Roger Miller's songs and recordings gain luster as the years roll by.
His easy-listening compositions, several of them "novelty" numbers, were underestimated when he arrived in the era of Bob Dylan, Lennon and McCartney and others.
In retrospect, songs like "Dang Me," "Chug-A-Lug," and "You Can't Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd" stand as American classics. His witty lyrics and winsome singing give them the depth and texture of the best story-telling. Serious works like "England Swings" register with movie-like imagery. "King of the Road" is one of the great songs.
Texas Monthly writer Christian Wallace in a warm review of a new tribute album to Miller reflects on how his songs have touched his life and their enduring appeal in American culture.
With performances of Miller's hits by Alison Kraus, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Loretta Lynn, Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, Lyle Lovette and Asleep at the Wheel, the album reflects Miller's brilliance.
The album would be memorable for just one number: a performance of "Old Friends" by Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and Merle Haggard, in one of his last recordings.
Wallace rightly singles out Kacey Musgraves' performance of "Kansas City Star." Preserving the drollness of Miller's original, Musgraves gives the song her signature flair.
The album displays anew why Miller's songs remain with us.