Wand’rin’ Star – Lee Marvin – 1970

June 5, 2018

Wand'ring Star Lee Marvin 1970Sometimes the most unlikely people wind up with a #1 hit – take actor Lee Marvin for instance, and his 1970 song, Wand’rin’ Star.

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  • Lee Marvin was an American film and television actor, best known for his deep voice which made him perfect for playing the roles of cowboys, villains, police detectives, and soldiers.
  • Lee’s acting awards included, an Academy Award for Best Actor, a BAFTA Award, and a Golden Globe Award.
  • Lee served as a US marine during WWII. After the war, he found work as a plumber’s assistant at a local community theatre in New York.  One night, he was asked to replace an actor who had fallen ill during rehearsals. Lee fell in love with acting and the rest is, as they say, history.
  • But, we’re interested in his song… Lee gained a the role in the 1969 movie, The Wild Bunch but fell out with the movie’s director, Sam Peckinpah.  He pulled out of the movie and took a role alongside Clint Eastwood in the Western musical Paint Your Wagon.
  • No one would claim Lee was a great singer but, despite that, he had a hit song with “Wand’rin’ Star”.
  • This was back in 1970, and he was getting paid a million dollars per film—a phenomenal amount at the time.
  • Lee featured in around 65 movies and several television programmes and series.
  • Lee died of a heart attack on August 29, 1987.

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  • Wand’rin’ Star was written by Alan J. Lerner (lyrics) and Frederick Loewe (music) for the stage musical Paint Your Wagon in 1951.
  • In 1969, a movie version was released starring Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood. Lee took the role of prospector Ben Rumson who had a number of songs in the film, including Wand’rin Star.
  • It was initially suggested that Lee mime to the voices of other singers but, despite his limited singing ability, he refused.
  • Wand’ring Star hit #1 in the UK and Ireland keeping The Beatles’ Let it Be at #2 in the UK. It was Lee’s only single. It didn’t feature on the US charts.
  • The B-Side to Lee’s version featured I Talk to the Trees—also from Paint Your Wagon—by Clint Eastwood.
  • In 1990, Wand’rin’ Star was covered by English comedian Julian Clary. It was also covered by Shane MacGowan and The Popes on their 1997 album, The Crock of Gold.
  • Wand’ring Star lyrics.

wand’ring star – lee marvin – 1970

i talk to the trees – clint eastwood – 1970

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Why Me – Kris Kristofferson – 1973

March 11, 2018

Why Me - Kris K - 1973Kris Kristofferson, the man who wrote the fabulous Me and Bobby McGee, had his greatest hit with a 1973 gospel country song, Why Me.

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  • Kristoffer Kristofferson was born in Brownsville, Texas, in the USA; his grandparents were from Sweden, which explains the surname.
  • Kris is a pretty bright guy. He graduated in 1958 with a Bachelor of Arts in literature and was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University in the UK.  At Oxford he was awarded his Blue for boxing and played rugby for his college.
  • About this time, he began writing and recording songs using the name Kris Carson. He found little success in the music world but graduated with a B.Phil degree in English literature.
  • Kris joined the US Army and attained the rank of captain. He also worked as a helicopter pilot for a while.
  • In 1965, he left the army, moved to Nashville, and began pursuing his music career between working various odd jobs. While sweeping floors at Columbia Studios, he met June Carter and handed her a tape which he asked be given to Johnny Cash.  Johnny didn’t get around to listening to it for a while and, frustrated with waiting, Kris landed a helicopter in Johnny’s front yard.  Apparently, Johnny wasn’t home, but it did get Johnny’s attention.  A short time later, Johnny recorded Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down, earning Kris the Songwriter of the Year award at the Country Music Awards.
  • Kris continued writing songs and other artists continued to have success with them – including Janis Joplin (who Kris dated until her death) with Me and Bobby McGee. Kris recorded his own music but with little initial success.
  • Then, in 1971, Kris’ second album, The Silver Tongued Devil, was released. It was successful, as was his third album, Jesus was a Capricorn.
  • In 1972, he appeared on The Old Grey Whistle Test in the UK with Rita Coolidge (to whom he was married for a while), singing Help Me Make It Through The Night, a song off his unsuccessful first album. His success as a solo artist was established.
  • About this time, Kris made his acting debut in in The Last Movie, directed by Dennis Hopper. He enjoyed acting and made the that a focus for a while.  He is best known for his starring roles in Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, Heaven’s Gate, and A Star Is Born, the latter of which earned him a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor.
  • In 1985, Kris joined fellow country artists Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Johnny Cash in forming the country music supergroup The Highwaymen.
  • In 2004, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

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  • Why Me was written by and recorded on July 8, 1972, by American country music singer and songwriter Kris Kristofferson. It was released as a single in April 1973 – the third single from Kris’ third album, Jesus was a Carpenter.
  • Why Me was Kris’ greatest hit, peaking at #16 on the US singles chart, but topping the US and Canadian Country singles chart.
  • Artists to cover Why Me include, Elvis Presley, Cliff Richard, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, and Conway Twitty.
  • Why Me lyrics.

