DIARY - 15 DECEMBER 2007 - BECKY HOBBS
HOBBS - BOOTS AND ALL
when I saw them I was just 17/ the finest work of leather I had ever seen/
I laid down my last dollar/ wore 'em out the door with pride/ they were
the boots I came to town in every Friday night." - The Boots I
Came To Town In - Becky Hobbs- Candy Parton
first time I laid my eyes on Becky Hobbs was in the winter of 1978
on my first trip to Nashville.
Not in the flesh but on the cover of a 1976 vinyl album From The
Heartland on the floor of a tiny Music Market record store.
The album - on Tattoo Records, distributed by RCA - featured a guest
appearance by John Sebastian and Buck Owens pedal steel guitarist
It was not the album that broke Becky here or back in the U.S.
That came much later when she recorded All Keyed Up for Mary
Tyler Moore's label MTM.
I found that on my 1988 invasion of Music City in a visit to the company's
office and meeting with publicist Sandy Neese.
Becky wasn't in town at the time but she was featured on local cable
TV shows with hosts including Ralph Emery and Bobby Bare.
On my return
songs such as Jones On The Juke Box, They Always Look Better When They're
Leavin', Mama Was A Working Man, Are There Any More Like You (Where You
Came From) and She Broke Her Promise became a staple on High
In The Saddle on 3RRR-FM and later on PBS-FM and Nu Country FM.
DJ Leslie Avril plucked Cowgirl's Heart - from the same album -
and cut it on her debut disc Champagne And Desolation.
Avril headlines the free Nu Country Christmas party at Hotel Kew from
high noon this Sunday - December 15.
So why was Hobbs such a find?
Well, she sang stone country, punched and kicked her piano like Jerry
Lee Lewis and had a voice as pure as another High In The Saddle discovery
Lacy J Dalton.
Richard Bennett - guitarist for Neil Diamond and the man who fuelled Steve
Earle on Guitar Town - produced All Keyed Up.
Among studio serfs were Dead Reckoners co-founder-drummer Harry Stinson,
fiddler Glen Duncan, bassist David Hungate and Mike Porter - co-writer
of John Hiatt's hit Tennessee Plates, later revived by Mark Collie.
HEADS DOWN UNDER
was a green eyed city girl/ a perfect lady in her lace and pearls/ daddy
was a wild haired country boy/ and I was a little bitty bundle of joy."
- Mama's Green Eyes - Becky Hobbs-Don Goodman-Jerry Hawkins.
Now, 40 years
down the Lost Highway, Becky belatedly makes her first Australian tour
with internationally acclaimed California born singer-songwriter, comedienne
and producer Kacey Jones.
Kacey release her first major Nashville album Born To Burn (MCA)
with Ethel & The Shameless Hussies in 1988 - same year as Becky's
All Keyed Up.
Becky and Kacey perform on the Tamworth Country Music Train and Family
Hotel in Tamworth on January 23 and 24 before returning to Victoria for
There will be, no doubt, a blending of the talents of Avril and Hobbs
in the salubrious surrounds of the Australian country music capital.
Maybe Leslie and Kacey will serenade Becky when she celebrates her 58th
birthday at the Family Hotel in Tamworth on January 24.
Hobbs is no stranger to overseas tours with a CV that includes performing
in the wilds of Rwanda and Zambia in Africa and also Eastern Europe.
But not even the Peel River badlands in Tamworth compare with some war
"Bosnia was wild," Hobbs revealed in a recent interview.
"The hotel we stayed at had bullet holes in the headboards of the
beds and burlap over the windows."
Meanwhile back down south, to promote this tour, Nu Country features both
artists' video clips, live concerts and planned hosting roles.
born in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, is promoting Best Of The Beckaroo
Part 1 and her rich back catalogue.
Beckaroo features songs from her albums from 1988-2001 - All Keyed
Up, The Boots I Came To Town In, From Oklahoma With Love, Swedish
Coffee & American Sugar and Hottest Ex In Texas.
Hobbs, voted Cashbox Magazine's indie Country Music Female Artist
for 1994 wed guitarist Duane Sciacqua - now touring with chart topper
Rodney Atkins - in 1996.
Duane produced her 1998 album From Oklahoma With Love and her
2005 disc Songs From The Road Of Life.
He has also
played guitar with Eagles co-founder Glenn Frey and guitarist Joe Walsh
and Paul McCartney.
got a suitcase in my back seat/ from the life I left behind/ I got a picture
of you on the dashboard/ underneath those hanging dice/ I got a letter
in my pocket/ and an achin' in my heart/ I'm barely on East 40/ but I
ain't ever gone this far." - Runnin' On Dreams. - Becky Hobbs
So what about
some history on Becky with help from her web page?
