Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Lionel Goes Country

We all have certain ambitions in life. Some of us want to run a marathon. Some of us try to climb Mt. Everest. Some of us hope to win an Oscar. Lionel Richie wanted to write a hit country music song.

Other black singers had gone there before. Let's not forget Charley Pride, who managed to sound exactly like a white country singer except, holy shit, he's black.

Ray Charles decided to tackle country on his own terms, performing country songs in an R&B style, ending up with a unique, new kind of genre entirely.

But by the '80s, it had been a while.

Now, if you stop to think about it, country elements had been lying latent in Lionel's songs as far back as "Easy" and "Sail On." But no, "country elements" weren't enough for the man. Lionel wanted to pen an official "country music song." Well, if he couldn't sing it himself, maybe he could get some white guy to do it. Enter Kenny Rogers.

"Lady" wasn't just a #1 country hit, it was also a #1 pop hit. Perhaps feeling encouraged, and willing to test his powers to the limit, Lionel did not stop there. Thanks Kenny, it was fun, but no, he wanted a country hit under his own damn name.

"Stuck On You" (do I hear faint traces of Eric Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight"?) became the fourth straight Top Ten hit from Can't Slow Down, peaking at #3. But I doubt Lionel cared much about that. No, what he really cared about was that the song climbed all the way to #24 on the country charts. #24!

Ladies and gentlemen, Lionel Richie had finally become an official country music singer.

You ride 'em, cowboy.


Lloyd said...

Mr.Lionel Richie me and my wife just seen your t.v show with Shania it was wonderful my husband can sing real good to. I hope you can get with him to sing. Please call we would be gald to here from you. (843-317-9230) my name is Lloyd Floyd thanks it was a wonderful show.

pamela said...

MR.Lionel Richie me and my husband just seen your t.v show with Shania it was wonderful. I would like for you to get with my husband and let him sing with you.we live in florence sc he is a wonderful singer. he likes to sing country songs.we would like to here from you thanks alot. call(843-317-9230)Pamela Floyd