Tag Archives: Porter Wagoner

Retro Single Review: Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton, “The Right Combination”

1971 | Peak: #14

The song itself is fairly generic, typical of the Wagoner/Parton love songs that never sound quite as believable as their other songs.

But this one works better because Parton is fully flowering as a vocalist.  Her vocal trills sound so heartfelt that they add that dose of genuine passion that earlier duets were lacking.

Written by Porter Wagoner

Grade: B+

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Previous: Comin’ For to Carry Me Home

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Retro Single Review: Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton, “Better Move It On Home”

1971 | Peak: #7

A few too many elements in the mix here.

The arrangement is like “Joshua” with a horn section.  It overwhelms the humorous dialogue.

It doesn’t help that they don’t sound like they’re in on the joke.  They go for deadpan but fall short, and end up sounding a bit too serious in the end.

Written by Ray Griff

Grade: C

 

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Retro Single Review: Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton, “Daddy Was an Old Time Preacher Man”

1970 | Peak: #40

It’s a shame that radio didn’t embrace this one.

Parton’s sympathetic lyrical portrait of a southern preacher deftly weaves classic gospel songs into its lyrics.   There was an old-timey quality to her duets with Wagoner anyway, so the subject matter lends itself quite well to the old-fashioned production.

By now, we’re at the point where Parton’s gift as a writer has transcended any form of normalcy.

Written by Dolly Parton

Grade: B+

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Retro Single Review: Dolly Parton, “Mule Skinner Blues (Blue Yodel No. 8)”

1970 | Peak: #3

This yodel-laden cover of an early country music standard gave Parton her highest charting single to date, with or without Porter.

She sings the fire out of it, and it’s easy to imagine it standing out sharply from everything else on the radio in 1970.

But as the new single included on a compilation of her best singles and album tracks to date, it sounds trite.  That’s the inevitable result of writing “My Blue Ridge Mountain Boy”, “Just Because I’m a Woman”, and “Down From Dover.”

Written by Jimmie Rodgers and George Vaughn

Grade: B

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Retro Single Review: Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton, “Tomorrow is Forever”

1970 | Peak: #9

Another one of their matronly love songs.

“Tomorrow is Forever” has a few glorious moments in the chorus, where the melody swills like the best early Tammy Wynette records, but the rest of the record goes on forever.

Written by Dolly Parton

Grade: C

 

 

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Retro Single Review: Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton, “Just Someone I Used to Know”

1969 | Peak: #5

Originally a hit for George Jones as “A Girl I Used to Know”,  their effective cover gave Porter & Dolly their second top five hit.

The harmonies are beautiful, and the steel guitar works wonders.  You can hear Parton growing as a vocalist during the moments that Wagoner gets out of the way, and when Parton takes a back seat, it’s clear that Wagoner is in his singing prime.

The song’s become a standard, so it feels odd to nitpick over its flaws.  But I have to say that what holds this record back is the questionable horn section. Thankfully, they only disrupt the song at its opening and its closing.

Written by Jack Clement

Grade: A-

Listen: Just Someone I Used to Know

 

 

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Retro Single Review: Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton, “Always, Always”

1969 | Peak: #11

Far too polite and matronly to make for an interesting country record.

“Always, Always” plays more like an Episcopalian church hymn, with two singers pledging their love so antiseptically that they might as well be promising to pick up milk and eggs on the way home from work.

Written by Joyce McCord

Grade: C-

Listen: Always, Always

 

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Retro Single Review: Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton, “Yours Love”

1969 | Peak: #9

Perhaps the least satisfying Wagoner & Parton singles are the ones that fall in the “let’s pledge our true love” category.

This shouldn’t be a surprise.  Stop and think about the very best solo songs by Parton and by Wagoner.  How many of them are sweet love songs?

Nah, we’d all rather hear them hurtin’, bickerin’, losin’, and leavin’.   Or even better, spinning a good third person yarn about characters even more outsized in personality than these two singers.

So this isn’t a bad song, but it simply doesn’t play to their strengths.

Written by Harlan Howard

Grade: B-

Listen: Yours Love

 

 

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Retro Single Review: Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton, “Jeannie’s Afraid of the Dark”

1968 | Peak: #51

“I write a lot of sad songs.  Some of them are just plum pitiful.” – Dolly Parton

The B-side of Porter & Dolly’s two-sided hit only made it to #51, but Wagoner noted many times that it was the most requested song of theirs when they were out on the road.

It’s the first charting hit of theirs that falls into the maudlin tragedies category, a type of song that they were known for as solo artists, too.

As maudlin goes, this falls somewhere on the spectrum between the elegance of  “Down From Dover”  to the mind-boggingly mawkish “Me and Little Andy”, if we use Parton’s work to measure it against.  If we go the Wagoner route, it’s somewhere between “The Carroll County Accident” and “The Rubber Room.” In both cases, it’s a heck of a lot closer to the latter extreme.

For Wagoner & Parton together, however, this tale of a young girl who is afraid of the dark is only subtle when measured against the jawdroppingly tasteless “I Get Lonesome By Myself” and “The Party.”

Here’s the premise:  Jeannie is afraid of the dark.  She sleeps with mommy and daddy and has a panic attack when she goes to the cemetery to place flowers on old family graves, knowing that it’s awfully dark down there.

Connoisseurs of country songs like this know there’s only one logical way for this song to end.  She triumphs over her fears and grows into a confident young woman.  She gets killed off in the third act and the parents place an eternal flame on her grave.

It’s a wonder to behold.

Written by Dolly Parton

Grade: C

Listen: Jeannie’s Afraid of the Dark

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Retro Single Review: Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton, “We’ll Get Ahead Someday”

1968 | Peak : #5

Porter & Dolly scored a double-sided hit single in 1968, with both sides establishing a subgenre within their catalog.

The A-side, “We’ll Get Ahead Someday”, became their first top five hit. It’s the first single of theirs that casts them as the playfully quarreling husband and wife.

It’s not quite as charming as “Two Sides to Every Story”, which appeared on their debut album, because the humor’s a bit too subtle.   Perhaps it’s too grounded in reality, as the duo of faults presented – she’s spending too much at the store and he’s spending too much at the bar – are delivered a little too straight for the lyric’s own good.

Their live performances of the song  capture the playfulness of the song more effectively.

Written by Mack Magaha

Grade: B

Listen: We’ll Get Ahead Someday

 

 

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