Why Me – Kris Kristofferson – 1973 – video


the why me story – kris Kristofferson – video

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Snowbird – Anne Murray – 1970

February 10, 2018

Snowbird-anne murray 1970Hugely successful in her homeland—Canada—Anne Murray produced 33 singles which reached #1 on the Canadian country chart, including 1970’s, Snowbird.

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  • Canadian country singer, Anne Murray, began her recording career in 1968 and, two years later, became the first Canadian female singer to achieve a #1 single on the US charts; perhaps paving the way for k.d. lang, Céline Dion, and Shania Twain.
  • A number of her hits were covers, e.g. Danny’s Song and I’m a Believer, but most were self-penned.
  • A noted philanthropist, Anne has established and been involved in a number of charities.
  • Throughout her recording career, Anne received four Grammys, 24 Junos (a record), three American Music Awards, three Country Music Association Awards, and three Canadian Country Music Association Awards. She has been inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, the Juno Hall of Fame, The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, and Canadian Broadcast Hall of Fame. Anne is also a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame Walkway of Stars in Nashville, and has her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, and on Canada’s Walk of Fame in Toronto—that’s a pretty impressive list.
  • Along the way, she produced 32 studio albums and 76 singles.
  • Anne retired in 2008. She has a degree in Physical Education and is a widely respected golfer, playing off an 11 handicap—in 2007, Golf For Women magazine named her the world’s best female celebrity golfer.

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  • Snowbird was written by Gene MacLellan—he once said he wrote the song in 20 minutes while strolling along a beach.
  • It was recorded by many performers, including Elvis Presley, but is best-known through Anne Murray’s recording.
  • Anne recorded Snowbird in 1969 and released it as a single in June 1970. It was her first real hit, peaking at #2 hit on the Canadian singles chart, and #1 on both the Canadian and US adult contemporary, and Canadian and US country charts. It peaked at #8 on the US singles chart, and #23 on the UK singles chart.
  • In 2003, Snowbird was an inaugural song inductee of the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame.
  • The song’s composer, Gene MacLellan, made his own recording of Snowbird on his 1970 album Street Corner Preacher. This version features an additional verse to Anne’s version.
  • In 2007, Anne remade Snowbird for her Anne Murray Duets: Friends & Legends album—she sang it with Sarah Brightman.
  • Snowbird lyrics.

snowbird – anne murray – 1970

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Tulsa Time – Don Williams – 1978

January 17, 2018

Tulsa Time Don WilliamsDon Williams – one of the artists we lost in 1978, was the first to record the Danny Flowers song, Tulsa Time.

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  • Born in 1939, was in his early 30s when he began his solo career as a country singer – a move that saw him amass 17 #1 US Country hits and induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame (2010). Don had success in the UK too.  In 1976, he was on the UK Top 40 with You’re My Best Friend and I Recall a Gypsy Woman.  In 1978, his album Images reached #2 on the UK charts.
  • Don only ever had one song on the US singles chart – I Believe in You peaked at #24 ihn 1980. He did, however, release 63 singles and 25 albums.
  • Don was a prolific and gifted songwriter. His songs being recorded by artists including: Johnny Cash, Eric Clapton, Alison Krauss, Charley Pride, Kenny Rogers, Waylon Jennings, and Pete Townshend.
  • Don died in Mobile, Alabama on September 8, 2017 due to emphysema.

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  • Tulsa Time was written by American songwriter, Danny Flowers.
  • It was first released by Don Williams in October 1978 – the first single from his album, Expressions.
  • It became Don’s eighth #1 single on the US Country Chart.
  • Tulsa Time was also recorded by Eric Clapton for his 1978 album Backless. There is also a live version on his album Just One Night.  It peaked at #30 on the US singles chart in 1980.
  • Reba McEntire recorded Tulsa Time for her 1995 album, Starting Over. It wasn’t included on the final release, however, but was released on her 1999 compilation album Comfort from a Country Quilt.
  • Tulsa Time lyrics.

tulsa time – don williams – 1978

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I Can Help – Billy Swan – 1974

September 15, 2017

Billy Swan, I can Help 1974Remember this one? A simple rockabilly number that topped the Billboard Hot 100 as well as the US and Canadian country charts in 1974 – Billy Swan’s, I Can Help.

