Jean Shepard

Lighthearted and Blue

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Lighthearted and Blue was Jean Shepard's comeback album, recorded in December of 1963 and January of 1964 -- her first LP (and her first extended recording sessions) following the death of her husband Hawkshaw Hawkins the previous March, and the birth of their second son a month later. It reached Number 17 on the country charts, an astounding comeback for an artist who'd seriously considered giving up music in the wake of her loss. The sessions yielded what proved to be an embarrassment of riches, as it turned out, more than could be fit onto the 12-song LP. As one might expect with its title and circumstances, there are serious songs throughout dealing with lost loves and romances gone wrong, including Shepard's gorgeous renditions of Roger Miller's ballad "When Two Worlds Collide," Fred Rose's "Foggy River," and Frankie Brown's "Born to Lose" -- any of which are alone worth the price of the album -- but also some striking upbeat songs, including a nicely edgy rendition of Lefty Frizzell's "If You've Got the Money, I've Got the Time," and Freddie Hart and Ann Lucas' "Loose Talk," the latter highlighted not only by some dazzling vocal acrobatics by Shepard, but also a great break from Grady Martin and Hal Rugg; and her warm and amazingly fresh, stripped down rendition of Don Gibson's "I Can't Stop Loving You," ornamented solely by Jerry D. Smith's restrained piano. Marty Robbins made two major contributions to the sessions as a songwriter, "Cigarettes and Coffee Blues," which she sang beautifully, and, on a much more personal level, "Two Little Boys," written about Shepard and her boys and their loss; it should have made it onto the LP but, alas, was sacrificed to the B-side of the accompanying hit single "Second Fiddle (To an Old Guitar)," and went uncompiled anywhere until Bear Family did its Jean Shepard box in 1996.

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