Written by Robert Altman and Danny Darst
#1 (1 week)
December 17, 1983
Can we just drop a copy of this vocal performance off at the Country Music Hall of Fame and ask them to induct John Anderson by universal acclamation?
“Black Sheep” is a tour de force, with a lyric as sharp as it is wordy. If you saw them on paper, you’d say that there’s no way that Anderson could’ve slipped all his signature curlicues while also clearly communication all of those words.
Oh, but he did. His precision never wavers as he gives the loosest of performances. He’s euphoric as he runs down the accomplishments of all his high achieving family members while he revels in his black sheep status. Of course, he knows that he’s carrying on the best part of his father’s legacy by loving his wife and children, bank account be damned:
I drive me a big ol’ semi truck, I’m makin’ payments on a two room shackMy wife, she waits on tables and at night she rubs my back And I tell her what my papa said to my mama when he got off a highball train Wake me up early, be good to my dogs and teach my children to pray I’m sayin’, woman, wake me up early, be good to my dogs And teach my children to pray
Anderson’s rarely sounded better on record, and it’s the best of his many eighties classics. While this is his final No. 1 single of the decade, he came back with a vengeance in the early nineties.
“Black Sheep” gets an A.