Charlie Rich – The Most Beautiful Girl

First Hit #1: December 15, 1973

For years, I thought I hated country music. It was because of the local country station, which mainly played the modern country hits, most of which I didn’t like very much. It didn’t help that I was listening in the early 2000s, which brought out some lazy patriotic sounds that just didn’t make sense on Canadian radio, where we don’t have that American pride and couldn’t give less of a crap about stars and stripes. It seems that I began to pay attention to the radio at the worst possible time to actually pay attention: the lyrics got lazier, the production got obnoxious, and the whole of country music rubbed me the wrong way. I normally didn’t hate a genre, but dagnammit, I didn’t like country music.

So, naturally, as I listened to more music I began to realize that, actually, I do like country, just not what my local station was playing. Take Charlie Rich, this is what I like about the genre. A mature, distinct voice that has a bit of a twang but, more importantly, sounds a bit weathered. It’s got that guitar sound that only country really does, and most importantly, it’s got a great tale of lost love that has a certain alcohol soaked quality. A lot of that is in Rich’s delivery, which he saturates with regret, and part of that is just the arrangement. It’s not a simple arrangement – the 70s were a great time to be a backing musician with strings – but it’s a quality one, and it has a number of qualities I like in my music. If country music could sound more like Charlie Rich more of the time, maybe I’d listen to country radio again.

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