Forgotten Artists: Dick Feller
A few years ago I was attending a performance by Vermont singer/songwriter Bernie Whittle when he launched into “I Just Don’t Look Good Naked Anymore.” I wasn’t familiar with the song but it seemed to me that it could have come from the pen of only one writer–Dick Feller. A little research confirmed my assumption.
Dick Feller was never a big recording star, but during the 1970s he provided numerous hits for other people. Possessed of rare wit and sensitivity (a product of his rural Missouri upbringing), Feller could write poignant ballads and novelties with equal facility. For a period of time, he was a staff writer for Johnny Cash. Prior to that, he was the touring band leader/lead guitarist for Warner Mack. He even played lead guitar on most of his own recordings and appeared as guitarist on sessions by a number of other artists, including Mel Tillis and Mike Auldridge.
Among Feller’s serious songs, John Denver hit with “Some Days Are Diamonds (Some Days Are Stone)” (#10 Country / #36 Pop), Johnny Cash had success with “Any Old Wind That Blows” (#3 Country) and “Orleans Parish Prison,” and Ferlin Husky recorded “A Room For A Boy–Never Used,” a song that should have been a bigger hit than it was.
I’m not sure whether to classify Dick’s biggest copyright as serious or humorous, but there are few songs more familiar than “East Bound and Down,” a huge country hit (#1 Cashbox /#2 Billboard) for co-writer Jerry Reed that was featured in the 1977 film Smokey and the Bandit, and received continuous play by country bands everywhere for at least the next 25 years.
Despite his facility with the serious songs, Dick Feller seemed to prefer looking at the humorous side of life with his music. Songs such as “Lord, Mr. Ford” (a #1 Country hit for Jerry Reed) and “The Night Miss Nancy Ann’s Hotel For Single Girls Burned Down” (a minor hit for Tex Williams) seemed more in keeping with that outlook.
He issued three albums during the 1970s with four songs charting: “The Credit Card Song” (#10 Billboard Country), “Makin’ The Best of A Bad Situation” (#11 Billboard), “Uncle Hiram and the Homemade Beer” (#49 Billboard) and “Biff, The Friendly Purple Bear” (#22 Billboard)–a song that appeals to children (and adults) of all ages.
Feller mostly wrote on his own, but when he did co-write, it was usually with writers who shared his humorous outlook on life, such as Sheb Wooley (a/k/a Ben Colder), Jerry Reed and most notably the late, Atlanta humorist Lewis Grizzard. Dick toured with Grizzard and was the opening act for the “Evening With Lewis Grizzard” stage show. Their most notable musical collaboration was “Alimony,” a subject Grizzard knew well.
In addition to the aforementioned artists, Dick Feller’s songs have been recorded by a diverse group of artists that include Bobby Bare, The Kingston, Ray Stevens, Mac Davis, Lee Greenwood, Ed Bruce, Burt Reynolds, Julie Andrews, Arthur Godfrey, Hank Snow, Hank Thompson and countless others.
Wouldn’t you love to hear Vince Gill or George Strait tackle these lyrics:
I stepped out of the shower and I got a good look at myself
Pot bellied, bald-headed, I thought I was somebody else
I caught my reflection in the mirror of the bathroom door
I just don’t look good naked anymore!
So… I’m goin upstairs and turn my bedroom mirror to the wall
I hung it there back when I was trim and tall
I’d stand there and smile and flex and strut until my arms go sore
But I just don’t look good naked anymore!
From “I Just Don’t Look Good Naked Anymore” available on Centaur Of Attention.
- On LP (these are out of print but are worth searching for:
- Dick Feller Wrote… (United Artists, 1973)
- No Word On Me (Electra, 1974)
- Some Days Are Diamonds (Electra/Asylum, 1975)
- Audiograph Alive (Audiograph, 1982)
- On CD:
- Centaur Of Attention (Cyberphonic, 2001)
This CD is available at www.cdbaby.com.
- Centaur Of Attention (Cyberphonic, 2001)
Check out www.dickfeller.com for more information on Dick Feller.
- Leeann Ward: Thanks, NM. I like a good pop hook, to be honest. So, maybe I need to try it again.
- Barry Mazor: OK, Jim Z. That changes everything. I surrender.
- Jim Z: to call the Dirty River Boys an "Austin area band" is still incorrect. They are based in El Paso.
- nm: Leeann, you and I often have similar tastes in more-traditional country. And, to my ears, Sam Hunt's voice and lyrics …
- Barry Mazor: Matter of fact, as always--I did. The notes say the album was recorded & mixed by and at "The …
- Roger: Looking forward to picking up the Jamey Johnson Christmas EP - love all of those songs and can't wait for …
- Jim Z: that record was recorded in El Paso. (you could look it up) and other than appearing in Austin once in …
- Leeann Ward: Yes, I can always use more dobro in my life! Thanks for the Phil Leadbetter tip! I haven't been able to …
- Barry Mazor: OK, Jim. The record's more or less out of Austin. But I'm sure they're also good in El Paso...
- Jim Z: Dirty River Boys are from El Paso, Texas.