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Ain't Got No Cigarettes: Memories of Music Legend Roger Miller
My head | Nita Nupress

Posted on 09/16/2006 5:58:25 PM PDT by Nita Nupress


Ain't Got No Cigarettes: Memories of Music Legend Roger Miller
By Lyle E Style

"It's an endless story about Roger. He was one of the cleverest people I've ever met in my life." (Waylon Jennings)

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThis is my own review of Ain't Got No Cigarettes, the first Roger Miller book ever published. My review is based on reading the book (twice) and having several discussions with Lyle E Style, the author. He may stop by later to answer questions (as his schedule allows).

This one is a must-read, folks. And for you radio personalities who lurk, Lyle is very articulate. (YouTube.:-)

Roger Miller's spontaneous wit and creativity were legendary among his friends. Even today, they regard him as the most gifted songwriter/entertainer they've ever known. How do I know this? Because that's exactly what they told me in this book. 

Author Lyle E Style has compiled a remarkable account of a man whom we knew and loved as Roger, but who was also known in Nashville as "The Wild Child." This is no ordinary "biographical" type of book. You'll read it cover to cover, laughing out loud one minute and maybe shedding a tear the next. Go read the reviews on Lyle's website if you need to. . Better yet, go read the reviews and then buy the book. If you like country music, you won't regret this one. If you do, send it to me. I want another one.

Style spent four years tracking down friends and peers of Roger Miller to see what they remembered. As it turned out, they remembered plenty.

The King of The Road Finally Gets His Due

The Legend

Roger Miller himself needs no introduction. I'll do it anyway, though. There's always one in every crowd -- someone who can't remember the 1960s because he spent it with Janis Joplin in Haight-Ashbury, probably watching his hair grow. Also, those of you who weren't alive in the '60s or who lived on planet Venus may need a short background. (If you don't need the 3-paragraph bio, skip it.)

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Roger Dean Miller (1936-1992) began writing songs at age five when he wrote a verse about his mother while walking to school. At age 11 he taught himself to play fiddle, followed by the guitar, banjo, drums, and piano. By the time Roger died in 1992 of cancer, he had written hundreds of songs. No doubt you remember Roger for those funny songs we all knew and loved such as "Dang Me" and "Chug-a-Lug," as well as his signature classic "King of the Road." Many people don't know that Roger was the voice of Alan-A-Dale the Rooster in the 1973 movie Robin Hood. He also wrote and sang several of the movie's songs ("Oo-de-lally", "Not in Nottingham" and "Whistle-Stop"). He was a regular on Johnny Carson and other TV shows. In 1985 this multi-faceted artist blazed new trails by writing the musical score for Big River, a Broadway play that swept the Tony Awards that year.

Roger Miller's remarkable songwriting skills and vocal chords earned him a total of 11 Grammys in the mid-1960s, a record that remained unbeaten until Michael Jackson and Thriller.  His rise to Nashville stardom actually began in the late '50s when other singers began covering his songs (Ray Price, Ernest Tubb, George Jones, Little Jimmy Dickens, Jim Reeves, Faron Young). In 1964 he released two songs ("Dang Me" and "Chug-a-Lug") on Smash Records that became overnight hits. Those two songs were unlike anything Nashville had ever seen. They also helped him walk away with Grammy awards in all five of his nominations, including that of Best New Country & Western Artist. Miller wasn't competing against slouches, either. Roger's unique style beat out such notables as Buck Owens, Jim Reeves, Johnny Cash, Chet Atkins, Bobby Bare, Hank Williams, Jr., Sonny James, Dottie West, Bill Anderson, and Connie Smith.

By 1965 the British Invasion was in full swing, starting with the Beatles appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. When Beatle-mania began sweeping the country, other British bands followed, such as Hermann's Hermits, The Rolling Stones, The Moody Blues, and The Yardbirds with Eric Clapton. Meanwhile, Roger Miller had crossed musical genres into pop, giving him another record-breaking year at the Grammy Awards. His song "King of The Road" beat out the Beatles' "Yesterday" in two separate categories. That year, Miller went home with awards in six of his nine nominations. Roger Miller's Grammy domination had been so complete, the rules were changed so it wouldn't happen again. (Source). One of his songs, "Dang Me," is in the Grammy Hall of Fame (More biography: Country Music Hall of Fame and

So, yeah. Roger Miller was big, all right. Plenty big.

