Tag Archives: Johnny Cash

Scrabble-Rousers #7: Burt Reynolds

2 Jun

What Scrabble-Rousers is: A word is chosen at random by blindly flipping the pages and finger-pointing a word/phrase (in this case “Burt Reynolds”) from a book also chosen at random (in this case The Andy Warhol Diaries edited by Pat Hackett).

Having grabbed The Andy Warhol Diaries from the shelf, today’s topic of Scrabble-Rousers had the topic range potential from AIDS and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Ardehir Zahedi and ZZ Top. And, so, Burt Reynolds related music it is.


Burt Reynolds is known to inspire a mustache here and there, but inspiring a legitimately good metal guitarist to pursue a life of mock metal? That’s the case with former Byzantine guitarist Skip Cromer, whose current project, The Burt Reynolds Death Metal Experience, is as much hilarious as it is good. And it only makes sense that Cromer has opened for Unknown Hinson.

Cromer’s own video introduction: “Classic vintage music video from 1987. This was Burt Reynolds Death Metal Experiment at its height in popularity.”

Scouring the Burt Reynolds catalog, the list of classic soundtracks and songs that played while the mustache danced for us is impossible to enumerate. This, however, is perhaps the most famous sound in cinematic history:

Burt helped bring disco back for a spell with his appearance as pornman Jack Horner in Boogie Nights. Unfortunately, the soundtrack (which was released in two parts) was nothing more than an expensive version of any other 70s compilation cheapo. The second release did feature Apollo 100’s only hit.  The studio-based group recorded “Joy,” a re-arranged baroque-pop version of J.S. Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.”

Smokey and the Bandit and Hooper both played conduit to the pioneering rock and roll of Bill Justis. Justis was an accomplished musician in his own right, but also arranged music for Sam Phillips’ Sun Records, including arrangements for Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis.

“Raunchy” was Justis’ biggest hit:

Reynolds played Quint Asper on the TV show Gunsmoke in the early 60s, which actually began as a radio series. The Dodge City narrative of westward expansion gave way to two theme songs: one without lyrics composed by Rex Koury and one with lyrics written and sung by Tex Ritter, which was never played on either radio or television:


Tex Ritter:

Finally, Burt Reynolds himself performing a Silver Jews-like honky-tonk “Let’s Do Something Cheap and Superficial.”

From Smokey and the Bandit 2:

Scrabble-Rousers #3: Reign

17 May

Today’s word – reign – comes from Suetonius’ The Twelve Caesars and is used in reference to Nero, the tyrannical emperor of Rome who was favored by the masses but murdered his mother.

"OK, now pout as if you've just executed your mother. Perfect!"

Make of that what you will or go google Nero.

I can’t think of a single song, but there is an entire genre that “reign” brings to mind and that is gospel music. Some of our favorite musicians grew up listening to and singing gospel music – Johnny Cash, Elvis, Sam Cooke among many, many others. Given the context of today’s word, there is seemingly no better choice than to give you gospel legend Shirley Caesar singing “He Holdeth the Reigns.”

Share Don’t Drive Your Mama Away by Shirley Caesar

With that said, there were a few other nominees that need to be mentioned such as Bernie Williams’ rendition of “He Reigns.” This has no direct or indirect connection to Nero’s term as temporary tyrant, but is worth noting because of Williams’ connection to another tyrannical dynasty – The New York Yankees. The former All-Star center fielder, who cranked out over 2,3oo base hits in his career, now cranks out smooth jazz hits like this:

Another close (but oh so far) match was “He Lives and He Reigns” by Stamatis Spanoudakis. The Greek composer’s homage to Alexander the Great is a lot like the stuff you hear from the now-deceased Sam Spence on NFL Films programming. It is powerful, but evokes a certain sensitivity to its subject:

Finally, completely unrelated to anything, is simply the biggest surprise while searching for songs with the word “reign” in it. Stumbling across “Freedom Reign” by The Tenebrous Liar, the band name called for an obligatory listen. The automatic song playing on their website sounded as if J.J. Cale and Nick Cave collaborated in the studio, and it just got better from there. They wear their influences on their sleeve, assuming they listened to a lot of Joy Division, Bauhaus and dark new wave acts – especially on tracks like “Cut Down Your Love” and “Suffer You.” These guys aren’t ripoff artists though, as the sound comes across as fresh.