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.
Written and first released by Mitchell Torok with the Louisiana Hayride Band (US #26/C&W #1 1953).
Other hit version by Mitchell Torok (US #27 1957).
From the wiki: “‘Caribbean’ was written and first recorded in 1953 by Mitchell Torok. It became a Country #1 single, and also charted in the US Top 40. In 1957, Torok recorded an updated but very similarly-arranged version of ‘Caribbean’ and it again charted in the US Top 40.
Co-written and first recorded by Ed Bruce (C&W #15 1975).
Other hit version by Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson (US #42/C&W #1/CAN #1 1978).
From the wiki: “‘Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys’ was first recorded in 1975 by Ed Bruce, written by him and wife Patsy Bruce. Bruce’s rendition of the song went to #15 on the Hot Country Singles charts in 1975.
“Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson covered the song on their 1978 duet album Waylon & Willie. This cover recording peaked at #1 in March 1978, spending four weeks atop the Country music charts while also crossing-over to the Billboard Hot 100, and won the 1979 Grammy Award for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. Members of the Western Writers of America chose ‘Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys’ as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time.”
Written and first recorded by Harold Dorman (US #21 1959).
Other hit versions by Kenny Lynch (UK #33 1960), Johnny Rivers (US #9 1964), Charlie Pride (C&W #1 1981).
From the wiki: “‘Mountain of Love’ was written by Harold Dorman who first recorded the song in 1959, releasing it as a single in 1960 that peaked in the Top 40 at #21. In 1960, UK singer Kenny Lynch covered ‘Mountain of Love’. It became his first charting single on the UK Singles chart. Johnny Rivers’ 1964 cover went Top 10 in the US. Charlie Pride topped the US Country singles chart in 1981 with his cover of ‘Mountain of Love’.”
First recorded as “Did God Make Honky Tonk Angels” by “Al” Montgomery (1952).
Inspired by “The Wild Side of Life” by Hank Thompson (1951).
Based on “Thrills That I Can’t Forget” by John Ferguson (1927), “Great Speckled Bird” by Roy Acuff (1936).
Hit version by Kitty Wells (C&W #1 1952).
From the wiki: “Jay Miller wrote ‘Did God Make …’ as a reply to Hank Thompon’s hit ‘Wild Side Of Life‘. Alice ‘Al’ Montgomery was a gas station attendant in Louisiana at the time of her recording, which Miller produced and issued on one of his many labels. When covered by Kitty Wells in 1952, the song – which blamed unfaithful men for creating unfaithful women – became the first #1 Billboard Country hit for a solo female artist.
“In addition to helping establish Wells as country music’s first major female star, ‘It Wasn’t God …’ her success paved the way for other female artists to achieve chart success in Country music, particularly Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, and Dolly Parton, and for songs where women defied the typical stereotype of being submissive to men and having to put up with their oft-infidel ways.
“Even with its popularity, there was plenty of resistance to the song and its statement: the NBC radio network banned the song for being ‘suggestive,’ while Wells herself was prohibited from performing it on the Grand Ole Opry and NBC’s ‘Prince Albert’ radio programs.
First recorded (as “Ma blonde est partie”) by Amede, Ophy & Cleoma Breaux (1929).
Hit version by Red Foley (C&W #1 1947).
Also recorded by Waylon Jennings (1958), Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band (1980), Gary “U.S.” Bonds (1981).
From the wiki: “‘Jolé Blon’ is a traditional Cajun waltz, often called ‘the Cajun national anthem’ because of the popularity it had in Cajun culture’; is considered to be the very first Cajun recording. The song was then later popularized on a nationwide scale by a series of renditions and references in late 1940s country songs. There is some mystery to the song’s origin: According to Cleoma Breaux’s daughter, while Amede Breaux is credited with writing the song, it was his sister, Cleoma, who actually wrote the lyrics and Amede sang the song. Dennis McGee claims the original song was written by Angelas Lejeune as ‘La Fille De La Veuve (The Widows Daughter)’ during WWI and Cleoma simply rewrote the lyrics, allegedly about Amede’s first wife.
Written and first recorded by Shake Russell & Dana Cooper (1978).
Hit version by Ricky Skaggs (C&W #2/CAN #1 1983).
From the wiki: “‘You’ve Got a Lover’ was written by Shake Russell, and first recorded by Russell and Dana Cooper in 1978. Covered by Ricky Skaggs, ‘You’ve Got a Lover’ was released in July 1983 as the fourth single from Skagg’s album Highways & Heartaches (preceded by ‘Heartbroke‘, ‘Highway 40 Blues’, and ‘I Wouldn’t Change You If I Could’), recipient of the 1983 ACM Album of the Year award.”
First recorded by Billy Joe Royal (US #52 1967).
Also recorded by Kris Ife (1967).
Hit versions by Deep Purple (US #4/UK #58/CAN #2 1968), Kula Shaker (US #19/UK #2 1997).
From the wiki: “‘Hush’ was written by Joe South (‘Games People Play’) for singer Billy Joe Royal (‘Down in the Boondocks’, also written by South; ‘Cherry Hill Park’), and first recorded by Royal in 1967 and charting modestly in the Billboard Hot 100. British singer Kris Ife covered ‘Hush’ in 1967 in the UK market. It was this version that inspired Deep Purple’s 1968 hit cover, recorded for their 1968 debut album Shades of Deep Purple. The track became the group’s first hit single peaking at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and at #2 on the Canadian singles chart. ‘Hush’ is one of four songs originally recorded by Deep Purple with vocals sung by Rod Evans before Ian Gillan later performed the group’s vocal leads.”
