First recorded by Billy Brown (1959).
Hit versions by Jim Reeves (US #2/C&W #1/R&B #13/UK #12/CAN #1/AUS #1/NOR #1 1959), Solomon Burke (US #51/R&B #17 1964).
Also recorded by Elvis Presley (1976).
From the wiki: “‘He’ll Have to Go’ was written by Joe Allison and Audrey Allison.
“Joe first worked in the early 1940s as a commercial artist before embarking on a career in the entertainment industry, first as a disc jockey on a Paris, Texas radio station. In 1945, after a few years on radio, Allison took a job as the emcee for the North American tour of country music singing star Tex Ritter. While working on tour, he offered Ritter a song he had written called ‘When You Leave, Don’t Slam the Door’, which the singer turned into a #1 hit on the Country music charts. This success ultimately led to Allison moving to a radio station in Nashville, Tennessee where he remained until accepting an offer from a radio station in Pasadena, California.
“In 1959, Joe and Audrey co-wrote their most famous song, ‘He’ll Have to Go’, which was initially recorded by Billy Brown. A subsequent version by Jim Reeves become a platinum record, and the song would be recorded successfully by more than one hundred other artists including Elvis Presley, Bing Crosby, Tom Jones, Eddy Arnold, and even big band leader Guy Lombardo. That same year, Allison was hired by Liberty Records to create their Country music department. It was at Liberty that Joe signed Willie Nelson to his first recording contract.
Based on “Crescent City Blues” by Beverly Mahr (1953).
Hit versions by Johnny Cash (C&W #4 1956), Johnny Cash (US #32/C&W #1/CAN #1 1968).
From the wiki: “Although ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ is still widely thought to have been a Johnny Cash original, he based its melody and many of the lyrics on Gordon Jenkins’s ‘Crescent City Blues’ (which itself borrowed heavily from the 1930s instrumental ‘Crescent City Blues’ by Little Brother Montgomery) from Jenkins’ 1953 Seven Dreams concept album. Jenkins was not credited on the original ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ release. But, by the early 1970s, after the song had become popular, Cash paid Jenkins a settlement of approximately US$75,000 following a lawsuit.
“Cash heard ‘Crescent City Blues’ during his stint with the U.S. Air Force in Germany. He said ‘At the time, I really had no idea I would be a professional recording artist; I wasn’t trying to rip anybody off.’ One very distinct and memorable lyric of ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ that Cash can claim as being wholly original is the line ‘But I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die’. Cash later recalled: ‘I sat with my pen in my hand, trying to think up the worst reason a person could have for killing another person, and that’s what came to mind.’
First recorded (as “The Last Thing I Needed (The First Thing This Morning)”) by Bill & Bonnie Hearne (1976).
Hit version by Willie Nelson (C&W #2/CAN #1 1982).
Also recorded by Lost Gonzo Band (1976), Gary P. Nunn (1984).
From the wiki: “‘Last Thing I Needed First Thing This Morning” was written by Gary P. Nunn (‘London Homesick Blues’ aka Austin City Limits theme song) and Donna Farar, and was first recorded in 1976 by then-Austin, TX, musicians Bill & Bonnie Hearne. Willie Nelson recorded the song in 1982 for his album Always On My Mind. ‘Last Thing I Needed …’ was released as the third single from the album, and peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart and #1 on the RPM Country Tracks chart in Canada.
First recorded (as “I Wanna Go Home”) by Billy Grammar (C&W #18 1962).
Other hit versions by Bobby Bare (US #16/C&W #4/MOR #4 1963), Tom Jones (US #27/UK #8/IRE #4 1967).
Also recorded by Arthur Alexander (1965), co-writer Mel Tillis (1968), George Jones (2005).
From the wiki: “‘Detroit City’, a ‘citybilly’ lament about the struggles and loneliness of a rural Southerner migrating to industrial Detroit, was written by Danny Dill and Mel Tillis. It was first offered to singer George Jones, who turned it down (but who would later record it in 2005 for his album Hits I Missed … and One I Didn’t), and so was first recorded and made famous (as ‘I Wanna Go Home’) by Billy Grammer in 1962.