"My dad always loved music and had played violin in the Coffeyville,
Kansas Junior College's orchestra," Becky revealed in an interview.
"Whenever he played a rotten note, the conductor would throw a walnut
at him. So Daddy stopped playing his violin except at Christmas for family
you can imagine how that sounded!
When I was eight we moved across town to our new house and my dad bought
my sister Barbara and me a piano. We both started taking lessons, but
I quit after just three of them. I was just too shy that first time around.
After I heard my sister playing cool pieces like Purple People Eater and
Witch Doctor, I started taking lessons again, this time with a vengeance!"
The Hobbs sisters were raised on western swing and country artists diverse
as Bob Wills, Hank Williams and Willie Nelson.
"Mama was a green eyed city gal/ a perfect lady in her lace and pearls/
daddy was a wild haired country boy/ and I was their little bitty bundle
of joy." - Mama's Green Eyes - Becky Hobbs-Don Goodman-Jerry Hawkins
mom listened to Patsy Cline, Jim Reeves, and Jimmie Rodgers. I remember
she had a very early album of George Jones and I would make fun of it
for being pretty dang corny.
Years later, I was singing/writing about him in Jones on the Jukebox,
so what did I know back then?"
Hobbs soaked up her parents' music from home and radio.
"I used to hear Bob Wills on KVOO as my dad and I would drive from
Bartlesville to Tulsa," Hobbs recalled.
"I definitely have that Western Swing thang runnin' through my veins
and my songs. It never fails to make me happy! When I was eight, my dad
took me to hear Jerry Lee Lewis at Bartlesville Civic Centre. I'll never
forget how exciting he was to watch sing and play the piano. He's still
my favourite entertainer of all time."
Hobbs musical versatility has deep roots.
"Piano is my main instrument, but I learned to play acoustic guitar
when I was 14 and in a couple of folk duos," she added.
"Then I graduated to electric guitar. Around 1990 I taught myself
to play accordion. I always had loved hearing accordion music when in
Europe and I noticed how many of the country bands over there were using
accordions. I did most of my practicing in the back of my bus and it drove
my musicians crazy. Even the roar of a Silver Eagle can't drown out a
bad accordion player! It was a great way to get people off the bus."
PAGE AND ROGER MILLER
a fan of both country and folk musicians in her embryonic era.
"They have inspired me in different ways and I have been honoured
to have met some of them. When I was a little girl I loved Patti Page's
Tennessee Waltz, which was my grandmother Nanny's favourite song.
Patti was the Page Milk girl, and only a couple of days ago I found an
old Page Milk key ring in my dad's things. I am using it right now for
"One of the earliest songs I remember is Jack & Woody Guthrie's
Oklahoma Hills. I recently found original sheet music for it and
it's on my grand piano right now! I had the pleasure of knowing Roger
Miller when I lived in L.A. He lived in the guesthouse where Spencer Tracy
and Katharine Hepburn used to rendezvous. He was hilarious all the time.
We went out a couple of times and had a blast! I remember driving around
Beverly Hills in his Rolls Royce in the middle of the night and he couldn't
get anyone to answer him on his CB radio. His handle was - big surprise
- King of the Road."
Hobbs also admired the late Merle Kilgore and fellow Okies Vince Gill,
Reba and Garth Brooks.
"Garth Brooks is a true gentleman and humanitarian and brought tons
of listeners to country music," Becky revealed.
"I first met him was when he opened for me at Bink's in Stillwater
years ago. Just as his career was taking off, I got to open for him in
FOLK TO ALL GIRL ROCK BAND
the road at seventeen in a four piece all girl band/ we learned the ropes
out on the road in a psychedelic van." - Rockin' And Rollin' And
Raisin' Hell - Becky Hobbs.
first folk duo was with Nancy Sloan and we played a couple of times
at our school, Madison Jr. High," Becky recalled.
"My second folk duo was with Beth Ann Morrison. Our parents were
old friends and we played a few gigs around town."
Then came the female quartet.
