Monday, October 29, 2007

Porter Wagoner, 1927-2007

Country music legend Porter Wagoner, dead at the age of 80. Wagoner is probably best-known to mainstream audiences for teaming up with the young Dolly Parton both on his syndicated TV show and for several hit records, but he deserves to be known for a terrific series of country hits throughout the Fifties and Sixties, and for perhaps the greatest string of album covers in the entire genre of country music.

Wagoner loved to dress up; he is well-known in Grand Ole Opry circles for popularizing the outlandish rhinestone Nudie suits that were a staple of country music for a long time. His album covers also showed ol' Porter putting on a grand face, whether it was as his character Skid Row Joe (oddly enough, in the song "Skid Row Joe," the title character is a third-person figure confronted by Porter in the first person, but on the album photo, Porter himself dresses up as Skid Row Joe) or coating his face with sweat on The Carroll County Accident.

But his greatest album cover and, for my money, his greatest song were The Cold Hard Facts of Life, pictured above, and what made the cover so alarmingly good is that we're looking at Porter Wagoner's own apartment, as I explained here. Porter Wagoner, keepin' it real for 50 years at the Opry.

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