Country Gene Pitney?


An Interview and review (continued)

Gene P.: I would record more country in a minute.

Vigilantes C: You're not known as a country singer and unless someone has followed your career they may not know Gene Pitney recorded country albums, even though they were very successful hitting in the top 25 or top 50 on the charts. And you won an award for your country collaboration with George Jones. All one has to do is listen to those tunes and find you've become as country as good old George is.

I want to name a few of the country songs you've recorded and you give me a statement or two of your thoughts, memories or experiences on each, ok?

V.C.: A) Don't Rob Another's Man's Castle -

Gene P.: Great song to harmonize with because of the way the melody flows.

V.C.: B) I've Got A New Heartache -

Gene P.: Not one of my favorites.

V.C.: C) That's All It Took -

Gene P.: My kind of song. - The long held notes and with George doing his unique phrasing, I just followed.

V.C.: D) My Shoes Keep Walking Back To You -

Gene P.: Ok but again not a favorite.

V.C.: E) Your Old Standby -

Gene P.: Great song. We did some wonderful songs. Sweeter than the Flowers, Wreck on the Highway, Being Together are some of my favorites.

Vigilantes C.: The "Country Side Of Gene Pitney" is a 1966 Musicor release...a Gene Pitney solo country project. Not a bad song on the album. With songs like "Life To Go" written by George Jones or Melba Montgomery who co-wrote "The More I Saw Of Her (The Blinder I Became)", the album has several well-written songs. If "Blue Gene", in my opinion, is your best pop album then "The Country Side Of Gene Pitney" has to be your best country effort. You co-produced the album, How much of an input did you have in choosing all the songs for this album?

 

Gene P.: I picked all the songs but did one thing wrong. The LP was recorded in Nashville, Harmonies put on in Los Angeles, and mastering done in New York. It should have all been done in Nashville. You need to have country people to produce quality country music.

Vigilantes C.: You're pretty particular about your music, well maybe a better choice of words would be a perfectionist concerning your music. If I'm Gene Pitney looking to choose a song, what factors am I looking for in choosing a country song? What about lyrics and melody, what in your opinion makes a good country song, in general and for you in particular?

Gene P.: Any song I sing has to have a strong melody and lyric but more important I have to be able to get my teeth into it. There are songs that are fine for other people but don't suit me or my approach. I know it immediately when I sit with guitar or piano and start to put my identity on the song.

Vigilantes C.: Of these elements: instrumentation, lyrics, beat or a combination of, which helps put the song into its classification..IE: pop, rock or country etc.?

Gene P.: Hard to define today. Country has blended with pop and vice versa. Definitely the instrumentation in the arrangement but there are C&W phrasings and hooks that make a song automatically placed in the C&W folder.

Vigilantes C.: You made the statement "I think C&W has lost it's soul without the unique talents that it has abandoned. It's as sterile as the pop world is now!" I couldn't agree with you more. Why do you think this is the case? Are we losing the soul and value of the talent and music for the love of the quick dollar? What element did those "unique talents" have that seems to be missing with today's artists?

Gene P.: The record companies are totally to blame for this and the radio went to bed with them very easily. When the "New" country wave came in about 10 years ago it eclipsed country programming as we knew it. I think it is more early rock based now than country. I didn't mind them coming on so strong like that, it's just that they threw out all the great artists that were the mainstay of C&W. When people like George Jones can't get any airplay on C&W stations something is wrong!

George Jones and Gene Pitney, sings country together on two LP's

Vigilantes C.: Have you heard anyone currently in country music whom you think may deserve that "set up and take notice" attention or did your country music interest end after your participation ended?

Gene P.: I still listen to C&W but not with the same interest. I recently bought a single recording on iTunes that I found fascinating. It was Jerry Lee Lewis singing "Middle Aged Crazy". I think Jerry had a great country ability that was totally overshadowed by his pop success. I think people today like Toby Keith are interesting but I don't hear the heart and soul in performances that used to be there. It's too shallow for me now.

Vigilantes C.: As a singer who has recorded in many different music genres, do you think we are at (or will we get to) a point in time where there isn't enough room for all musical types or do you believe there is plenty of room for all on the musical spectrum?

Gene P.: I think there is definitely room for all the different types of music but our programming on radio limits all access unless they want to go there. Germany is a great example of open radio and air waves. They still play bubblegum, disco, oom pah pah, classical, and on and on. We probably have the worst limited and repetitive programming in the world today and yet it is still considered the biggest world market for music. I feel the younger generation is missing out on so much variety because they are not given the option to hear it if they choose!

 

We certainly want to Thank Gene Pitney for taking the time to answer our questions and giving us some insight into his experiences in country music. He definitely becomes country when called upon to do so, probably more country than those on the radio today could ever be. One of the reasons, Gene Pitney is a unique talent... when he puts his "teeth around it" (a song) as he mentioned...he does so without jeopardizing the honesty of the song in both lyric and melody. Not a lot of this going on in the world of country music today, is there? He is right too, the youth of today as our future generations will not know of some the best music ever heard, if not ever exposed to it.

I had to sadly shake my head a bit the other day when I heard the old George Jones song, "The Race Is On", played by Sawyer Brown, come on the radio. The music industry today, can take an "old country song" and re-release it by a newer artist, but for some unknown reason, the industry WILL NOT play the "older country artist" singing it or a newer song. The balance of the justice scale sure dips one way on this, doesn't it? No understandable reason either...save maybe one...money?

If you like the George Jones, the Hank Williams (Sr), the Webb Pierces, etc. of the world, then it is our responsibility, no, our duty, to keep the traditional country music and traditional country artists in the public eye otherwise the honesty of traditional country music and it's artists will be sadly replaced by what future generations will know only as what they are hearing as country music of today. Do we really want to risk that future?

To keep up with what is going on with Gene Pitney, visit his website at: www.gene-pitney.com

 
(p) Vigilantes Country a division of The Vigilantes....www.thevigilantes.com.

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