It's official - TV is the surrogate radio for country music in the land that metropolitan mainstream corporate chains forgot.

EMI Records is promoting expatriate Australasian country superstar Keith Urban in a Nine Network TV special on Sunday October 17 at 1 p m.

The half hour special, Keith Urban - Backstage Pass, features an interview and live footage with Urban in Great Falls in the mountains of Montana.

It's a coup by Urban's Australian record company to land the special on the top rating national network in an accessible time slot.

No longer do country fans have to set the timer for after midnight - Nine previously screened the CMA Awards in daylight hours.

And, of course, the network's Today Show and morning host Kerrie-Anne Kennerley - former sister-in-law of Emmylou Harris - are proud country fans.

That's the good news - we won't repeat a few factual errors from the official press release.
Little things like Keith being born in Queensland - instead of New Zealand - and the convenient amnesia regarding his debut Aussie disc and arrival in Australia.

That's for older pedants in the refried rock wilderness.

Let's bow to Nine and run one paragraph from its press release.

"In this exclusive interview from Great Falls Montana, Urban delves into the personal struggles of his past, the overwhelming buzz surrounding his future and why he still calls Australia home."


Urban, 36, broke all sales records for an expatriate Australasian artist when his 5th CD Be Here topped U.S. country charts on debut and reached #3 on Billboard rock charts.

Keith's radio friendly summer single Days Go By also topped the Billboard charts for four weeks.

It was an amazing feat - it was his 5th #1 hit and eighth consecutive #5 smash.
Sadly that doesn't necessarily translate in this radio backwater.

But the album debuted at #11 on the official ARIA charts and only slid marginally on subsequent weeks.

There will be a decent spike in sales on next week's charts after the TV special but the me-too memories mausoleums are unlikely to respond by giving Urban an even radio playing field.

The corporate scaredy cats will hide between dubious research methods - playing pop down phone lines to listeners and concluding country is not popular in the cities.

It may sound trite but, like the recently vanquished politicians and pundits, they fail to read the public and need to get out in the streets and speak to the real people.

Check out urban country concerts by major artists diverse as Kasey Chambers, Dixie Chicks and Lee Kernaghan and check out the demand.

Hell, even the MCG sound system gatekeepers played the Dixie Chicks version of Bruce Robison's Travellin' Soldier and other country tunes throughout the finals.

It's not clear if former Nu Country FM DJ and official AFL voice Craig Willis was at the controls but someone obviously gets it.

Certainly a more creative musical matinee than the reality TV twerps who ponced on the hallowed turf in pre-game farce while frantic visual pranksters flashed a message on the scoreboard for Mr. F. ERAL of Port Adelaide to call home.

Nice one.


The TV special will obviously be a huge sales spike for Urban's national tour.

Urban follows famed peers Emmylou Harris, Dixie Chicks, Dwight Yoakam, Kasey, Leon Russell, Amazing Rhythm Aces, Mary Chapin Carpenter into the historic St Kilda Palais on February 26.

Print media interviews are scheduled soon to catalyse ticket and CD sales for the unsung hero.

Urban's return to St Kilda - he once played the Espie - is prophetic.

The local council - Port Phillip - is trying to knock down the Palais and Palace - home for Nu Country FM showcases - for some yuppie puppies plans.

Good tidings from the U.S. include a news flash Urban has turned down the volume of music at his shows.

Cerebral country fans need to discern the lyrics - they don't have luxury of hearing him on the radio hourly like their American peers.


The Notorious Cherry Bombs

Those readers who dare to dream might choose the Notorious Cherry Bombs as an ideal touring partners for Urban.

Neither budgets or touring budgets would allow such a luxury but let's shortly dwell on the Urban-Crowell connection.

Urban played Making Memories of Us for Crowell before putting it on Be Here.

Crowell, 54, wrote the song as a Valentine's gift to singing spouse Claudia Church, and included it on his new album, The Notorious Cherry Bombs.
Urban wanted Crowell's blessing.
"It was pretty nerve-racking having him sit beside me when I was playing him the finished product," Urban said.
"If he had cringed on any singular thing, I'm sure I would have fixed it."

Rodney Crowell

So we have recent reviews of the albums by Urban and Cherry Bombs as a surrogate.


"Writing new words to an old school melody/ hey there ain't no doubt that God's been good to me." - God's Been Good To Me. - Keith Urban

Expatriate Australasian guitar slinger Keith Urban drives a nail into the cold, cold heart of Australian radio each week his fifth #1 hit Days Go By burns on U.S. charts.

That's four weeks and counting as fifth album, Be Here, soars in the world's biggest music scene.

Urban, 36, wrote 10 of 14 songs on a dynamic disc whose joyous vibrance is aimed at the heart and soul of a malleable market place insatiable for passion.

This will also sell here despite boof-headed buffoons, trapped in hits and memories mausoleums, sneering at his unashamed strip mining of melancholia and nostalgia.

Urban spent more than 10 years abroad honing his art and baring his heart in a genre where passion is a virtue - not a vice.

