Friday Five: Porter Wagoner

Juli Thanki | August 12th, 2011

It’s Porter Wagoner’s birthday today. He would have been 84. In honor of the Wagonmaster, here are my five favorite songs made famous by him over his six decade career. What are your favorite Wagoner songs?

5. “Misery Loves Company”
This song, written by Jerry Reed, was Wagoner’s second #1. The first heartbreak is the worst, so in this song, Wagoner deals with it in the time-honored country music tradition: with bottle, jukebox, and crowd.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6IMaVPgEmU

 

4. “Green Green Grass”
The revelation at the end of this Curly Putnam-penned song is still one of the best “surprise” endings in any art form (take that, Sixth Sense!).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gIDZqf2koM

 

3. “Just Someone I Used to Know”
Porter and Dolly recorded many duets together over the course of their musical partnership, but this one’s my favorite: great lyrics delivered beautifully. What more can a listener ask for?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0z3dbyTWt8U

 

2. “A Satisfied Mind”
Wagoner topped the charts with this Jack Rhodes/Red Hayes song in 1955. In the past 60+ years, it’s been recorded hundreds of times by everyone from Willie Nelson to Jeff Buckley, but Wagoner’s version is still the best, in my opinion.

 

1. “Cold Hard Facts of Life”
This chilling song hit #2 in 1967. When I first heard it, probably around 35 years later, it stopped me in my tracks. Wagoner’s matter-of-fact delivery of the last stanza makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Lest you think it’s just another murder song, “Cold Hard Facts of Life” also provides helpful advice: if you’re going to brag about your adultery to random folks, do it at the wine shop in the next town.

  1. Jon
    August 12, 2011 at 9:44 am

    Favorites? There are so many, but for a plain old Porter Wagoner song, I’d probably go with “You Gotta Have A License,” written by the great Tommy Collins; for a duet with Dolly Parton, “Holding On To Nothing,” and for a recitation, “Pastor’s Absent On Vacation.” Interviewing him was just about as much fun as I’ve had interviewing anyone ever; you can read the resulting story here: http://archives.nodepression.com/2000/09/the-thin-man/ .

  2. Ken Morton, Jr.
    August 12, 2011 at 11:53 am

    I’ve always been partial to “The Carroll County Accident.” You’ve got a car wreck, cheating, death, lies and deceit all wrapped up in a three minute bow. I had an opportunity to see Porter play live at the Opry just a few short months before his death in 2007- right about the time Wagonmaster was released- and it remains a personal highlight for me.

  3. J.R. Journey
    August 12, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    Your top selection would also be my favorite Wagoner tune. As for duets with Dolly Parton, I’ve always been partial to “Please Don’t Stop Loving Me”.

  4. Paul W Dennis
    August 12, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    I always liked “Carroll County Accident” and “Cold Hard Facts of Life”

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