Long before the singing competition of the same name, the words “the Voice” referred to one man in country music: Vern Gosdin.
Nicknamed “the Voice” for his distinctive baritone voice and incredible delivery of emotional lyrics, Gosdin first got his start in the music business in California in the 1960’s as a member of various singing groups like The Hillmen and The Gosdin Brothers.
But by the 1970s, he had actually retired from performing and was operating a glass company before he eventually signed his own record deal in 1976, a decision that would eventually lead to Gosdin becoming one of the most recognized voices of the ’80s.
“The Voice” had quite the string of hits in the 1980s and into the early ’90s.
There was his first top 5 single, the heart-wrenching “If You’re Gonna Do Me Wrong (Do It Right).”
And his first #1 hit came in 1984 with the rockin’ “I Can Tell By The Way You Dance (You’re Gonna Love Me Tonight).”
There was “Set ‘Em Up Joe,” Gosdin’s tribute to the late Ernest Tubb that’s still played in bars up and down Nashville’s Lower Broadway on a daily basis.
But my favorite from Vern Gosdin is the gut-punch that he delivers in the the poignant and heartbreaking “Chiseled in Stone.” One of the saddest country songs of all time, but undeniably one of the greatest too.
“You don’t know about lonely
Or how long nights can be
‘Till you’ve lived through the story
That’s still living in me
You don’t know about sadness ‘Till you’ve faced life alone You don’t know about lonely ‘Till it’s chiseled in stone.”
Damn, that one gets me every time. What a masterpiece.
There’s a whole new generation of country fans who will grow up only knowing “The Voice” as a TV singing competition featuring Blake Shelton that every once in awhile produces somebody who may have some moderate success (with a couple notable exceptions like Morgan Wallen).
But to me, when I hear “The Voice” I’ll always think Vern Gosdin.
And that’s how it should be.
Vern is also one of Josh Turner’s heroes… Josh covered him on his latest album Country State Of Mind.