Being raised in Ferriday hardly makes you a city boy. But because he could sing and tickle the ivories, and because he opened a watering hole in Texas the size of a football field, Mickey Gilley, a son of small-town Louisiana, ended up batting leadoff in the Urban Cowboy League, which was no small deal in the rawhide-crazed 1980s.
With the sad weekend news of the passing at age 86 of the keyboard whiz, singer and approachable entertainer, our heart was heavier than a couple of barroom bouncers sitting on top a honkytonk piano.
I sort of got to meet Mickey Gilley (somehow you have to say his whole name — “Mickey” or “Gilley” doesn’t sound right) a half-dozen years ago when he played at Squire Creek Country Club in Choudrant. I say “got to meet” but really all I did was take a picture of him and my spousal unit, who he was a bit taken by. They talked and hugged and I took some pictures and they carried on and I got out of the way and went looking for a place to sit down. I’m used to this.
He was a nice man and his picture hangs in her office, along with a lot of other pictures of her and other people I almost sort of got to meet until they met her.
Speaking of women, the 1980s were about Urban Cowgirls as much as they were about cowboys. Country was cool. Ropers and hats and belt buckles the size of saucers. Your friends who usually listened to nothing but hard rock suddenly knew all the words to Lookin’ for Love.
It vanished of course, as all good things do, and now what passes for country music is gut bucket drivel. The Urban Cowboy craze was the last great run country music had. We have been lucky that a George Strait or Brad Paisley have surfaced since, but I’m afraid that the days of Mickey Gilley and Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings are gone, lost as a dozen of your old worn out bandanas.
And so, with our felt Stetson over our heart, we salute a time gone by with the Top 10 Mickey Gilley Songs, According To Me.
10. Room Full of Roses: “I just want my arms around you…”
9: Overnight Sensation: “She’s an overnight sensation, she’s an open invitation…” Mickey Gilley could not quite figure this girl out.
8: Window Up Above: Couldn’t figure this one either. Heartbreak City.
7: Don’t The Girls All Get Prettier At Closing Time: EVERYBODY knew the words to this monster hit.
6. Stand By Me: One of Mickey Gilley’s classic covers, along with …
5. True Love Ways, and
4. You Don’t Know Me
3. Object of My Affection: Lots of good bluesy “boogie woogie” piano here.
2. Power of Positive Drinking: And here too.
1. It’s a Headache Tomorrow (Or A Heartache Tonight): “No matter which one you choose, you loose…” Hurts me. One of the best songs of the Urban Cowboy era, a chapter of which closes with the passing of Mickey Gilley.
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