Classic Country Singles

Classic Country Singles: Johnny Paycheck, “Take This Job and Shove It”

August 19, 2008 // 5 Comments

Take This Job and Shove It Johnny Paycheck 1977 Written by David Allan Coe David Allan Coe’s “Take this Job and Shove It” owns a comical hook and, since its release in the 1970s, has become a familiar refrain among the working class. But “Take this Job and Shove It” was much more than an anthem for the overworked and underpaid. It was a tale of a man who’s lost the love of his life, thereby losing “the reason that (he) was workin’ for.” In reality, the narrator never utters the famous phrase to his demanding boss, but lives for the day that he can gather the courage to take his stand. The song’s most famous delivery came with Johnny Paycheck’s release back in 1977, and the tune reached No. 1 in January 1978. Paycheck’s distinctive growl gave the song great attitude and told of the frustrations felt by those Read More

Loretta Lynn, “Coal Miner’s Daughter”

August 12, 2008 // 5 Comments

Coal Miner’s Daughter Loretta Lynn 1970 Written by Loretta Lynn Loretta Lynn’s 1970 classic “Coal Miner’s Daughter” is honest-to-goodness country. With the famous first line, “Well, I was born a coal miner’s daughter”, Lynn introduced a snapshot of her cherished childhood, an anthem for those who lived a miner’s life and an inspiration for all those who connected with the hard-working times portrayed in the song. “Coal Miner’s Daughter” tells the story of Loretta’s life growing up in Butcher Holler while her father worked nights in the Van Lear coalmine. Her rural roots shine through as she expresses a real appreciation for her childhood, even though the times were tough. She tells of her father’s sacrifice in the coal mines for the family, and her mother’s devotion to the household chores, the words of the Bible, and most importantly her children. Her parents struggled to make ends meet, and would Read More

The Statler Brothers, “Flowers on the Wall”

August 12, 2008 // 6 Comments

Flowers on the Wall The Statler Brothers 1965 Written by Lew DeWitt Recent Country Music Hall of Fame inductees The Statler Brothers first polished their musical stylings singing gospel music, and Johnny Cash was so impressed with the group’s work at a 1963 show in Ohio that he invited them to join his tour. Two years later, they enjoyed their most famous success with “Flowers on the Wall”, the story of a man’s loss of romance and reality, and a perfect example of the quartet‘s ability to mix music with (dark) comedy. Penned by founding member Lew Dewitt, “Flowers on the Wall” is full of desperate isolation as the abandoned narrator tells his former flame not to worry about him in the wake of her goodbye. The sarcasm reaches high level in the chorus, as he pretends that “counting flowers on the wall, that don’t bother me at all” while Read More

Johnny Cash, “Sunday Morning Coming Down”

August 10, 2008 // 7 Comments

Sunday Morning Coming Down Johnny Cash 1970 Written by Kris Kristofferson On a 1971 episode of his television show Johnny Cash and Friends, the Man in Black defied the show’s executives by staying true to the lyric of one of his signature songs rather than changing it to fit the family audience. When he reached the pinnacle moment, he reached back and sang about a Sunday morning spent “wishing, Lord, that I was stoned”. This open defiance by Cash stands in sharp contrast to the song he was singing, one that is country music‘s saddest and sorriest song about drinking and depression. A portrayal of a hungover, heartbroken man, “Sunday Morning Coming Down” was written by a then-unknown Columbia Records janitor named Kris Kristofferson. His time living in a slum tenement for $25/month sparked an idea, and he spilled out his sadness one line at a time. The angst-ridden character Read More

Classic Country Singles: Conway Twitty, “You’ve Never Been This Far Before”

August 1, 2008 // 8 Comments

You’ve Never Been This Far Before Conway Twitty 1973 Written by Conway Twitty Conway Twitty was a pop star first, as he scored a major hit in the late fifties with “It’s Only Make Believe.” The signature voice is there, though it’s heavily influenced by Elvis Presley. But even back then, a full decade before he successfully switched genres, Twitty was writing country songs. Though most of his later hits were penned by others, Twitty wrote some of his biggest early country hits, like “Hello Darlin’” and “Linda on My Mind.” Whether he was grieving over a woman who left him or cheating on the one who slept by his side, there was always a deep concern for the feelings of the woman involved in the song. This was especially apparent in his sultry hit from 1973, “You’ve Never Been This Far Before,” which was so sexually charged that some Read More

Eddy Arnold, "Make the World Go Away"

July 30, 2008 // 2 Comments

Make the World Go Away Eddy Arnold 1965 Written by Hank Cochran When Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley honored the memory of Eddy Arnold at the 2008 ACM Awards, they did so by performing his classic hit, “Make the World Go Away.” Arnold is the most successful singles artist in country music history, but even among his deep catalog of timeless hits, “Make the World Go Away” was his signature tune. What's amazing is that Arnold wasn't even the first artist to have a hit with the song. Hank Cochran had already established himself as one of Nashville's top songwriters by the time he wrote “Make the World Go Away.” It was only fitting that he would offer his stellar new song to an A-list artist, which in 1963, meant Ray Price, not Eddy Arnold. Price took the song to No. 2 on the country charts in 1963, and it Read More

Marty Robbins, "El Paso"

July 29, 2008 // 6 Comments

El Paso Marty Robbins 1959 Written by Marty Robbins There are few artists in country music history who were adept in as many diverse styles as Marty Robbins. He could nail a traditional honky-tonk number, then deliver as pure a pop melody as anyone on the hit parade. He was also a tremendously accomplished songwriter, and the song that he was most identified with came from his own pen: the epic Western tale “El Paso.” In an era when most songs were under three minutes long, “El Paso” ran nearly five. It told the tale of a gunslinging cowboy who falls for a Mexican cantina dancer Feleena, who is working in the Texas city of El Paso. One night, he guns down a rival for her affections, and flees the scene on a stolen horse. He races through the badlands of New Mexico, fleeing the authorities. But rather than stay Read More

"He Stopped Loving Her Today"

July 28, 2008 // 17 Comments

He Stopped Loving Her Today George Jones 1980 Written by Bobby Braddock & Curly Putman It's been called the greatest country single of all time, sung by the genre's greatest vocalist. But while it was an enormous hit, becoming George Jones' biggest record and signature song, it was surrounded by doubts before its release. The song was about a man who carried a flame for a woman who had left him behind, vowing, “I'll love you 'til I die.” Told from the point of view of the man's friend, the various ways he holds on to her memory are documented. Just before the chorus, it seems like the lovesick fool has finally turned it around, as his friend recounts, “I went to see him just today. Oh, but I didn't see no tears. All dressed up to go away. First time I'd seen him smile in years.” Then the chorus Read More

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