The Author

Lyle E Style seems to be a really nice guy from what I can tell. He's a songwriter, singer, and connoisseur of country music, especially that of the "Outlaw" variety. Style had never heard of Roger Miller until one Tuesday night in 1998 when he caught a music-filled tribute on TNN -- ``Roger Miller Remembered.''  Wanting to know more, Style began searching book and music stores but soon realized that detailed information about Roger Miller was not easy to find. Most of Roger's music had not been reissued, despite his discography of over 800 songs. Even harder to believe, no one had written a book. Style decided he couldn't do much about the first problem, the paucity of music, but he was soon crafting plans to remedy the second problem. Within two years Style had landed his first interview: Merle Haggard.

The Storytellers

Unbelievably, Style managed to snag face-time with such notable greats as Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Buck Owens, Mel Tillis, Marty Stuart, Dwight Yoakum, and many, many others too numerous to list. (Full list is on Lyle's website). Some of the names you'll recognize instantly and some are more "behind the scenes," but all of them knew Roger in some capacity. As Style's 4-year journey progressed he was often told, "Oh, don't bother with him. He doesn't do interviews. Hasn't in years." Style asked them anyway, despite the well-meaning advice. And like so many others had done, the reclusive people were eager to talk about their friend and share their Roger-memories with the world. Even if it meant sharing some face-time with this stranger from Winnipeg. 

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usWhen I started reading this book it wasn't long before I noticed the same words being used repeatedly during the interviews. "Genius." "Brilliant." "Quick." "Witty." "Clever."  The words and phrases were everywhere. If a genuine respect and admiration for Roger Miller's creative genius was ever in doubt, this book dispels those doubts in a very big way.  Roger seems to be universally liked and admired by his peers in Nashville and beyond, which makes it even more astonishing that Lyle's book is the first one ever written.

"Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and Roger Miller were real close friends, all four of us. It's a funny thing that none of us ever bring up Roger when we're together. It's too tender. You know, I don't know of anybody that would say anything bad about Roger. I don't think there is any bad. He was loved by everybody who knew him. I really cared a lot for him and I miss him every day." (Merle Haggard)

"[Roger]... was probably my favorite. He was the most talented singer, the most talented and gifted person of the century. He was exactly what he appears to be. He was sensitive, he was funny, he was highly intelligent, and I don't go a week that I don't think about him." (Mickey Newbury, songwriter)

To be honest, I was halfway expecting to find the obligatory, "Oh-he-was-such-a-fine-fellow" type of praise you often  see when a public figure diess. Instead of the faux praise, I was struck by all the seemingly genuine, heartfelt emotions.  Even if I tried, I couldn't convey the admiration shown in this book for Roger's songwriting talent.

"Roger was hands down the most creative articulator of words that we ever had in Nashville. ... Nobody else ever approached the cleverness with which he could handle a subject." (Ted Harris, songwriter)

The interviews weren't limited to the well-known, "famous" people such as Buck Owens and Roy Clark. Style showed some real insight by tracking down lesser-known country music "insiders," some of whom accompanied Roger on road trips for months at a time. This diversity helped give the book a well-rounded balance. 

One of the interviews was Sheb Wooley, who was Roger's brother-in-law. (You may remember him as a country music singer and the "Pete Nolan" character on Rawhide). Back when Sheb was nineteen and Roger was nine, Sheb would visit the Miller farm while courting Roger's sister (technically his cousin, but that's another story). When Sheb is asked if he and Roger ever sang together, he states: "...we would ride that old horse together, ride out across them prairies, singing them songs. He had a nice voice when he was a little kid. He was on pitch too.  He had a nice sense of humor even back then."

