BONUS TRACKS: Tina Turner’s Country Side, Women on Country Radio, and More
A male radio consultant (in)famously said in 2015 that women, like tomatoes in a salad, should be "sprinkled" in a playlist, not played back-to-back. (Photo by DAPA Images)
I think just about everyone in the world stopped and sighed when we heard that Tina Turner had passed away this week. Tributes poured in for the “Queen of Rock,” and that she most definitely was. But it caught my attention as I read about her remarkable life and music that her debut solo album, her return to music in 1974 after escaping from under the abusive thumb of Ike Turner, was titled Tina Turns the Country On!. Now out of print, the album included songs written by Bob Dylan, Hank Snow, Dolly Parton, and Kris Kristofferson and tapped into the country music Turner grew up listening to. While she turned more firmly toward rock and pop as her solo career progressed, she didn’t fully leave that sound behind. Learn more about Turner’s country side, and the influence she had on some of today’s country artists, in this essay in Rolling Stone from Francesca T. Royster, author of the 2022 book Black Country Music: Listening for Revolutions. (You can read our review of Royster’s book here.)
If you ever grit your teeth and listen to pop country radio these days, you know there’s a constant flow of truck songs, beer songs, and songs about girls — but very few songs by girls. So few, in fact, that hearing two songs sung by women back to back is about as rare as a unicorn. Songs by women make up only 11% of country music airplay, in general, but back-to-back songs by women happen less than 1% of the time, according to a data analysis by Jada Watson and Jan Diehm for visual essay publication The Pudding. Learn more about how that sounds, and what it means, in a very cool visual presentation here.
Last week I told you about carmakers turning away from AM radio capability in their vehicles, but I’m happy to report an update. After The Washington Post story about that trend, Ford, which had been phasing AM out of its entire fleet, announced that it would scrap that plan and leave AM alone. AM enjoyed a rare show of bipartisan support: The vast majority of AM talk radio espouses conservative viewpoints, and Democrats were quick to point out that the national emergency alert system in some places relies on AM signals, which are often much stronger, thus reaching farther, than FM. While Ford has had a change of heart, other carmakers that were phasing out AM haven’t announced any new course. Find out who stands where, and why, in this update from The Washington Post.
Who doesn’t love the groovy sound of a Moog synthesizer? David Bowie did, as did Bob Marley, Dr. Dre, Devo, and many more. In honor of Moog’s 70th anniversary, and what would have been founder Bob Moog’s birthday this week, Moog Music has launched an interactive website where you can browse songs featuring Moog sounds, build your own synth, and even play around and record your own mixes with a virtual Minimoog Model D. Get funky with the “Mini Moog Factory” experience here.
WHAT WE’RE LISTENING TO
Here’s a sampling of the songs, albums, bands, and sounds No Depression staffers have been into this week:
Tina Turner – “The Best”
Unspoken Tradition – “Moments”
Anjimile – “The King,” the title track from his new album, coming in September
No-No Boy & Mariachi Los Broncos – “La Banda Más Chingón en Wyoming” (“The Best God Damn Band in Wyoming”)
Chris Pierce – “Tulsa Town,” from his new album, Let All Who Will, coming in September
Jeremy Dutcher – “Skicinuwihkuk”
Tinariwen – Amatssou
Benjamin Jaffe & A Gifted Community – “Victory”
Maria Taylor – “Pretty Scars”
Jeffrey Silverstein – Western Sky Music
John Fulbright – The Liar
Raye Zaragoza featuring MILCK – “Joy Revolution,” from Zaragoza’s new album, Hold That Spirit, coming in August