HOT TALK: Paycheck Done, Chapin Delayed, Anderson Back

(HOT TALK is a weekly column by longtime contributing writer and former Billboard country music editor Edward Morris.)

Johnny Paycheck Tribute Completed
Singer-songwriter Robbie Fulks tells Hot Talk the album he produced to honor the late Johnny Paycheck will probably be out before the summer of 2004. Until all the papers are signed, he says, he prefers not to identify the label that’s agreed to release it. Guest artists on Touch My Heart: The Johnny Paycheck Tribute are Buck Owens, Mavis Staples, Jim Lauderdale, Johnny Bush, Billy Yates, Larry Cordle, Al Anderson, Dallas Wayne, Dave Alvin, Hank Williams III, Bobby Bare Jr., Marshall Crenshaw, Mike Ireland, Neko Case, Jeff Tweedy, Radney Foster and Fulks, himself, in a duet with Gail Davies. Among the Paycheck-related songs covered are “Take This Job and Shove It” (Owens), “Apartment No. 9” (Bush), “Someone to Give My Love To” (Anderson), “I’m the Only Hell My Mama Ever Raised” (Williams) and “11 Months and 29 Days” (Alvin).

Buddy Jewell Shoots Second Video
Buddy “Help Pour Out the Rain (Lacey’s Song)” Jewell shot his second music video last week. It’s a companion piece to “Sweet Southern Comfort.”

MCC’s New Album Pushed to Spring
Mary Chapin Carpenter’s new album, which she’s co-producing with pianist Matt Rollings, will not be out this fall as originally planned. Sony has pushed the release date up to next spring. However, the label’s New York office will release The Essential Mary Chapin Carpenter — selections from her earlier albums — on Oct. 28.

John Anderson Back on the Road, Wife on Record
Two weeks after undergoing surgery for a heart attack, John Anderson returned to the stage this past Friday night (Sept. 12) at the White County Fair in Searcy, Ark. Health willing, he’ll resume his regular touring schedule. Anderson’s wife, Jamie, who was a singer in Texas before the two were married, has written and recorded a single, “Glory,” that’s being played on Christian country radio stations. It’s a real family affair. Anderson and his fiddle player, Joe Spivey, produced the song for Lo Records. And Anderson, his sister, Donna, and his and Jamie’s daughters, Alexa and Brionna, provide the background vocals.

Wanna Buy Lorrie Morgan a Drink?
Lorrie Morgan has reunited with Richard Landis for her impending album. He produced several of her hits, including “Watch Me,” “Something in Red,” “We Both Walk” and “What Part of No.” Completed but not yet titled, the album will be released on the Image Entertainment label. The lead single, “Do You Still Want to Buy Me That Drink,” is due out Oct. 6. “It’s pretty interesting,” says a spokesman from her management company. “It’s a song about a gentleman who’s trying to buy a drink for a woman, and she says, ‘You want to buy me that drink? I’ve got three little kids at home that call me mama.’ It’s that kind of song. … [The album] is a great record. It’s kind of reflective of everything that she’s doing in her life at this moment. It parallels her life very well.”

The Accent Is on Noel
Just when I think I’ve tracked down every last Yuletide album for this year, another one slides in. But what a treat this latest one is! Steve Wariner — whose birthday falls on Christmas and whose middle name is Noel — will debut his all-instrumental collection, Guitar Christmas, on Oct. 21. It’s on Selectone Records, his own label. Wariner uses nine different guitars and an Olympia dulcimer to put fresh glitter on 15 seasonal favorites, including “Deck the Halls,” “I Saw Three Ships,” “Winter Wonderland” and “White Christmas.” This one, you gotta have.

Ralph Stanley to Invade Britain
Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys will take the mountain music to Great Britain in November, with dates in Manchester (Bridgewater Hall, Nov. 4), Glasgow (Royal Concert Hall, Nov. 5), London (Barbican Hall, Nov. 7) and Dublin (Olympia Theatre, Nov. 8).

Songwriters Hall of Fame Nominees Unveiled
The newest nominees have been announced for the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. And a more illustrious covey of tunesmiths you could hardly imagine. There are two categories in this year’s competition: songwriters (duh) and songwriter-artists. Contending in the first division are Jim Anglin (who wrote “Ashes of Love” and “One by One,” among loads of other hits); Rodney Crowell (“’Til I Gain Control Again,” “Song for the Life”); Larry Henley (“Wind Beneath My Wings,” “Lizzie and the Rain Man”); John Hiatt (“Angel Eyes,” “She Don’t Love Nobody”); Dennis Morgan (“I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool,” “I Wouldn’t Have Missed it for the World”); Roger Murrah (“Don’t Rock the Jukebox,” “It’s a Little Too Late”); Paul Overstreet (“Forever and Ever Amen,” “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy”); Mike Reid (“Forever’s as Far as I’ll Go,” “Stranger In My House”); Thom Schuyler (“16th Avenue,” “Years After You”); and Even Stevens (“Drivin’ My Life Away,” “No Matter How High”).

Songwriter/artists in the running are Guy Clark (“Desperadoes Waiting for a Train,” “Heartbroke”); Freddie Hart (“Bless Your Heart,” “Easy Loving”); Alabama’s Randy Owen (“Feels So Right,” “Lady Down on Love”); John Prine (“Paradise,” “I Just Want to Dance With You”); and Jerry Reed (“When You’re Hot, You’re Hot,” “East Bound and Down”).

Two songwriters will be inducted from the first group and one from the second. In addition, Nashville Songwriters Foundation board members have selected yet another songwriter for induction who’s name is not among those listed here. So that makes a total of four additions to the Hall for 2003. The winners will be revealed Nov. 2 during the annual NSF banquet at Loews Vanderbilt Plaza in Nashville. Last year’s inductees were Shel Silverstein, Bob Dylan and Dean Dillon.

Soapbox: Things You Can’t Download
You can download music, but you can’t download that feeling of intimacy most fans –especially younger ones — want with an artist. Anyone who’s grown up foraging on liner notes and fan magazines realizes that there’s a longing that only tangible, totemistic objects can satisfy. That’s why people go to budget-busting concerts and buy criminally overpriced T-shirts when it would be so much cheaper just to listen to albums — even if they had to actually pay for them. Lowering the price for albums, as Universal has just done, is a good first step. But record companies could do a lot more to make album-buying a joyful experience.

Why not sticker those jewel boxes that hold the CDs and stuff them with discount coupons for clothing, cosmetics, software, musical instruments, snack food, magazine subscriptions, books, pet gear, baby items and other albums? If a fan can save $100, let’s say, on items she or he is going to buy anyway, then that $12.99 or $16.98 price tag won’t seem so forbidding. Why not make it a practice that a few copies of each new album contain certificates that can be exchanged for roundtrip tickets and backstage passes to one of the artist’s upcoming concerts? Better and cheaper still, why not a few coupons that get the album buyer a personal phone call from the artist? Download that! Why not turn every album into a party-in-a-box? This value-added approach would cost the labels nothing. In fact, manufacturers would pay them for the privilege of including targeted promotional material. Downloading is a mechanistic, solitary experience whose only virtue is thrift. It confers no status, encourages no social interaction, creates no excitement. Albums used to do all these things, and, marketed imaginatively, they still can.

Well, I declare! I seem to have run out of breath. Hold your applause and write to me at

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to