Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

Help support this site! Consider clicking an ad from time to time. Thanks!


Detroit City

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), Dean Martin (US #101/MOR #36/CAN #96 1970).
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 north 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 ‘Detroit City’ 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.

“UK singer Tom Jones enjoyed Top-10 success with the song, too, in Britain and Ireland in 1967 while charting Top-40 in the US.

“Soul singer Arthur Alexander (‘You Better Move On‘,’Anna (Go to Him)‘,’Burning Love‘) released the song as a single in 1965, but it did not perform well and proved to be his last single for Dot Records. Nonetheless, historian Nat Hentoff described Alexander’s rendition as ‘deeply compelling,’ stating that it ‘[eclipsed] the original version by Bobby Bare.’

“Co-writer Mel Tillis covered his own work in 1968, for release on the album Who’s Julie in 1969. Dean Martin charted in 1970 with his arrangement of ‘Detroit City’. George Jones, who turned down the opportunity to first record the song in 1962, interpreted ‘Detroit City’ in his own inimitable style for his 2005 album Hits I Missed … And One I Didn’t.”

Bobby Bare, “Detroit City” (1963):

Arthur Alexander, “I Wanna Go Home” (1965):

Tom Jones, “Detroit City” (1967):

Mel Tillis, “Detroit City” (1968):

Dean Martin, “Detroit City” (1970):

George Jones, “Detroit City” (2005):

Comments are closed.