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  • Born in Missouri, USA, Billy Swan is one of those musicians whose life has been music.
  • Billy has played drums, piano and guitar, since he was a child and has been writing songs since back then too.
  • Clyde McPhatter gave Billy his first big break by recording one of Billy’s songs – Lover Please. It made it to #7 on the US charts.
  • That was back in 1962. Billy moved to Memphis to work on his music; he even worked on Elvis Presley’s Graceland estate for a while.  All the time he was improving his song writing skills and had his tunes recorded by artists like Conway Twitty, and Waylon Jennings.
  • By 1969, he was also producing records – he produced Tony Joe White’s Top Ten hit Polk Salad Annie.
  • A stint as Kris Kristofferson’s bass player followed before signing his own recording deal with Monument Records.
  • Billy’s first album included the title song I Can Help. It was a big hit, destined to become (like has happened to so many stars) his only top ten song.  Five albums and 18 singles followed, but none saw anything like the success of I Can Help.
  • Throughout the 70s and early 80s, Billy supplemented his solo career by continuing to tour as a member of Kristofferson’s band. He also recorded with Randy Meisner of The Eagles.
  • Today, Billy still makes a living as a backing singer and session musician.

i can help fax

  • I Can Help was written by Billy Swan and first appeared as the title track of his first album, released in July 1974.
  • The song hit #1 in around 15 countries across the globe including #1 in US and Canada, and #6 in the UK.
  • I Can Help was Billy’s only major hit single, although he had success as a songwriter for other artists and as a session musician.
  • I Can Help was recorded in just two takes (without overdubs) using an RMI organ that Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge had bought for Billy as a wedding gift.
  • Artists to cover this song included, Elvis Presley (on his 1975 album, Today), and Shakin’ Stevens (1994). Ringo Starr recorded I Can Help, but it was never released.
  • I Can Help appears in the moviesThor and Zootopia.
  • While the single version of the song is under three minutes long, the album version extends to just over 4 minutes, thanks to an organ solo ending.
  • I Can Help lyrics.

i can help – billy swan – 1974

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Harper Valley PTA – Jennie C. Riley – 1968

August 20, 2017

Harper Valley PTA - Jennie C. RileyOkay, not quite the seventies, but I heard this catchy little song the other day and couldn’t resist… Jennie C. Riley’s 1968 #1 hit, Harper Valley PTA.

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  • Still performing today, as a 71 year old, Jennie C. Riley (born Jeanne Carolyn Stephenson), had her biggest hit with her debut single, Harper Valley PTA.
  • Since the late 70s, she has focused on gospel music.
  • Initially struggling to make any impact on the country music scene, a demo tape of Jennie C. found its way to the desk of record producer Shelby Singleton. He was endeavouring to establish his own own label, Plantation Records, and loved her sound.  Introducing Jennie C. to a Tom T. Hall demo-song (Harper Valley PTA), he produced one of the best-known country music songs of all time.
  • Jennie C. is credited with starting something of a revolution in the world of country music. She quickly became known as much for her sex appeal and beauty as for her music.  While most her contemporaries were keeping a wholesome image by wearing gingham dresses, Jennie C. adopted the typical fashion on the late-1960s by wearing a miniskirt and go-go boots on stage.  Jennie C. later announced that she felt uncomfortable with this sexy persona and reverted to more modest attire.

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  • Written by Tom T. Hall, Harper Valley PTA was a 1968 #1 US and Canadian hit for US country singer Jeannie C. Riley.
  • Harper Valley PTA sold a staggering six million copies as a single.
  • Harper Valley PTA saw Jennie C. become the first woman to top both the Billboard Hot 100 and the US Hot Country Singles charts with the same song, a feat that would go unrepeated until Dolly Parton‘s 1981 hit, 9 to 5.
  • It is said of Harper Valley PTA:

The country singer Margie Singleton asked Tom T. Hall to write her a song similar to Bobby Gentry’s Grammy-winning hit “Ode To Billie Joe”, which she had covered the previous year, and which Gentry wrote and recorded in 1967. The melody is essentially the same as that of the Gentry song, but Gentry seemingly was never informed or given any credit by Hall. After driving past a school called Harpeth Valley Elementary School in Bellevue, Tennessee, Hall noted the name and wrote “Harper Valley P.T.A.” about a fictional confrontation between a young widow Stella Johnson and a local PTA group who objected to her manner of dress, social drinking, and friendliness with town’s men folk. Jeannie C. Riley, who was working as a secretary in Nashville for Jerry Chesnut, got to hear the song and recorded it herself and it became a massive hit for her.