To round out the interviews, Style even talked to Roger's Nashville doctor, Dr. Robert Ossoff, and to Manuel, Roger's clothing designer.  I suppose we could over-analyze here and make an argument that Styles' thoroughness was due to "obsession" and not "insight." People with obsessive traits do tend to write good books because of its arduous nature. We shouldn't make that leap, though. Manuel-the-clothier had a hilarious story to tell and only a thorough person could have found it. About the only people Style didn't track down were the pilots of all those Lear jets. Maybe he's saving that for Part 2.
The Interviewing & Editing

At Styles' insistence, the "Not-so-Famous" storytellers were included alongside the "The Famous." It was Styles' determination to save them that helped guide his choice of publisher. Some of the U.S. publishers wanted to chop the 'lesser-knowns,' who were arguably the people who knew Roger best. When push came to shove, Style seems to have taken notes from one of his heroes, Waylon. In true country music "Outlaw" fashion, Style chose a publisher that would give him more creative control over his work.

For the most part, Style asked the questions that you or I would have asked, which helped keep the reader focused. After asking a question, he would  prudently sit back and give the storytellers free reign. Sometimes they strayed off-topic, but in many ways, that's one of the big positives about the book. We get to hear all the side stories.

Occasionally, one of the storytellers would wander off-topic and you could see Style's "journalistic self-control" meander right out the door with him. But then again, how do you spend a three-day weekend with Waylon Jennings and not ask him about that trademark "Whoop! Whoop!" sound he makes? I think Style has addressed this somewhere else, but I'll say it more bluntly: Would you have told Waylon Arnold Jennings to get "back on topic" when he started telling you about that ongoing feud with Tompall Glaser? And would you have pulled out your "refocusing skills" if record producer Jack Clement -- THE Jack Clement, mind you -- started sharing all his stories about Elvis, Sam Phillips, Sun Studio, Jerry Lee Lewis, RCA, and Chet Atkins? 
This book is also unique because it has minimal clutter. Style has gotten a few emails from unhappy readers who wanted more author commentary. I disagree strongly. Mr. Style did not know Roger Miller. It was not his story to tell. The book probably would have benefited from having an expanded Index in the back to make stories easier to find again, but other than that, I wanted the stories!  If I want an expansive biography, I can find them on Wiki or Answer or at the Songwriter's Hall of Fame.

As with all books, white space costs money. It's simple, really. The more verbiage Style wrote about a man he didn't know, the fewer 1st-hand stories I would get to read.


 (1st Person Stories + Author Verbiage)

(a.k.a. hatchet-job)


Total # of really cool Roger-stories
I get to read


The Drugs

Image Hosted by You knew I would get to it eventually. I have to. It was part of who Roger Miller was.

First, this is not a "tell-all" book in any way whatsoever. That's not what Style wanted and it's not what he delivered. But yes, Roger's friend tell us lots of stories about his drug use. Surprisingly, though, many are just as candid about their own. Evidently, rampant pill-popping was an considerable part of the Nashville music scene four decades ago. The quote below is toward the beginning of the book. Whether by design or not, its early placement in the text was an inkling of what may follow.  I don't want to be a spoiler here so I won't give you any more specifics. Go buy the book.

"Now, Lyle, don't go writing a whole bunch of stuff about speed and stuff and say I'm the only one who mentioned it. I don't want to be the only one. We were all doing it, every one of us. Everybody knew it and everybody used it. If you ask the next person you interview, "Did you do speed in the sixties?" Damn right they did! If they say, "No," they're lying. (Don Bowman)

Mr. Bowman, you needn't have worried.

So what about Roger's pill use? Why? A few of his friends talked about the "why" directly but I'll leave that to others to contemplate. If you're going to read this book, it would help to first read about his early childhood. Then when you read Lyle's book, it helps to puts things into perspective. It lets you see exactly what he had to overcome.  I've read the book twice already to digest everything that's in it. As soon as I get a chance I'll be reading it again. (Reading and rereading this book seems to be a common practice. It's that good.)

Roger's early childhood trauma left him with a wound that most of us can only imagine. By age three, he had lost all of his immediate family members to either death or separation: His father, his mother, both of his older brothers, and finally, the familiar surroundings he knew as "home." This type of inner hurt and pain would have made a lesser person curl up and die, at least on the inside, anyway. Roger was resilient, though, even as a 3-year old. Instead of curling up and dying, he learned how to survive.

God Bless you, Roger Miller. You were just something else.


Lyle E. Style has accomplished two things with this book, either one of which could stand alone on its own merits. Style does both.