"It was 1965 and I was a sophomore at Col-Hi in Bartlesville,"
"I was digging the Beatles and Rolling Stones. For Christmas,
my folks, after much begging, bought me an electric guitar (which
a friend of my dad's, Ed Moss, actually made!), a $7 microphone, and
Airline amp (it even had an output for "accordion!").
of us formed a band that we called Four Faces of Eve, and for a time we
were one of the few all-girl bands in the country. My dear friend Karen
Esch who passed away was our drummer (after having played with a guy band
called King Leaf & the Trees), Cheri Martini played organ, and Audley
Collins played lead guitar because I could only "scrub" (a slang
word I made up) a rhythm out at that time. A little later, Beth Ann Morrison
became bass player and then her little sister, Mary Lou, became our drummer.
Judy Pershal replaced Audley on lead guitar. We played local gigs, like
the Y-Hut, Youth Canteen and even ventured to other little towns in Oklahoma
such as Nowata and Miami."
opened for a band whose drummer Jamie Oldaker later played with Eric Clapton,
Leon Russell and The Tractors.
"We played Whiting Hall in Pawhuska - we made $3 for gas money to
play during the Rogues V's break," Hobbs revealed.
"They were from Tulsa and Jamie Oldaker was their drummer. We played
several times on Lee Bailey's Dance Party - a local TV show that was on
every Saturday in Tulsa.
In my senior year in high school, Charlie Brown's Guitars, KAKC, &
Pepsi Cola were so inspired by our band they sponsored an "all-girl
band contest" where the girls would try out separately on their own
instruments and winners on each instrument would become the band. I won
the "rhythm guitar" slot and that band became the Sir Prize
Package. We opened shows for the Buckinghams, Grassroots, and others,
all around the Tulsa area.
"Later, we branched out on our own and became The Wax Madonna. We
wore mini-skirts and go-go boots - only the boots have changed, folks
- they're now "cowboy!" I was playing lead guitar by then (I
really sucked) and bought an old Les Paul I found in a pawnshop. I am
sorry to say, I painted it psychedelic. Shortly after that, our lead singer,
Nancy Beeman, got offered a recording contract with Abnak Records in Dallas
and they changed her name to Nancy Sugar. I was sure she would be a big
star, but nothing really happened for her."
a solo career after fronting a Dixie Rock band.
"I wound back up in Baton Rouge and was the girl singer with Swampfox
- a southern rock band," Hobbs explained.
"By then, I had ditched the guitar - I never could get the darn thing
in tune!- and was playing keys and singing lots of Janis Joplin. It was
either that gig or accepting an offer from the Quatro sisters band. Suzi
Quatro had just moved to London and I was offered a gig to replace her
in Detroit. I wonder what would have happened if I had headed north instead
"Swampfox played a lot of hot, humid, sweaty bars, outdoor concerts
and LSU frat parties.
We did a lot of driving in the middle of the night in dense fog. When
I think of my time in Louisiana, the one-liner that comes to mind is,
"I washed my hair one night and it stayed wet for two years!"
"One of the highlights of my Swampfox days in Louisiana, was opening
for Allman Brothers in front of 20,000 people in New Orleans. I have a
real nice picture of myself biting my lip on stage!"
FOR KIM FOWLEY
"I lived in Baton Rouge only for a couple of years, turning twenty-one
there, but it seemed longer," the singer recalled.
"Then Lewis Anderson, who played guitar in the band, and I headed
to Los Angeles. L.A. rather than Nashville, because at that time I considered
myself rock. I'll never forget that excitement, coming over the hill on
I-10 and seeing all those lights! Kim Fowley was one of the first people
we met in L.A. He had just got back from England and showed up at our
door in 90 degrees heat in a rabbit fur coat, all 6 ft 6 in of him, about
as big around as a pencil. He demanded "something to eat before I
throw up" so I fixed him some scrambled eggs. He was shocking! I
had never met anyone who used such foul language!
"Kim used to pay Lewis and me to drive him around. Five, ten, twenty
bucks here and there. He was the first publisher to ever give me money
for a song. He purchased the publishing rights on a song Lewis and I wrote
called I'll Be Your Audience that Helen Reddy and Shirley Bassey
later cut. Helen recorded three more of my songs. Kim is totally bizarre
and eccentric, but he is one of the smartest people I have ever met. And
he is honest.
He's a street survivor and we are still friends.
"Before Kim put the Runaways together, he picked my brain about assembling
an all-girl band. I told him not to waste his time - one of my more brilliant
moments because someone always would be getting pregnant and quitting
the band. He knew I wasn't interested in being in his band. And besides,
I was the ripe old age of 23! Kim was into 14-year-olds and teddy bears."
Reddy's former manager and husband Jeff Wald also helped Hobbs expand
her career as a solo artist.