“In 1963, country singer Bobby Bare covered the song, releasing it as ‘Detroit City’, scoring a Top-5 hit on both the Country and MOR music charts, and making it the title track from Bare’s debut album ‘Detroit City’ and Other Hits. It would win for Bare a Grammy award for the Best Country & Western Recording in 1963.
First recorded by The Everly Brothers (US #8 1960).
Other hit versions by Johnny Young & Kompany (AUS #3 1967), Linda Ronstadt (US #2/C&W #1/CAN #1 1975).
Also recorded by John Denver (1966, released 2011), The Bunch (1972), Dave Edmunds & Keith Moon (1974), Tanya Tucker & Phil Everly (1975), Rockpile (1980), John Fogerty & Bruce Springsteen (2009).
From the wiki: “‘When Will I Be Loved’ was written by Phil Everly of the Everly Brothers, who had a US Top-10 hit with it in the summer of 1960. The track was recorded (with Chet Atkins also on guitar) while the duo were contracted to Cadence Records; by 1960 they had moved to Warner Brothers and recording songs in a more mainstream pop/rock style than previously. The belated release by Cadence of ‘When Will I Be Loved’ provided the Everly Brothers with a final rockabilly-style hit.
First recorded by Linda Ronstadt (1989).
Hit album version by Glen Campbell (2017).
Also recorded by Jimmy Webb (1993).
From the wiki: “‘Adiós’ was written by hit songwriter Jimmy Webb (‘Up, Up and Away‘,’By the Time I Get to Phoenix‘), and was first recorded by Linda Ronstadt in 1989 for her album Cry Like a Rainstorm, Howl Like the Wind. Webb recorded his own arrangement in 1993 for his album Suspending Disbelief.
“The song became more widely, and poignantly, known, in 2017 when Glen Campbell’s recording was released two months before his death in August, 2017, and also used as the title song of his final album, Adiós. Featuring twelve songs Campbell had long loved but never recorded, the album was made with the help of producer and longtime collaborator Carl Jackson. Singers Willie Nelson, Vince Gill and Campbell’s children Ashley, Shannon and Cal also make guest appearances.
Written and first recorded by Bill Monroe & His Blue Grass Boys (1950).
Also recorded by Manassas (1971, released 2009), Goose Creek Symphony (1971), Michael Nesmith (1973), Phish (1997)
Hit versions by Porter Wagoner (C&W #14 1956), Ricky Skaggs (C&W #1/CAN #1 1984).
From the wiki: “James Pendleton Vandiver was a Kentucky fiddler, born there shortly after the American Civil War. He was uncle to Bluegrass legend Bill Monroe, who immortalized him in a song, ‘Uncle Pen’, first recording in 1950.
“Monroe’s parents had both died by the time he was 16, and he lived part of the time with his Uncle Pen. Monroe used to hear his uncle playing fiddle on the hilltop where he lived, while Monroe put away his mules at night. He later said that Vandiver was ‘the fellow that I learned how to play from.’ Bill Monroe’s biographer, Richard D. Smith writes, ‘Pen gave Bill more: a repertoire of tunes that sank into Bill’s aurally-trained memory and a sense of rhythm that seeped into his bones. Sometimes Bill played guitar behind his uncle, sometimes the mandolin.’
First recorded (as “Lonesome Fiddle Blues”) by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (1972).
Hit version by The Charlie Daniels Band (US #3/C&W #1 1979).
Also recorded by Old and in the The Way (recorded 1973, released 1975), Vassar Clements (1975).
From the wiki: “‘The Devil Went Down to Georgia’ was written by the Charlie Daniels Band, and was based on a song Bluegrass fiddler Vassar Clements originally wrote, an octave lower, titled ‘Lonesome Fiddle Blues’ that Clements first recorded in 1972 with The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band for the album Will The Circle Be Unbroken.
