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Dec. 28: Listen to the crying steel guitar throughout this record, from the mid-’70s phase of Ronnie Milsap’s wonderful career. It’s a sound familiar to fans of Conway Twitty and Vince Gill, created with skill and feeling by the late John Hughey. Yesterday would have been his 76th birthday, so it’s a good time to recall one of the key figures on real country music’s signature instrument.

Follow the links to a well-sourced Wikipedia article on Hughey’s life and career, and to his story as told by the man himself. If you want to hear more from this steel guitar great, seek out “Look At Us” by Vince Gill or “Lost In The Feeling” by Conway Twitty for examples of his high-on-the-neck style. Or find a favorite title among these, just a few of the hundreds of songs graced by John Hughey’s mastery.

As for Milsap, he’s a great artist who can do country, pop and R&B with equal flair. I really like his country material from the ’70s — numbers like this one and its album-mate “Daydreams About Night Things,” as well as “Pure Love,” “(I’m A) Stand By My Woman Man” and other examples. Here’s an informative Q&A with Milsap from this summer by Ken Morton of The 9513 blog.