"All I ever really wanted was to be the "chick singer"
in a band,' Hobbs recalled.
"To me, that was the perfect scenario; to get all the attention
but not have to bear all the burden. But no one was interested in
that. They were only interested in me. Kim Fowley used to take me
around to all kinds of biz folks, like Lou Adler when he had Ode
records, and he'd introduce me as Queen of the South, or say I was
"a miniature Playboy Bunny," that kind of thing. I'm sure
we weirded some people out.
I arrived in L.A., I met a lot of people, met a guy on Sunset Boulevard
named Tornado Warren who introduced me to Jeff Wald - Helen Reddy's
me a record deal with MCA through Artie Mogul, and we recorded an album
in Muscle Shoals and Miami. Just as the record was coming out, we went
to a meeting with Artie. We noticed his name was no longer on his office
door and all the furniture was gone! Artie had left MCA! That's the way
it was, dealin' with Artie!
I got to open for Roger McGuinn at the Troubador not long after that.
It was fun but I was scared to death. I played the baby grand and sang
by myself, which I wasn't used to doing. It was intimidating! I was playing
singer/songwriter stuff that night, songs like Paradise Is In Your
Mind and I'll Be Your Audience.
"I had always loved the Byrds, and that West Coast earthy, folky,
country stuff. I was a huge Eagles fan. I met Glenn Frey in the bar of
the Troubador. I didn't think he would remember, but when I met up with
Glenn years later - my husband Duane Sciacqua was playing with Glenn when
we met - he said he did remember me."
DELRAY AND RATTLESNAKES
"Put on your cowboy hat and your faded blue jeans/ shine up those
cowboy boots if it's me you wanna please/ I want a lover and a fighter
and wild bull rider/ to hold me tight on this honky tonk Saturday night."
- Honky Tonk Saturday Night - Becky Hobbs-Martin Delray
"During the first couple of years, I played the singer-songwriter
clubs. Then I teamed up with Mike Martin (who later became Martin Delray)
and we became the band at the OK Corral in Lakeview Terrace, just north
of L.A. People would ride their horses to the joint and they'd hitch 'em
up in the parking lot. It was wild and the cops were always getting called
there to break up fights between men, women, whatever. I remember one
night, a guy was gonna "whip some ass," 'cause another guy's
horse had kicked his Mercedes and dented it.
One night a guy put a rattlesnake he'd killed on my piano bench! I've
played all kinds of places and have never been in a rougher joint. But,
I totally loved it! As ornerey as some of the customers were, most of
them were solid gold. The gals, especially.
"Once the Urban Cowboy craze hit, I had more work than I could handle.
I played the Palomino in North Hollywood, Cowboy's in Anaheim, Crazy Horse
in Santa Ana, the Round-Up in Chatsworth. Another one of my favourite
gigs was The Rawhide - a gay bar in North Hollywood. And I got a regular
gig at The Ranch in Garden Grove. The owner hired me to play on Wet T-Shirt
Night and Female Mud-Wrestling Night, and then put me on weekends. I was
making a lot of dough for back then!
"I was fortunate enough to be playing 90% original tunes during all
this time. The trick was to write a good enough song that people thought
they had heard before and could sing along with by the second chorus."
LED TO MUSIC CITY
1978, I started writing for Al Gallico Music," Hobbs says.
"Although Al lived in L.A., he was the biggest independent song publisher
in country music. Al signed me as a writer, on the strength of a song
I had written called I Can't Say Goodbye To You - it won first
place in Easy Listening category of the American Song Festival and is
on my new CD. I had other songs Al liked, so he knew I was a good writer.
Al picked up the phone and got me the record deal with Jerry Kennedy,
who was running Mercury records in Nashville. That's when I started going
to Nashville to record.
"Once I started hanging out in Nashville, I knew I would wind up
there. Being a songwriter is a respected occupation in Music City. You
can actually buy a house! All I really wanted to do once I moved to Nashville
was write songs - great songs.
"By the time I moved there, Al had gotten me a few cuts. Lacy J.
