Great Country Songs from the 1970s, Pt. 2

Paul W. Dennis | May 11th, 2009

Same admonition as before. Just some songs I liked, one song per artist.

Everybody’s Reaching Out For Someone” – Pat Daisy (1972)
Beautiful and blessed with a great voice, she never did break through as a major star since she was buried at RCA behind Connie Smith, Dolly Parton, Dottie West and Skeeter Davis. This song reached #20 on the country chart and #112 on the pop chart and was covered on albums by many country artists. Pat pulled the plug on her own career to raise a family.

Bluest Heartache of the Year” – Kenny Dale (1977)
One of my all-time favorite recordings, this song just missed the top ten. Kenny was a regular on Ralph Emery’s WSMV-TV morning show.

Orange Blossom Special” – Johnny Darrell (1974)
Johnny’s career was virtually dead when this recording came out, but I always liked this vocal version of the Rouse Brother’s classic.

The Door Is Always Open” – Dave & Sugar (1976)
The first of several #1 records for this group, “Dave & Sugar” was actually Dave Rowland and his hired help, as female singers came and left with regularity.

Someone Is Looking For Someone Like You” – Gail Davies (1979)
The second woman to produce her own records, this charming song deserved better than its #11 chart peak. Gail would reach her stride in the 1980s, with a five Top 10 hits including a great version of the Ray Price classic “I’ll Be There (If You Ever Want Me).”

Bus Fare To Kentucky” – Skeeter Davis (1971)
Skeeter titled her autobiography after this song.

(After Sweet Memories) Play Born To Lose Again” – Dottsy (1977)
Loosely affiliated with the Outlaw movement, this petite blond had three significant hits during the 1970s. This Susannah Clark penned song was the biggest of the three, reaching #10. Her 1979 hit “Tryin’ To Satisfy You” featured Waylon Jennings on background vocals. Dottsy left music to work with autistic children.

Long Long Texas Road” – Roy Drusky (1970)
This record is a wistful look back at childhood. It reached #1 on Record World.

This Night (Ain’t Fit For Nothing But Drinking)” – Dave Dudley (1970)
Coming on the heels of Dave’s only #1 record, “The Pool Shark,” this record barely cracked the Top 20, though it’s ferocious tone always has appealed to me.

Fools” – Johnny Duncan (1972)
Another record that barely hit the Top 20. I love the steel guitar work on this record. Jim Ed Brown & Helen Cornelius had a bigger hit with the song several years later, but this is the better version.

She’s My Rock” – Stoney Edwards (1973)
The other great black country singer of the 1970s, Stoney’s vocals were a bit too raw for him to become a major star, but he had a string of excellent records including “Two Dollar Toy” and “Poor Folks Stick Together.” George Jones would cover this song later.

Mississippi” – Barbara Fairchild (1976)
Barbara had bigger hits, but they were too cutesy for my taste. This song, and “Standing In Your Line,” better personified what she was capable of performing.

Don’t Be Angry” – Donna Fargo (1977)
Ms. Fargo had a lot of hits during the 1970s before being slowed by MS. This cover of a Stonewall Jackson hit is quite nice.

Reconsider Me” – Narvel Felts (1975)
They don’t call him “Narvel the Marvel” for nothing. Just try to sing along with this record – I dare you. It reached #1 on Cashbox.

Before The Next Teardrop Falls” – Freddy Fender (1975)
Not my favorite version of the song (Jack Greene’s earlier record holds that honor) but a deserved breakthrough for an artist who was nearly 38 by the time he achieved success.

North Carolina” – Dallas Frazier (1972)
Not a hit, just a song I liked. Dallas Frazier is my favorite songwriter.

I Never Go Around Mirrors” – Lefty Frizzell (1974)
A very sad song, sung by a master singer. Unfortunately, the song was autobiographical for Lefty. He would die the year after this song was issued.

Sweet Becky Walker” – Larry Gatlin (1973)
His first hit. Although this song barely cracked the Top 40, I remember telling my wife that this guy was destined to become one of the giants of country music. He didn’t, of course, although he came close.

