The River's Badge

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Blast From The Past - Top Country Hits Of 1970

I always enjoy traveling back in time, to revisit the days of country music of yore.

Today, I chose the year 1970, because I think I've forgotten a lot of the music from way back then, when I was but 15 years old, and thereby is the challenge....find some good stuff from the year 1970.


As you know by now, I always like to start these things off on a high note, so here's a high note:

MERLE HAGGARD - THE FIGHTIN' SIDE OF ME


Anyone who knows me, knows that Merle Haggard is, to me, the best thing that ever happened to country music. That said, this is not my favorite Merle song, not by a long shot. But it does have its charm.

And it was a huge hit in 1970, leading millions of country music fans to the false assumption that Merle was a conservative.

But, doesn't he look cute here? Nice, wavy hair. Young. Shy smile.

And here's Bonnie Owens in the background, smiling. Probably thinking, "You a**hole. Oh sure, on stage, you make everyone think that you're such a nice, sweet, genteel guy. Try living with you! You and your black moods. And I can't even get away from you, since, when you go out on tour, I go."

I'm just conjecturing here, of course. But I know the type.


Now, for something completely different, remember this? It was a big hit in 1970:

JACK BLANCHARD & MISTY MORGAN - TENNESSEE BIRDWALK


This video proves two things:

1. In 1970, even a lounge act could have a major hit.
2. People were awfully easy to please back then.

And to think that I was kind of lukewarm about "The Fightin' Side Of Me"!

Here, you've basically got a duo with their dueling synthesizers, a really corny song, and big hair. What more do you need for a hit? And poor Tanya Tucker is trying to look enthusiastic.

Alas, Jack and Misty are now residing on SoundClick. Hey, even we're on SoundClick! It's not the most discerning site for music. But, you know, things happen.


CHARLEY PRIDE - IS ANYBODY GOIN' TO SAN ANTONE


I've always been ambivalent about this song. I mean, it's okay. It has a nice twin fiddle opening. But it's kind of boring, really. No offense to the writers - and it apparently took two people to write this song. It's simply a matter of divergent tastes, I guess, because it was a number one hit. So, more power to them! The best part of the song is Charley's whistling at the end. Of course, that's not actually a part of this video.


One note, though. I would really have hated to be in Charley's band, because I think I might have just fallen asleep during these numbers. Charley had a lot of potential, but his song choices just weren't the best. After "The Easy Part's Over", things sort of went downhill.


MARTY ROBBINS - MY WOMAN, MY WOMAN, MY WIFE


I always love watching Marty Robbins concert videos. As Marty notes here, he won the Grammy for this song, and "I don't want you to think that I feel that my song was the best song of the year....I heard many songs that year, but I never heard any that I liked better than mine".....(heh heh)

When you listen to the lyrics of this song, you almost want to break down in sobs, in sympathy for this poor woman's life......

Hands that are strong but wrinkled
Doing work that never gets done
Hair that's lost some of the beauty
By too many hours in the sun

Now, maybe it's just me, but it seems like Marty was making a pretty good living. Did he have his wife living in some run-down shack without running water? Good god. Maybe Marty had the "main house", and the "woman, woman, wife" was relegated to the abandoned chicken coop out back. Seems kinda cruel.

But, in the end, while the little woman is out mowing the grass, Marty is here doing a superb job as usual. I particularly love the way Marty kind of "slides" up to the high notes. It's sort of his signature. I do not, however, understand why his bandmate (Bill Johnson, is it?) is shuffling index cards behind him. Maybe he was practicing for his upcoming toastmaster speech.

Maybe we could learn more about that here: Country Music Hall of Fame Panel Discussion: The Story of My Life: Friends and Family Remember Marty Robbins


I can't seem to find which recording from 1970 was the number one record of the year, but I've got two finalists in mind. Here is the first one:

CONWAY TWITTY - HELLO DARLIN'


I'll just admit it and get it over with. I never really "got" Conway Twitty. Sort of like George Jones. I know that both of these guys are revered in many country circles. I guess it's just a matter of taste.

Don't get me wrong. Conway had some earlier hits that I liked a lot, including this one. Then, sometime later, he got all "curly permed" and started remaking Pointer Sister songs and other crimes against humanity, and all the while, he kept building up his fan base. I just don't get it. I liked him way better before he became a sex symbol for the blue-haired ladies.

And, admission number two. I went to a package show that included Vince Gill and somebody (?) and Conway Twitty, and I actually left before Conway came on. A short time later, he passed away, so I still feel kind of guilty about walking out - in hindsight.

Anyway, kudos to Conway for this huge hit. And it was HUGE. And I can definitely see where it would be a fun song to sing.


BLOGGER'S NOTE: I'm going to break from the topic at hand for a moment, because, while Tammy Wynette had three number one songs in 1970, and while Tammy won the female vocalist award at the 1970 CMA Awards, none of her three hit songs from 1970 are available on YouTube.

Therefore, since I happen to think that Tammy is one of the best female singers of all time (second only to Patsy Cline), I felt it warranted including a Tammy video here, even if the song is not technically from 1970. So, here is (and I happen to love this song):

TAMMY WYNETTE - TAKE ME TO YOUR WORLD


Okay, now back to 1970. Well, here's another top hit of the year - maybe this one was #3; I don't know; can't tell. Nobody will tell me. But it's a great song and a great performance, nevertheless. A song written by Kris Kristofferson.