Dalton recorded Feedin' the Fire, as did Zella Lehr, who took it
to #16 on Billboard. In 1983, I did a duet with Moe Bandy, Let's Get
Over Them Together. It went to #10 on Billboard, but Moe's label,
Columbia, was not interested in signing me. The next year, however, Lynn
Shults signed me to Liberty/EMI and I had moderate success with a few
peak years in Nashville would have to be when MTM signed me and my
All Keyed Up album came out in 1988. It got rave reviews and
I was really starting to kick ass, but then the label folded! RCA
bought my contract and re-released the album, with two additional
cuts - one being the last single, Do You Feel the Same Way, Too
- but dropped me from the label soon after. I was on Curb for about
five minutes and had a little success with John D. Loudermilk's Talk
Back Trembling Lips. "My biggest chart successes as a solo
artist were Jones on the Jukebox for MTM in 1988, which went
to #31 on Billboard, and Honky Tonk Saturday Night for Mercury
in 1981, which didn't do that well nationally but went to #1 in many
the recordings, I was known for my appearances on the various Nashville
Network TV shows. I was actually turning down some because I didn't want
to be overexposed. I was also on the road pretty much full-time for a
decade so country fans got to see me. I supported a four-piece band, sound
engineer, manager, booking agent, bus driver, and a big-assed hillbilly
bus that cost a fortune to maintain. I also had a good-sized active fan
FOR US - ALABAMA SMASH
I believe there are angels among us/ sent down to us from somewhere up
above/ they come to you and me in our darkest hours." - Angels
Above Us - Becky Hobbs-Don Goodman
a huge earner when Alabama cut a reality rooted hit, inspired by a brush
"Angels Among Us made a huge impact," Hobbs confessed.
"It definitely has been the biggest blessing in my career and every
night I thank God for that song. Randy Owen, Alabama's lead singer, and
Teddy Gentry have both told me that the group has received more fan mail
for it than any other song they've ever recorded. It's also my most requested
song, once people know that I co-wrote it. It has helped so many people."
"The idea of Angels Among Us came from a profound experience.
Shortly before Christmas 1985, I started getting premonitions that I was
going to be in a bad vehicle accident. Night after night, I lay in bed,
drifting off to sleep when suddenly I'd sit up with my heart pounding,
thinking to myself, "I'm not ready to go yet!" Each time, I
was overwhelmed by a sense of despair - a sick feeling deep in the pit
of my stomach. "This went on for weeks, right on through the holidays.
Then, in the wee hours of the morning of January 24, 1986, something very
weird happened. I was in my kitchen, baking a birthday cake - chocolate,
of course - for a gathering I was having the next afternoon to celebrate
my birthday. As I stirred the batter, "something" took hold
of my arm and literally pulled me outside. I wasn't really scared, but
I felt very uneasy - like when you're getting ready to hear something
you don't want to hear. I stood in the front yard, looked up at the starry
sky and asked out loud, "What? What is it you're trying to tell me?"
"I didn't have to wait long for an answer. This loud, very strong,
masculine voice said, "Be careful - this may be your last birthday!"
I felt slammed by that same sick feeling in my stomach that I got when
I was having those bedtime premonitions. I just stood there in the yard,
dumbfounded, asking out loud for more information, but no more was given.
I knew I was being warned about something, and I had a pretty good idea
that it was connected to the premonitions.
"I went back in the house. My knees were shaking and my heart was
pounding. My mind kept going over every word. Be - careful - this - may
- be - your -last- birthday!" "May" is the key word, I
thought to myself. Whatever I was being warned about must be something
I can prevent - otherwise, why was I being warned at all? And who was
it that was warning me? At the time, I thought it was God or my sweet,
loving daddy who had passed away in 1982 and was speaking to me in a voice
not quite his own, that was much deeper than his had been.
AT A RED LIGHT
ain't it kind of funny at the end of the dark end of the road/ someone
lights the way with just a single ray of hope." - Angels Above
next night was January 25. 1986. My band and I were driving back to Nashville
after performing at a police benefit in Albertville, Alabama. It was raining
hard, and our van and trailer stopped at a red light and we waited to
cross a four-lane highway. I was sitting in the back of the van on the
left, and our road manager, Randy, was driving. As I looked out the window
through the rain, I saw an eighteen-wheeler barrelling down the highway
toward the intersection. I thought to myself, "My God, if his light
turns red, that truck driver's not going to be able to stop in time!"
As I looked up, I saw our light turn green.
This was all taking place in a split second but it seemed like forever,
as if everything had suddenly switched to slow motion. I felt Randy lift
his foot off the brake. We started moving forward. And I got an awful
feeling deep in the pit of my stomach. "Stop!" I yelled at Randy,
sensing that he didn't see the truck.
"Randy jammed on the brakes just as the eighteen-wheeler - its air
horn blasting -slammed into us. Miraculously, the truck struck the front-left
side of my Dodge maxivan - its strongest part. Our equipment-loaded trailer
was ripped off its hitch as our van spun around the wet pavement. Although
the Dodge was totalled, we all survived with minimal injuries. Had the
collision occurred just a split second later, when we'd moved further
into the intersection, we would have been broadsided and -from what the
police told us - most likely killed.
