Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Tracy Nelson (ft. Willie Nelson) – "After the Fire Is Gone" (1974)

Love is where you find it
When you find no love at home

In a recitation before the last verse of his 1975 hit, "You Never Even Called Me by My Name," David Allan Coe said that the song's writer -- Steve Goodman -- had told him that it was the perfect country-western song.

Coe demurred, arguing that Goodman's song was not the perfect country-western song because it didn't mention mama, or trains, or trucks, or prison, or getting drunk.

Goodman then added the famous final verse of the song, which incorporated all of Coe's requirements:

I was drunk the day my mama got out of prison
And I went out to pick her up in the rain
But before I got to the station in my pickup truck
She got ruined over by a damned ol' train

Goodman and Coe left something off their list.  The perfect country-western song would have to mention cheatin' as well.

"After the Fire Is Gone" covers cheatin' in spades.  Here's the first verse of this classic cheatin' duet:

The bottle is almost empty
The clock just now struck ten
Darlin' I had to call you
To our favorite place again
We know it's wrong for us to meet
But the fire's gone out at home
And there's nothin' cold as ashes
After the fire is gone

The second verse reveals that the lovers' mutual passion is tempered with a healthy dose of guilt:

Your lips are warm and tender
Your arms hold me just right
Sweet words of love you remember
That the one at home forgot
Each time we say is the last time
But we keep hangin' on
And there's nothin' cold as ashes
After the fire is gone

"After the Fire Is Gone" was penned by fiddle-player-turned-Grammy-winning-songwriter L. E. White.  It was a 1971 country hit for Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty.

Conway Twitty
Loretta and Conway released eleven albums together, four of which made it to #1 on the Billboard country album chart.  "After the Fire Is Gone" was the first single the duo released, and it made it all the way to #1, as did their next four singles.  

Today 2 or 3 lines is featuring the 1974 Tracy Nelson-Willie Nelson cover of the song, but first I want to share a video of Lynn and Twitty performing "After the Fire Is Gone" because you need to see Twitty's hair.  Good ol' Conway had the damnedest coiffure I've ever seen on a man:

Tracy Nelson was born in 1944 in Madison, Wisconsin.  She started out singing folk music, then added traditional blues songs to her repertoire.  

Nelson moved to San Francisco when she was 21, and formed the blues-rock band Mother Earth, which performed at the Fillmore West with luminaries such as Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix.

A few years later, she relocated to Nashville.  In 1974, she released her first post-Mother Earth solo LP.  That eponymous album includes a 100%-country cover of "After the Fire Is Gone" (with an assist from Willie Nelson) but most of the other tracks on the record are more bluesy and soulful than country-western – think Janis and Aretha, not Loretta.

I decided to feature this song after a friend of a friend asked my help in tracking it down.

This friend of a friend is a pretty smart cookie, but she hasn't been writing a three-songs-per-week music blog for five years – I have, so I've got a few tricks up my sleeve when it comes to tracking down obscure songs that regular folks aren't aware of.

(Not the same Tracy Nelson)
In any event, I'm glad she asked for my help because it brought this very good song to my attention so I could bring it to yours.

Here's "After the Fire Is Gone":

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:  

1 comment:

  1. "After the Fire Is Gone" is track 14 on my "Camino Real Corral" compilation CD that I play in the car when I want a wagon-load of country and country-flavored music. Here's the lineup:

    Camino Real Corral
    San Gabriel CA/Dec. 22, 2005
    1) Slide Show by Cindy Cashdollar
    2) Let's Have a Party by Wanda Jackson
    3) I'm Here for the Party by Gretchen Wilson
    4) Tennessee Waltz by Lacey J. Dalton
    5) Blue Moon of Kentucky by Elvis Presley
    6) Early Morning Sunshine by Evie Sands
    7) Wildwood Flower by the "New" Carter Family
    8) New San Antonio Rose by Bob Wills
    9) Rockin' Rollin' Mama by Buddy Jones
    10) Mule Skinner Blues by The Cramps
    11) Blue Yodel No. 9 by Jimmie Rodgers
    12) Honky Tonk Blues by Hank Williams
    13) You Win Again by Martina McBride
    14) After the Fire Is Gone by Loretta Lynn
    & Conway Twitty
    15) A Man of Constant Sorrow by the
    Soggy Bottom Boys
    16) I Like It, I Love It by Tim McGraw
    17) Back Up and Push by Bill Monroe
    18) Country Honk by The Rolling Stones
    19) Fireball Mail by Roy Acuff
    20) I Walk the Line by Johnny Cash
    21) Never No More by Patsy Cline
    22) I Can't Help It by Linda Ronstadt
    23) 6 Days on the Road by Dave Dudley
    24) I'm Movin' On by Emmylou Harris
    25) I'm Movin' On #2 by Homer & Jethro
    26) Keep on the Sunny Side by
    The Original Carter Family

    Here's the entry for #14:
    After the Fire Is Gone by Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty. The ultimate drinkin' an' cheatin' song, combining two frequent themes in country music. This one even made the "Pop" charts in 1971.