Friday, March 22, 2013

True Country Confidential: Eddie Miller

Eddie Miller (at the microphone) with his Oklahomans in Los Angeles circa 1950.

In an attempt to redress some of the damage done in the name of country music by Nashville's nouveau riche, we're launching True Country Confidential, a recurring feature presenting criminally overlooked classics from the past which you'll never hear on commercial country radio.

Let's kick things off with the creepy cool Ghost Town by Eddie Miller. Perhaps best known for co-writing the oft-covered divorce plea Release Me (And Let Me Love Again) which was Ray Price's breakthrough hit in 1954, Miller also famously penned Thanks A Lot, Three Cigarettes In An Ashtray, A Church, A Courtroom and Then Goodbye and some 800+ other tunes according to the man himself.

Much like Miller's original 1949 version of Release Me on 4-Star, the former locomotive engineer's haunting Ghost Town for the same label is largely forgotten. Yet six decades after it's release, Ghost Town still has an eerie vibe unlike anything in contemporary music. Incidentally, the "W.S. Stevenson" listed on the label is the pseudonym of 4-Star owner Bill McCall who tacked his nom de disque onto any song he thought might pay big dividends – obviously, it didn't pan out in this case.

Miller tireless continued coming up with song ideas – including two operas – and found time to form the Country and Western Music Academy in 1964 which would eventually become what we now know as the Academy of Country Music before he passed away in 1977 at the age of 57.

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