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Here's Five: Marlon Williams

Here's Five: Marlon Williams

Tuesday 23rd June, 2015 10:25AM

Having released his stunning self-titled debut album back in April, countryman Marlon Williams is now poised to perform at a short string of shows around New Zealand where his incredible voice will no doubt strike straight at the hearts of showgoers. The four shows will take the Christchurch-raised, Melbourne-based musician around four main centres with his backing band The Yarra Benders and special guest Laura Jean over the next few days,  and in anticipation we asked Williams to share his top five honky tonk favourites. Here's what he came up with...



1. George Jones - Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town

Kenny Rogers made this one big, but it was written by Mel Tillis a few years prior and performed by a few acts before Kenny took it on. It's just such a psychically dark piece of work, and awfully enough based on a true story, though no doubt a common enough circumstance. The real life story actually ended in a murder-suicide, but the most heartbreaking moment in the song is undoubtedly the veteran's despair in his inability to even do away with his wife ("If I could move I'd grab my fun and put her in the ground"). Soooo full on.



2. Stanley Brothers - I Just Think I'll Go Away

"Somehow you wouldn't let me love you. The plans we made have gone astray. Instead of being blue and lonely, I just think I'll go away". This is really bluegrass and not country if you're a stickler for these things, but it represents such a massive part of the country fatalist attitude that I have to include it. Our protagonist's meek acceptance of failed love is somehow way more heartbreaking then the ranting and raving scorned man and, of course, it's sung by the best harmonisers who ever did live.



3. Johnny Paycheck - The Cave

A post-apocalyptic nightmare in the form of a country shuffle, this song epitomises the unsettlingly left-of-field nature of Johnny Paycheck and the Little Darlin' record label in general. Man goes into cave, chaotic noise, comes out, bombs destroyed humanity, delightfully and idiosyncratically adorned by Lloyd Greens pedal steel.



4. Honky Tonkin' - Warren Storm

Most famous for being (one of) the elder statesman(men) of Louisiana Swamp powerhouse Lil' Band of Gold, Storm has had a long career as the finest singing drummer in his field. Nothing compares to his easy, sassed up, southern phrasing and the way he packs a punch at the end of his swing.



5. Hank Williams - Weary Blues from Waiting

It'd certainly be remiss of me not to include ole Hank on this list. Songs like 'Weary Blues' are so ingrained in the country psyche they almost take on the kind of "such an archetype that it's not a song" status that the biggest hits of The Beatles have. But, as with 'Yesterday', it's just because they're so damn good. Anything you want to learn about honkytonk sensibility can be gleaned in this 2:40.


Marlon Williams kicks off his four-date tour with The Yarra Benders and special guest Laura Jean this Thursday 25th June at Bodega in Wellington. Head over here for full details and to buy tickets.





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