There are probably many people who don’t remember that OJ Simpson was found liable for murder back in 1997. With all the Hollywood weirdness of the earlier criminal trial in which he was declared innocent, there was another civil trial by jury that determined he was liable for the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. One juror claimed after hearing Simpson’s testimony that “he was not credible,” and another said that “finding OJ Simpson liable of the murders and acting with oppression and malice was one of the easiest decisions I have ever had to make.”
When The Juice made headlines recently with the news that he would be released from prison after serving nine years for armed robbery, I pulled up this old photo of him with the man who currently lives in the White House and immediately thought of this song.
That there is Tom Brumley playing pedal steel guitar, and he was in the Buckaroos throughout much of the ’60s and then eventually joined Ricky Nelson’s Stone Canyon Band. If you know the song “Garden Party,” that also was Tom doing the tasty licks. His dad was Albert E. Brumley, the gospel songwriter who penned “I’ll Fly Away,” and, if you can believe Wikipedia, Tom’s solo in “Together Again” was the inspiration for Jerry Garcia to learn the instrument.
I was originally going to share a personal story regarding OJ, me, and the record store I used to manage back in the ’80s in Santa Monica. Might have mentioned that my first apartment in West LA was less than a football field away from Nicole’s condo, too. And then I planned to discuss my well developed theory about how that infamous televised ride in the white Ford Bronco triggered the death of the music industry and eventual rise of social media. Really. Every damn picture on Instagram, your Uncle Alfred’s cat on Facebook, $250 scalped tickets for a Gillian Welch concert, Bono’s sunglasses, and Jack White … I can trace it all back to OJ.
But the song … it took me away.
The only time I ever saw George Jones was in an empty restaurant at a suburban Nashville shopping center during the “early bird” special they served on weekdays. Met Tanya Tucker twice, and she was like spit and hellfire. Short, too. Did you like it when she says “Glen … “ at the beginning of the duet? She’s talkin’ to Campbell, of course, who also recorded it for his Burning Bridges album.
Buck Owens had a number one hit with “My Heart Skips a Beat”’in 1966, and the B-side … do I really need to explain that … was “Together Again.” Ray Charles covered it right away, and it reached #19 on the Billboard pop chart. And in 1976 Emmylou Harris released it as a single and was able to take it to the top of the country chart. This is from a Dutch television show called TopPop.
After that there was a duet by Kenny Rogers and Dottie West in 1983, Dwight Yoakam covered it (of course) because he covers all of Buck’s songs, there was a Filipino version from Guy and Pip, an electronic dance abomination, Screaming Trees’ Mark Lanegan, Vince Gill, and one from Swedish singer Jill Johnson.
Most interesting, at least to me, was that in 1981 a Norwegian singer named Elisabeth Andreassen put out an album titled Angel In The Morning, which includes not only “Together Again” but also Kirsty MacColl’s “There’s a Guy Works Down the Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis.” And while much of her career is tied to the Eurovision Song Contest, which is a big deal in that part of the world, in 2004 she released A Couple of Days in Larsville, which included a Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman song.
And with OJ and Trump soon to be “together again,” I’m going to let Elisabeth sing us out:
This old town is filled with sin
It’ll swallow you in
If you’ve got some money to burn
Take it home right away
You’ve got three years to pay
And Satan is waiting his turn
This article originally was published as Easy Ed’s Broadside column over at No Depression: The Journal of Roots Music.