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Toby Keith’s ‘Blue Moon’ Just Wouldn’t Go Away

Country music

Big Toby Keith, who writes his own hits and so far has come up with a string of smashes from “Should’ve Been a Cowboy” to “You Ain’t Much Fun,” is back on the charts with “Does That Blue Moon Ever Shine on You?”

It’s the first single and title song from Keith’s forthcoming third album, which is titled simply “Blue Moon.” But this one wasn’t just churned out in the past year.

“I wrote it in 1987 and released it on a tiny independent label in Texas,” Keith recalls, referring to his early days on country music’s low-profile honkytonk circuit.

“With absolutely no promotion at all, it made it onto the Billboard chart. Every time I played it live, I got a tremendous response from the women in the audience. They said, ‘You can rock out or do whatever you want to do, as long as you play that “Blue Moon” song.”’

So why hasn’t the rest of the world heard it before now?

“It got set aside on my first two albums,” he says, “and I eventually dropped it from my live show. (Then) I went on tour with Reba McEntire this past summer and decided to end my set with nothing but me and my piano player doing ‘Blue Moon.’ We got a standing ovation every night.”

The album is due for release April 16.

Emmylou’s ‘Wrecking Ball’

Alternative country queen Emmylou Harris says her current non-mainstream CD, “Wrecking Ball,” came about after it became “pretty obvious to me” that bigtime country radio finally had consigned her to the not-to-be-played category inhabited by such traditionalist heroes as George Jones and Merle Haggard.

She says she talked to Asylum Records about doing a duet album with country singer-songwriter (and onetime Harris Hot Band member) Rodney Crowell, and Asylum encouraged an inclination she had to “go more left-field.” So she did, ending up with high-profile pop producer Daniel Lanois.

The Harris album’s alternative nature hardly makes it non-Nashville, though. In fact, it was produced in the Tennessee capital and New Orleans and featured work by such notable not-very-mainstream Nashvillians as Crowell and neo-country-rocker Steve Earle.

Harris says she appropriated the Earle song “Goodbye” after hearing it on Earle’s 1995 acoustic album, “Train a Comin’,” which she - along with much of the critical community - describes as one of the best records of last year.

“I’ve practically worn it out,” she says.

“Of course, it took me a long time to get past the song ‘Goodbye’ because I kept rewinding and rewinding and rewinding it. I thought it was stunning. It’s one of those rare songs that is just economy of lyric and massive amounts of intimated emotion and angst.”

Harris sang on a cut or two of “Train a Comin’,” which Earle has just followed with a brand new package boasting fuller instrumentation. On the E Squared label, an affiliate of Warner Bros., it is titled “I Feel All Right.”

 

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