Every No. 1 Country Single of the Eighties: T.G. Sheppard, “I’ll Be Coming Back For More”

“I’ll Be Coming Back For More”

T.G. Sheppard

Written by Curly Putman and Sterling Whipple

Billboard

#1 (2 weeks)

January 26 – February 2, 1980

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

February 8, 1980

There are so many classic records that went to No. 1 in 1980.   This isn’t one of them.

I’ll cop to being not overly familiar with the T.G. Sheppard catalog.  I know some of the biggest hits (“I Loved ‘Em Every One,” “Devil in the Bottle”), but as his name popped up over and over again while compiling the guiding document for this feature, he rivaled Eddy Raven and Earl Thomas Conley for the title of “country artist with the most No. 1 hits that I’ve never heard in my life.”

I’m also coming at this from my generational perspective.  Most of the country music I know from this era can be traced back to what my parents listened to in the car (John Conlee, Lee Greenwood, Conway Twitty, etc.) or artists that I sought out myself because of their own nineties work (Willie Nelson, Reba McEntire, Emmylou Harris) or their profound influence on my favorite artists of that time (Linda Ronstadt, Merle Haggard, George Jones.)

Because I grew up with Conway Twitty, I immediately recognized what T.G. Sheppard was going for with “I’ll Be Coming Back For More.”  Trying to make a seductive record is difficult enough already.  Adding a cheating element makes it a longer reach.  Opening the song in spoken word?  You’re really swinging for the fences.

This isn’t just a swing and a miss.  “I’ll Be Coming Back For More” is so lecherous and sleazy that it’s enough to get the game called off.  The season ended early.  The franchise sold off.

Y’all, the opening line – spoken word! – is “I’ve been with girls and I’ve been with women.”  I want to say it gets better from there.  It does not.

He continues: “You weren’t the first. You probably won’t be the last. But after last night’s lovin’, I’ll bet my soul you’re the best.”

See, he has slept with a lot of women, and he’s planning on sleeping with more, but he wants more of this woman soon:

You put your lips where they belongYou brought the love for my secret dreamsI’ve been held but never touchedYou touch me now, I’ll never be the same

This could’ve stopped there, and it would still be gross and uncomfortable to listen to, but hey, voyeurism is a thing some people are in to, and no record can appeal to every audience.  But this sinks lower with the reveal that the man who has slept with this woman, plenty of women (and girls!) before her, and plans to sleep with many more is committing an act of betrayal by sleeping around at all:

I know people stand between usSomeone loves me, someone loves youBut baby, now I’ve tasted heavenThere’s nothin’ else that I can do
We’re going to have some records coming up from Conway Twitty that should come with a Parental Warning label, and they’re some of the best records of the decade.  “I’ll Be Coming Back For More” throws down a very different gauntlet only two entries into this series.  Is this the worst record of the decade, or can the bar truly go lower than this?
“I’ll Be Coming Back For More” gets an F.

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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11 Comments

  1. Sheppard’s songs were among the first I learned by rote just listening to the radio. I didn’t realize how sleazy and condescending so many of those songs were until I was much older. I distinctly remember loving “War is Hell (on the Homefront Too) as an eight year old in 1982. It has the distinctly awful couplet, ” All the men were off at war/ and the women had nothing to do” which apparently led them to screwing 16 year-old grocery delivery boys. In hindsight, Sheppard is such a distasteful Lothario.

    That this particular song featured here is never played on “Willie’s Roadhouse” is indicative just how out of time his attitude towards women in his songs are today. I am now thinking of “I Loved ‘Em Everyone.” Geeesh!

    It is interesting to consider later male pop-country stars as corollary to Shepherd’s influence, an artist with significant chart success and popularity in their day who has effectively fallen out of favour, and their output has aged poorly. Trace Adkins and Blake Shelton immediately come to my mind.

    That being said, Sheppard is host of the SiriusXM Prime Country “The T.G. Sheppard Show.”

    This generation of star is growing into the elder-statesman role for country music.

    All this to say, this song earns its failing mark with distasteful dishonor.

