BEAT MAGAZINE, SYDNEY AUSTRALIA
JUNE 23, 2004
SHATTERED SONGS OF NEW SOUTH
“She acts alone on the streets of Nashville/ another star that never did
shine/ one dream she never came close to/ she could have been the new Patsy
Cline.” - Her Own Little World - Andy Tanas.
The dark streets of Nashville claim as many victims as the boulevard of broken promises in Hollywood.
And the shattered dreams of southern divas drawn to the elusive Music City
fame flame have inspired an avalanche of songs.
Larry Gatlin, Robbie Fulks, late honky tonker Gary Stewart and diverse
artists turn those tales into songs with varying degrees of success.
Now, Memphis singer-songwriter Andy Tanas has pillaged his memory bank for
a song inspired by a woman he saw 36 years ago in famed Nashville tourist trap Printer’s Alley.
The song source emerged long before Tanas earned his stripes in Dixie rock
band Black Oak Arkansas and Swiss rockers Krokus.
Her Own Little World is the videogenic narrative that ignites his debut
solo CD, Songs From The New South (RT Etc Music).
And it’s the snapshot of the embryo that humanises the song.
“I was close friends with a dancer named Heaven Lee who was the star
attraction at The Black Poodle in Printer’s Alley in Nashville,” Tanas,
father of three daughters, told Beat.
“Hanging out there I met George Jones, Jimmy Dean, Bobby Bare and others in
1976. There was a country bar next to the Poodle and the bass player was on
break outside smoking a cigarette. I was talking to him and saw this bag
lady walking down the street. He told me the story about when and what
happened when she came to Nashville.”
Tanas used literary licence for the victim’s Georgian history.
“There's a lot of heartbreak stories about people who went there and got
taken advantage of, not by industry people, but crooks and con artists,”
says Andy who joined Black Oak Arkansas in 1977 as bassist and stayed until they split in 1980.
Return to lyrics for a punch line, delivered with delicious dexterity.
“You’d never know this was a pretty young farm girl/ she could have been a
big country star/ she walks around in these worn out clothes/ her shopping
cart is filled with all she owns/ between the rejections and come-ons it’s
a shame this town had to be cruel/ now she hears voices singing, sweet dreams and a twangy guitar.”
Tanas reaches back to 1973 for Crying Angel - an historic romance with a Memphis belle in nocturnal drives on Highway 51.
“Crying Angel is a monument erected after the Civil War to a son who died at Shiloh,” Tanas explained.
“The father and an uncle drove from Memphis to Shiloh and brought his son's
body back for burial. His horse survived. So the legend was that the angel
would cry at midnight. We would drive out and wait for it to happen.”
There are shades of the late Tim Buckley in his vocal delivery of social
conscience tune Justice and Steve Earle Copperhead Road feel in Bonepony
mandolin player Brian Ward on Typical Male.
Gretchen Priest’s violin is integral to reality rooted Southern Side Of Me
and her fiddle on Cajun flavoured entrée Just Another Heartache.
Tanas perfects tempo and mood swings across the gamut of the genre from
hell-raising Rowdy, ruptured romance of Damage, cheating in You Didn’t Have
To Lie and hook heavy Tennessee Girl - a sibling of Hank Williams Jr ditty Texas Women.
Cody Dickinson, a recent Aussie tourist with the North Mississippi All
Stars, and Robert Barnett of Big Ass Truck alternate drum on a Dixie rocking country disc.
Further info - www.andytanas.com
Further info - www.nucountry.com.au
DAVID DAWSON is reached at firstname.lastname@example.org