On the Road Again

Apple Music
On the Road Again

“The idea was that Lionel would come from R&B, and I would come from Country, and we'd meet somewhere in pop.” That's Kenny Rogers referring to 1980's “Lady,” his hugely popular recording of the Lionel Richie love song — but in truth, he could have been describing the state of Country music at large. As the ‘70s tipped into the ‘80s, it was almost a given that Country stars and songs would succeed across formats. Anne Murray's easy-listening wedding waltz “Could I Have This Dance” was her fifth Country number-one — and her tenth Top 40 hit. The melodic sweep of Ronnie Milsap's tearjerker story song “Smoky Mountain Rain” lifted him to the Top 40 and the top spot on both the Country and Adult Contemporary charts. Even the hoe-down humor of tracks like the Oak Ridge Boys' loping take on the '66 chestnut “Elvira” had platinum appeal, based on good-timey cheer and an irresistible nonsense vocal solo from Richard Sterban, the band's rumble-throated bass.

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