Written by Sammy Johns
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
May 13, 1983
#1 (1 week)
May 21, 1983
We haven’t seen John Conlee since “Friday Night Blues” went to No. 1 in 1980, but he released several classic singles in between that chart topper and “Common Man,” including “She Can’t Say That Anymore,” “Miss Emily’s Picture,” “Busted,” and “I Don’t Remember Loving You.”
“Busted” had been the highest-charting single from the Busted album until MCA took the rare step of releasing a fourth single from an album. It finally brought one of the era’s strongest artists back to the top, and it’s just as much of a classic as the songs listed above.
In fact, it would have that status even if the only line worthy of note was “I’d rather chug-a-lug a mug of Budweiser Beer than sip a crystal glass of wine,” but the entire song has a balance of clever wordplay and working class references. The basic plotline is a venerable one for country songs: an uptown girl wants to hook up with a downtown boy, and they’ve got to figure out which world to live in.
Conlee is the Platonic ideal of a common man, so he’s the perfect singer for this composition. He’s just super uncomfortable being around privilege and it’s a world he doesn’t aspire to fit into.
We don’t find out what happens with this couple in the end, but I’d like to think she has her first Big Mac and fries and decides to leave her high living world behind.
“Common Man” gets an A.