Jerry Reed was a good old boy. Indeed, he may have been the prototype. A very funny and good looking man, Reed was a natural. He was a staple on television and in movies, most notably in the Smokey and the Bandit films with Burt Reynolds.
Jerry Reed had a lot in common with Glen Campbell. Both were extraordinary guitarists who could have earned good livings as studio musicians and both used their good looks to great advantage. Campbell was good-natured and friendly on television (and reportedly in real life). Reed was downright funny. The ultimate good ol’ boy starred with Burt Reynolds in the “Smokey and the Bandit” films. “The Essential Jerry Reed” has his two best-known songs: “When You’re Hot You’re Hot” and “She Got the Goldmine (I Got the Shaft.”) Click here or on the image for Amazon and here for iTunes.
Reed also was a great, great guitar player. The sense I get is that his musical talents were a bit overshadowed by his persona. TDMB featured Reed a while back playing with Chet Atkins. That says something—just being on stage with Atkins means you are good. That time around, the song was “Muleskinner Blues,” which is one of those great old songs that always seems to pop up.
A great example of Reed’s skills is the song “Struttin’.” Here is a link to it on YouTube (it is disabled for embedding). Above is Eastbound and Out” recorded live in 1982.
Below is a nice Chuck Berry medley. I am a firm believer that what unites music is far, far more than what separates it. To see a white country player performing songs from an African-American early rock and roll star in front of what in a brief crowd shot appears to be an all-white audience makes the point very potently. The clip, from The Porter Wagoner Show, seems to be from the early or mid-1960s. Paul Yandell is the very good guitarist who actually does most of the heavy lifting.
The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.
Here are some books to check out.
Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.
What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.
The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").
David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.