she sings a lot like Kitty Wells, but her music is innovative enough to have won high praise from the late great John Peel.

Cantrell is a student of music history. For years she has been the "proprietess" of a great New York radio show called The Radio Thrift Shop, which features great old country, bluegrass, and swing music scoured from "bargain bins, church bazaars and yard sales."

On her excellent debut LP, Not The Tremblin' Kind, Cantrell put her historical knowledge to use in a song about Bonnie Owens (pictured) called Queen Of The Coast. Bonnie Owens married and sang back-up for the two giants of California country music, Buck Owens (husband #1) and Merle Haggard (husband #2). She continued to sing back-up for Merle Haggard after their divorce, which plays into Cantrell's song.

Laura Cantrell – Queen Of The Coast (buy album).

She was the queen of the coast back in 1965,
Prettier than most, she could keep a room alive,
With the catch in her voice and the beehive on her head.
Do you remember anything she ever said?

Well, some stars fade faster than the rest,
And the promise wore off though she did her best.
She finally looked around for somethin' else to do.
What she found was a man who needed what she knew.

Have you forgotten? Have you forgiven?
Tell me are you livin' just a little in your past every day.
Time sure has changed you; it's walked right on by you.
Does it satisfy you to have so little to say?

For the next ten years she rode around on the bus.
She did washin' and ironin' and pickin' up.
She had a place to stand at the back of the stage.
She was there every night, lookin' her age.

She lent her voice, but she gave her heart.
And, I guess, that must've been the hardest part.
She figured out exactly what was goin' on,
All the love she had given for a song.

Then things unravelled like they usually do.
She got her old heart busted up by husband number two.


I'm not quite sure when she got back on the bus.
But she's still washin' and ironin' and pickin' up.
If you look all the way to the back of the stage,
She's standin' at her mic, lookin' her age.

In a roadstop in Reno at supper time,
The waitress comes over with a look in her eye.
Says: "I saw you in Modesto almost thirty years ago,
And I can still remember every song in your show."

Please Help Me, I'm Falling, Don't Come Home A-Drinking,
Well, there's a pair of Swingin' Doors for every Cowboy's Sweetheart tonight.

Time sure has changed you; it's walked right on by you.
Does it satisfy you to have so little to say?
Here are the other songs mentioned in the last part of Queen Of The Coast:

Hank Lockin - Please Help Me I'm Falling (buy album).

Loretta Lynn - Don't Come Home Drinkin' With Lovin' On Your Mind (buy album).

Merle Haggard - Swingin' Doors (buy album).

Patsy Montana - Cowboy's Sweetheart (buy album).

Maybe the coolest thing about Queen Of The Coast is how the mandolin intro and outro mimics the guitar lead used in this classic Merle Haggard song:

Merle Haggard - I'm A Lonesome Fugitive (buy album).

Here are some Merle Haggard songs featuring Bonnie Owens:

Merle Haggard & Bonnie Owens – Just Between The Two Of Us

Merle Haggard & Bonnie Owens – Forever And Ever

Merle Haggard & Bonnie Owens – Too Used To Being With You

(buy album).

And here are a couple tunes from the great Buck Owens:

Buck Owens - Waitin' In Your Welfare Line (buy album).

Buck Owens – Love's Gonna Live Here (buy album).

Now back to Laura Cantrell. All of her stuff is great, in my opinion, but my favorite (getting the highest STWOF seal of approval) is Not the Tremblin' Kind. Here's a poppy song from that album that I really enjoy:

Laura Cantrell - Pile Of Woe (buy album). (Joe Flood cover).

Many more great Laura Cantrell downloads are available at her website.


rockrobster23 said...

Just gotta say, this is one of my favorite music blogs. Keep up the great work!

Sarah said...

I lent my copy of "I Lived To Tell It All" to a friend and he just emailed me a quote from it, "Shirley became the second Mrs. George Jones. She gave me two sons. I gave her a lot of grief." It made me think of this song, and wanted to email him the lyrics and some background on it. Your post summed it up perfectly. We both love country music, thank you so much for the great post and links. I will definitely read more.