Friday Five: Carl Smith

Ken Morton, Jr. | March 15th, 2013

On this date in 1927, a future country legend named Carl Smith was born. Smith had thirty Top Ten hits in the 1950s alone, had nearly 100 different songs hit the country charts over his career and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2003. He was also married to June Carter for five years; together, they had another music sensation in Carlene Carter. Happy birthday, “Mister Country.”

5. “Hey Joe”

This gem spent eight weeks on top of the charts back in 1953 and had an “answer song” released by Kitty Wells by the same name later the year that also hit Number One.


4. “I Overlooked an Orchid”

This song had two lives, one upon Smith’s original release and again as a Number One hit for Mickey Gilley in 1974.


3. “If You Do Dear”

This was never released as a single, but it features Tex Ritter. And you can’t ever go wrong with Tex Ritter.


2. “Deep Water”

This was the last Top Ten single of Carl Smith’s career, released in 1967. Check out all of the video’s sartorial deliciousness.


1. “How I Love Them Old Songs”

This barely cracked the Top 20 when it was released in 1970, and there were certainly bigger hits in his career, but it’s a personal favorite.


  1. Ben Foster
    March 15, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    Carl Smith was great. Big fan of “Hey Joe,” and of the Kitty Wells answer song of the same title. Also love “Loose Talk” and “You Are the One” (the latter of which his daughter Carlene Carter did a fine cover).

  2. Rick
    March 15, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    I just love to listen to old Carl Smith and Faron Young recordings from the 1950’s because of the strong Hank Williams influence present. They definitely created some of the best country music ever made.

    Some of my personal faves include “Back Up Buddy”. “You Are The One”, and “Baby I’m Ready”. Daughter Carlene Carter recorded a cover of “You Are The One” that is just as awesome as the original. They sure as hell don’t make country music like this any more, and that’s a real shame.

  3. Barry Mazor
    March 15, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    Carl is a pretty fascinating case of someone considered “next Hank Williams” class in the 50s…and tremendously popular, too. If you see any of the “stars of the Opry” Gannaway films of the 60s, he;s a frequent host, did some movie work etc. (Very handsome and striking guy, to the end!)..Carl and JNUne Carter were treated like country’s cool young royal couple in the eraly 50s, and pretty much were…but still, he probably became less familiar to modern audiences because, unlike so many, when he decided to walk away from all that, he actually walked away from all that.

    Anyhow, I’ll put in a word for another terrific song and record of his, “(That;s My) Trademark,”: which maybe some of you know as done much later by Mandy Barnett. I understand that daughter Carlene was working on a tribute album for him, with multiple performers involved, but haven’t heard much about that lately.

  4. Jon
    March 15, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    Yes, and also “Let Old Mother Nature Have Her Way,” a wonderful record that is still performed by a number of bluegrass artists.

    I believe Smith also did some recording with the Osborne Brothers, but I don’t recall ever having heard any of the results.

  5. Paul W Dennis
    March 15, 2013 at 7:06 pm

    It would be very difficult to come up with a Carl Smith song that I didn’t like. I loved the western swing turn he made during the late 1960s-early 1970s and even forgotten singles such as “Mama Bear” and “There’s No More Love”, I consider to be classics.

    Carl could sing anything and sing it well. In the early 1970s he issued a Roy Acuff tribute and a salute to bluegrass that are highly sought by collectors.

  6. Luckyoldsun
    March 15, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    Kitty Wells’ answer/cover of “Hey Joe” did not top the charts, but it did crack the top-10. The other artist to strike gold with the song was Frankie Laine–of “Mule Train” and “Rawhide” fame–who had a huge #1 hit with it in the U.K.!
    And Moe Bandy and Joe Stampley did a great remake in the ’80s, that also went top-10, with Boudleau Bryant supplying the slightly altered “Hey Joe, Hey Moe” duet lyrics.

    I don’t know if Johnny Cash ever sang “Hey Joe,” but I have feeling he might’ve gone for the Jimi Hendrix version.

  7. Barry Mazor
    March 15, 2013 at 8:56 pm

    Well, the Jimi Hendrix “Hey Joe” has a different history. See the often forgotten Tim Rose, as his direct inspiration–and the Byrds’ version too. Not at all the same song, of course.

  8. Luckyoldsun
    March 16, 2013 at 12:13 am

    Speaking of Carlene Carter, the nation’s greatest newspaper once happened to mention her in an article, describing her as “Johnny Cash’s daughter.”

    I sent them a letter informing them that Carlene Carter’s father was actually a very accomplished man who was NOT Johnny Cash–and telling them who Carl Smith was. They ignored it, so after about a week, I sent them a second note saying the same thing.

    This time, they finally posted a correction at the bottom of page A2, reading, as I recall:
    “The Times erroneously stated that Carlene Carter is Johnny Cash’s daughter. She is is step-daughter.”

  9. Barry Mazor
    March 16, 2013 at 4:16 am

    Getting “mainstream” press and publishers to discuss anything about country music that does not involve Johnny Cash, Hank Williams or Patsy Cline, or references to them (with an occasional passing mention of Loretta, Tammy and Dolly if, and only if, women are involved) is more often than not a challenge. Trust me on this one, It can happen, but you have to work at it.

  10. Janice Brooks
    March 16, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    Barry how about Kudos to Steve Miller the writer not the rock star.

  11. Barry Mazor
    March 16, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    Kudos to everybody, Janice, who knows the territory, does their homework, works hard, even fights to sheds light rather than dismissal repetition, posturing and cliché–paying country music the respect it deserves, sometimes even despite itself.

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