“In 1973, Clements joined and toured with the Bluegrass supergroup Old and in the Way with Jerry Garcia, David Grisman, and Peter Rowan. The group recorded ‘Lonesome Fiddle Blues’ in 1973 but it would not be released until February 1975. Clements also recorded a version in 1975 for his self-titled solo album on which Charlie Daniels played guitar.”
First recorded by Alvino Rey & His Orchestra (US #1 Feb 1942).
Also performed by Gene Autry (1942).
Other hit versions by Ted Weems & His Orchestra with Perry Como (US #23 Feb 1942), Bing Crosby with Woody Herman & His Woodchoppers (US #3 March 1942), Horace Heidt & His Musical Knights (US #7 March 1942), The Merry Macs (US #11 March 1942), Duane Eddy (US #78/UK #19 1962).
Also recorded by Gene Autry (1944), Bob Wills (1955), Ray Charles (1960).
From the wiki: “‘Deep in the Heart of Texas’ was written by June Hershey with music by Don Swander, with a title taken from a movie Western of the same name starring Tex Ritter. (The song was not performed in that particular movie, but would make an appearance in the Western movie Heart of the Rio Grande in 1942, sung by movie cowboy Gene Autry.) The first recording was by Alvino Rey on November 21, 1941 that first charted in early 1942. It spent five weeks at #1 on the Hit Parade. The song was covered by Ted Weems & His Orchestra (with Perry Como on vocals) on December 9, 1941 for Decca Records, also released in early 1942 as the flip-side to ‘Ollie Ollie Out’s in Free’.
“Other charting covers in 1942 were recorded by Bing Crosby with Woody Herman’s ‘Woodchoppers’ (#3 in the US but uncharted in the UK because it was banned by the BBC during factory hours to prevent workers being detracted by its infectious handclapping rhythm that would’ve disrupted the war effort), Horace Heidt & His Musical Knights (#7), and The Merry Macs (#11).
“Texas Swing stars, Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys, covered ‘Deep in the Heart of Texas’ in 1955. Ray Charles included the song on his album The Genius Hits the Road (1960). Rock ‘n roll guitarist Duane Eddy charted in the UK with his 1962 instrumental recording of ‘Deep in the Heart of Texas’.”
Written and first recorded by David Frizzell (C&W 67 1970).
Other hit version by Susan Raye (US #54/C&W #9/CAN #26/NZ #1/AUS #2 1971)
Also recorded by Shirley Myers (2003).
From the wiki: “‘L.A. International Airport’ was written by Leanne Scott and was first recorded by David Frizzell in 1970. Susan Raye recorded her version of the song in 1971, which became an international hit. The song enjoyed much greater success outside of America and was a major pop hit in many countries, including New Zealand and Australia.
“The song was rerecorded with updated lyrics in 2003 by Shirley Myers for the 75th Anniversary of LAX.”
Co-written and first recorded by Terry Stafford (C&W #31 1973).
Also recorded by Chris LeDoux (1975).
Other hit version by George Strait (C&W #4/CAN #1 1983).
From the wiki: “‘Amarillo by Morning’ was written by Terry Stafford (‘Suspicion‘) and Paul Fraser, and was first recorded by Stafford in 1973 on his album Say, Has Anybody Seen My Sweet Gypsy Rose. Stafford says he conceived the song after playing with his band at a rodeo in San Antonio, Texas, and then driving back to his home in Amarillo, TX. It was first covered in 1975 by bona fide rodeo champion Chris LeDoux, with no apparent chart success. ‘Amarillo by Morning’ was again covered, in 1983, by George Strait, for his 1982 album Strait from the Heart, his third Country Top-5 hit and topping the Canadian Country chart for the second time.”
Written and first recorded by Mark James (1975).
Hit version by Elvis Presley (US #32/C&W #1 1976).
