Every No. 1 Country Single of the Eighties: T.G. Sheppard, “Party Time”

“Party Time”

T.G. Sheppard

Written by Bruce Channel

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

September 11, 1981


#1 (1 week)

October 10, 1981

“Party Time” is another aggressively mediocre, effortlessly loathsome chart topper from T.G. Sheppard.

It spotlights everything that his contemporaries did better than him, making him pale in comparison to the countrypolitan efforts from Mickey Gilley, the aching heartbreak numbers from John Conlee, and the “let me drink to forget her” honky tonk anthems from Merle Haggard and George Jones.

But there he is in the second verse, standing out in the only way T.G. Sheppard can outshine his peers: by being a shameless louse who assumes everyone else is as trashy as him.

You know it wasn’t all my faultYou cheated too but you were never caughtYour friends lied all along

The only net positive I’m getting out of delving into his catalog is the realization that even if country radio fully supports marginally talented and morally bankrupt artists, their stain on the genre can be completely forgotten in time.

May our children and grandchildren look back in forty years and wonder, “Who the hell was Morgan Wallen?”

“Party Time” gets a D.

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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  1. I have been waiting for others to pile on what has become a tasteless and tawdry legacy for Mr. Sheppard.

    I have always thought this song was his creative high water mark. The song’s staying power, however, is more scummy stain than legacy, and is achieved only after a storm surge of self-aggrandizing smut after repeatedly cannon-balling into the shallow end of the country music pool; Sheppard made the smallest of creative waves.

    Had he been able to parlay his late seventies success into something more significant Sheppard might be mentioned in the same breath as Mickey Gilley today, but, apparently, taste does matter; Gilley is a legend while Sheppard is a joke.

    Unfortunately, we still have to look forward to his sleazy teenage fantasies of losing his virginity to a wife of an American soldier at war in Europe.

    In Sheppard’s world, the women of the mid-’40s were not working to serve the war effort; they simply had nothing to do other than wait around to seduce randy, teenaged grocery store delivery boys, Rosie the Riveter be damned.

    Will our goatish opportunist be up for the low-life challenge?

  2. I actually like this song. It’s not stunning or anything, but TG sounds defeated and exhausted in a good way, conveying the sarcasm behind saying “it’s party time”. While that one line is far from shocking, in the context of the song I see it as denial of the circumstances more than anything.

    Wow, I feel icky defending TG lol. But this is one of two songs of his I actually like.

  3. For all my finger wagging, I don’t want to pretend I am above enjoying T.G. Sheppard’s music. As much as I have torn Sheppard’s output apart, his songs are inextricably a part of my country music education. As a kid, I loved singing along to all of his biggest hits on the radio. and I still do as an adult. The songs anchored in my still growing bones when I was a song sponge. Radio played them and I loved ’em every one.

    I have, however, seen behind the curtain and now distinguish nostalgic pleasure from creative significance. I can also hold him accountable for his charmless and crude artistic choices within a wider cultural context.

    I have grown up while his music has not.

    I agree with CJ that he did effectively mine the exhausted melancholy of “Party Time.” Unfortunately, he could not avoid indulging his inner scumbag with the line Kevin highlighted, seemingly written just for him. He just had to leave his mark..

    I can’t help but think Dallas Wayne drew some inspiration from this song when he wrote “Happy Hour” for his 2001 Hightone Records album “Here I am in Dallas.”

    I find it telling that I never once felt compelled to deep dive into Sheppard’s catalog the way I have with other ’80’s stars like John Conlee, Mickey Gilley, and Earl Thomas Conley.

    There is little reason to carry his music forward; it belongs in the past.

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