"After the accident, I realised the voice from above belonged to
my guardian angel. As soon as I understood that, I wrote down the song
title, Angels Among Us, in my notebook and I would think about
lyrics off and on for several years. It wasn't until Christmas 1992, when
I was sitting in my dad's old easy chair late one night at my mum's house
in Oklahoma, that I got the strongest feeling I had to finish the song.
When I got back to Nashville, I worked with Don Goodman and he helped
me finish it. Not long afterward, we demo-ed the song and I took it over
to Randy Owen. Alabama recorded it soon after that."
and the late Conway Twitty also recorded Becky's first #1 song I
Want to Know You Before We Make Love.
"Yes, to date, it has been my only #1," Becky recalled.
"Alabama recorded it before Conway did, and when I found out
it wasn't going to be a single for them, I "cried all the way
to Conway Twitty!" I got to open several shows for Conway and
he was so supportive and kind. He even pitched one of my songs that
he didn't feel was right for him, to Tammy Wynette.
George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Emmylou Harris, Glen Campbell, John Anderson,
Janie Fricke, Shelly West, Jane Oliver, Ken Mellons, Frank Sinatra,
Jr and many others have cut Hobbs songs.
the near misses?
"I'd love to have a George Strait cut," says Hobbs.
did record I Can't Say Goodbye To You, but he didn't like the way
he sang it, so it didn't make his album. I'd love to have a Merle Haggard
cut, a Willie Nelson cut, an Aretha Franklin cut, a Garth Brooks cut.
I would have loved to have a Tammy Wynette cut - I will always love her
voice. I'd kill for a Killer cut! I wrote a duet for Jerry Lee Lewis and
me, but so far, no cigar. That would be awesome! I guess what I would
love more than anything, would be a big ol' pop cut. I need the dough."
MUSIC CITY CUBICLE WRITING
is harder now to get my songs heard,' Hobbs confessed.
"I used to write songs in a little cubicle with one of the hottest
producers in town, and now it's impossible even to get to him. You've
gotta go through his wife's mother, his wife, or his kid, etc, it's ridiculous!
"I deal with ageism by exercising to keep in shape, which is good
for my inner as well as my outer strength, and by keepin' on. I keep my
eye on the big picture: spiritual things, LIFE, what really matters, etc.
I sometimes get discouraged by the Nashville environment, but that won't
stop me from writing and singing my songs. It's a big part of who I am."
Hobbs has not suffered a Dixie Chicks style backlash for writing anti-war
songs such as Let There Be Peace and No More War.
"It was unbelievable to me what happened to the Dixie Chicks,"
"I don't understand why country radio reacted so violently to the
Chicks. Big money is the only reason I can think of. It's all bought and
paid for. I play all over the world and many people I meet in other countries
ask me how I feel about our president and the war in Iraq. I answer them
honestly, saying that I don't agree with our president. There's a whole
bunch of country music artists that don't agree with President Bush regarding
the war in Iraq, but they're too scared to speak up.
also earned publishing royalties from Australia when Leslie Avril cut
her bittersweet love song Cowgirl's Heart.
"I had someone in mind when I wrote it," says Hobbs.
"He wasn't a cowboy, but he sure broke my heart."
Equally real was She Broke Her Promise - also on All Keyed Up.
"She Broke Her Promise is about my mom and dad,' Hobbs confided.
"My dad always said to my mom, even when they were young, "I
want you to promise me that if anything happens to me, you'll re-marry.
I don't want you to be alone." It always sort of bothered mom, but
she'd say, "Well, all right, I promise. But I want you to promise
me the same thing." My dad passed away in 1982 (he had lingered in
a semi-coma for almost two years) and mom never re-married."
"When the song started coming to me, it was at night and I had an
Irish coffee and was riding home with a dear friend. I was so overcome
with emotion I was shaking. Goose bumps were all over my body. I knew
I had "greatness" on the line - not because of me, but because
it was truth.
"I played the song for Momaroo (what I call my mom) in private before
I recorded it and performed it on stage, to make sure she was ok with
it. She said, "Becca, I love it. It's a tribute."
"Alabama came close to recording it, and both Billy Sherrill and
Bob Montgomery wanted to cut it with George Jones. But George said it
was "too sad." This was from the guy whose biggest hit ever
was He Stopped Loving Her Today - go figure."