From the wiki: “‘Moody Blue’, made famous by Elvis Presley, was written and first recorded by Mark James who also penned Elvis’ ‘Suspicious Minds‘. ‘Moody Blue’ was Presley’s last #1 hit in his lifetime, topping the Billboard magazine Hot Country Singles chart in February 1977.
“Presley recorded his version in February 1976, in the Jungle Room of his Graceland home. The only time Elvis performed the song in its entirety was on February 21, 1977 at a concert in Charlotte, North Carolina. He had attempted to perform the song February 20 at the same venue but revealed to the crowd that he had completely forgotten the lyrics; he returned on February 21, lead sheet in hand, and performed the song with his eyes glued to the lyrics.”
Co-written and first recorded by Charlie Phillips (1957).
Hit versions by The McGuire Sisters (US #1 1957), Johnny Cash (C&W #13 1961).
From the wiki: “‘Sugartime’ was written by Charlie Phillips and Odis Echols, and was first recorded in 1957 by Phillips with Buddy Holly on guitar and production by Norman Petty. The biggest hit version was also recorded in 1957, by the McGuire Sisters who topped the charts with the song in 1958. In 1961, the song briefly returned to the Country charts in a version by Johnny Cash he first recorded for Sun Records in 1958.”
Written and first recorded by Chase Webster (1961).
Hit version by Pat Boone (US #1/UK #18 1961).
Also recorded as “Dancing in the Dark” by Big Daddy (UK #27 1985), John Fogerty (2009).
From the wiki: “‘Moody River’ was written by and originally performed by country Rockabilly singer Chase Webster, a a labelmate of Pat Boone’s at Dot Records. It was covered later in 1961 by Boone, and became a #1 hit for him on the Billboard Hot 100. John Fogerty covered the song in the album entitled The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again. In 1985, the US group Big Daddy recorded a parody of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Dancing in the Dark’ using the melody and chord changes of ‘Moody River’.”
Co-written and first recorded by Ray Whitley (1938).
Hit version by co-writer Gene Autry (US #13/C&W #1 1939).
From the wiki: “‘Back in the Saddle Again’ was co-written by Ray Whitley with Gene Autry and first recorded by Whitley in 1938. A true Georgia born showman, Whitley was one of those guys who did a little bit of everything: He served in the Navy, ventured up to New York where he worked on the Empire State Building construction crew, he could snap the tip of a cigarette off with a bullwhip and, if remembered for nothing else, Whitley designed the guitar that would become a staple of Gibson’s line – the Super Jumbo.
“During the Depression, Whitley began to sing to make some money on the side. He ended up co-hosting a radio program called The Village Barn Dance with another young Western singer, Tex Ritter, and the two eventually made their way to Hollywood.
First recorded by Bonnie Raitt (1972).
Hit version by Linda Ronstadt (US #51/MOR #23 1973).
Also recorded by Libby Titus, co-writer (1977).
From the wiki: “‘Love Has No Pride’ was written by Eric Kaz and Libby Titus, and was first recorded in 1972 by Bonnie Raitt for her album Give It Up of which critic Dave Marsh wrote ‘[it comes] closest to perfecting her approach. She [mingles] her blues resources with a variety of contemporary and folk-oriented songs, coming up with classics in ‘Been Too Long at the Fair’ and Eric Kaz’s ‘Love Has No Pride.’ Her version of the latter remains definitive …’
“Linda Ronstadt covered ‘Love Has No Pride’ for her 1973 album Don’t Cry Now. Her recording was released as the album’s first single. It peaked at #51 on the Billboard Hot 100, but has song has endured over the years to be remembered as one of Ronstadt’s signature songs.”
Co-written and first recorded by Bob Gibson (1957).
Hit version by George Hamilton IV (US #15/C&W #1 1963).