  • The song was later the inspiration for a 1978 motion picture and a short-lived 1981 television series, both starring Barbara Eden, playing the heroine of the song, Mrs. Johnson—who now had a first name, Stella.
  • Several other songs in the Harper Valley PTA album also told stories of some of the other characters from the song, including Mayor Harper, Widow Jones, and Shirley Thompson.
  • The classic Harper Valley PTA album cover shows a mini-dress-clad Riley—portraying Mrs. Johnson with PTA note in hand—standing beside a girl, who is portraying the teenage daughter of Mrs. Johnson.
  • Jeannie C.’s recording of Harper Valley PTA won a Grammy for the Best Country Vocal Performance, Female. It was also nominated for Record of the Year and Song of the Year in the pop field.
  • Harper Valley PTA lyrics.

harper valley pta – jennie c. riley – 1968 -video

harper valley pta – jennie c. riley – 1968 – video from movie

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Coalminer’s Daughter – Loretta Lynn – 1970

July 21, 2017

Coal miner's daugherThe signature tune from one of the all-time country music greats; Loretta Lynn’s 1970 hit, Coalminer’s Daughter.

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  • Born in 1932, Loretta Lynn began her music career in 1960 and is still going – though not quite as strong as she once was.
  • Loretta was the second of eight children born to a Melvin Webb, a coal miner and subsistence farmer and his wife, Clara. Loretta’s father died of Coalworker’s pneumoconiosis, also called black lung disease, at the age of 52 – a pertinent fact relating to the song Coalminer’s Daughter.
  • Loretta’s youngest sister is country singer, Crystal “Don’t it Make my Brown Eyes Blue” Gayle.
  • Loretta married Oliver “Doolittle” Lynn – whom she called “Doo” – when she was just 15 years old. Their life together inspired the music she wrote.
  • In 1953, Doo bought her a $17 Harmony guitar which she taught herself to play. She started her own band, Loretta and the Trailblazers, with her brother Jay Lee playing lead guitar.
  • By the 1960s, Loretta as an integral part of the Nashville country music scene and, in 1967, she had the first of 16 number-one hits (in all she had a phenomenal 70 charted songs as a solo artist and a duet partner). She has released 41 albums.
  • With her song writing, Loretta focused on blue-collar women’s issues with themes about philandering husbands and persistent mistresses, inspired by issues she faced in her marriage. Apparently, Loretta and Doo fought frequently, but she said;

He never hit me one time that I didn’t hit him back twice.

  • Loretta recalled in one of her autobiographies;

I married Doo when I wasn’t but a child, and he was my life from that day on. But as important as my youth and upbringing was, there’s something else that made me stick to Doo. He thought I was something special, more special than anyone else in the world, and never let me forget it. That belief would be hard to shove out the door. Doo was my security, my safety net. And just remember, I’m explainin’, not excusin’… Doo was a good man and a hard worker. But he was an alcoholic, and it affected our marriage all the way through.

  • Loretta has received numerous awards and other accolades for her ground-breaking role in country music. She has awards from both the Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music as a duet partner and an individual artist. She is the most awarded female country recording artist and the only female ACM Artist of the Decade (1970s).
  • On May 4, 2017, Lynn suffered a stroke at her home in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee. She was taken to a Nashville hospital, and according to her website she is expected to make a full recovery.

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  • Coal Miner’s Daughter is an autobiographical country music song written and performed by Loretta Lynn.
  • Recorded in October 1969, and released in 1970, Coalminer’s Daughter became Loretta’s signature song. It provided the basis for both her autobiography and a movie on her life.
  • Coal Miner’s Daughter peaked at #83 on the US singles chart but reached #1 on the country music chart.
  • An album of the same name was also released in 1970, and despite the fact that the title track was the lone single, Coal Miner’s Daughter became quite successful.
  • Few singers have released cover versions of Lynn’s hit, as it is a biographical song about Loretta’s life. However, Sissy Spacek recorded a version for the soundtrack of the movie Coal Miner’s Daughter.  Loretta re-recorded the song with guest vocals from Miranda Lambert and Sheryl Crow in 2010 for Coal Miner’s Daughter: A Tribute To Loretta Lynn; and Stella Parton, younger sister of Loretta’s good friend Dolly Parton, also recorded the song on her 2010 album, “American Coal.”
  • Coal Miner’s Daughter lyrics.

coal miner’s daughter – loretta lynn – 1970 – video

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