“A perfect kind of love is what you want from me, if I could I’d gladly give you more, but I know that I can never paint for you the rosy pictures you are searching for…you’re wearing rose colored glasses everywhere you go…” Ray Price effortlessly wringed every ounce of emotion from a lyric. It’s not much of a stretch to say that the cool Cherokee Cowboy was the Frank Sinatra of country music.
Credited with discovering both Willie Nelson and Roger Miller and even rooming with the legendary Hank Williams for a spell, the robust baritone notched a head-spinning 64 Top 20 C&W singles between 1952 and 1982, including “Heartaches By the Number,” “Crazy Arms,” “Night Life,” “For the Good Times,” and “You’re the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me.”
He kept recording into the new millennium [e.g. Last of the Breed with Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson] and touring rigorously until his death in December 2013 from pancreatic cancer at age 87. A posthumous project entitled Beauty Is…The Final Sessions, Price’s first solo studio album in 12 years, concluded the Texan’s recording career in tasteful style.
A song nestled deep within the artist’s discography that deserves rediscovery is his 1965 rendition of “Rose Colored Glasses” (not the signature John Conlee number). Never released as a single or even on a greatest hits compilation, “Rose Colored Glasses” is stone-cold classic country at its best.
Price was slowly dabbling his toes in the second phase of his recording career—that of a Nashville Sound embracing crooner. “Make the World Go Away” had stormed the charts two years earlier with its fleet of overdubbed strings, female chorus, Floyd Cramer’s slip note piano, and Price’s deceptively smooth, simultaneously pleading vocal.
Not all longtime fans were impressed by the stylistic departure, so in a sagacious move, the handsome troubadour appeased them by recording more honky tonk (by 1967 he plunged headfirst into chart-friendly, string-laden country pop when his “Danny Boy” cover sold well).
Written by noted Nashville session guitarist-producer Fred Carter, Jr. (father of “Strawberry Wine” balladeer Deana Carter), Price was the first artist to tackle the mid-tempo “Rose Colored Glasses” (Roy Clark and David Houston later released hard-to-find versions) during a May 11, 1965 session at Nashville’s Columbia Recording Studio for his ninth album, The Other Woman.
It was Nashville’s golden age, and recording six compositions in one evening, as Price indeed did on that late spring evening, was a customary practice. Much of the legendary Nashville A-Team is present. Tommy Jackson, regarded as the first great Nashville session fiddler, kicks off the direct two and a half minute performance.
Steel guitar wiz Buddy Emmons conjures up a storm during the solo as stalwart drummer Buddy Harman, who appeared on virtually all of Elvis Presley’s studio output recorded between June 1958 and January 1968 in tandem with D.J. Fontana, maintains a two-step backbeat.
Harold Bradley’s distinctive tic-tac bass completes the perfect Nashville rhythm section. Listen closely and you can hear the sweet jazz noodling of electric guitarist Grady Martin, yet another Presley studio sideman, buried somewhat in the mix.
The relaxed, atmospheric performance was no doubt stymied in part by producers Frank Jones and Don Law. The latter was Price’s right hand man at Columbia for over 25 years. Law also coordinated the vast percentage of another Columbia label mate’s iconic recordings. His name was Johnny Cash.
It’s difficult to determine who made the decision not to release “Rose Colored Glasses” as a single or accompanying B-side, since most of the participants are long gone or likely have no memory of the internal politics surrounding the album’s creation.
Two singles from The Other Woman were released to radio and did quite well—the No. 2 C&W title cut and the No. 11 “Don’t You Ever Get Tired (Of Hurting Me).” Maybe Columbia didn’t want to clutter the marketplace with an additional song from the album. The Other Woman was Price’s third album of original material released in 12 months. The label was well aware that sessions for their artist’s next album were just around the corner.
Regardless, “Rose Colored Glasses” cleverly presents a warning to anyone experiencing false pretenses about an idealized partner. And it’s perfect for dancing, especially if said participants are a tad apprehensive about busting out any flashy moves. Visit Amazon or iTunes to hear and/or purchase (a fan-created video has yet to surface on YouTube).
- DON’T GO ANYWHERE YET! “Dad taught me to keep going and learn it all. He was capable of doing everything—the epitome of a true entertainer.” Dean Martin’s lovely daughter, Deana, keeps the limelight planted firmly on her family, performing and recording her dad’s material all around the world. Deana recently agreed to explore a side of the country crooner rarely discussed in modern literature: a man of simple tastes versus the cliché-ridden, glitzy Vegas image. In “Deana Martin Can’t Help Remembering the Swingin’ King of Cool,” Dino’s daughter shares heretofore unheard memories regarding John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe, Jimmy Stewart, family vacations, guitars, horses, watching old Westerns with Sammy Davis, Jr., golf, and their poignant, final Christmas spent together.
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Exclusive Interview No. 3: Jordanaire Ray Walker recorded and performed in concert with nearly every country artist imaginable, including Ray Price, Merle Haggard, Patsy Cline, and Buck Owens. Walker counted Elvis Presley as a close friend for two decades. In fact, the genial bassist’s debut recording session with the King of Rock and Roll yielded a million selling record – “(Now and Then There’s) A Fool Such as I.” He recently relived the experience of sitting front row center during an Elvis recording session. When the “Alabama Wild Man” himself, Jerry Reed, unexpectedly showed up to add some patented gut-string guitar to a few country rock numbers, the session got especially rambunctious. Visit “Jordanaire Ray Walker Recalls Studio Nights With Elvis Presley and Jerry Reed” for the complete lowdown.
- Exclusive Interview No. 4: Blind pianist Ronnie Milsap, who ruled country radio during the late ’70s and ’80s with soul-influenced jewels ranging from “Any Day Now” to “Stranger in My House”, had a bona fide boyhood idol in the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. In “More Thunder on the Piano…”, Milsap offers juicy anecdotes about playing keyboards and singing harmony with Elvis Presley on “Kentucky Rain” in the ghetto-ridden section of Memphis, playing two highly coveted New Year’s Eve parties attended by a gun-loving, flashlight-toting Elvis, how he learned about the icon’s shocking death, and the dilapidated World War II-era plane that nearly cost him his life while en route to a record convention appearance.
Exclusive Interview No. 5: John Denver will forever be remembered as the consummate singer-songwriter. The radio friendly, environmentally conscious entertainer possesses an incredible body of work with such landmark recordings as “Sunshine on My Shoulders,” “Back Home Again,” “Rocky Mountain High,” “Annie’s Song,” and “Thank God I’m a Country Boy,” all staples of early ’70s AM radio. Denver’s final pianist, Chris Nole, recently agreed to revisit his memorable relationship with the singer on the commemoration of his 70th birthday. Stick around as Nole discusses how he came to join Denver’s band, what it was like to have a single rehearsal and then debut in front of thousands of fans, Denver’s homespun sense of humor, whether the singer had any pre-show superstitions, their final conversation, and much more.
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