WAS A WORKING MAN
paean Mama Was A Working Man is equally vivid.
"My mom worked at Phillips Petroleum Co. in Bartlesville for years,'
"She was a top-notch secretary and saw many a man being hired for
more money and less work. I embellished some of the story in the song.
For instance, my dad didn't go away in '58. He started working for Phillips
in 1948 and both of my parents thought they had job security there. He
got laid off in 1969, my only year at college. It broke his heart to tell
me they couldn't pay for another year of college for me. I told my parents
I didn't want to go back to college anyway, that what I needed to learn,
I wasn't gonna find there. I needed to hit the road and beat the streets!
Growing up, my folks would have rather run out of gas than fuel up at
a competitor's gas station. That's how loyal they were! Yet they laid
off my dad. Mum continued to work at Phillips until she took early retirement.
"In Mama's Green Eyes (& Daddy's Wild Hair) I stretched
the facts a bit. My dad was definitely more outgoing than my mom, but
he didn't hang out in bars. He liked to think and talk about the wild
side of life more than live it! That was a hook by one of my co-writers
on the song, either Jerry Hawkins or Don Goodman."
ON THE JUKE BOX
got Jones on the Jukebox, you on my mind/ I'm slowly going crazy, a quarter
at a time." - Jones On The Juke Box - Becky Hobbs-Mack Vickery-Don
"Those were Don Goodman's lines," Hobbs confessed.
"Shortly after I moved to Nashville, Goodman and I were writing together
on a Sunday afternoon. It was one of our first writing sessions. I was
sitting at an old upright piano at Lobo's publishing building (remember
Me and You and a Dog Named Boo?) and Goodman said, "Hey, Beck, last
night me and ol' Mack (Mack Vickery) were at the Hall of Fame" -
the bar at the old Hall of Fame Motel by Music Row - "and we were
foolin' around with this." He started stompin' his feet and scrubbing
air guitar and "sang" those two lines. He asked me if I wanted
to "jump in on it," and I said, "You betcha. I know a hit
hook when I hear one!" Mack was cool with it and years later, I got
to meet him and write with him. He was a wonderful, wild man!"
Hobbs also wrote I Don't Dance with Strangers with Jerry Hawkins.
"Jerry came up with that hook and we wrote the song together. Obviously
I've had some great male lyricists with strong "female" sides!
I love it, since I can be very "masculine" when I write!
BOOTS I CAME TO TOWN IN
boots I came to town in once were shiny new/ now these old souls have
got some holes/ from all that they have been through." - The Boots
I Came To Town In - Becky Hobbs-Candy Parton
So does Hobbs
still have the boots that inspired her 1994 Intersound album?
"Yes, I still have 'em. They've been re-soled at least a million
times," says Hobbs.
"And they've waded through a ton of manure, that's for sure! That
was Candy Parton's song title and the song pretty much came to me when
I was sitting in the Pacific Ocean! "
a stark contrast to Don't Cry For Me from her 1998 album From
Oklahoma With Love.
"Don't Cry for Me is one of my favourites," Becky confided.
"I wrote it in 1980. When the doctors at Hillcrest Hospital in
Tulsa said there was nothing more they could do for my dad, I went
down to the chapel in the hospital and this song just flowed in through
the stained glass window. It was my dad's philosophy on life. He was
a happy-go-lucky man who never met a stranger. The European fans really
respond to this song for some reason.
recently recorded it. She had heard me sing it last summer in Sweden.
I think that really brought it home for me. I had written it for my dad,
and she was singing it for hers. And her dad was Hank Williams! And my
dad was Bill Hobbs, a big Hank Williams fan. Wild!"
man's measured by what he has/ an Indian by what he gives/ we must learn
from our broken past/ there must be a better way for us to live."
- Pale Moon - Becky Hobbs
"Pale Moon is one of my favourites," says Becky.
"Nancy Ward (this is her English name) was my fifth great-grandmother.
She was born of the Wolf Clan in approximately 1738 in Chota (one of the
"mother towns" of the Cherokee Nation), now in the South Eastern
Tennessee area. It is said, on the day she was born, a white wolf roamed
the horizon. White was the colour for peace.
"When she was around sixteen years of age, she went to battle with
her husband, Kingfisher, against the Creeks. Her job was to chew the bullets,
to make them more deadly.
When Kingfisher was killed and fell to the ground, Nancy arose to take
his place and led the Cherokee to victory.
