In Memoriam: Whitey Shafer (1934 – 2019)

January 13, 2019
Editor In Chief

Sanger D. “Whitey” Shafer (October 24, 1934 – January 12, 2019) was an American country songwriter and musician. He wrote numerous hits for stars such as George Jones, Lefty Frizzell, and George Strait.

Born and raised in Whitney, Texas, Shafer’s musical career began in his hometown of Whitney where he played in a school band. In the following years he toured the U.S., performing with, among others, the then-unknown Willie Nelson. In 1967 Shafer moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where he signed with the Blue Crest Music Publishing Company. There he wrote two songs for George Jones, “Between My House and Home” and “I’m a New Man in Town”, along with many other tunes for lesser-known acts. Shafer signed contracts with Musicor and RCA as a singer, but he was never as successful as he was as a songwriter.

In the early 1970s Shafer signed an exclusive contract with Acuff-Rose Music. In the following years he wrote many songs which went on to become successful on the U.S. country charts, including several No. 1’s. His songs included “The Baptism of Jesse Taylor” for Johnny Russell, “Tell Me Lying Eyes Are Wrong” for George Jones, and a series of hits for Moe Bandy. He had a longstanding friendship with Lefty Frizzell, whom he had met at his record label. He and Frizzell wrote the song “That’s the Way Love Goes” together, a hit for Johnny Rodriguez and also Merle Haggard in 1983; they also wrote “I Never Go Around Mirrors” (which Frizzell recorded in 1973 and turned into a top 25 country hit a year later) and “Bandy the Rodeo Clown” for Moe Bandy, which became a major hit shortly after Frizzell’s 1975 death. After Frizzell’s death Shafer wrote the tribute song “Lefty’s Gone” recorded by George Strait for his Something Special album.

Three divorces helped him with his song writing in the 1980s when Shafer wrote “Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind” (1985; with Darlene Shafer) and “All My Ex’s Live in Texas” (1987; with his fourth wife Lyndia J.). Both of these were No. 1 hits for George Strait, and both were nominated for CMA’s Song of the Year.[3] “All My Ex’s Live in Texas” was also nominated for a Grammy Award, for Best Country Song (lost to: Paul Overstreet & Don Schlitz for “Forever and Ever, Amen”).

In the middle of the 1980s Shafer released two albums, I Never Go Around Mirrors and So Good for So Long, containing his greatest hits. In 1989 Keith Whitley chose the Shafer penned, “I Wonder Do You Think of Me”, as the title track and the first single released after Whitley’s death and went to No. 1. Also in 1989 Shafer was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.

In the 1990s and 2000s, Shafer continued to write for musicians such as John Michael Montgomery, Lee Ann Womack, and Kenny Chesney. In 2004, Shafer’s recording of “All My Ex’s Live In Texas” appeared on the soundtrack to the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. – Wikipedia

Weekend Artist Countdown: Merle Haggard Top 40 Hits – 12pm ET

April 6, 2013
Editor In Chief

mhaggardMerle Ronald Haggard (born April 6, 1937) is an American country music song writer, singer, guitarist, fiddler, and instrumentalist. Along with Buck Owens, Haggard and his band The Strangers helped create the Bakersfield sound, which is characterized by the unique twang of Fender Telecaster and the unique mix with the traditional country steel guitar sound, new vocal harmony styles in which the words are minimal, and a rough edge not heard on the more polished Nashville Sound recordings of the same era.

By the 1970s, Haggard was aligned with the growing outlaw country movement, and has continued to release successful albums through the 1990s and into the 2000s. In 1997, Merle Haggard was inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame.

In 2000, Haggard made a comeback of sorts, signing with the independent record label Anti and releasing the spare If I Could Only Fly to critical acclaim. He followed it in 2001 with Roots, vol. 1, a collection of Lefty Frizzell, Hank Williams, and Hank Thompson covers, along with three Haggard originals. The album, recorded in Haggard’s living room with no overdubs, featured Haggard’s longtime bandmates The Strangers as well as Frizzell’s original lead guitarist, Norman Stephens. In December 2004, Haggard spoke at length on Larry King Live about his incarceration as a young man and said it was “hell” and “the scariest experience of my life”.[citation needed]
Haggard’s number one hit single “Mama Tried” is featured in the 2003 film Radio with Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Ed Harris as well as in Bryan Bertino’s “The Strangers” with Liv Tyler. In addition, his song “Swingin’ Doors” can be heard in the 2004 film Crash and his 1981 hit “Big City” is heard in Joel and Ethan Coen‘s 1996 film “Fargo” and in the 2008 Larry Bishop film “Hell Ride”, executive produced by Quentin Tarantino.

In October 2005, Haggard released his album Chicago Wind to mostly positive reviews. The album contained an anti-Iraq war song titled “America First,” in which he laments the nation’s economy and faltering infrastructure, applauds its soldiers, and sings, “Let’s get out of Iraq, and get back on track.” This follows from his 2003 release “Haggard Like Never Before” in which he includes a song, “That’s The News”. Haggard released a bluegrass album, The Bluegrass Sessions, on October 2, 2007. In 2008, Haggard was going to perform at Riverfest in Little Rock, Arkansas, but the concert was canceled because he was ailing, and three other concerts were canceled as well; however, he was back on the road in June and successfully completed a tour that ended on October 19.

In April 2010, Haggard released a new album, I Am What I Am. Released to strong reviews, Haggard performed the title song on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in February 2011 – Wikipedia

1 Pancho & Lefty
2 If We Make It Through December
3 The Fightin’ Side of Me
4 Everybody’s Had the Blues
5 Big City
6 Going Where the Lonely Go
7 Someday When Things Are Good
8 Twinkle, Twinkle Lucky Star
9 Old Man from the Mountain
10 Daddy Frank (The Guitar Man)
11 I Wonder If They Ever Think of Me
12 Kentucky Gambler
13 Bar Room Buddies (with Clint Eastwood)
14 That’s the Way Love Goes
15 It’s Been a Great Afternoon
16 Okie from Muskogee
17 It’s Not Love (But It’s Not Bad)
18 Politically Uncorrect (with Gretchen Wilson)
19 My Favorite Memory
20 I Can’t Be Myself 
21 What Am I Gonna Do (With the Rest of My Life)
22 Branded Man
23 Jesus, Take a Hold
24 Red Bandana
25 From Graceland to the Promised Land
26 My Own Kind of Hat
27 I Had a Beautiful Time
28 Street Singer
29 Let’s Chase Each Other Around the Room
30 It’s All in the Movies
31 The Fugitive
32 A Better Love Next Time
33 Carolyn
34 The Emptiest Arms in the World
35 Movin’ On
36 Leonard
37 A Friend in California
38 A Working Man Can’t Get Nowhere Today
39 5:01 Blues
40 Mama Tried
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