First, he provides us with a truly heartwarming account, however painful at times, of a legendary musical artist who has largely been forgotten. No doubt, there are other readers here who grew up listening to Roger Miller like I did. Those who go on to read Lyle's book will realize that, while we were listening to (and laughing at) all those funny, "cutesy" songs, many of Roger's musical masterpieces remained unheard. Or even worse, they were left unrecorded. It's as if some of his songs got stuck somewhere between Bakersfield and the dusty bank vaults of Tree Publishing (now Sony/CBS).

The second thing Mr. Style has done is give us an insider's glimpse into early Nashville in its heyday. We hear 1st-person narratives straight from those who lived it. Nashville in Roger Miller's day was a time of camaraderie between singers, songwriters, and even producers. Talent ruled the day, not young executives with lap tops. Grand Ol' Opry performers walked across the alley to Tootsie's Orchid Lounge for a drink between shows. Singers and songwriters met for guitar pulls to bounce songs off one another. Roger and Roy Clark would pull all-night joke marathons to see who would be left standing.  These stories and more are in these interviews.

Many of these storytellers have already passed away, and the graying music legends who remain aren't getting any younger. By gathering these legends all in one spot, Style, a Canadian, has preserved a valuable slice of our Americana history.

Even if you don't like Roger Miller's music or Roger Miller the man, you may find this book interesting for its historical value alone.


"All in all, it's safe to say there will never be another Roger Miller, not even close." (Fred Foster, songwriter)

TOPICS: Music/Entertainment
KEYWORDS: bennies; bigriver; billanderson; billmack; billyjoeshaver; bjthomas; blackmollies; bobbybare; bobbybraddock; bobbygoldsboro; bobdylan; bobwills; bookreview; buckowens; captainmidnight; chetatkins; clintblack; countrymusic; cowboyclement; dangme; davidallencoe; dickclark; dietpills; donwilliams; drsnap; dwightyoakum; elvis; franksinatra; genius; georgelindsay; glencampbell; haggard; hankwilliams; hardlivin; harlanhoward; jackclement; jerryreed; jessiecolter; jimmydean; jimmydickens; jimreeves; jimstafford; johnnybush; johnnycash; kingoftheroad; kristofferson; learjets; lindarondstadt; lyleestyle; manuel; marktwainofmusic; martyrobbins; martystuart; meltillis; merle; merlekilgore; mickeygilley; mickeynewbury; minniepearl; nashville; oldyellers; porkybaines; pottymouths; raycharles; rca; richardpryor; roarin; rogermiller; royclark; royorbison; ryman; smothersbrothers; songwriting; speed; statlerbrothers; stevewariner; style; tennessee; thebeatles; thumbscarllile; tobykeith; tompallglaser; tootsies; treepublishing; uppers; vegas; waylon; waylonrules; whoopwhoop; willie
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To: frankjr
His influences were wide ranging. R.E.M. did a cover of King of the Road on their Dead Letter Office record of B-Sides. Impromptu version that was quite good.
181 posted on 09/19/2006 5:41:36 AM PDT by Wyatt's Torch (I can explain it to you. I can't understand it for you.)
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To: NotJustAnotherPrettyFace

Hey, nice seeing you again, too! Thanks for the link. That one I knew about, but many people don't so thanks for posting it. For anyone who doesn't know, that's the website that his widow keeps up for his fans. It has a lot of bio information on it also.

182 posted on 09/19/2006 5:44:45 AM PDT by Nita Nupress
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To: Rte66; I. Ben Hurt; mrestyle
I was thinking it was a summer replacement show, but it wasn't. It just wasn't on for very long - just one season in the fall of 1966. Wonder why he liked Arthur Godfrey so much, lol.

I may be wrong, but I don't think he got to choose his own guests. Maybe Lyle knows more, I don't know.

183 posted on 09/19/2006 5:58:16 AM PDT by Nita Nupress
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To: backhoe

On to "Dang Me"

184 posted on 09/19/2006 6:33:43 AM PDT by wordsofearnest (Bring Back Torre (There's new grass on the field))
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To: Rte66


185 posted on 09/19/2006 6:36:47 AM PDT by wordsofearnest (Bring Back Torre (There's new grass on the field))
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To: wordsofearnest
Artist/Band: Miller Roger
Lyrics for Song: Dang Me
Lyrics for Album: All Time Greatest Hits
Well here I sit, gettin' ideas
Ain't nothing but a fool would live like this
Out all night and runnin' wild
Woman sittin' home with a month old child

Dang me, dang me
They oughta take a rope and hang me
High from the highest tree
Woman would you weep for me.