RAY PRICE - FOR THE GOOD TIMES


Not much to say about this. Just a classy performance.


JOHNNY CASH - SUNDAY MORNING COMING DOWN


The most interesting aspect of this performance is that the recording itself is this performance. If I remember correctly, this was the first time that Johnny actually performed Kris's song, and it was recorded to be released as a single. I guess this is one of the few times in history in which a live performance sounds exactly like the record.

Oh, and he promised not to say, "stoned". But, of course, he did. That's Johnny.


JERRY REED - AMOS MOSES


I apologize for the relatively poor quality of this video. Unfortunately, it was the only live performance by Jerry of this song that I could find.

Rest in peace, Jerry Reed (March 20, 1937 - August 31, 2008)


And now for something completely different.

Am I the only person who remembers Susan Raye? She and Buck Owens had some duet hits back in the seventies, and a really nice album, titled, "We're Gonna Get Together". Susan also had a string of hits of her own. Unfortunately, all I can find on Amazon are LP's! Hey, I don't have a turntable anymore. Somebody needs to reissue these. Sundazed, maybe?

This is apparently Susan's first number one hit. She had a lot of others I liked better, but here is:

SUSAN RAYE - WILLY JONES


I have since learned, through searching the net, that Susan subsequently retired from the music business, and became a marriage, family, and child counselor. She also married Jerry Wiggins, Buck's drummer (I knew that) and had six children. I didn't think anyone ever retired from the music business. I thought they just went to Branson. Kudos to Susan.


WAYLON JENNINGS - BROWN EYED HANDSOME MAN


I always love watching Waylon's performances, be they the "clean cut Waylon" or the "shaggy Waylon". Waylon was great. And notice Jessi Colter here on the keys? This is just a real nice performance.


ANNE MURRAY - SNOWBIRD


Okay, maybe For The Good Times wasn't number three. Maybe this was number three. Because it was HUGE. This was, of course, Anne Murray's first number one single.

I've always liked and admired Anne Murray. She seems so real. Doesn't buy into that show biz stuff. Just a great, great singer.


FARON YOUNG - (MEDLEY) - FEATURING GOIN' STEADY


Campy schtick aside (just slide that little slider button closer to the end to get to "Goin' Steady"), make no mistake, Faron Young was a tremendous performer. If you consider that Faron started out in the late forties on the Louisiana Hayride, and here he was, in 1970 with three number one songs (Goin' Steady, Occasional Wife, and "(If I Ever Fall In Love With A) Honky Tonk Girl), that's not too shabby of a career. And, at this time, he hadn't yet released "Four In The Morning".

Of course, Faron is essentially forgotten by people who should know better, but he was my favorite country singer, and an astute businessman. Sadly, he reached a tragic end. But I always smile when I see videos such as this one.


PORTER WAGONER & DOLLY PARTON - DADDY WAS AN OLD-TIME PREACHER MAN


Before I talk about what a great duet team Porter and Dolly were, did you notice the introduction to this number?? What the ?? This performance is from the Wilburn Brothers TV show, and Doyle (or Teddy - who knows?) says to Porter, "Why don't you tell us about this song that Dolly wrote?" Well, ahem, Dolly's standing right here! Wow, sexism was alive and well in 1970. I bet she just wanted to shove him out of the way, after he and his brother horned in on their (her) song. She could have used those long fingernails to stab him. But no, she just smiled sweetly. I don't even know anything about Doyle (or Teddy - who knows?), but man, I really don't like him. I think I heard that Loretta wasn't crazy about the brothers, either, after she finally got out of her contract with them.

But all sexism aside, I would venture that Porter and Dolly were probably the best country duo ever. And it wasn't just because of Dolly. People sort of like to push Porter aside (like Dolly should have done to Doyle - or Teddy), and give Dolly all the credit, but I've heard Dolly sing duets with other artists, and the mix doesn't sound as good. I don't think just anyone's voice can match up with hers. Porter's did. And her voice did not overpower the songs. His parts come through loud and clear. They had the right combination (yea, that was corny).


Yes, this post is very long. I hope you just skipped the parts you weren't interested in. But, number one, there turned out to be a lot of good songs and/or available videos from 1970; and, two, I had a lot of free time. : )

So, I will leave you with what I think was probably the top single of 1970. Absent an official chart, it's just a guess on my part, but if you consider how many times this song was played over and over and over and over, so that you just wanted to grab your plastic-cased table-top radio and smash it to smithereens, while simultaneously banging your head into the wall, WELL! That sounds like a HIT!

Don't get me wrong. I like Lynn Anderson! And I'm even distantly related to her (or that's some old family tale that was invented and passed along - I could go either way on that).

And the song itself, written by Joe South, is pleasant enough, the first 5,000 times you hear it.

But hey, you be the judge. Watch it once. Then tell me if you could stand to watch it again and again the rest of the day. And you already have certain parts in your head, even before you watch it, don't you? How about, "or let go - o - o - oh" ?

But Lynn does look awfully cute here, with her feathered dress.

So, here we go:

LYNN ANDERSON - ROSE GARDEN


This now concludes our look back to the year 1970.







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