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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
Juli Thanki is the editor of Engine 145 and a freelance writer whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, Bluegrass Unlimited, and M Music & Musicians Magazine. In 2011 she received the International Bluegrass Music Association Print Media Person of the Year award.