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David Cantwell

David Cantwell lives in Kansas City, MO. He contributes to New Yorker.com and to Rolling Stone Country. He is the author of Merle Haggard: The Running Kind and a coauthor of Heartaches by the Number: Country Music’s 500 Greatest Singles.

"The Quiet Storm on Early 1980s Country Radio (Or Another Look at Sweet, Sweet Country Lovin’)"
Throughout the 1970s, Conway Twitty was country music’s sex machine, growling his way through a series of chart toppers about sexual fantasy, foreplay and more. By the early ‘80s, fellow grown-ass legends such as Merle Haggard and Charley Pride, as well as randy and hirsute whippersnappers like Earl Thomas Conley, T. G. Sheppard, Razzy Bailey, Kenny Rogers and many more, had joined Twitty in an increasingly crowded radio boudoir. Sexy male country singers were nothing new, of course, but outright sexual ones, lover men singing about not only love but about love makin’, and within smooth-groove, synth-heavy musical arrangements borrowed from contemporaneous R&B sounds, were unprecedented. Country music’s “Quiet Storm” allowed for the performance of a new type of country masculinity. This moment didn’t last long, and it mostly didn’t grant female performers similarly expanded options, but it did foreshadow many of the sounds and interests of contemporary country music.