Forgotten Artists: Dick Feller

Paul W. Dennis | September 1st, 2008

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.

Discography

  1. 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)
  2. On CD:
    • Centaur Of Attention (Cyberphonic, 2001)
      This CD is available at www.cdbaby.com.

Check out www.dickfeller.com for more information on Dick Feller.

2 Pings

  1. [...] a publishing company, spurred on by Chuck Glaser’s discovery of John Hartford, and later, Dick Feller. Also, in 1968, Jim Glaser saw one of his compositions, “Woman, Woman,” become a major hit for [...]
  2. [...] have a kind word for his offbeat novelty songs. Learn more about him the way I did, by reading Paul’s “Forgotten Artists” essay on Feller from 2008. “Fan” me on Facebook, get automatic updates Kevin Paulk is a fan of3 [...]
  1. Brody Vercher
    September 1, 2008 at 6:30 pm

    Good stuff, Paul. I think it’s interesting that recitations like “Biff, The Friendly Purple Bear” used to be able to impact the charts and that somewhere between now and then they fell to the wayside.

  2. Rick
    September 1, 2008 at 7:07 pm

    Paul, Thanks for another interesting article. I recently purchased a “Best of Jerry Reed” CD and never bothered to check the songwriter credits. “East Bound” and “Mr. Ford” are two of the best.

    I had never heard of Warner Mack until I became a fan of The Wrights back in 2005. When they joined Eddie Stubbs earlier this year in the WSM AM studio they had Eddie play a Warner Mack song during their visit. Good stuff.

    Dick appears to be another of those talented male country artists who didn’t have movie star good looks, and that’s always a liability. The picture you posted has an amazing resemblance to Mickey Rooney! Dick’s songwriter credentials are impeccable though….

  3. John Maglite
    September 1, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    Another great piece, Paul. No knock against what anyone else is doing, but I really do think this series is one of the best things happening at The 9513 or any other country music blog right now. I always learn a lot and eagerly await the next installment.

  4. Troy
    September 1, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    His picture at the top is creepy

  5. Paula
    September 1, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    This is great! I had heard “I Dont Look Good Naked Anymore” before but not the other two. I am going to play that and “Alimony” for my dad. That is the kind of stuff he loves. He just got a computer about a month ago (his first one ever at age 74) so I will have to let him listen to it one day when I am over there to actually pull up this site and play it for him.

  6. mr.sandy
    September 2, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    You know, I was just about to post a note saying that not only was Dick Feller forgotten, but increasingly so too was the foremost interpreter of his work. And, then I saw that Jerry Reed died today. Sad, sad, sad. He was truly one of the greats. I hope people will rediscover his great music (most of which was made in the years leading up to “East Bound and Down.” )

  7. leeann
    September 2, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    Was Jerry Reed really forgotten?

  8. Courtney
    September 2, 2008 at 7:00 pm

    I’m with Troy. Very creepy picture. He almost looks like the child catcher in Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang. Haha.

    These songs are hillarious! They remind me of stuff my Grandpa would go around singing. These are good. They made my day. :D

  9. Stephen H.
    September 2, 2008 at 7:26 pm

    He looks like a Paul McCartney impersonator.

  10. Ed H.
    September 4, 2008 at 1:51 am

    I have the album Dick Feller wrote … that I purchased at a yard sale. It’s a great album that I wish they would release on CD. My favorite two songs on the album are the two long story songs. One titled ” Daisy Hill ” about a pretty girl that has a surprise ending that reveals her occupation. And my personal favorite is the tragedy song modeled after Dicky Lee’s Patches entitled Jerico Springs which is a small town here in Missouri. It has memorable meolody with a great hook. Feller should have had a hit with it, but the record company in their infinite wisdom probably thought the song was too long. The song concludes with the lines:
    But a girl’s been found, face down and drown
    In the waters of Jerico Springs.
    Where the Ozark breeze,
    Blows soft through the trees,
    The thresh and the bluebird sing.
    At the end of the world,
    A show-me girl,
    Walks down by Jerico Springs.

  11. nick fiore
    October 27, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    I JUST LEARNED TO TURN ON THIS COMPUTOR ON IN DEC 2007 , SO THIS WAS AH THRILL TO ME TO FIND OUT WHO FINALLY WROTE SOME OF THE SONGS I ,VE LISTENED TO AND NOW SING TO RESIDENTS IN NURSING HOMES , IT SURE HELPES ME NOW WITH MY OWN CONFIDENCE TO WRITE AND PERFORM MY OWN STUFF , THANKS AH MILLION DICK ,

  12. Ron Darnell
    December 11, 2008 at 7:44 pm

    Finally…Someone is recognizing ne of the best songwriters ever. I have had Dick Feller Wrote…
    since its release and enjoy it often. The best song on the record in my opinion has to be Daisy Hill. I would love to see this performed live.

    Dick, if you read this, thank you very much for some of the finest music ever!

  13. Bryan Sellars
    June 15, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    I am a dick feller fan and would like to get hold of his LP “wrote” which features daisy hill .
    I live in Australia. how can i get hold of a copy of this album ?

    Bryan

  14. tomedminster
    April 27, 2011 at 11:16 pm

    I remember Dick Feller playing with a band called the Sebrings,who played at the Tower ballroom in Pittsburg (thats right no h)Ks. What a talent. That was back in 1964.

  15. Ralph Emery
    October 31, 2012 at 11:13 am

    Dick Feller made many guest appearances on my TNN talevision show. I thought he was one of the cleverest song writer I had met. What happened to him? Where is he now? I have asked many veteran Nashvlle song writers about him and no one seems to know what has happened to him?The show that I hosted was called Nashville Now.

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