Of the four varieties of ‘special features’ that show up from time to time on the GMC (they’re listed in the left column) the Country Catalyst is probably the trickiest for me to put together. It started off as an offshoot of the well-established Anatomy Of A Song feature, but one with a specific purpose — to present a country music classic that would act as a catalyst to bring more fans to the genre.
But I’ve come to realize that I’ve strayed from the original intent. I’ve sometimes followed the easy road by spotlighting well-known country songs that were big crossover hits, which means they were already appreciated by a lot of folks who didn’t normally follow country music. So today I’m going to rededicate myself to the original goal by digging a little deeper and finding lesser-known nuggets, country classics that might be new to most folks.
First up is a song that just might be what we all need right now, a light and optimistic country ballad with the uplifting title of “It’s Such a Pretty World Today.” Written by Dale Noe, the song hit the top of the country charts in 1967 with the help of singer Wynn Stewart, an early proponent of the Bakersfield Sound and an inspiration to later stars like Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. Stewart was already a well-established country performer when he recorded the song, but it became his biggest hit.
Later the same year, crooner Andy Russell recorded the song and enjoyed a quick spike on the adult contemporary charts but didn’t do much on pop charts. Interestingly enough, it would often be female singers who would keep the song alive through the years, as records by Loretta Lynn, Connie Smith, Marie Osmond, and Nancy Sinatra (in her country music mode) all did well. In fact, Sinatra’s version got some recent attention when it appeared on the soundtrack of the hit TV series Breaking Bad, but Wynn Stewart’s original remains the gold standard.