Saturday, October 3, 2009

Billie Jean - Dr. BLT with Kim McAbee

“Billie Jean” goes alt-country

Billie Jean
Artist: Dr. BLT with Kim McAbee of the Buckaroos (formerly Buck Owens and the Buckaroos)

Billie Jean is one of Michael Jackson’s best-loved songs. The video has over 37 million views on YouTube. The song is found on Jackson’s 1982 Thriller release, which was number one in the US and the UK.

To record such a beloved a song and do it justice is risky and a challenge. I suspect that Dr. BLT chose it as a tribute to Jackson’s legacy. He succeeds admirably in making this his own. Who would have guessed that this could be made into a country song, but the subject matter fits well with this genre.

This classic fares well under the influence of the Bakersfield Sound, and is among Dr. Thiessen’s best work. Though Buck Owens is an influence, the rhythm reminds me of Johnny Cash.

I like being able to hear the lyrics more clearly than on the original. Thiessen’s rugged voice brings out the defiance in the chorus: “Billie Jean is not my lover!” This is balanced by Kim McAbee’s smooth background vocals and harmonizing. This more than meets the remake challenge; it’s like listening to a new song.

The song has been released as mp3 and is on the downloadable edition of the CD, From Buck Owens Blvd to Merle Haggard Drive, which is available at (
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