10 Songs, 35 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

“Stars on the Water,” the opening song on Rodney Crowell’s eponymous 1981 album, defines the songwriter’s early style. Sweet-natured and sparkling, the song has an understated dance rhythm, played close to the vest. There’s so much that is likable about him, and songs like “She Ain’t Going Nowhere,” “Only Two Hearts,” and “Stars on the Water” hold something for fans of Bruce Springsteen, Blondie, and Willie Nelson alike. Maybe Crowell’s Achilles’ heel was being just a tad too country to cross over. Certainly “’Til I Gain Control Again” is among his most elegant songs, but it’s a country ballad to the core (which is partly why Crystal Gayle made a huge hit of it in 1982). “Shame on the Moon” and “Victim or a Fool” are poignant and husky love songs, each hung on an elegant midnight shuffle. They would have been perfect for Elvis had he lived long enough to sing them. Part of the reason Crowell had to leave L.A. and Warner Bros. following this album was that the big companies just couldn’t figure out what to do with his best stuff.

EDITORS’ NOTES

“Stars on the Water,” the opening song on Rodney Crowell’s eponymous 1981 album, defines the songwriter’s early style. Sweet-natured and sparkling, the song has an understated dance rhythm, played close to the vest. There’s so much that is likable about him, and songs like “She Ain’t Going Nowhere,” “Only Two Hearts,” and “Stars on the Water” hold something for fans of Bruce Springsteen, Blondie, and Willie Nelson alike. Maybe Crowell’s Achilles’ heel was being just a tad too country to cross over. Certainly “’Til I Gain Control Again” is among his most elegant songs, but it’s a country ballad to the core (which is partly why Crystal Gayle made a huge hit of it in 1982). “Shame on the Moon” and “Victim or a Fool” are poignant and husky love songs, each hung on an elegant midnight shuffle. They would have been perfect for Elvis had he lived long enough to sing them. Part of the reason Crowell had to leave L.A. and Warner Bros. following this album was that the big companies just couldn’t figure out what to do with his best stuff.

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