"She was then given the title Ghigau, or "Beloved Woman"
of the Nation. After earning this honour, she dared to stand where no
woman had stood before - in the centre of the white man's council meeting,
protesting war and promoting peace between the Cherokee and other tribes,
the colonists and the settlers. She is credited with introducing dairy
products and beef to the Cherokee.
"She wore a shawl of white swan feathers and was given the power
to save a life. With the wave of a swan's wing, she spared the life of
Lydia Bean, a white woman at the stake. She saved countless Cherokee and
white lives when she warned settlers of impending attacks.
"On the day she died in 1822, witnesses saw a white light rise up
from her body. It took the form of a wolf and then of a swan. It fluttered
about and flew off in the direction of her beloved town of Chota.
"I wrote Let There Be Peace in honour of Nancy and it is the
theme song of the Association of Descendants of Nancy Ward. I have started
writing and recording a tribute album to Nancy Ward. That's the Nancy
Ward Project and both Pale Moon and Let there Be Peace are
part of it.
WRITING ON COUNTRY GIRLS
can dance all night and shoot out the lights/ and drink you under the
table." Country Girls - Becky Hobbs-Duane Sciacqua
Girls was the first song Duane and I wrote together," Hobbs said
of the marital royalty trove.
"It's from my 1998 album From Oklahoma With Love, produced
by Duane. Duane is an awesome guitarist who has played with Paul McCartney,
Don Henley, Joe Walsh, Glenn Frey and many others. He works hard to get
unique guitar sounds, not just the same ol', same ol', and I like the
edge he adds to my recordings. We wanted a real dance vibe on that song
so there's a lot of Duane on it! By the way, he's currently on tour with
Rodney Atkins, who has a hit out called If You're Goin' Through Hell.
Hobbs also penned The Devil May Care with its memorable lyrics
"I don't know where you've been, but I know where you can go"
and "The devil may care, but I don't.; the Lord may take you back,
but I won't."
Hobbs gives lyrical credit to her co-writers.
"So much of that lyric is Don Goodman," Hobbs conceded.
"He, Craig Karp, and I wrote it in one sitting and nobody is better
lyrically than "the Goodman" when he's on and he was way on
that day! I wasn't thinkin'' about anyone in particular for that song
- I just rolled a bunch of old losers up into one big one!
MAN IN BLACK
Johnny Cash in Another Man In Black and parodied Music Row moguls
in Kiss My Ashes on Songs From The Road Of Life.
"I had the pleasure of opening shows for Johnny & June Carter
Cash in England and Ireland in the mid-80's," Hobbs explained.
"They were very kind to me and lots of fun. I'll never forget the
time I spent with them, including when we all got to kiss the Blarney
Stone together! Dene Anton and I wrote Another Man in Black over
the phone the Sunday after Johnny passed away.
I had the chorus to What Are You Doin' In My Dreams for quite a
while and I would just groove on it when I sat down at the piano. Finally
when I hunkered down to do the album, the verses pretty much just rolled
out. I love a good shuffle and my Songs From the Road of Life album
"Kiss My Ashes was a riot to write! I am sick of Music Row
bullshit. Female artists and male, too, are thrown out to pasture because
they're no longer 18 years old with perfect bodies and perfect faces.
I just told it like it is in that one and audiences go wild when they
hear the lyrics. Funny thing is, some of the very guys I wrote it about
love it - they have no idea it's about them! Or maybe they do."
PARTON, LORETTA AND SHANIA
often written with Candy Parton - one of the famed Smoky Mountains clan.
"Candy Parton's ex-husband is a second cousin to Dolly," Hobbs
"You know, "all them Partons they've all got them big ears!"
At least according to Candy's ex, that is!"
Kinfolk are the country glue - just like Loretta Lynn, twin daughters
Peggy and Patsy - youngest of her six children - who released The Lynns
CD in 1998, and famed little sister Crystal Gayle.
"To me, Loretta is the grand mammy of all us gal writers," Hobbs
"She told it exactly like it was, no bones about it. She's so real,
raw and honest. It thrilled me that Loretta and George Jones recorded
a song Mark Sherrill and I wrote called We Sure Make Good Love
on George's Ladies Choice album."
Not so surprisingly Hobbs is a fan of Shania Twain from the other extremity.
"I like Shania's songs, her voice, her recordings, and her stage
act," Hobbs added.
"She's got it all! She brought a great energy to the country music
industry. She and her husband Mutt Lange are a terrific team. They taught
the Music Row good old boys a thing or two."
CLICK HERE for a Kacey
Jones feature from the Diary on September 10, 2006.
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