He entrees with his Celtic-tinged hedonistic hit, using a freeway to defy mobile phone laws and adorn a metaphoric dash for fast lane living.

The freeway freedom imagery recurs in You're My Better Half - sweet summer solace for folks drowning in politics, terrorism and the daily grind.

Urban punctuates poignant paeans Better Life, God's Been Good To Me and I Could Fly with melodic mood swings.

The singer is reincarnated as mentor Rodney Crowell in Making Memories Of Us that the writer cut on his Notorious Cherry Bombs disc.

And he tickles tear ducts in Rivers Rutherford-Gordie Sampson tune The Hard Way and pathos primed Tonight I Wanna Cry - one of five penned with Monte Powell.

The sequencing works - She's Gotta Be is a sibling song of Matraca Berg-Jim Collins Nobody Drinks Alone.

The mood reverses with a revamped Elton John-Bernie Taupin tune Country Comfort, Live To Love Another Day and nostalgia drenched These Are The Days.

So what makes it different to chart chaff that withers on the vine in the South Pacific perishing pit?

Well, Urban stretches out on guitar solos, adds mandolin, banjo and e-bow to his CV and retains creative control on a timely tableau co-produced with Dan Huff.

And he makes no apologies about surfing the mainstream as he by-passes reality TV twerps for the real deal.


"She used to call me baby, I thought she was such a lady/ but my how things have changed since times moved on/ I'd give her my last dollar and now all she'll do is holler/ oh my life has become a country song." - Its Hard To Kiss The Lips At Night That Chew Your Ass Out All Day Long - Rodney Crowell-Vince Gill.

Where's the best place to road test a new song - in the shower, of course?

Tim McGraw and singing spouse Faith Hill did it with his latest hit Live Like You Were Dying and Rodney Crowell and Claudia Church followed suit.

This time it was the Notorious Cherry Bombs self parody Its Hard To Kiss The Lips At Night That Chew Your Ass Out All Day Long.

"My wife came home right about when we finished it, and we sheepishly played it for her, and she said she loved it," Crowell, 54, revealed recently.

"I didn't believe her, and I later heard her singing it in the shower. I called Vince and said it's okay to play for Amy Grant because I heard Claudia singing it in the shower."

The group, eighties band for Crowell and first singing spouse Rosanne Cash, liked the spoof so much it reprised it on its self titled disc on keyboard ace Tony Brown's label Universal South.

"It was Vince's idea," Crowell says. "And he's damn sick."

"I make a big ole ass woman," Gill adds of the video in which he frocks up.


The band dedicated its disc to drummer Larry Londin who died at 47 in 1992 - Eddie Bayers takes his role but Londin's drumming is mixed into the reprise of entrée Let It Roll, Let It Ride.

Other originals are guitarist Richard Bennett, steel guitarist Hank DeVito and Brown who worked with Elvis before joining Emmylou Harris's Hot Band.

Brown joined Cherry Bombs for a 2002 reunion after recovery from a life-threatening head injury sustained earlier in the year when he fell down stairs in Los Angeles.

Brown's accident played some role in the reunion.

Gill says, "We had planned to do it even before his accident. All it did was make it wait for a while until he got better."

Bassist Emory Gordy Jr. produced many albums for wife, Patty Loveless, and George Jones, Bill Monroe and Matraca Berg, and is replaced by Michael Rhodes.

John Hobbs guests on keyboards, Jim Horn sax and Gill's daughter Jenny harmonises on her dad's tune Dangerous Curves.

Although the singalong and entrée satirise band members and radio they also included new songs that would be chart heat seekers if the lads were young radio studs.

Crowell tune Making Memories Of Us, was also cut by Keith Urban on huge selling fifth album Be Here.


"They were recording across the hall from us," Urban says. "I'd already been pitched the song, and I loved it, obviously."

Although Keith was surprised to learn Crowell recorded the song he understood why.

"At least Rodney's honest with me," Urban says. "He said, 'A lot of times, artists say they're gonna cut a song - and they don't. Or they cut it - and it doesn't make the final album. Or they say it's gonna be a single - and it never is.''

Urban rejected suggestions he ask Crowell to give him the song exclusively.

"I had people saying, 'Tell Rodney to leave it off his record,'" Urban says. "I said, 'He wrote the damn song! He can do what he likes with it.

The song's a love letter to his wife that he wrote for Valentine's Day. I'm not going to tell him he can't touch that song.' Good Lord!"

Gill's Oklahoma Dust has a Cash-like boom-chicka-boom feel, Crowell-Gill co-write Dangerous Curves explores infidelity and bluesy Forever Sunday by Gill reeks of the sixties Nashville Sound.

Vince unshackles his balladic image by singing lead on a steamy murder ballad Heart of a Jealous Man, penned with the late Max D Barnes.

Gill replies, "Sure, I think, for a lot of us because we lost Larrie 11 years ago, 12 years ago. We almost lost another one. I think it made everybody go, 'Life really is quite precious.''

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