A Full Serving, Texas-Style

Originally posted March 16, 2007

Ah, yes, 1982. I don’t recall it all that well.

It’s not that I was in some kind of drug- or beer-induced haze, murmuring incoherently as the year passed by. No, I was working, spending my days reporting and writing for a weekly paper in a small Minnesota town, covering city councils, boys high school sports, crimes and fires and the thousands of other things that take place – both major and minor – in small-town America.

The year slid by without much to mark it. I turned twenty-nine, something that I greeted with a shrug. And not much happened that year in the world or in that small town that had to me very much of an impact. I was living a life.

Oh, things happened, of course, both in Monticello and in the world at large. In the latter category, one of the major events of the year was the brief war between Great Britain and Argentina over the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic, a war that Britain won fairly handily. It was interesting, perhaps even fascinating to watch via satellite as the British Navy sailed out to reclaim the small archipelago. But it didn’t seem to matter.

It did seem to matter when someone in the Chicago area went about buying Tylenol, taking it home, doctoring the capsules with cyanide and then placing the bottles of pain-killer back on store shelves. Seven people died. The murders have never been solved and were just the first in a series of product-tampering crimes over the next few years. Before that time, the tamper-proofing of products – extra seals and all – didn’t exist. It soon became the norm, as it remains today.

Now, I remember those things happening. I remember writing columns and new stories about them, commenting on the oddity of a war being treated like a football game, with previews and analysis, and writing about the fears of consumers and retailers when products previously thought safe could no longer be considered so.

But if you asked me what year they happened, I’d have to look them up, as I did today, checking in one of my numerous reference books to see what 1982 brought us.

Along with the two topics mentioned above, the year brought us a number of things: There was a brief but damaging recession in the U.S. One of the Unabomber’s bombs killed one person at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee.

On the more pleasant side of life, the first version of David Letterman’s late-night show debuted on NBC. EPCOT at Walt Disney World opened. Michael Jackson released Thriller, which – whatever one may think of Jackson and his behaviors and oddities – remains a great record.

But quite possibly the one event of 1982 that had the greatest impact on modern life went almost utterly unnoticed: Sony and its partner in the Netherlands, Phillips, developed the compact disc. For almost eighty years, records – first 78s, then later 45 and LPs – were the carrier of choice for recorded sound. When cassettes recorders came along in the 1960s, we were told that the day of records had passed and that tape would supplant records. It didn’t, mostly, I imagine, because it was awkward to cue a tape up to a specific song. So when CDs came along and their adherents claimed they would put an end to vinyl’s domination, I don’t think I believed it.

Even at that, I know I didn’t hear about CDs in 1982, when they were developed. I first heard about them when I was in graduate school a year or two later. And I followed news closely, which makes me wonder how many people both heard about the development of the technology and could foresee its impact in 1982. Not many, I don’t think.

So why am I reviewing 1982? Because that was also the year that Texas singer Lou Ann Barton made her way from her home base of Austin, Texas, to Muscle Shoals, Alabama, where she recorded her first album, Old Enough, released later that year on Asylum Records.

Like the development of the CD, Barton’s record didn’t generate a lot of interest, and she’s recorded only sporadically since then, which is a shame. She is a true marvel, being in one moment as brazen and pushy as a rich girl on spring break and then turning as vulnerable as a still-hopeful wallflower during the night’s last dance. And she knows when to use which persona and all of those in between, which one could lay down to either instinct and genius or to a long resume of performances in bars and dance halls. I vote for a combination of the two.

Born in either Austin or Fort Worth – All-Music Guide oddly had both cities listed as Barton’s home town – Barton sang in the late 1970s with the Fabulous Thunderbirds and with Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble before branching out on her own. And for her debut record, producers Jerry Wexler and Glen Frey wisely sent her to Muscle Shoals. And backed by the legendary Swampers, Barton hands over a stellar piece of Texas-style blues-rock.

It’s hard to note highlights, because each of the record’s ten cuts is good, even “It’s Raining,” which AMG calls too slick, a judgment I’d dispute. The best cuts might be “I’m Old Enough” and “Every Night Of The Week,” but to my ears, the entire album is a pleasure.

(Old Enough was released on CD on Antone’s in 1993 and then on Discovery in 1997 but seems to have since gone out of print. Some copies are available through www.gemm.com starting at about $20 through Amazon starting at about $13.)

Track list:

I’m Old Enough
Brand New Lover
It’s Raining
It Ain’t Right
Finger-Poppin’ Time
Stop These Teardrops
The Sudden Stop
The Doodle Song
Maybe
Every Night Of The Week

Lou Ann Barton – Old Enough (1982)

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One Response to “A Full Serving, Texas-Style”

  1. RB In The Fog « Echoes In The Wind Archives Says:

    […] Reposted: Old Enough by Lou Ann Barton [1982] Original post here. […]

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