Patty Loveless remembers saving up her babysitting money to buy vinyl singles, yet it wasn’t long until Loveless was the one behind the microphone. At the age of 12, she and her brother, Roger, started playing shows near their home in Louisville, Ky., which led to appointments in Nashville and, eventually, a professional singing career that has endured for more than 20 years.
Loveless’ homage to her traditional country roots, Sleepless Nights, is up for a Grammy this year in the category of best country album. She earned a second nomination for “House of Cash,” a duet with George Strait. Calling from her home in Georgia, Loveless reminisces about 10 Grammy-winning country classics.
“Behind Closed Doors,” Charlie Rich
Best Country Vocal Performance, Male — 1973
I remember it well. I remember being out on the road quite a bit. To me, it was sort of a romantic song. You know, you’re not supposed to know what goes on behind closed doors. (laughs) I loved Charlie Rich. I thought he was a great performer and a wonderful musician. And a wonderful writer, too.
“Detroit City,” Bobby Bare
Best Country & Western Recording — 1963
Oh, yeah, I love Bobby. You think about small towns when you go away, and you think about making it big, and the town that you’re from tends to think this of you. “Detroit City” was just a great song, and it was a great record for Bobby.
“Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue,” Crystal Gayle
Best Country Vocal Performance, Female; Best Country Song — 1977
Oh, yeah, that was a great record, as well. I remember that when this record was popular, I had met Crystal for the very first time. And do you know that her hair was only at her shoulders? I do remember Crystal Gayle with her hair shorter — much shorter! (laughs) It was a great record, though. Absolutely.
“Don’t Touch Me,” Jeannie Seely
Best Country & Western Vocal Performance, Female — 1966
Hey, one of my favorites. I mean, that is an awesome record. Even when I was a kid at the age of 14, I remember that Danny King was a radio DJ there in Louisville, Ky., that my brother and I got to know. He always wanted me to do that song. It was one of his favorites. I loved it. I think Jeannie Seely has one of those country soulful voices.
“Foggy Mountain Breakdown,” Flatt & Scruggs
Best Country Performance, Duo or Group, Vocal or Instrumental — 1968
I’ve heard this played so many times over the years but this was absolutely … this was the record. This song is on top of the mantle.
“Harper Valley PTA,” Jeannie C. Riley
Best Country Vocal Performance, Female — 1968
I used to do this song, as well, when I was a kid. And I wore the boots and the short dress when the miniskirts were popular. I think it’s a great story, and I love story songs, just like Dolly’s “Coat of Many Colors.” I love story songs, and I thought it was a great story song. And Jeannie C. Riley, it was huge for her. Unbelievable! It changed everything for her.
“Help Me Make It Through the Night,” Sammi Smith
Best Country Vocal Performance, Female — 1971
It’s hard to believe that she’s gone, as well. [Smith died in 2005.] There are times I just can’t get over it. I used to do this song. Actually, I was hanging around Nashville quite a bit and hearing about Kris Kristofferson and the things he was doing before he got into songwriting and performing. I do know that he was a janitor at some places. Hey, you never know what’s going on in a janitor’s closet. Great things could come out of there. (laughs)
“Here Comes My Baby,” Dottie West
Best Country & Western Vocal Performance, Female — 1964
Wow. Dottie West. You know she was able to capture those kinds of songs and make them her own and make you believe that she lived it. I recall that when I first met Dottie West, I was about 11 years old. That’s when they held a lot of shows in Louisville, Ky., at Louisville Gardens. I remember her hair was very, very long. Red and long. She had a dress to the knees. It’s funny what things you notice. She was very sweet and signed an autograph for me. She was very approachable.
“King of the Road,” Roger Miller
Best Contemporary (R&R) Single; Best Contemporary (R&R) Vocal Performance, Male; Best Country & Western Single; Best Country & Western Vocal Performance, Male; Best Country & Western Song — 1965
It’s another favorite of mine. It does make a statement about how a musician, or someone who’s out on the road quite a bit, feels. It’s definitely a classic.
“Kiss an Angel Good Morning,” Charley Pride
Best Country Song — 1972
I had always loved a lot of things that Charley did. I recall a guy that I was dating at the time. He was a singer, as well. We didn’t date very much, but he used to perform that song a lot, there in Kentucky. He loved Charley Pride, and he actually was very good. I saw a performance of Charley on an old show doing “Kaw-Liga” by Hank Williams, and I love it! (laughs) He’s very cool. I really like Charley.