Every No. 1 Country Single of the Eighties: Razzy Bailey, “I Keep Coming Back”/”True Life Country Music”

“I Keep Coming Back”

Razzy Bailey

Written by Jim Hurt, Larry Keith, and Johnny Slate

“True Life Country Music”

Written by Sam Lorber, Danny Morrison, and Jeff Silbar


#1 (1 week)

February 7, 1981

Razzy Bailey followed “Loving Up a Storm” with the second of five consecutive 45s to reach No. 1.  RCA’s strategy of double-sided singles would be most beneficial for Bailey, even if these 2-sided hits aren’t of the same caliber as those by Ronnie Milsap and Dolly Parton.

“I Keep Coming Back” is a solid honky tonk weeper, very much in the groove of the piano-driven soul country that Milsap, Mickey Gilley, and Charlie Rich had so much success with.  Bailey is a decent enough singer, and he acquits himself nicely on the track, but it does leave you wondering how much better it would’ve been if it had been delivered by one of those A-listers instead.

“True Life Country Music” works better because it’s a midtempo number that doesn’t require nuance from its vocalist.  It’s a tidy little history of country music, as Bailey places himself at the scene of various country songs throughout history, like the pawn shop in “Golden Ring” and the poker table in “The Gambler.”  Some of the references aren’t consistent with the lyrics that inspired them, but who cares about that?  Bailey’s B-list status makes this song a better fit for him than it would be for a more significant artist, as it’s from the perspective of the person who looks up to those legends and wants to follow in their footsteps.

“I Keep Coming Back” gets a B. 

“True Life Country Music” gets a B+.

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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Next: Mel Tillis, “Southern Rains”


  1. I had never heard of Razzy Bailey before this feature. He seems like a pretty good vocalist.

    Question: When these 2-sided #1’s were at radio, would both songs get significant airplay? Or was it mostly the A-side that got airplay?

    • Mostly the A-sides, but not always. Billboard changed the rules by the time we get to his last double sided hit, so there is this weird technicality with that one. Each 45 made it to no. 1, but because Billboard stopped allowing double sided hits, and because radio started playing the other A-side more, he had one side peak at No. 8, and then the other side replace it on the chart and go to No. 1.

      Just trying to explain that in this comment makes me nervous for how difficult it will be to explain it in the actual entry for that hit!

  2. Thanks for the explanation Kevin! In this case it seems like the B-side (“True Life Country Music”) is more radio-friendly, but I guess that just shows how much radio has changed over the years.

  3. …the commodores influence reached really far, it sounds. this would be a real quiz show whammy in one of those “music genres” guessing sections.

  4. Razzy was a pretty decent vocalist, but for me his best recordings came after he was dropped by RCA. Apparently, Bailey’s recordings didn’t sell all that well despite the top hits. From RCA he went to MCA where he released two excellent albums (Cut From A Different Stone and Arrival) that contained no big hits.

  5. Bailey was the kind of comfortable and competent radio presence that makes think all the hours spent listening to K-102 FM as a kid was worth it.

    Somehow, I never considered it before, but I have fallen victim to the power of suggestion; Charlie Rich and Billy Sherrill would have made “I Keep Coming Back For More” into a smouldering countrypolitan piano ballad.

    I literally could NOT listen to this song anymore without hearing Rich’s voice in my head. I had to make sure he hadn’t actually recorded the song at some point.

    Rich was such a massive cross-over success in the late 70’s that it shouldn’t surprise that his sound would be imitated in the early 80’s.

    What I’d did discover is there is song with the same title performed by soul artist Tyrone Davis from 1970 which had to have influenced the writers of this song.

    As for “True Life Country Music,” it works for me in ways such song title name-dropping list songs seldom do. It sounds sweetly reverential and Bailey sounds sincerely inspired by the performances he mentions.

    Bailey is, at least temporarily, proving to be the blessing to TG sheppard’s curse.

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