Every No. 1 Country Single of the Eighties: Don Williams, “Good Ole Boys Like Me”

“Good Ole Boys Like Me”

Don Williams

Written by Bob McDill

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

May 16, 1980

Bob McDill’s ability to develop sharply drawn characters in his songs matches up perfectly with the sophistication of Don Williams as an interpreter of songs.

“Good Ole Boys Like Me” is so much more interesting and nuanced than your standard “I’m proud to be a country boy” anthems.  It wrestles with the complicated legacy of the American south, and how we are a product of our roots no matter how far we travel away from them.  The imperfections of our parents brush up against our powerful memories of the love and security that they provided.

When I was a kid Uncle Remus he put me to bedWith a picture of Stonewall Jackson above my head
Then daddy came in to kiss his little man
With gin on his breath and a Bible in his hand
He talked about honor and things I should knowThen he staggered a little as he went out the door

Rejecting those imperfections without rejecting them is a difficult needle to thread, and “Good Ole Boys Like Me” doesn’t really attempt to do so.  Its message is: this is who they were, so this is who I am.   “I guess we’re all gonna be what we’re gonna be,” Williams sings.  “So what do you do with good ole boys like me?”

The next Don Williams single is the biggest hit of his career and an undeniable classic in its own right.  This one deserves the same consideration and accolades.

“Good Ole Boys Like Me” gets an A.

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

Previous: Merle Haggard, “The Way I Am” |

Next: Kenny Rogers & Kim Carnes, “Don’t Fall in Love With a Dreamer”

 

7 Comments

  1. I love this song so much and love Don Williams. Nothing more to say about it.

    One thing of note is this is the second album cover in a row with the singer holding a cigarette. Times have changed!

    1
  2. This song transcends music, literature, culture, and generations. It’s a masterclass in storytelling and mercy.

    This song introduced a kid from Minnesota to Stonewall Jackson, Tennessee Williams, Uncle Remus, and what the men on the six o’clock news can represent.

    It is firmly in the conversation for the best country song of all time.

    A softer, unapologetically southern wind has never blown.

    1
  3. It should also not be lost to history that the man known as the Gentle Giant had fans not only on the other side of the musical fence, but the other side of The Pond as well. Both Eric Clapton and The Who’s Pete Townshend counted themselves fans.

    1
  4. Another masterpiece written by the great Bob McDill. He was from my neck of the woods in Beaumont TX and wrote songs for Don, Crystal Gayle, Keith Whitley, and countless others.

    This was a favorite of mine. For years, I thought the lyric was “back in Tennessee” and then learned it was “Hank and Tennessee”. Just an amazing song. And of course, I always loved Don Williams.

    1
  5. I’m loving this 80s series even more than the 90s one because it’s introducing me to a lot of great songs that came out before I was born. Case in point: this one. I listen to a classic country radio station and occasionally they’ll play Don Williams (Hope This Day Is Good, I Believe in You) but I’ve never heard this one before, and I love it. Really a masterpiece.

    1
  6. An excellent song and performance. It is very difficult for me to pick a favorite Don Williams song because he was so consistently good. I think maybe “We Should Be Together” or “Amanda” would be my favorites but tomorrow I might pick out different tunes – even Don’s album tracks usually are very good

    1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.