Country music icon Kitty Wells died at her home in Nashville on July 16 of complications resulting from a stroke. She was 92. Known as the “Queen of Country Music,” Wells’ career spanned more than half a century before she retired from performing in 2000. Wells belonged to a group of musicians including Hank Williams, Ernest Tubb, and Lefty Frizzell, who provided some of the most outstanding performances in post-war country music.
Kitty Wells was born Ellen Muriel Deason on August 30, 1919 in Nashville, Tennessee. She grew up in a working class family rich in musical ability. Wells’ father played guitar and banjo and her mother sang gospel music. Wells, too, would begin playing guitar and singing at an early age. With two of her sisters and a cousin, she would form her first music group, the Deason Sisters, and begin performing on local country radio in the late 1930s.
That's from Hiram Lee's "Kitty Wells, 'Queen of Country Music'" (WSWS). Lee wrote a nice piece on her. I had an e-mail asking me how I could ignore her?
I've written about country music how many times in the last 8 years? Once if you count my review of Elvis Costello's country album.
Dolly Parton? I'd write an entry. "Jolene," "Coat of Many Colors," "Nine To Five," etc. I could more than write about Dolly.
But Kitty Wells is not someone I liked. I didn't hate her. I was indifferent to her for most of my life. Then I started noticing all the spots she was taking up and thought, "Screw Kitty Wells."
She became, in the last 30 or so years, a way for men to 'include' women but really avoid them. Point to Kitty and no one can accuse you, Rolling Stone, of ignoring Tori Amos or whomever else. Point to Kitty and it's suddenly 'okay' that so few women are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
I'm sure she was a wonderful person but she didn't have an impact on my life. (Click here for a video of her performing her best known hit.) I'm sure she did on many people's lives. But I didn't listen to her and I think she's credited -- in death -- with things that she doesn't need credit for.
There are people who had a negative impact on life (I wrote about one last night). But I'm not on obit patrol. If a woman in rock music passes away, I should grab it. But if she's not rock? I might grab it, I might not. It's also true that we talk to each other about what we're going to write. When June Pointer died, I could have easily written about her. I loved the Pointer Sisters. But Rebecca loved-loved-loved the Pointer Sisters. So it made sense for her to write about it and she did a great job.
On Kitty Wells, I did toss it out there to see if anyone wanted to grab it. We don't have any passionate country music listeners. In fact, Ava and C.I. probably know more about country music than anyone else in the community with a website. But my defense is her peak was before my time and I'm not a country music listener. I know blue grass. I like blue grass. And, in the 70s, that's how I became familiar with country being played then. But I'm not the music encyclopedia and, as I pointed out, I grew to dislike her because she was a token men felt safe including in the 'rock' canon while keeping women who were rocking out.
If you're a Kitty fan, you should read Hiram Lee's obit and/or check out Kitty's website.
Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"