Charley Crockett, the rootsy Texas singer-songwriter who’s toured the world this year, is a big fan of Buck Owens. “Being out on the road, man, one day Buck’s catalog just clicked with me and I became obsessed with his whole deal,” he says.
For his newest album, The Valley, Crockett covered his musical hero’s classic hit, “Excuse Me (I Think I’ve Got a Heartache).”
“I just gotta brag on Texas because even though he’s kind of the father of the Bakersfield Sound, he was born in Northeast Texas. He’s one more Texan that we get to claim,” Crockett says with a laugh.
“He really dominated, did something different for country music that was entirely outside of the Nashville machine. And I respect the hell out of that, man, and he’s just got a different sound. I mean, it’s hard to find a bad Buck Owens song. I really love his entire catalog. I’ve learned a great deal about how to sing Country &Western from listening to Buck records.”
Somewhere in Virginia, Crockett picked up a Buck Owens record that included “Excuse Me (I Think I’ve Got a Heartache),” which the legendary artist wrote with Harlan Howard and carried to No. 2 on the country chart in 1960. Of course, both Owens and Howard are now members of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
“I’ve got a record player on the bus and that song really stuck with me,” Crockett says. “Buck was really the king of singing happy-sounding Country & Western that was actually really dark-themed. That whole song is like, ‘They just don’t know how lost I feel without you. My teardrops never see the light of day.’ Or, ’My lips they lie and paint a bright tomorrow….’”
Sharing his hometown of Benito, Texas, with late country legend Freddy Fender, Crockett himself sings with a plaintive voice — and not just country music. He’s versatile in the blues and even does a bluegrass segment in his set. But what some may hear as country, others may recognize as the blues. There’s no difference to Crockett, who actually took the song to… well, to heart, when he had heart surgery in February.
“What I love about old-school blues and honky-tonk is the way that they could slip that really sad, dark emotion into the major key and it’s some of the most rewarding music to listen to as a listener,” he says. “To me, that’s what makes blues and honky-tonk really the same.”