From the wiki: “‘Abilene’ was written by Bob Gibson, Lester Brown and John D. Loudermilk (‘Indian Reservation‘, ‘Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye‘), and first recorded by Gibson in 1957. When covered by George Hamilton IV (and produced by Chet Atkins), in 1963, the song reached # on the US Country Singles chart for four weeks, also peaking at #15 on the Billboard Hot 100. Hamilton also performed ‘Abilene’ in the 1963 movie Hootenanny Hoot.
Written and first recorded by Bill Mack (1956, released 1958).
Also recorded by Kenny Roberts (1966)
Hit version by LeAnn Rimes (US #26/C&W #10 1996).
From the wiki: “‘Blue’ was written and recorded in 1956 by Bill Mack but not released until 1958. Since then, it has been covered by several artists, most popularly by Country singer LeAnn Rimes in 1996. Her recording won Rimes and Mack the 1996 Grammy Award for Best Country Song, a 1996 Academy of Country Music Award for Song of the Year, a 1997 Country Music Association Awards nomination for Song of the Year, and a 1997 Country Radio Music Awards nomination for Song of the Year. ‘Blue’ is also included on the CMT list of the Top 100 Country Songs of All Time.
“In his autobiography, and contrary to popular opinion, Mack debunks the publicity claim that he had written the song specifically for Patsy Cline. According to a self-penned article for Truckers Connection, Mack revealed that his ‘most noteworthy inspirations had been a billboard and attempting to create note changes on a new guitar.’
Early recording by The Silver Leaf Quartet of Norfolk (1930).
Popular versions by The Carter Family (1935), Johnny Cash & June Carter (1968), Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (1972).
From the wiki: “‘Will the Circle Be Unbroken?’ is a popular Christian hymn written in 1907 by Ada R. Habershon with music by Charles H. Gabriel. The song is often now recorded unattributed and, because of its age, has lapsed into the public domain. One of the earliest recordings of the song was made by The Silver Leaf Quartette of Norfolk (Virginia) in 1930. Already in New York City for an extended performance tour, including 21 straight nights at the Metropolitan Baptist Church, the Quartet’s recording was released and distributed by Okeh Records. In 1935, A.P. Carter adapted the original hymn and, with The Carter Family, recorded the song as ‘Can the Circle be Unbroken (By and By)?’. That version (often using the original ‘Will the Circle’ title) has been covered by a large number of artists. Its refrain has also been incorporated into the Carl Perkins song ‘Daddy Sang Bass’ and the Atlanta song ‘Sweet Country Music’.
Written and first recorded by Ervin T. Rouse (1939).
Hit versions by Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys (1942), The Spotnicks (UK #29 1964), Doug Kershaw (CAN #9 1970).
Also recorded by Johnny Cash (1965).
From the wiki: “‘Orange Blossom Special’, written by Ervin T. Rouse in 1938 and first recorded by him in 1939 with his brother, Gordon, is often referred to as ‘the fiddle player’s national anthem’. By the 1950s, it had become a perennial favorite at Bluegrass festivals, popular for its rousing energy. For a long time no fiddle player would be hired for a Bluegrass band unless he could play it. Bill Monroe, regarded by many as ‘the father of Bluegrass music’, recorded the song, with Art Wooten on fiddle, in 1942 and made it a hit. ‘Orange Blossom Special’ was further popularized by Chubby Wise’s weekly performances of it on the nationally-broadcast Grand Ole Opry radio show.
“Swedish instrumental Rock band The Spotnicks recorded ‘Blossom’ for their first album – The Spotnicks in London – Out-a-Space! – and it became a UK Top 30 for them in 1962. Cajun fiddler Doug Kershaw’s 1970 recording went Top 10 in Canada. Johnny Cash titled his 1965 album after the song. While Bluegrass performers tend to play ‘Blossom’ strictly as an instrumental, Cash sang the lyrics and replaced the fiddle parts with two harmonicas and a saxophone – with Cash playing both harmonicas himself.”
First recorded by Hank Snow (1949).
