Friday Five: Birthday Songs

Juli Thanki | May 21st, 2010

There are a couple cool folks celebrating a birthday today: Mr. T and country singer/journalist Peter Cooper. Wouldn’t you love to be in attendance at that birthday dinner? I imagine they’d have a lot to say to one another. Anyway, here’s a Friday Five about birthdays, and one song to grow on.

  • Number Ones6. “Happy Birthday Darlin’” – Conway Twitty

    Ol’ Conway isn’t going to give you a birthday present, but he’s going to take some stuff away: your loneliness, for example, and probably your hair product too. But it’s worth it to have a man with such a majestic head of hair.

  • The Essential Ronnie Milsap5. “Happy, Happy Birthday Baby” – Ronnie Milsap

    Twitty’s gift is better than Milsap’s, as he sends his ex—who’s moved on to somebody new—a letter wondering why the pair parted ways, while simultaneously acknowledging that he’s acting “kinda crazy.” This song, which Milsap took to the top of the charts, was originally recorded in 1957 by one hit wonders The Tune Weavers. Wanda Jackson does a fine version as well.

  • A-Town Blues4. “Happy Birthday Julie” – Wayne Hancock

    Hancock’s song (from A-Town Blues) is thematically very similar to “Happy, Happy Birthday, Baby” as he asks his ex “Do you remember those warm summer nights when the stars hang in the air?/I didn’t have a dime to my name, but you didn’t care/Now you’ve gotten married and everything has changed/But happy birthday, Julie, just the same.”

  • Brighter Than Creation's Dark3. “Lisa’s Birthday” – Drive-By Truckers

    Here’s a wry, rough around the edges country ballad about a gal “who’s had more birthdays then there are country songs/About trying to love two women and only taking one girl home.” According to the band’s website, the song was inspired by a story told to Mike Cooley by their former guitar tech. In case one DBT song isn’t enough, “Birthday Boy,” a depressing Southern rocker told from a prostitute’s point of view, is below.

  • The Definitive Collection2. “Happy Birthday” – Loretta Lynn

    Miss Loretta isn’t going to stick around while her man runs around with some hussy. But polite to the last, on her way out the door she wishes him “Happy birthday, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year” on the opening track from 1965′s Songs from My Heart (this single went to #3). She doesn’t mention anything about a gift, but I’m guessing it’s something along the lines of flaming dog poo on the guy’s doorstep.

  • RCA Country Legends1. “Happy Birthday To Me” – Hank Locklin

    Man, poor Hank is having a pretty bad birthday: he bought his own gift, came home to an empty mailbox, and blew out the candles all alone. But if you’ve got to sing “Happy Birthday” to yourself, it must be nice to have a voice like Locklin’s.

  1. Jon
    May 21, 2010 at 9:23 am

    I like the “Happy Birthday Julie” thought, even if it is misspelled, and Loretta’s song is a dandy, but you have missed a really, really, really good one – “Next Sunday, Darling, Is My Birthday.” Most memorably recorded by the Stanley Brothers (there’s also a Hank version on the Unreleased Recordings set) and, in an odd twist, credited to frequent song seller (and hence uncredited writer) Arthur Q. Smith but actually written by Jim Eanes. It’s the best!

  2. Juli
    May 21, 2010 at 9:37 am

    Oh, can’t believe I forgot that one! I don’t have the Stanley Brothers’ cut, but I was just listening to Hank’s Mother’s Best version…I blame jet lag ;-)

  3. Jon
    May 21, 2010 at 10:11 am

    Well, not that Hank isn’t great, but you really need to hear the Stanleys; it’s on a whole ‘nother level of awful mournful lonesomeness.

  4. numberonecountryfan
    May 21, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    What about Barbara Mandrell’s Happy Birthday Dear Heartache?

  5. Hoggy from Oz
    May 21, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    haha, thanks so much for this. It’s my birthday this week, so I may treat myself to a few of these songs :)

  6. luckyoldsun
    May 23, 2010 at 9:03 am

    Hank Jr. had a song called “Buck Naked” on one of his albums. I haven’t heard it for years, but I think he mentioned something about a “birthday suit.”

  7. Sandi
    May 23, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    How about “Trip Around the Sun” by Jimmy Buffet and Martina?

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