Just sittin' around drinkin' with the rest of the guys
Six rounds bought, and I bought five
Spent the groceries and half the rent
Like fourteen dollars and twenty seven cents.


They say roses are red and violets are purple
Sugar is sweet and so is maple surple
Well I'm the seventh out of seven sons
My pappy was a pistol
I'm a son of a gun.


I guess it's age and the wisdom alleged to come with it, but Roger's lyrics seem a lot funnier, and more poignant, than I recall them seeming as a child/teenager.
186 posted on 09/19/2006 6:55:37 AM PDT by backhoe
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To: backhoe

As I think back I remember hearing him on the radio all the time. Mom (RIP) and Dad listened to country music all the time, so we cut our teeth on some of this music. I loved his TV show but the one I really remember is the "Jimmy Dean Show"

187 posted on 09/19/2006 7:02:28 AM PDT by wordsofearnest (Bring Back Torre (There's new grass on the field))
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To: Nita Nupress

No problem sharing some of the stuff left on the cutting room floor. A ton of work when into those interviews too and it was sad to have to drop them. I had to cut out a ton on bizarre and funny stories along the way too because of the space issue. The publisher didn't think this book should be longer than the Bible.

I do have a "Word" version of the book. It has a word count on it, but I can't figure out how to just count the number of words without going one by one in the find section.

I imagine it's a lot. If you know how to do it, let me know, take a guess and I'll let you know if you're right.

188 posted on 09/19/2006 7:03:11 AM PDT by mrestyle
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To: Rte66

Where did you get this list from? I've got a similar list from Mason Williams who worked on the show but it included Bobby Darin. Bobby's historian didn't know anything about that appearance and no one can find a copy.

If anyone out there has a copy of any of those Roger Miller Shows from the 60s, please contact me, I'll trade you some amazing stuff!

I hear tell that you can go to the museum of broadcasting in NYC and watch the first Roger Show with guest Bill Cosby. If you go, sneak in a video camera and contact me!

The show should have been an ongoing series but it seemed too much was happening all at the same time for Roger, add to that mixture things that people were taking that shouldn't have been taking and you have a potential train wreck. In fact, Roger blew up the train set on the last show because he didn't want anyone else using the set.

I'm dying to see those shows.

When researching at the Country Music Hall of Fame, I had a few days access to the video vaults and saw some unreal things. That would be the best place to work, thousands of video tapes in storage (none of the RM show from the 60s though).

189 posted on 09/19/2006 7:11:32 AM PDT by mrestyle
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To: Nita Nupress

"His mind worked in such strange ways," he said. "He told me once that he could tell he was gettin' older because he could still jump as high, he just couldn't stay up as long."

- amazing quote by Kenny, that should have been in the book but he never expressed any interest in participating, so I didn't push it with him. I usually checked two, maybe three times max and then I just left them alone. I'll be seeing him in a few months so maybe I'll see if I can chat with him for the possible part two.

190 posted on 09/19/2006 7:15:56 AM PDT by mrestyle
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To: Nita Nupress; Rte66
I don't have the book yet but it sounds great. I'm relieved I wasn't dreaming about watching his tv show. I have sheet music of a lot of his songs and think I will go now and play "Little Green Apples" on the piano.

God didn't make little green apples and it don't rain in Indianapolis in the summertime. There's no such thing as Doctor Suess, Disneyland, and Mother Goose is no nurs-'ry rhyme.

And when myself is feeling low, I think about her face aglow to ease my mind.

Words and music to Little Green Apples was by Bobby Russell. They used to determine how popular songs were before records, etc., by the amount of sheet music sold.

Thanks again.

191 posted on 09/19/2006 7:44:20 AM PDT by I. Ben Hurt
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To: Nita Nupress
My husband is a song writer and choral music arranger (I help publish his stuff), and I appreciate a clever and well-written song, no matter what genre it is. "King of the Road" is one of those songs that sticks in one's head and has a very singable melody line and lyrics easily memorized by the avg. person. That makes it a good song in my book. :-)
192 posted on 09/19/2006 9:47:01 AM PDT by NotJustAnotherPrettyFace
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To: T'wit; Squantos; middie

PING for some music lovers.

