Friday Five: Johnny Paycheck

Ken Morton, Jr. | May 31st, 2013

If there were ever a walking, talking, country song, Johnny Paycheck just might have been it. Jail, drinking, money problems and rabble-rousing weren’t just song topics, they were a way of life for Donald Eugene Lytle, born on this day back in 1938. Happy birthday to Johnny–who would have been 75 today had he not passed away in 2003. What’s your favorite song that Paycheck wrote and/or recorded?

5. “Old Violin” 

The year prior to the 1986 release of this great steel guitar driven track, Paycheck was sentenced to seven years in prison for shooting at a man’s head. But his personal life didn’t affect his chart success: “Old Violin” made the Top 20.


4. “She’s All I Got” 

This single went all the way to #2 in 1971.  It was released earlier that year by Freddie North as a pop hit and has also been recorded by Conway Twitty, Tanya Tucker, and Tracy Byrd.


3. “A-11” 

This was Paycheck’s very first charted single back in 1965.


2. “I’m the Only Hell (Mama Ever Raised)” 

The coolest part of this video is the wardrobe.


1. “Take This Job and Shove It”

Paycheck’s signature song, Take This Job and Shove It,” was written by his friend David Allan Coe–and hit #1 in 1977, making it Paycheck’s only chart-topper.

  1. Kenn Love
    May 31, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    Enjoyed the 5. My conclusion to Mr. Paycheck’s “ambience” is Hag without the voice, class, regret or repentance. I’ll pass.

  2. TX Music Jim
    May 31, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    Authentic, real and genuine are words that come to mind when I reflect on Paychecks music. In my mind he should have a spot in the hall of fame sooner than later. Had it been a longer list would have loved to have seen clasics like colorado kool aid, i’ve got someone to kill and drinin’ and drivin’ that woman out of my mind.

  3. Rick
    May 31, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    As a related something from left field I’d toss in the original recorded version of “Apartment No. 9″ as sung by Bobby Austin with Johnny on harmony vocals. Johnny and Bobby co-wrote the song and I think their version stands as the best. I’m sure they didn’t mind though when Tammy Wynette decided to record a cover version. It was nice of Chuck Mead to dust this fine oldie off for his recent Quonset Hut album as well.

  4. Bruce
    May 31, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    @ Kenn – To each his own. Paycheck is one of the performers that when he sang at the Opry the other entertainers would listen in the wings as they had a great appreciation for his vocal talents.

    “Old Violin” is my #1. Somehow you could feel him painting a self-portrait.

  5. Luckyoldsun
    May 31, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    Maybe–and this is a guess–you’re not all that familiar with Paycheck’s music, beyond what he did in the wake of “Take This Job And Shove It.”
    He did some great stuff before that–and he definitely had “the voice”–and some of those other qualities.

  6. Occasional Hope
    May 31, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    He was one of the most emotionally intense singers in country music. I like all those included above, but I’d add in Fifteen Years Ago and I Did The Right Thing as particulat personal favourites.

  7. Barry Mazor
    May 31, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    Paycheck was such a close singing partner of George Jones in the early days that it’s still debated by those familiar with their work together as to who influenced who-um as singers. Singers form Willie to Merle to Connie Smith to the late Possum have valued his singing immensely. And if you’ve never heard his daring and out there “Little Darlin” label records, you ought to. Don’t let the caricature he became–and made some money with– tell the story.

  8. TX Music Jim
    May 31, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    Well said Barry !

  9. Janice Brooks
    June 1, 2013 at 10:40 am

    I’m Barly Hanging On To Me

  10. MIke M
    June 2, 2013 at 12:23 am

    “Pardon Me, I’ve Got Someone to Kill” has always been one of my favorite songs. I love it when country goes dark, and Johnny Paycheck was one of the best at it.

  11. Paul W Dennis
    June 2, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    “I Never Got Over You” which appeared on the AMI label in 1983, followed by “The Cave” and “A-11″ from the Little Darlin’ years, “Old Violin” from his one-shot Mercury album and “Someone To Give My Love To” from the Epic years would be my absolute favs,

    I do have a warm spot in my heart for all of the Paycheck/Mayhew collaborations – such as “Lovin’ Machine”, “You’ll Forget In Time” and “Motel Time Again”

  12. luckyoldsun
    June 2, 2013 at 7:11 pm

    It’s kind of funny–at least to me–that he got his name–first and last–from a real guy named Johnny Paychek.
    Anybody who’s interested can look it up!

  13. MH
    June 3, 2013 at 11:55 am

    Paycheck’s actual outlaw output on Little Darlin’ blows his major label work out of the water.

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