First recorded by Lee Hazelwood & Suzi Jane Hokom (1966).
Hit version by Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazelwood (US #49/AUS #14 1967), Ville Valo & Natalia Avelon (GER 2007).
From the wiki: “‘Summer Wine’ was written by Lee Hazlewood. It was originally sung in 1966 by Hazelwood and Suzi Jane Hokom, but it was made famous in 1967 by Hazelwood in duet with Nancy Sinatra, the first of a string of popular duets by Hazelwood and Sinatra. The song has since been covered by the likes of Demis Roussos with Nancy Boyd, Bono of U2 with The Corrs, and others.
“The Nancy & Lee version was originally released on Sinatra’s Nancy in London album in late 1966 and later as the B-side of her ‘Sugar Town’ hit single in December 1966. ‘Summer Wine’ itself became a hit, reaching #49 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart in April 1967.
Written and first recorded by John Stewart (1987).
Hit version by Rosanne Cash (C&W #1 1988).
From the wiki: “‘Runaway Train’ is a song written by John Stewart and was first released by Stewart on the album Punch the Big Guy. Rosanne Cash released her released in July 1988 as the fourth single from the album King’s Record Shop. It would become her ninth #1 hit on the Country chart as a solo artist.”
First recorded by Billy Joe Royal (1967).
Also recorded by Dobie Gray (US #119 1969), Joe South, writer (1969), The Three Degrees (1970), .
Hit versions by Lynn Anderson (US #3/C&W #1/UK #3 1970), Sandi Shaw (UK #57 1971).
From the wiki: “‘Rose Garden’ was written by Joe South (‘Down in the Boondocks’) and first recorded by Billy Joe Royal (‘Down in the Boondocks’, ‘Hush‘) in 1967 for the album Billy Joe Royal Featuring Hush.
“Several cover versions were recorded soon thereafter (sometimes titled ‘(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden’), including productions by the writer, Joe South, Dobie Gray and The Three Degrees, before Lynn Anderson took ‘Rose Garden’ to the top of the US Country Singles chart. Anderson had wanted to record the song but her producer (and husband) Glenn Sutton felt it was a ‘man’s song’, in part because of the line ‘I could promise you things like big diamond rings’.
First recorded (as “Crooked Little House”) by Jimmie Rodgers (1960).
Hit version by The Serendipity Singers (US #6/MOR #2 1962).
From the wiki: “‘Don’t Let the Rain Come Down (Crooked Little Man)’ was written by rockabilly singer-songwriter Ersel Hickey, with the lyrics based on the English nursery rhyme ‘There Was A Crooked Man’, arrangement with a Calypso-based melody. It was first recorded in 1960 by country singer Jimmie Rodgers (‘Honeycomb’, ‘Kisses Sweeter Than Wine’) with no apparent chart impact. (This Rodgers is not to be confused with Country music pioneer Jimmie Rodgers).
“In 1962, ‘Crooked Little Man’ was covered by The Serendipity Singers as their debut recording, and it charted Top-10 on both the US Billboard Hot 100 and Easy Listening charts that year.”
First recorded (as “Feudin’ Banjos”) by Arthur Smith & Don Reno (1955).
Hit version by Eric Weissberg & Steve Mandell (US #2/MOR #1/CAN #2 1973).
From the wiki: “‘Dueling Banjos’ is an instrumental composition by Arthur ‘Guitar Boogie’ Smith. The song was composed in 1955 by Smith as a banjo instrumental he called ‘Feudin’ Banjos’. The composition’s first wide scale airing was on a 1963 television episode of The Andy Griffith Show called ‘Briscoe Declares for Aunt Bee’, in which it is played by visiting musical family The Darlings (played by The Dillards, a Bluegrass group).
“The song was made internationally famous by the 1972 film Deliverance, which also led to a successful lawsuit by the song’s composer, as it was used in the film without his permission. The film version, arranged and recorded by Eric Weissberg and Steve Mandell, was subsequently issued as a single, peaking at #2 for four weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1973.”
Written and first recorded by Kris Kristofferson (US #26/MOR #4/CAN #21 1971).
Other hit versions by Roger Miller (C&W #28 1971), Tompall & The Glaser Brothers (C&W #2 1981).
From the wiki: “Lovin’ Her Was Easier (Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again)” is a song written and recorded by Kris Kristofferson for his 1971 album The Silver Tongued Devil and I. Released as a promotional single, Kristofferson’s recording did not chart as a country single, but did crossover to the Hot 100 (#28) and Adult Contemporary (#4) charts.
“The song was also released in 1971 by Roger Miller, who included it on his album The Best of Roger Miller and using ‘Lovin’ Her Was Easier (Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again)’ as a promotional single in July 1971, charting in the Country Top-30.
Originally recorded by Wynonna (Feb 1996).
Hit version by Eric Clapton (US #5/MOR #1/R&B #54/UK #18 July 1996).
From the wiki: “’Change the World’ was written by Tommy Sims, Gordon Kennedy, and Wayne Kirkpatrick. Previous to the release of Eric Clapton’s hit version, the song was recorded by Country superstar Wynonna Judd for her album Revelations, released in February 1996. Wynonna, however, did not release her version as a single despite the popularity of Clapton’s subsequent recording when it was released to radio in July 1996.
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