193 posted on 09/19/2006 9:48:44 AM PDT by NotJustAnotherPrettyFace
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To: mrestyle

I don't recall the name of the website, but it had "tv" in it. You had already been there, lol - it had a little forum-like section where you could post questions and hope someone would answer.

Yours was the only post and no one had answered yet - asking the same things as here, if anyone had video of any of the RM shows.

Mason was another Okie, like Roger. Okies always try to keep up a little with other Okies, you see. Now that I'm back in Texas, I don't hear as much about the others.

194 posted on 09/19/2006 11:33:50 AM PDT by Rte66
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To: Rte66

Yeah, I'm a man on a mission for them old TV shows. I think the list I have is the correct one because they are photocopies of the actual producer/writer notes (song lists, jokes, etc).

I was hoping to include a full discography and info about the TV show in the book but there just wasn't enough space. I had to cut out about 200 pages in total so it didn't make sense adding another 20 only to have them cut too. So I think the stuff that made it in (300+ pages) is the cream.

195 posted on 09/19/2006 6:36:55 PM PDT by mrestyle
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To: mrestyle

I noticed that Mason's website said he wrote 16 scripts for The Roger Miller Show, even though only 7 shows were listed as having aired, on that other site.

Best of luck in your search.

196 posted on 09/19/2006 7:16:31 PM PDT by Rte66
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To: Nita Nupress
It's good to you again, Nita. I was up late last night (insomnia) and just happened to see this thread. You did a fantastic job with your book review. I am buying this book.

I saw Roger Miller numerous times on Johnny Carson and remember how easily their conversations flowed. I can't remember all the other programs that I happened to see Miller appear on, except Hee Haw. In the 1990s, his name seemed to pop up often on the Ralph Emory show during interviews with people who had met or worked with him.

The second link I posted was supposed to be to Albums but somehow I messed it up.

197 posted on 09/19/2006 9:59:51 PM PDT by Eagle9
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To: Nita Nupress

Oh good grief - I saw SRV live and I live "more south" right now than you do ;)

198 posted on 09/19/2006 10:51:06 PM PDT by Senator Pardek
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To: Senator Pardek
Oh good grief - I saw SRV live and I live "more south" right now than you do ;)

So how is your adjustment period going? How many times have you been called 'Yankee?' And are you even going to tell me what state you're in?

199 posted on 09/20/2006 2:15:29 AM PDT by Nita Nupress
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To: Eagle9; mrestyle
Your albums link reminded me of just how many times his albums were released by off-name companies. I'm sitting here looking at names like Bear, Laserlight, Hilltop, K-Tel, etc. It's enough to make your head spin, especially when someone is trying to make a purchase. (Also, how all of this relates to copyright laws).

Lyle, do you know anything about this website that Eagle9 linked? I'm wanting to order that Bear CD but haven't yet simply because I don't want to get ripped off. From what I understand, the Bear CD has many of Roger's early releases and is one of the few that are not repetitious.

In fact, let me put you further on the spot, here. ;) If you were going to advise someone on which 2 or 3 Roger Miller CDs to buy, which ones would you say?

THIS one, for sure, which would be my personal choice for #1 (but not from Amazon):

King Of The Road: The Genius Of Roger Miller [BOX SET]
(It's much cheaper at his official website)

One last thing, just because I feel like venting: It's truly maddening to me that his early albums have not been remastered and released. There's one of them where he sang all those songs he wrote for other people (George Jones, Faron Young, etc.). "A Trip in the Country," I think. It may be on the ones you mentioned earlier from the '70s, I don't know.

Anyway, for whatever reason, they haven't been remastered to CD, which is why Roger Miller has largely been forgotten to an entire generation of younger people. He's arguably the best songwriter of all time, and my kids probably don't even know who he is.

Which reminds me... When they come home to visit, I'm hiding my Roger Miller CDs or they may disappear!!

200 posted on 09/20/2006 3:27:15 AM PDT by Nita Nupress
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