Lee Roy Parnell

TrackAlbum
Let's PretendLee Roy Parnell
Night After NightLove Without Mercy
Country Down To My SoulOn The Road
Take These Chains From My HeartOn The Road
If The House Is Rockin'We All Get Lucky Sometimes
Honky Tonk Night Time ManEvery Night's A Saturday Night
Right Where It HurtsTell The Truth
Guardian AngelTell The Truth
Saving GraceBack To The Well
Some Time AgoMidnight Believer

Lee Roy Parnell photo

 

 

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Lee Roy Parnell playlist

 

 

Contributor: Jane Dove

“Man I come from Texas, mighty proud of my roots, I don’t wear a hat but I got 40 pairs of cowboy boots” is how Lee Roy describes himself in the song Country Down To My Soul.

He is a country music and blues artist, singer, songwriter, and guitarist. He was born in Abilene in 1956 and grew up on his parent’s ranch. His father was a friend of Bob Wills and Lee Roy sang San Antonio Rose with him aged 6 on his radio show. During his mid-teens Lee Roy started playing and writing music in earnest. He fell under the spell of rocker Duane Allman’s slide guitar work and from his late teens, apprenticed with such Texas luminaries as Kinky Friedman and his Texas Jewboys, and Delbert McClinton, and with his own bands spent ten years playing clubs in Austin, Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth, honing his singing and guitar playing skills.

In 1987, encouraged by his cousin, Robert Earl Keen, and the success of other Texas singer/songwriters like Nanci Griffith, Lyle Lovett and Rodney Crowell, he moved to Nashville. He got a writing contract and a regular spot at the famous Bluebird Café. He was signed to a recording contract with Arista in 1989 and his first self-titled album was produced by Barry Beckett (of the Muscle Shoals rhythm section). It was heavy on the horns and doesn’t really show his guitar work but Lee Roy credits Barry with teaching him how to make records. “He taught me about groove, soul, vocal delivery and how to make every note count!”

His subsequent albums (with other producers) have rectified that and he has produced or co-produced the later ones himself, playing with his road band The Hot Links. Lee Roy said, “I had always wanted to record with my touring band and tour with my recording band, something very out of the ordinary for Nashville. Being heavily influenced by bands and band leaders, Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, Merle Haggard and the Strangers, T-Bone Walker and Muddy Waters and their bands, the Allman Brothers, you knew exactly whose song was being played from note one. Long before you heard the vocalist. I have always strived to have my own identifiable sound, not only vocally but musically as well.”

He has also played sessions on other singers’ albums such as Mary Chapin Carpenter and Trisha Yearwood. In 2019, Gibson produced a signature Abilene Sunset guitar for him ,and on his website there is an interview with Lee Roy where he says he has played with a bunch of his heroes, some he can’t because they have gone on by now, but he has never played with Clapton. So, Eric, if you are reading this and need a new Duane to your Derek look no further than Lee Roy Parnell.

On to my selection: The Houston Chronicle wrote, “Parnell is notable for his ability to combine blues, country and rock with just the right amount of soul.” Enjoy!

 

Let’s Pretend from Lee Roy Parnell (1990)
I like the bluesy sound of this track and the interaction between the sax and Lee Roy’s guitar.

Night After Night from Love Without Mercy (1992)
This is more of a ballad and has a nice bit of pedal steel guitar as well as Lee Roy’s slide guitar.

Country Down To My Soul from On The Road (1993)
An autobiographical song with a driving rhythm and Lee Roy’s great guitar playing.

Take These Chains From My Heart from On The Road (1993)
An old song but a good one. That’s Ronnie Dunn from Brooks & Dunn singing with Lee Roy. I love this version with the interaction between the singers. “Ooh I feel better already …”

If The House Is Rockin’ from We All Get Lucky Sometimes (1995)
Lee Roy and the Hot Links. On his greatest hits album, Hits And Highways Ahead, Lee Roy says “It’s just a fun rockin’ quintessential roadhouse song. It’s indicative of what we do live.” That’s his brother Rob Roy (yes, really!) on blues harmonica.

Honky Tonk Night Time Man from Every Night’s A Saturday Night (1997)
Lee Roy and the Hot Links interpretation of the Merle Haggard song. “A little slide guitar!”

Right Where It Hurts from Tell The Truth (2001)
This album was recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound and you can hear all those influences along with Lee Roy’s playing. Sublime!

Guardian Angel from Tell The Truth (2001)
I had to include this track because it means a lot to me. More sublime guitar work here.

Saving Grace from Back To The Well (2006)
Slowing down now and Lee Roy plays National slide guitar on this ballad.

Some Time Ago from Midnight Believer (2017)
We finish with this completive track, the closer from Lee Roy’s most recent album.

“Remember the days when Lee Roy Parnell was seen as a country artist? His last album was a blues-based affair. This latest, Midnight Believer, puts him squarely in the corner of blue-eyed Southern soul singers. And one who can write fine songs and play great guitar.” John Heidt, Vintage Guitar (2017)

 

 

Lee Roy Parnell official website

Lee Roy Parnell biography (AllMusic)

Jane and Merric (Mr Toppermost) met when they worked in the same library service where she recalls that he wore a black tie on the day Otis Redding died (that dates us!) and teased her about her devotion to Scott Walker. At home Jane sings along to music channelling her inner Trisha Yearwood but having been told that she sings upside down and in the key of L, she now sings alto in a Can’t Sing Choir.

Read the Toppermosts of some of the other artists mentioned in this post:
Allman Brothers, Eric Clapton, Nanci Griffith, Merle Haggard, Lyle Lovett, T-Bone Walker, Muddy Waters, Trisha Yearwood

TopperPost #875

2 Comments

  1. Andrew Shields
    Jun 11, 2020

    Disappointed that I didn’t discover such an excellent artist sooner but thanks for introducing me to him. Great stuff entirely as we would say back home.
    And a Merle cover – what more could you want?

    • Jane Dove
      Jun 12, 2020

      It’s my life’s work to introduce as many people as possible to Lee Roy so I’m pleased to have helped!

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