The Oak Ridge Boys
Written by Wood Newton, Adele Tyler, and Dan Tyler
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
March 12, 1982
#1 (1 week)
April 3, 1982
What do you do to follow up the best selling 45 in country music history?
You find another singalong song to launch your next album, that’s what.
“Bobbie Sue” is as derivative of “Elvira” as Tammy Wynette’s “Singing My Song” was of “Stand By Your Man.” It’s a clear attempt to recapture lightning in a bottle.
It mostly works, too. The lyrics had the potential to be creepy, given the focus on Bobbie Sue’s age, but the protagonist is adamant that they’re not doing anything until their wedding night, which might come to pass without the approval of Bobbie Sue’s parents.
I can’t help but think of it as an unofficial prequel to “Leavin’ Louisiana in the Broad Daylight.” The lovey-dovey calm before the storm. Dad doesn’t even know to get his shotgun yet.
I love the use of horns on this record and how amped up the production is compared to “Elvira.” Like most blockbuster sequels, it’s “Bigger! Faster! More!”
And also like most blockbuster originals, it’s not quite as good as the first entry but hits enough of the same beats to make it an enjoyable retread.
“Bobbie Sue” gets a B+.
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I always remember my uncle maintaining this song was a cheap imitation of the Beach Boys’ “Barbara Ann.” Because of that, he considered the Oak Ridge Boys nothing but thieving hacks. Beyond the sharing the obvious device of stuttering the woman’s name, I never heard much of a sonic, or narrative, similarity between the two songs. For better or worse, the Oak Ridge Boys are simply not the Beach Boys.
I do remember purchasing this album on 8-track cassette because my brother had just been gifted a GE Loudmouth Portable 8 Track Player & AM/FM Radio. I also remember getting this album as my share of our initial family order of 12 cassettes for a penny. I had to share the order with my mom, dad, brother and sister.
I think this song really plays to the Oaks strengths as entertainers and showmen. Richard Sterban’s bass lines rumble and stand out again. I love the horns, The song is just fun.
As evidence of how massive a hit “Elvira” was, this eponymous album was loaded with cuts from both Nashville’s top songwriters and some significant up and comers. Kieran Kane was in the songwriting credits for “Doctor’s Orders.” Kix Brooks had a cowrite for “Old Kentucky Song.” Sonny Throckmorton wrote “I Wish You Could Have Turned My Head (And Left my Heart Alone).” Jimbeau Hinson, who wrote “Fancy Free”, penned “Until You.” The first version I ever heard of Robbie Robertson’s “Up on Cripple Creek” was by the once included here. Bobby Braddock wrote “Would They Love Him Down in Shreveport.”
The Oaks were hot!