Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Back in the late seventies and early eighties, you didn’t have to look like a boy to be a heartthrob: you could look like Kenny Rogers and do just fine. At his peak, Kenny sported an all-white southern gentleman get-up or velvet jackets on stage, where he casually prowled, holding his microphone with its lead, delivering hit after hit to screaming fans. He was just forty years old, though prematurely white-haired, and onto his fourth marriage. He had not yet become the walking punch line of a plastic surgery joke, so could still convey actual warmth and emotion with his face. He still looked like Kenny Rogers.

While Kenny had his share of truly romantic love songs to his credit, (LIKE THIS) there remains a part of his musical legacy littered with horribly dysfunctional characters.

Take Lucille, for a start. She can be found in a bar in Toledo, pining for a more exciting life and flirting with strangers. She could care less that her husband makes a desperate plea for her to return to him and her four abandoned children in front of the men she’s drinking with, and when he leaves, she goes to a hotel room in order to have sex with a guy she’s just met and with whom she hasn’t said much. The joke’s on her, however, because her suitor can’t get it up, haunted as he is by her husband’s humiliation. Bros before hos, Dude.

Lucille was also the name of Kenny’s mother.

And then there’s Ruby, whose husband, a paralyzed and impotent Vietnam veteran, is forced to beg her not to leave him at home, unable to move, while she goes out to get her sexual needs met in town. He wishes he could shoot her dead, but he can’t pick up a gun. She couldn't care less. That’s romance, right there.



Of course there’s the woman who appears to be a serial adulterer in “Daytime Friends, Nighttime Lovers.” We’re not told why she feels the need to stray, but of all people she chooses to cheat with, she picks her husband’s best friend! She can’t understand why her husband can’t appreciate her need for someone else while blithely carrying on in secret. They don’t want to hurt “the others,” so they conduct their affair after dark (like that’s never been done before).

While Lucille, Ruby and Mrs. Affair do their men wrong, Tommy, AKA the Coward of the County, does his woman wrong. While he is out at work, the Gatlin boys (all three of them) gang rape his true love, Becky. He avenges her ruination by instigating a bar brawl, knocking down those pesky rapist Gatlin boys. But that’s all he does. Presumably they all get up and go on home as if nothing happened.

Whatever you do, don’t fall in love with a dreamer. A phone call always comes and beckons him away, very conveniently. He’s only good for one night at a time, as the thought of committing to more than that leaves him cold. He keeps his woman hanging on for years and keeps leaving the next day, breaking her every time.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

David Nail Nails It

Turning It On, Turning Home

David Nail’s song, “Turning Home” succeeds due to three specific factors that The Inky Jukebox would like to elucidate, because we like craft and this is craft at its finest.

1) Great Song

This one’s written by Scooter Carusoe and Kenny Chesney, a winning team of the kind of pedigree that David Nail, at this juncture in his career, can be offered songs by. If you consider Scooter’s hits (“Anything But Mine,” “Better As A Memory” — Both Kenny Chesney; “Guinevere” — Eli Young Band; and “We Run” and “Fall Into Me” — Sugarland), you can see that he knows how to tap a mighty songwriting vein. Kenny Chesney’s no slouch either when it comes to crafting the hometown love song (that is, a love song to one’s hometown). Nail’s big breakthrough hit, “Red Light,” and his hit “Let It Rain” also had the benefit of some serious songwriting muscle in the form of Jonathan Singleton.

2) Great Arrangement

Jangly piano and the kind of chord progression that hits you right in the spine is always a great way to open a song, but it MUST be followed with a set of choruses and verses which push and elevate that theme. Nail has that ability to lift the tenor of a note into the stratosphere where hit songs reside, and he employs it to full effect here. The Inky Jukebox is a complete amateur when it comes to knowing what-all of these things are called, technically, but we know it when we hear it, and more specifically, when we SING it. If you sing along properly, you will notice that to reach the money notes you have to sing loud as all-get-out while giving it your absolute ALL. Otherwise the notes simply fall flat. You can hear an example of this in the lines “Graduation came and went / Along with all the time we spent.” Imagine hitting “spent” and needing to raise your arms in a TD gesture like you’re the ref at the Superbowl. Of course, the opening of the chest cavity during this move allows more air in, which is why singers do it. It’s the emotional center of the song, and has earned the right to be given full steam.

This lifting of the pitch and massive injection of full-on volume is also something Justin Moore uses to make simple songs into anthems (see “Outlaws Like Me” at the end).

3) Great Voice

You hear judges on audition TV shows talking about it — a certain quality to a singer’s voice that makes it just sound creamy and smooth and full of a lovely “tone.” It’s an inscrutable element that will make some singers stars, and David Nail is one such person. His voice is like a hot cocoa spiked with bourbon; goes down real easy, and kisses you on the inside once it arrives. Oh Mama. He can pull it out sitting in a busy restaurant just as well as a proper stage. Anyone who can sing this well while sitting down has what it takes.

4) He don’t hurt to look at neither. The Inky Jukebox loves the beautifully shot black and white recording / practicing / performing video as a form in itself; this is a really good example of that.