But that's beginning to change. Last year, Pierce was finally inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. (To hear why that honor was a couple of decades overdue, track down King of the Honky-Tonk: From the Original Decca Masters.) And now comes Caught in the Webb. Organized and produced by '80s country star Gail Davies, the 21-track disc is as good as any tribute collection ever released. Country siren Mandy Barnett crawls, weeping, through "Slowly," bluegrassers the Del McCoury Band go "Walkin' the Dog" at what feels like a sprint, and Dwight Yoakam delivers "If You Were Me" in a graceful, gliding shuffle. Every cut is swell, and all proceeds go to the Minnie Pearl Cancer Foundation, in honor of Pierce's own cancer-related death in 1991.
What's more, as the artists above suggest, Caught in the Webb maps an unusually comprehensive view of the country-music landscape. The roster includes Hall of Famers George Jones, Charley Pride, Willie Nelson, and the Jordanaires, who provide harmonies on several tracks here just as they did on so many of Pierce's originals. But the set also features alternative-country acts such as Allison Moorer, Robbie Fulks, BR549 and Dale Watson, singer-songwriters Guy Clark and Kevin Welch, songbirds Emmylou Harris and Crystal Gayle and '90s hitmaker Pam Tillis. Toss into that mix a Webb Pierce classic or two, and you've got the template for a pretty great turn-of-the-century country station.