(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 CMT.com.)
Three of the most deserving and dear men have been invited to join country music's most elite club -- the Country Music Hall of Fame.
How many years, how many prayers and how many hopes and wishes have there been for Bobby Bare, Cowboy Jack Clement and Kenny Rogers to be inducted into the Hall? And how many articles have I written sending up prayers for these three to reach this validation?
Why, during my last trip to Sam's Club, my grandson Jeremy and I ran into Bobby and Jeannie Bare, and I ran up my full-time wishing pole for Bare to be added as a Hall of Fame member. Jeannie allowed, "I just wish they'd elect him while he's still alive." I cried all the way to the car.
I've been thinking of Bare's greatness and remembering how Jeannie had lived with this great man who jump-started the Outlaw movement in the early '70s when it was a dream with songs, songwriters and poor folks who wanted to sing -- and did. They did sing!
Bare was born in Ohio. He left home at 16 hoping to become a country singer. He worked clubs and radio, moved to Los Angeles in 1953 and landed on Capitol Records in 1956. In 1959, Bare was drafted into the army. Just before being drafted, he recorded a demo for "All American Boy," thinking his pal Bill Parsons would finish and record the song later. Fraternity Records released the song with Parsons' name on it, and it became a No. 2 pop hit in 1959. Bare was popular, but nobody knew it.
In 1962, Bare signed with RCA records and recorded the Grammy-winning "Detroit City." In 1964, he moved to Nashville. Because of early hits such as "500 Miles Away From Home" and "Four Strong Winds," Bare was labeled a folky. By the early '70s, he was recording storytelling songs, including Tom T. Hall's "(Margie's at) The Lincoln Park Inn" and Shel Silverstein's "Sylvia's Mother." Silverstein also penned the songs on 1973's Bobby Bare Sings Lullabys, Legends and Lies, a concept album which inspired fellow Outlaws Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson. The album included the No. 1 single "Marie Laveau" and the Grammy-nominated "Daddy What If," recorded with 5-year-old Bobby Bare Jr., but the biggest impact was that it led to record producers losing much of the control they had over the artists.
No doubt, Bare is a country music pioneer, recording albums with titles such as Down & Dirty and Drunk & Crazy and with lyrics like, "Drop kick me, Jesus, through the goalpost of life" and "Pour me another tequila, Shelia" He interviewed his songwriting pals as host of Bobby Bare and Friends on TNN: The Nashville Network. Even today, Bare remains a potent touring and recording act. His current album is titled Darker Than Light.
For more years than I can count, I've sung the praises of Cowboy Jack Clement who was selected as a non-performer, though he spent a lifetime performing and recording. He produced records for Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison and many more. He published the hit song, "She Thinks I Still Care." He brought Charley Pride to national attention and desegregated country music in the process. He persuaded Kris Kristofferson to move to Nashville in the '60s and schooled studio protégées including Garth Fundus, Allen Reynolds and Jim Rooney. He also arranged Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" and opened the first home recording studio in Music Town.
In 1970, Cowboy opened JMI Records and signed singer-songwriter Don Williams to a recording contract. He also published songs that were recorded by Eric Clapton, Tammy Wynette and Waylon Jennings.
"I appreciate the people that elected me into the Hall," he said. "I hope they don't throw me out."
Because of his mainstream success in the '70s and '80s, Rogers is the best known of the three new inductees. Born in Houston, he broke into music as a bass player in a jazz trio.
"No question," Kenny said. "My career began playing jazz bass, but my mama loved to listen to Hank Williams, Little Jimmy Dickens, Hank Locklin and Eddy Arnold. And I love this music."
Kenny was a member of the New Christy Minstrels and later formed the First Edition, blending folk, rock and country. The band made the country and pop charts with "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town" and "Reuben James." Rogers went on to a solo career, hitting it big in 1977 with "Lucille," which won him a Grammy. "The Gambler," written by Don Schlitz, gave Rogers an even greater national identity. He had a bevy of duo hits, too, including "Islands in the Stream" with Dolly Parton.
I, for one, will scream from the rafters when these three great men are officially inducted into the Hall of Fame later this year.
Faith Hill Exits Sunday Night Football
Faith Hill won't be doing the Sunday Night Football theme song this year. She's been featured at the top of the broadcast for six years. In a tweet, Hill said, "It's been an honor to appear on the NBC show, but it's time to let someone else rock the open.
Then Sunday Night Football executive producer Fred Gaudelli tweeted, "Great love and appreciation to Hill for her participation over the years."
So far there's no word regarding Hill's replacement to sing the theme.
The list of contestants on American Idol continues to dwindle, but Keith Urban has given high praise to Kree Harrison for the country influence in her singing. After she performed Kris Kristofferson's "Help Me Make It Through the Night," he told her, "I predict you will become a member of the Grand Ole Opry in the future."
See the Hot Dish recipe of the week: Amy's Very Cherry Cake.