Listen/Download – Sonny Curtis – The Straight Life Listen/Download – Sonny Curtis – Love Is All Around
I hope all of you are doing well.
I have – after a couple of extraordinarily busy weeks – finally gotten all of my ducks in a row, at least the ones that show up on the interwebs.
The tunes I bring you this fine day are a little on the softer end of the spectrum, at least compared to what normally gets posted here at Iron Leg. They are however, fine examples of late 60s/early 70s pop music, as well as the work of one of the more interesting and prolific songwriters of the last 50 years.
If the name Sonny Curtis isn’t familiar, his music surely is.
Curtis was a boyhood friend and bandmate of the one and only Buddy Holly, and helmed the Crickets after Holly’s untimely passing.
During the 60s he recorded under his own name, but made his living as a songwriter, penning classics like ‘Walk Right Back’ for the Everly Brothers and most famously ‘I Fought the Law’ for the Bobby Fuller Four.
Though he recorded an album of Beatles songs on flamenco guitar (huh??) his first efforts as singer/songwriter were for Snuff Garrett’s Viva label in 1968 and 1969.
The first song I bring you today has long been a favorite of mine in a version recorded by Glen Campbell on his 1968 ‘Wichita Lineman’ album.
‘The Straight Life’ is a whimsical, summery bit of daydreaming that I stumbled across years ago while listening to the Campbell album. The song was immediately familiar, but a little checking seems to indicate I might have been remembering Bobby Goldsboro’s Top 40 recording of the tune from 1968.
If you haven’t explored Glen Campbell’s late 60s albums, do yourself a favor and grab them the nest time you’re out garage-sale-ing. Though he went on to a career as a country star, Campbell had excellent taste in material and his late 60s Capitol albums (like ‘Gentle On My Mind’ and ‘Wichita Lineman’) are filled with all kinds of cool singer/songwriter material, including covers of Donovan, Nilsson and Bee Gee’s tunes, all delivered with the singer’s crystal clear tenor and backed by a who’s who of LA sessioners.
That said, after discovering lo those many years ago that Sonny Curtis had written ‘The Straight Life’, I wondered if he had recorded a contemporary version of the song, and set out in search it. As it turns out he waxed it on the 1969 LP ‘The Sonny Curtis Style’ (though it was released as a single in 1968 and just missed the Country Top 40).
Curtis’s version of the song is a little more laid back (and less produced) than Campbell’s, and though he was a much less powerful singer, I still dig his version.
Interestingly enough (there’s always a footnote, isn’t there) the best known thing Sonny Curtis ever wrote or recorded was the theme for ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’. ‘Love Is All Around’ – the version here seems to be different from the recording used on the show – was released as a single in 1973 and doesn’t appear to have charted at all. It’s kind of cool to hear it outside of the context of the show, as well as surprising that it didn’t have more success on the radio.
Curtis went on to success as a country singer and songwriter and is still touring with a version of the Crickets today.
I hope you dig the sounds, and I’ll see you all next week.