Click to listen

Mine is just another scene from the world of broken dreams. Oh, the night life ain’t no good life.
But it’s my life.

Feb. 22: Nothing like setting a mood. Ray Price and some of Nashville’s finest musicians entered the Quonset Hut the evening of Washington’s Birthday in 1963 to begin work on one of country music’s first concept albums, built around this bluesy slice of behind-the-swinging-doors life.

From 7 p.m. to 1 a.m., they laid down four of the 12 songs, wrapping up with this gem that would be the album’s title and lead-off track. It was written by “a boy down Texas way,” as Price describes him in the album version’s two-minute spoken intro. You might have heard of that boy — Willie Nelson, a tunesmith of growing fame who wrote for Price’s publishing company, Pamper Music. At the session, Price, who was at the peak of his career as a performer and recording artist, was as always in fine voice. But the real star of this cut is steel guitarist Buddy Emmons, who kicks things off and — along with drummer Buddy Harman and pianist Pig Robbins — provides all the atmosphere you can handle.

Night Life is a tremendous album, one that “evokes the sound, feel, and ambience of classic honky tonk music like few others do.” That’s from Cub Koda’s review on Allmusic.com. I couldn’t agree more. If you don’t have it already, try to find the 1996 CD reissue on Koch Records. I guarantee you’ll play it again and again.

As it happens, the great Ray Price will visit with WSM’s walking encyclopedia of country music, Eddie Stubbs, tonight at 8 p.m. central time. Listen online at wsmonline.com, or tune your AM radio to 650 and listen the old-fashioned way. I’d bet good money that Stubbs will remind Price where he was 47 years ago tonight, probably giving him a detail or two about “Night Life” that Ray forgot — or never knew! If you plan on listening, you might first want to bone up on the Cherokee Cowboy to try to keep a step ahead of Stubbs.

Advertisements