HOT DISH: Country Music’s New Artists Could Learn From Patty Loveless

Shania Twain and Jewel Are Also Making News

(CMT Hot Dish is a weekly feature written by veteran columnist Hazel Smith. Author of the cookbook, Hazel’s Hot Dish: Cookin’ With Country Stars, she also hosts CMT’s Southern Fried Flicks With Hazel Smith and shares her recipes at

I raise my hand hungrily and achingly. Yes, I longed to hear the pure, lonesome sound of Patty Loveless. Until I listened to the 14 songs on her upcoming CD, I had no idea what she and her husband, record producer Emory Gordy Jr., had on those tracks. I just knew I wanted to hear Patty sing.

Titled Sleepless Nights, the album is a bit of a history lesson. According to Patty, she and Emory were having dinner one night and started talking about recapturing moments from her youth. That’s when they came up with the idea of recording songs that she and her brother and sister, Roger and Dottie Ramey, had loved so much. Those are songs that scream the truth about what’s real — good or bad, great or small. Classic songs with melodies you can hum.

As I listened to Patty’s pristine vocals on her new album, I was reminded that country music has always been the language of the common man dealing with common, everyday subjects. Whether they’re about drinking, gambling, cheating or loving, great country songs speak to the listener. And I tried to remember the last time I heard anything on a country radio station that rang as true as the songs on Sleepless Nights.

I want the young stars of country music to hear Patty’s album so they can learn some history and understand why these songs survived. I want Taylor Swift, Jessica Simpson, Carrie Underwood and my sweet friend, North Carolina-born Kellie Pickler, to know about songs such as “Why Baby Why.” George Jones co-wrote it and made it his first single — and his first Top 10 hit — when he released it in 1955. Just a few months later, Red Sovine and Webb Pierce took it to No. 1, and it also topped the chart for Charley Pride in 1983.

Speaking of Jones, Jason Michael Carroll and Jake Owen need to know that “She Thinks I Still Care” was a No. 1 hit for him in 1962. Anne Murray’s 1974 remake, “He Thinks I Still Care,” became her first No. 1 single. It was also a hit for Elvis Presley. If it’s good enough for the Possum and Elvis, I think Jason and Jake should hear yesterday today.

Lovebirds Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert would enjoy giving a listen to “Don’t Let Me Cross Over,” Carl and Pearl Butler’s No. 1 single from 1962. Newcomer Ashton Shepherd, a natural-born Alabama singer-songwriter, will undoubtedly dig Patty’s entire album. She’ll understand why each and every song was written, because the girl has a hillbilly heart. Boy, I’d love to have seen her dark eyes dance when she first heard Webb Pierce’s classic “There Stands the Glass.”

Some of the other classic hits on the album include Dolly Parton’s “The Pain of Loving You,” Jack Greene’s “There Goes My Everything,” Ray Price’s “Crazy Arms,” Hank Locklin’s “Please Help Me, I’m Falling” and the Davis Sisters’ “I Forgot More Than You’ll Ever Know.”

So, boys and girls — you makers of tomorrow’s music and the future of country — I beg of you to detox your ears with this wonderful album when it’s released on Sept. 9. These are songs that helped create what we know as country music. It’s a lesson well worth learning.

Shania Twain in Canada
The word I get is that Shania Twain and 6-year-old son Eja are in her native Canada. She’s been in touch with friends to say everything that’s been reported is true about her soon-to-be ex-husband — record producer and co-writer Robert “Mutt” Lange — and the other woman. The woman is the one who worked for Shania and Mutt in their mansion in Switzerland. The woman has also filed for divorce from her husband. I’ve been told the former employee pretended to be Shania’s friend and went places with her. Goes to show that you just can’t get good help these days.

Jewel Is a Jewel
Jewel is opening shows for Brad Paisley this summer, she’s a judge on Nashville Star and she came out to my kitchen this past week to tape CMT’s Southern Fried Flicks. It’s one of the most enjoyable shows we’ve ever done, and I think you’ll agree when the episode premieres on Aug. 2.

The ever-busy Jewel recently made a Tuesday night appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. Backstage, a gentleman walked up to meet her. Assuming he was a fan, she was ready to offer her autograph, but he handed her his card and said, “I am a forensic dentist and I can fix your teeth for you.” Folks, Jewel has no plans for any such dental work.

Still More News
Congratulations to the Grascals’ Jamie Johnson and wife Suzanne on the July 12 birth of their first child, Jackson Cole Johnson. Jamie had to catch a red-eye flight from California to make it back to Tennessee for the arrival.

The Whites just returned from Norway, where they performed at a festival.

I previously reported that there was a tent, altar and a pickup truck with a “just married” sign in the driveway of Gary Allan’s home in Hendersonville, Tenn., on July 5. When I called his manager’s office, I was told that Gary hosted a ceremony when one of his friends tied the knot. Now I’ve learned it was Gary’s 18-year-old daughter who got married.

See the new Hot Dish recipe of the week: First Place Chicken Casserole.