Hit versions by Lonnie Donegan (1956), Tony Sheridan & the Beat Brothers (1961 |B-side US #19/UK #29 1964), Karen Young (UK #6 1969), Hank Williams Jr. (C&W #46 1969), The Traveling Wilburys (UK #44 1990).
From the wiki: “‘Nobody’s Child’ was written by Cy Coben and Mel Foree and was first recorded by Hank Snow in 1949, becoming one of his standards although it did not chart for him. The song lyrics are about an orphan whom no one wants to adopt because he is blind, and has been covered a number of times in the UK. It was on Lonnie Donegan’s first album in 1956 (which went to #2 as an album in the UK). It was covered by Tony Sheridan & the Beat Brothers (The Beatles) in 1961 in Hamburg and was used as the B-side to both the ‘Ain’t She Sweet’ and ‘Sweet Georgia Brown‘ singles when released in 1964 as part of Beatlemania. (Beatle George Harrison was also one of the Wilburys twenty-five years later.) In 1969, Karen Young again charted the song in the UK.
“In the US, Hank Williams Jr. recorded a version of ‘Nobody’s Child’ that made it to #46 on the US Country charts in 1969. The Traveling Wilburys’ cover recording made it to #44 on the UK charts as the lead promotional single from the benefit album Nobody’s Child: Romanian Angel Appeal released in July 1990.”
Originally recorded (as a demo) by Lynn Howard with The Accents (1956).
Hit version by Patsy Cline (US #12/C&W #2 1957).
Also recorded by Patsy Cline (1961).
From the wiki: “‘Walkin’ After Midnight’ was written in 1954 by Alan Block and Donn Hecht, and was originally intended for singer Kay Starr. But, Starr’s label passed on it. Hecht then came across Patsy Cline’s early recordings (all unsuccessful) while working in the 4 Star Records A&R department. He felt strongly enough that Cline was perfect for his song that he hocked his furniture to pay for a demo session using Pop singer Lynn Howard, and used the demo to pitch his song to Cline’s manager.
“Cline’s initial reaction to the song was negative. She felt it was not ‘country’ enough and would not be a hit. Finally, a compromise was reached: Cline said she would record ‘Walkin’ After Midnight’ as long as she could also record a song she favored and thought would be a hit, ‘A Poor Man’s Roses’. Cline said if she was wrong about ‘Midnight’ she would never again argue about her material again. Cline’s recording of ‘Midnight’ was completed at the (Owen) Bradley Film and Recording Studios, Nashville, on November 8, 1956.
First recorded by Ray Price (C&W #2 1959).
Other hit version by Guy Mitchell (US #1/R&B #19/UK #5 1959).
From the wiki: “‘Heartaches by the Number’ was written by Harlan Howard and first recorded in 1959 by Ray Price (‘Make the World Go Away‘, ‘(You’re the) Best Thing That Ever Happened’). His recording was a Top 5 Country single. The most successful version was the cover recording by Guy Mitchell (‘Singing the Blues‘), also produced in 1959. Mitchell’s rendering topped the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks in December 1959. It also was a Top 5 UK Single and a Top 20 R&B hit.”
First recorded by Johnny Darrell (1970).
Also recorded by The Byrds (1970, released 2000), Seatrain (1970).
Album hit versions by Little Feat (1971 |1972 |1978), Linda Ronstadt (1974).
From the wiki: ‘Willin” was written by Lowell George, of Little Feat, but first recorded in the spring of 1970 by Johnny Darrell for his album California Stop-Over. The song is about a truck driver in the American southwest who makes some extra cash smuggling cigarettes and transporting illegals across the border from Mexico. George’s opening line, in which the narrator describes himself as being ‘warped by the rain,’ originated in a conversation between George and drummer Richie Hayward. Hayward had used it to describe a rocking chair. Prior to forming Little Feat, George was a member of Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention. It is probable that this song was a reason for his departure, due to its drug references in the chorus. It is known that his leaving had something to do with his drug use, which Zappa heavily frowned upon.
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