Various Artists

A Girl Named Johnny Cash and Other Tribute Songs

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Leave it to Germany’s Bear Family imprint to come up with a collection of songs by country artists about other country artists. This would never happen in the 21st century -- Nashville wouldn’t let it. In more innocent times, songs like this were part of country’s novelty scene and were valued as radio singles. One selection here, Merle Haggard's “Leonard” (about his friend and mentor Tommy Collins), scored a place in the Top Ten of the country charts. Gordon Terry's late-'60s “Ballad of J.C.,” (for Johnny Cash) performed to the tune of Jimmie Driftwood's “Battle of New Orleans” earned him a performance spot on Cash’s television show. Cash inspired the most tunes on this collection, having no less than four tracks that have him as the subject. Other notable tunes here include Charlie Rich's brilliant “Gentleman Jim,” (written for Jim Reeves), Rudy Thacker's terrific “Ballad of Johnny Horton,” and a number of tunes by Stoney Edwards for various historical country figures including Cash, the Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, Roy Acuff, Bob Wills, Haggard, Red Foley, Hank Williams, and Bill Monroe. Lefty Frizzell also inspired a couple including “Goodbye Lefty” by Haggard. Ernest Tubb's wonderful “Hank It Will Never Be the Same Without You” is also here. Most of these tunes were recorded in the '60s, though a couple are of ‘50s vintage. The liner notes are excellent, as is the sound quality, making this a stellar collection for fans of country novelty records.

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