Friday Five: Johnny Russell Tribute

Juli Thanki | January 22nd, 2010

Tomorrow would have been Johnny Russell’s 70th birthday (he passed away in 2001). He was well-known for performing hits like “Rednecks, White Socks, and Blue Ribbon Beer” and “Catfish John,” but today’s Friday Five features my favorite Russell-penned songs that have been recorded by other artists.

Honorable Mention: In a Mansion Stands My Love – Jim Reeves

This tune about marrying for money was the B-side to “He’ll Have to Go.” It’s pretty similar to the Hank Williams/Fred Rose song “Mansion on the Hill,” in case you’re compiling a playlist about sad single guys in cabins.

  • George Strait's Greatest Hits5. “Let’s Fall To Pieces Together” – George Strait

    Strait topped the charts with this single (which Russell co-wrote with Dickey Lee and Tommy Rocco) back in 1984. As far as pickup lines go, “Pardon me, you left your tears on the jukebox” may not be as smooth as “Excuse me, I think you’ve got my chair”, but it seems to work for King George.

  • The Essential Porter And Dolly4. “Making Plans” – Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton

    This couple is carefully plotting out the dissolution of their relationship. One wonders what these plans must have looked like. Tuesday, 7:45: Drink and cry whilst ripping up photographs. 9:30: Contemplate becoming a crazy cat lady. Decide against it. 9:35: Be lonesome.

  • True Country3. “Got No Reason Now for Going Home” – Gene Watson

    This one’s a single from 1984′s Heartaches and Love and Stuff. Now that his gal’s left him, Gene doesn’t want to return to an empty house. So pour another one and listen to one of country’s finest voices sing about “missing her, hurtin’ so, and drinkin’.”

  • Singin' Again2. “Beautiful Unhappy Home” – Ernest Tubb & Loretta Lynn

    Ernest Tubb is my favorite duet partner for Loretta Lynn, and the two sound great here. “Beautiful Unhappy Home,” co-written with Teddy Wilburn, tells the story of a loveless marriage held together by a child and tasteful interior decoration.

  • 21 #1 Hits: The Ultimate Collection1. “Act Naturally” – Buck Owens

    It’s only one of the best songs ever. Four floppy-haired British lads recorded the song in 1965 (and one would team up with Owens in the late ’80s for an all new version complete with goofy music video), but around here we’re partial to Buck’s 1963 take on it.

  1. Jake
    January 22, 2010 at 9:22 am

    My first exposure to Johnny Russell was a gift from my mother. She bought me a greatest hits cd that had “red neck, white sox, and blue ribbon beer on it” knowing my own fondness for blue ribbon beer.

  2. Dave D.
    January 22, 2010 at 9:58 am

    Thanks for the education, I had no idea he wrote those.

    Regarding sad single guys in cabins, it will be tough to top Porter Wagoner’s “Albert Erving.”

  3. Howard
    January 22, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    Johnny Russell, well you just got to miss him. Wrote some of the finest country songs there are. ‘She burnt the little roadside tavern down’ is classic line after line

  4. stormy
    January 22, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    Its much easier when you just decide to become the crazy cat lady.

  5. Paul Selby
    January 23, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    If I’m not mistaken, he also wrote “Ain’t You Even Gonna Cry”, and Charlie Louvin did a masterful job with that song.

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