Legends caught in the act
The bounty continues. The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum has released more DVDs from its archives - Tammy Wynette (above) and Marty Robbins are the latest subjects, along with the new four-DVD box set "The Johnny Cash Christmas Specials 1976-1979," out today. Next up is a Merle Haggard collection due next month.
If you love classic country, then these projects are a motherlode. They collect TV performances, hall of fame inductions, and interviews into a completist's package called the "Legendary Performances" series - put out on the Shout! Factory label for an average price of $14.95 each.
The Wynette DVD is a special highlight. She had three kids as a teen before moving to Nashville in 1966 - part of a tumultuous life that included five marriages. One was to singer George Jones, who refers to her in a TV duet here as "my favorite ex-wife." Yikes. But the music is tight as they sing the ironic "We're Gonna Hold On." Other Wynette hits, from "Stand By Your Man" to "D-I-V-O-R-C-E," come from '60s shows on up to her own NBC specials in 1980. And there's extra footage of her last wedding at her lavish home on Palm Beach - quite remarkable considering she started as a cotton picker in Mississippi.
The Martin Robbins DVD isn't as good - too many syrupy songs justify his nickname of Mr. Teardrop - but the interview at the end is fascinating as he talks of how many fans thought he was the reincarnated cowboy from his hit, "El Paso." The Grateful Dead covered that song. Maybe they wondered about it, too. Robbins offers no answers, but his open mind is laudable. [Steve Morse]