Guess Away The Blues” – Don Gibson (1971)
Don left RCA for Hickory Records after 1969. While the hits were not generally as big as those of his tenure at RCA, I prefer the sound and production on the Hickory sides.

Room Full of Roses” – Mickey Gilley (1974)
Gilley’s breakthrough hit, updating an old Sons of The Pioneers classic from 1949.

Rings” – Tompall & The Glaser Brothers (1971)
Their only #1 hit (per Record World), a nice cover of a Cymarron pop hit–with plenty of fiddle and steel guitar.

(Summer) The First Time” – Bobby Goldsboro (1973)
After years of saccharine, Goldboro finally issued a decent record, a nice coming of age song. This song only reached #100 on the country chart but got to #21 on the pop chart .

Yesterday’s Gone” – Vern Gosdin (1977)
Vern’s second solo hit with Emmylou Harris singing harmony. I don’t like the production on this record but how can you go wrong with Vern and Emmylou singing?

Lord Is That Me” – Jack Greene (1970)
My favorite Jack Green performance, this quasi-gospel song turned out to be a career killer for him, released at a time when country radio would not touch religious recordings by secular artists. In the decade before this single, Jack had seven #1 records and two other Top 10s. After this, he never again cracked the Top 10, although he continued to issue great records. Dallas Frazier wrote this song.

The Morning After Baby Let Me Down” – Ray Griff (1972)
Griff was a Canadian superstar who never quite cracked the U.S. market as a singer, although his songs were recorded by many country artists.

Read other playlists in the Great Country Songs from the 1970s series:

  1. Rick
    May 11, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    I guess I’m not the only one who doesn’t get too excited about a lot of 70’s country music. In fact even though the “Urban Cowboy” era music that followed the 70’s is maligned by many, I find it much more enjoyable than most late 70’s mainstream country music. I consider the 60’s and latter 80’s as a Golden Age of country music. I rate the 40’s and 50’s and early 70’s and 80’s a Silver Age. I rank the early 90’s as a Bronze Age, and most of the 70’s and mid-nineties through today stuff as a “Rusty Ole Truck in an Abandoned Field” Age of country music….

  2. Jon
    May 11, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    Again, a lot that I barely remember, if at all, along with some choices with which I heartily agree – notably Barbara Fairchild’s excellent “Mississippi” and Mickey Gilley’s “Room Full Of Roses.” In fact, all of Gilley’s early hits were sensationally good.

    BTW, Chris Jones recorded an outstanding version of “(After Sweet Memories) Play Born To Lose Again” on his 2006 Little Dog Records release, Too Far Down The Road. Ain’t that right, Ben?

  3. Mike K
    May 12, 2009 at 8:51 am

    Nice job on another installment of this list. My question is, why does Lefty’s version of “I Never Go around Mirrors,” the original I would assume, have only one verse while Keith Whitley’s version has two verses? Usually it happens the other way around, where a cover will leave out a verse to shorten a well-known song. It definitely has me puzzled, but “I’m just dumb I guess, like any foolish man.” Thanks for the post.

  4. Paul W Dennis
    May 12, 2009 at 9:13 am

    Keith had Lefty’s co-writer (I think Whitey Schaffer) write an additional verse to lengthen the song – Keith felt it was too short to issue as a single

  5. Mike K
    May 12, 2009 at 10:00 am

    Thanks, Paul. That explains it.

  6. M.C.
    May 13, 2009 at 11:10 am

    It was Whitey Shafer who co-write “I Never Go Around Mirrors” and added a verse for Whitley. Shafer is a very effective singer himself, and for those in Nashville, there’s an in-the-round performance a week from Friday (May 22) at the Bluebird with Shafer, Dallas Frazier and Joe Melson (who co-wrote nearly all of Roy Orbison’s classics and does the “Dum Dum Dum Dum De Doo Wah” part of “Only the Lonely.”

  7. M.C.
    May 13, 2009 at 11:11 am

    co-wrote, not co-write…sorry.

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