Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Buck Owens And The Buckaroos: “In The Palm Of Your Hand” (1973/2021)

Omnivore Recordings has been re-issuing a lot of great music from Buck Owens. For the last month or two the focus has been on his late 1960s and early 1970s output, including a re-issue of the 1973 album In The Palm Of Your Hand, which was just one of four Buck Owens records released that year (there were four the previous year as well). Randy Poe, in the new liner notes written for this re-issue, talks about the great number of Buck Owens releases during that time. The re-issue is presented in the album’s original configuration, without any bonus tracks. It features nearly all original material written by Buck Owens, and the band includes Don Rich on guitar and fiddle, Doyle Curtsinger on bass and vocals, Jerry Brightman on steel guitar, Jerry Wiggins on drums, and Jim Shaw on keyboards, along with Buddy Alan on guitar, and Ronnie Jackson on guitar.

The album opens with its title track, “In The Palm Of Your Hand,” which was also released as a single. Buck Owens included an earlier version of this song on his 1966 album Open Up Your Heart. It’s a love song about a troubled relationship. Hey, sometimes you just can’t quit. “In the palm of your hand, that’s where you’ve got me/This loving you is messing up my mind/But try as I may, I just can’t stop me/You’ve got me right in the palm of your hand.” This track features some nice work on steel guitar and fiddle. That’s followed by “There Goes My Love,” a kind of catchy number in which Buck Owens sings about a woman he used to date. “There goes the reason that I sigh/There goes the reason that I cry/There goes the lips I used to kiss goodnight/There goes my love.” Then we get the only song on the album not written by Buck Owens, “Made In Japan.” It was written by Bob Morris and Faye Morris. The song’s title plays on a phrase that we used to hear a lot back in the 1970s, referring to cheap, shoddy merchandise (there was also a Deep Purple album with that title, which came out in 1972, the same year as Buck Owens’ single). This song, however, is not about something cheap, but rather about a beautiful woman he knew, taking our expectations and turning them on their heads. “The beauty of her face was beyond my wildest dreams/Like cherry blossoms blooming in the mountain in the early spring/As we walked by the river and she softly took hold of my hand/That’s when I fell deep in love with the girl made in Japan.” This song was also released as a single, and was a hit for Buck Owens, reaching #1 on the country chart.

“Sweethearts In Heaven” is a song that Buck Owens recorded first in 1956, releasing it on a single, and then again in the early 1960s, when it was included on his On The Bandstand album, and again later with Susan Raye. This, I suppose, is one of the ways he was able to release so many albums. Still, this is an excellent song, and I like the rendition included on this album. Its appeal might be in part because death has been on my mind lately. Here is a taste of the lyrics: “If I should go first and leave you behind/To face life alone, bear this in mind/I’ll be waiting if heaven’s my fate/To take you by the hand just inside the pearly gates.” Is there something after this life? No one knows. But when I think of never seeing my girlfriend again, I fervently hope there is something after. “Will there be sweethearts in heaven?” this song asks. That’s followed by “Arms Full Of Empty,” a fun song that was also released as a single, and, oddly enough, was used as the title track for another album, which was also released in 1973. Go figure. Collecting all the Buck Owens albums could drive one a little batty. Anyway, this is a wonderful song. Check out these lines: “Oh, you took my car and took my money/Done me wrong and that ain’t funny/Left me standing here, looking silly.” But the line that always stands out for me is this: “Well, I’m so sick and tired of getting up so sick and tired.” Ralph Mooney plays steel guitar on this track.

When I was born, Richard Nixon was president. Before that, in 1962 when he lost the gubernatorial race in California, he promised the nation he was done with politics, telling those gathered that it was his last press conference, that the press wouldn’t “have Nixon to kick around anymore.” Oh, if only he had been honest in that moment. Of course, since then the nation has had to suffer with Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and Donald Trump, all of whom were worse than Nixon. But anyway, getting back to that “kick around” line, Buck Owens wrote a song titled “You Ain’t Gonna Have Ol’ Buck To Kick Around No More,” which was released as a single in 1972 and also included on this album. As you might guess, it’s another fun one, a lively song. “The last time was the last time, and this time it’s for sure/The next sound that you hear will be the slamming of the door/And you ain’t gonna have ol’ Buck to kick around no more.” This song was also included on the 2019 compilation The Complete Capitol Singles: 1971-1975. Then “A Whole Lot Of Somethin’” is another good song about the end of a relationship. “Well, I treated you the best that I knew how/But what have I got to show for all that now/I’ve got a broken heart, and that’s something you seem to lack/It’s going to take a whole lot of something to bring you back.” I love the work on fiddle.

“Get Out Of Town Before Sundown” is a country song about a run-in with the law. But this isn’t a tale of murder or robbery. No, lesser crimes are at the heart of the trouble, the first verse being about vagrancy and poverty. “He said, if you ain’t got no money and you ain’t got no job, boy, I’m placing you under arrest.” The second verse is about being with an underage girl (but don’t get all upset, the girl in question is 17, and he is unaware). “And if you’re not out of town before sundown, you won’t get out of town at all.”  That’s followed by “Something’s Wrong,” another great country song about a love that has gone wrong. “It’s hard to live each day when there’s nothing left to say/And there’s nothing left to say but something’s wrong/Something’s wrong when you no longer want to hold me.” And I love this harsh and depressingly straightforward line: “When the love of your life turns into a waste of time.” There is also more great stuff on fiddle. This is one of my personal favorite tracks. The album then concludes with “I Love You So Much It Hurts,” a lively love song about a questionable relationship. Others question his choice, and maybe they’re right, for he sings, “And if you do me wrong/I’ll still tag alone/Because I love you so much it hurts.”

CD Track List

  1. In The Palm Of Your Hand
  2. There Goes My Love
  3. Made In Japan
  4. Sweethearts In Heaven
  5. Arms Full Of Empty
  6. You Ain’t Gonna Have Ol’ Buck To Kick Around No More
  7. A Whole Lot Of Somethin’
  8. Get Out Of Town Before Sundown
  9. Something’s Wrong
  10. I Love You So Much It Hurts

This re-issue of In The Palm Of Your Hand is scheduled to be released on October 1, 2021 through Omnivore Recordings.

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