Crystal Gayle's hair flows all the way to her ankles, to no more than an inch above the ground she walks on. Honest.
Two thousand people witnessed it Monday night in the 49th Street Galleria. They came to hear her sing but they also came to see the lengthy, famous, Crystalline trademark.As the golden-voiced sweetheart of country-pop love songs waltzed onto the stage, singing about smiling, more than one or two fans stood up and squinted to get a better gaze at Crystal's long and lasting mane.
If the hair is her trademark, her bread and butter are simple songs sung sadly, romantically longingly, happily, beautifully.
She's into simple songs, with catchy lyrics and tunes, like "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."
A well-trained alto whose voice was near-perfect Monday night, Crystal clearly captivated the small audience, seated cozily in the Galleria's Rollertown USA, with two-dozen numbers that spanned 90 minutes.
Her dark brown hair bouncing against her flowing white outfit, Crystal was graceful and unassuming.
She was everybody's angel, winning young hearts and the hearts of those who can still remember Johnny Ray songs. Her efforts also likely scored points with the parents of sick children as Monday night's proceeds were to benefit the Ronald McDonald House, home to folks who come from out of town to visit their hospitalized kids.
Crystal sang some of her own classics _ "Talking In Your Sleep," "Here I Go Down That Long Road Again," "Why Have You Left the One You Left Me For" "I'll Get Over You," and, of course, "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue."
Her occasionally pouty, sometimes breathy voice was sublime on "Don't Take Me Half the Way." It was truly bluesy on "I'll Get Over You."
And it was sad on her latest single, "Nobody's Angel," title track from her latest album. That cut is dedicated to the lonely woman who "waits night after night" for soft candelight and someone to take her. "She can't understand why the whole world passed her by," Crystal sings.
She turned festive and caroled the crowd with "Rudolph" and "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)."
The youngest sibling of country star Loretta Lynn, Crystal was accompanied Monday night by another coal miner's daughter _ her older sister, Peggy Sue Wright, who provided back-up vocals. Peggy Sue, who looks and sounds a lot like Loretta, joined Crystal centerstage for a pair of "Everly Sisters" duets: "Crying in the Rain" and "Bye Bye Love."
While Crystal rested her larynx, Peggy Sue belted out "Don't Come Home A-Drinkin' With Lovin' on Your Mind" and "Down in the Boondocks."
After a near-fatal dose of Peggy Sue's jokes ("Last night some guy was knocking on my door until 2 a.m. _ finally, I got up and let him out," for example), Crystal floated into "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue." A song known for its sweet piano opening, "Brown Eyes" received all the right touches from Alan Steinberger on the Baldwin grand. Jay Patten and his silver saxophone added character.
Though the acoustics were less than symphonic and one of the speakers on stage left broadcast an annoying buzz between songs, Crystal's "orchestra," as she called it, was a talented, complementary band.
Duncan Mullins played a subdued but integral bass guitar and provided good backup vocals, particularly on "Angel." Mullins also was a capable substitute for Eddie Rabbit and Gary Morris, with whom Crystal has recorded "You and I" and "Another World," respectively. Mullins' part in "Another World" sounded better than Morris' version, though Rabbit still reigns in "You and I."
Englishman Tony Newman delivered solid drum lines, Mike Loudermilk poured it on with his lead guitar, and Bob Patin produced clean sounds and effects on the keyboards.
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