Billy Walker is my kind of country crooner. “Matamoros”, a 1964 hit that played perfectly to Walker’s silky, smooth tenor, is the tale of love lost on the high plains. It’s a big Western soap opera with gunslingers and casinos and broken hearts. Walker was known for these sort of lilting tales of The West and his life, to a certain degree mirrored this. As a young performer he wore a Lone Ranger style face mask and was deemed the Travellin’ Texan. Later on in his career he was called back home urgently and was offered, but declined a ticket, on the flight that ended up crashing and killing Patsy Cline, Hawkshaw Hawkins and two others. He died in 2006 when his car overturned on the highway. File this one next to Ray Price, Lefty Frizell, Patsy Cline, Porter Wagoner and Terri Clark.
Billy Walker – Matamoros
Stonewall Jackson is one of the reasons why honky-tonk country music exists to this day. Alongside Ray Price, Lefty Frizzell and Hank Williams, Mr. Jackson helped define the hard-driving sound that became so popular in the 50s and 60s. I stumbled across Mr. Jackson on some patched together best of country tape, and was blown away by the smooth twang of his voice. “Waterloo”, Jackson’s song about a slew of personal downfalls, is one of the great unsung country tunes. A huge, almost military drum beat pushes the song forward as Jackson croons about Napoleon and the inevitable arrival of all of our own “personal Waterloos.” It’s dark, and silly and subtly fucked up just how I like my country.
Jackson was a hit machine, landing 35 hits in a fourteen year span, and eventually becoming a staple of the Grand Ole Opry. When he was released, unceremoniously, in 2006, he sued the company for “agism” after GOE manager Pete Fisher told him he was “too old, and too country.” Well, Mr. Fisher, I hope Mr. Jackson sued your fucking pants off.
There’s a great “Best of Stonewall Jackson” album floating out there somewhere. It’s rife, rife with awesome, twang-heavy tracks.
Stonewall Jackson – Waterloo