  2. T.G. Sheppard’s career started off in well with his first two singles “Devil In the Bottle” and “Trying To beat the Morning Home” both reaching the top of the charts on the Motown affiliate label Melodyland. Additional releases during the 1970s were mostly good, but by the “I’ll Be Coming Back For More” came along, the quality of his material had slipped to the lecherous sleaze decried here. Too bad, because I really enjoyed his first few albums

  3. The only TG Sheppard song from the 80s I like is Party Time. Otherwise, I only go back to his 70s work. Like Doug Stone, I’d argue TG’s artistry peak was in his debut single.

  4. Hoo-boy. I look forward to the No. 1 Country Hits of the ’70s and the review of Johnny Duncan’s “Thinkin’ of a Rendezvous”!

    I always thought this song was pretty sleazy as well. Never been that much of a TGS fan, honestly.

    1
    • It’s very interesting to me how many of the best female artists of the nineties took a hard pass at performing (or even listening to) country music during this era. Where would a Patty Loveless or a Pam Tillis even fit within this landscape?

      I read the lyrics for “Thinkin’ of a Rendezvous” and couldn’t even click on the video. At least when I do cover it, it will be immediately followed by Emmylou Harris.

      1
    • That one should be interesting! I’m a longtime fan of Janie Fricke who got into Johnny through her duets, more than many who I’m sure had the opposite direction of finding Janie through Johnny but that’s one of my favourites of theirs. Still, a very interesting record looked at through modern eyes. Johnny had a lot of songs of that nature, going by the compilation of his I have on CD, actually.

      • Love Janie Fricke as well, and I quite enjoy much of Johnny’s hit singles. One of my personal favorites is “It Couldn’t Have Been Any Better,” along with “Stranger.”

        1
        • @Jamie Janie was one of my first favourites in country music of ‘my own’ as in those that I didn’t discover through my father but from my own listening. I adore both those duets of theirs, too. I know “It Couldn’t Have Been Any Better” was a #1 too, looking forward to seeing that one covered.

  5. My first exposure to T.G. was probably “Motels And Memories,” one of his earlier 70’s hits that was on one of my parents’ country mix cassette tapes that I would sometimes play in the car when I was little.

    His 1987 hit, “You’re My First Lady,” was also still getting tons of recurrent airplay on one of our stations in early 1991, and it wound up on a good few of the earliest tapes I recorded from the radio during that time. I was revisiting one of those tapes around the Spring of 1999, and that song is another one that got me further interested in 80’s country during the late 90’s. I still have a very soft spot for that song to this day, and it’s actually one of my most favorites of his.

    Shortly after that, my parents and I heard “Slow Burn” on the Sunday Night Archives while we were in Maryland on the way back home from Pennsylvania. The Sunday Night Archives was the classic country program featured on Baltomore’s WPOC country station that aired (of course) on Sunday Nights, and back in 1999 and 2000, it was pretty heavy on 80’s country, with other songs I enjoyed hearing on it being Ronnie McDowell’s “You’re Gonna Ruin My Bad Reputation” and Johnny Lee’s “You Could’ve Heard A Heart Break.”

    As for “I’ll Be Coming Back For More,” it’s one I discovered fairly recently when I was going down that late 70’s and 80’s pop country rabbit hole about 5 years ago. As I’ve mentioned on multiple occasions, I’m usually one who notices the sound and style of a song long before I pay close attention to any of the lyrics. The contemporary country songs from this period are such a time capsule, and since this was a time before my existence, I just can’t help but be fascinated with the trends and styles of the period and pay more attention to what’s going on sonically. In other words, the sleaziness of the lyrics completely flew over my head each time I listened to this song, and I was instead digging the almost disco like groove, the string heavy arrangement, the melody, and T.G.’s crooning. This review has definitely made me see the song in a different light, though I admit it’s still enjoyable for me as long as I don’t pay attention to the lyrics. At least for me, it’s sonically much more pleasing than bro-country/metro-bro country.

    It’s gonna be pretty interesting comparing all of these seductive male country records to Conway’s, which as you mentioned, is likely what most of them were aiming to be like.

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