I'm not supposed to like country music.
I know it's been years since country's had serious crossover success, but it was never gonna rip the heart out of a New Yorker like me. I grew up on pop, classic rock, English new wave — and will even admit to a feathered-haired disco phase.
But this week, a seismic shift rocked my musical foundation. Martina McBride's (search) new album of country classics, "Timeless," (search) arrived in my office. Eighteen songs dating back to 1951 by artists ranging from Hank Williams (search) to Loretta Lynn (search) to Buddy Holly (search) to Johnny Cash (search).
Authentic to the core, songs such as "I Can't Stop Loving You," "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden" and "Make the World Go Away" are even recorded with guitars and microphones dating back to the 1960s. The CD is timeless, and I'm speechless. So I'll let singer Marty Stuart address McBride's talent, as he does in the liner notes of her album:
"The silence of the falling star, the sound of a lonesome whippoorwill, a purple sky, the cry of a train … the beat of your heart against a gentle Southern breeze are all but signs of assurance that you are at one with the heart of country music; and at the heart of country music, I feel God."
Yes, I'm a believer.
I could stop there, but really, I can't — only because guitarist Paul Worley, who appears on her CD, provides another key reason why you should purchase "Timeless."
"… This music is, both sonically and artistically, the antidote to the hectic, over-produced life that so many of us live. … These great, timeless songs have not been so pristinely produced, and so exquisitely sung, in decades."
Martina's won five CMA awards, with 18 nominations. Once again, she's up for Female Vocalist of the Year at the upcoming CMAs, which will be held Nov. 15 right here in my hometown of New York City — and to quote her cover of Buck Owens' song, I will tell you that "Love's Gonna Live Here" that night.
Lots of Ashton Kutcher (search) news recently: He wed Demi Moore (search), then announced that he was producing a pilot for FOX called "The 30-Year-Old Grandpa," about a guy who marries an older woman and becomes stepdad to her kids.
So it was with added curiosity that I decided to check out an advance copy of the season premiere of "That '70s Show" to see how the series that made Ashton famous would fare now that he's moved on.
(The premiere airs Wednesday, Nov. 2, at 8 p.m. ET on FOX.)
But he hasn't moved on — well, not quite yet. Ashton appears in the opener, but what's clear is that despite his eventual disappearance — coupled with the already gone Topher Grace — "That '70s Show" still has a lotta bell-bottomed legs to it.
Cast members have grown comfortably into their roles, particularly the already grown Debra Jo Rupp and Kurtwood Smith, who play parents Kitty and Red Foreman. Watch for Rupp getting ripped on marijuana. You may laugh harder than she does.
In other TV news, poor Martha Stewart (search) continues to tank with her "Apprentice" series, though her daytime talker this week showed signs of life. It was up in total viewers, but still hurting in some key female demographic groups.
Blame Tyra Banks' (search) rival talker for taking on Martha's home recipes with shows about whether the famous Banks bosom is real, and sex toys.
And speaking of sex toys … poor, pregnant Jennifer Garner (search) will soon be all about toys, and very little about sex. Her series "Alias" has just about hit rock bottom in the ratings on Thursday nights.
Does being preggers mean her sexy image has gone belly up? Or is husband Ben Affleck (search) bad news for a girl's career?