Thursday, January 9, 2014

Happy Birthday, Crystal Gayle!

Yes, today is the birthday of that sweet-faced little country girl with the never-ending mane of hair, beautiful Crystal Gayle. Back in the late 70's and into the 80's, Crystal was my favourite female country vocalist. The kid sister of the legendary Loretta Lynn, Crystal was born Brenda Gail Webb, but received her stage name courtesy of Loretta, who got the inspiration for that moniker from the Krystal hamburger restaurant chain!

Loretta actually wrote many of Crystal's first songs, but they didn't really go anywhere, although I must admit I quite love her first single, I've Cried the Blues Right Out of My Eyes. That title may have been prophetic though, in that Crystal had her biggest success just a few years later with the similarly titled, Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue, a massive crossover hit that did big business on both the country and pop charts.

Crystal has a great range of music styles, not just country. She loves jazz standards and broadway showtunes from the "Tin Pan Alley" era, and late in her career she recorded a beautiful album of the songs of Hoagy Carmichael, a composer she admired very much. She'd first sung a medley with ol' Hoagy on a country TV special, seen here. Looks like Hoagy adored Crystal right back!

But Crystal is always going to be remembered best for the aforementioned Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue, so here is a prime rendition from a concert that first aired on HBO in 1982:

Incidentally, January 9th is not only Crystal Gayle's birthday, but also is the birthday of my dear Dad, John Emslie, who passed away in 2001. Both Dad and I were huge country music fans back in the 70's/80's, and I have many fond memories of seeing a great many of our favourite performers in concert halls and big outdoor summer jubilees together. He was a wonderful father who did so much for me and my sister, and we will always miss him like crazy. So here's a Happy Birthday to you too, Dad! :)


Mike Curry said...

Her phrasing is nothing short of astonishing. Great vid.
By the way Pete, Post more.

Patrick said...

What a wonderful post. The internet has been a wonderful thing in that I don't have to wonder every January 9th if anyone else out there is celebrating this woman's contribution to not just music but a spirit of kindness that is so very rare today. (I'm a New England boy). I am also an illustrator and did a portrait of Crystal some years ago. Your drawing is wonderful and all of it made my day. Thanks for sharing. -Patrick

Pete Emslie said...

Thanks, Patrick! I'm glad to hear from another fan of Crystal Gayle. I've been smitten with her since first seeing her on TV when she started to hit it big around 1976 or so. I remember her singing one of her first big hits, "Somebody Loves You", and I have certainly loved Crystal ever since!