Great Country Songs from the 1970s, Pt. 5

Paul W. Dennis | June 10th, 2009

As always, just some songs I liked, one song per artist, not necessarily the biggest hit, (although I feel free to comment on other songs by the artist).

Let’s All Go Down The River” – Jody Miller & Johnny Paycheck (1972)
A nice country cover of an old gospel song–how could you go wrong with this duo? (See the Forgotten Artist article for more on Jody Miller)

Tom Green County Fair” – Roger Miller (1970)
Roger Miller’s career had largely run out of steam by this time, but the imagery in this song makes it one of my favorites. Alas, this song only reached #38.

Pure Love” – Ronnie Milsap (1974)
Written by Eddie Rabbitt, this was Ronnie’s first #1. How can you not like a song that contains a line like “Milk and Honey and Captain Krunch and You in the Morning?”

Personality” – Price Mitchell (1975)
A nice cover of an old Lloyd Price hit, it reached #29 making it Mitchell’s biggest hit.

No Charge” – Melba Montgomery (1974)
Never a top tier star, Melba was regarded as the female George Jones, and recorded a number of tracks with George during the 1960s on both United Artists and Musicor. She never caught the breaks, but this sappy Mother’s Day favorite did reach #1 and still receives airplay during every Mother’s Day weekend. She cut a nice series of duets with Charlie Louvin during the 1970s with “Something To Brag About” cracking the top 20.

Red Rose From The Blue Side of Town” – George Morgan (1974)
This was a nice song that deserved a better placing than #21. Featuring ‘Little’ Roy Wiggins on steel guitar, this was George’s last top 40 hit.

A Girl Named Johnny Cash” – Jane Morgan (1970)
A ridiculous answer song to “A Boy Named Sue” it represents the only real chart success for a very popular pop singer from the 1950s.

Cherokee Fiddle” – Michael Martin Murphey (1977)
MMM’s 1970s success came with songs such as “Wildfire” and “Carolina In The Pines” which charted pop rather than country. This only got to #58, but remains my favorite version of the song.

Snowbird” – Anne Murray (1970)
This is the song that jump-started Anne’s career. The song was a million-seller but only got to #10 on the country charts and #8 on the pop charts. Anne was the undoubted queen of Countrypolitan Music.

Garden Party” – Rick Nelson (1972)
This is the song that introduced American to the ‘new’ Ricky Nelson. The song received only limited country airplay, reaching #44.

Shotgun Willie” – Willie Nelson (1973)
Although it only reached #63, this was the first song to give America a taste of what Willie could do freed from the shackles of the ‘Nashville Sound’ production.

If You Love Me (Let Me Know)” – Olivia Newton-John (1974)
Her second country hit and her only #1 (according to Cashbox) country hit. I really liked her first two American albums but then completely lost interest in her and her music.

I Saw The Light” – Nitty Gritty Dirt Band with Roy Acuff (1971)
It only got to #56, but it was on the strength of songs like this that the first Circle album reached legendary status. Acuff, of course, was the King of Country Music.

Never Ending Song of Love” – Mayf Nutter (1971)
One of several artists to cover the Delaney and Bonnie hit, this version wasn’t a big hit, but I liked it. Dickey Lee’s version of the song went to #8, Mayf’s version only to #57. Mayf had far greater success as a comic and an actor appearing in shows such as The Waltons and Charlie’s Angels.

Y’all Come Back Saloon” – The Oak Ridge Boys (1977)
This song proved that a successful gospel group could also be a successful country group. The 1980s would be their biggest decade.

Ebony Eyes” – Orion a/k/a Jimmy Ellis (1979)
The song was an old Everly Brothers hit; the singer, an Elvis sound-alike who wore a mask, the inference being that Elvis was alive and well and in hiding.

Georgia Pineywoods” – The Osborne Brothers (1971)
Bluegrass artists rarely have big hit records. This one got to #37, and was the duo’s biggest hit of the 1970. A nice nostalgic song, as was the follow up “Muddy Bottom.”

Paper Roses” – Marie Osmond (1973)
Marie was not quite 14 when this song was recorded, but she sure could sing. This Sonny James-produced cover of an Anita Bryant pop hit soared all the way to #1, staying there for two weeks. It would take Marie another dozen years to again reach the top of the country charts.

I Don’t Know You (Anymore)” – Tommy Overstreet (1971)
Tommy Overstreet, a distant cousin of 1920s pop star Gene Austin, had a five year run of terrific records, with eleven Billboard top 10 records and four number ones (according to Cashbox and/or Record World. This is my favorite of his hits, a record that doesn’t sound like any other record issued during the decade.

I Wouldn’t Live In New York City (If They Gave Me The Whole Dang Town)” – Buck Owens (1970)
My feelings exactly.

Redneck!” – Vernon Oxford (1976)
Vernon was always too country for country radio and this song proved it.

Make Me Your Kind of Woman”– Patti Page (1971)
Patti Page was one of the biggest pop stars of the 1950s, with a resume of dozens of songs everyone over 60 knows by heart. Her first country hit was 1951’s “Tennessee Waltz” which spent three weeks at #2 on the country charts (and 13 weeks at #1 on the pop charts). During the 1970s she made a conscious effort to focus on the country market. While her country records weren’t that successful, most of them were pretty good records.

Washday Blues” – Dolly Parton (1972)
This was not one of Dolly’s bigger hits, stalling out at #20, but it’s as good an example of Dolly’s sense of humor as exists anywhere.

Standard Lie Number One” – Stella Parton (1949)
Stella was at least as pretty as her older sister, but not as talented. This song was one of Stella’s four top twenty hits.

She’s All I Got” – Johnny Paycheck (1971)
This #1 (Cashbox) record launched Johnny’s comeback and was the first phase of his career with Epic records, with Paycheck being cast as a romantic balladeer. Johnny had been off the charts for over two years when this record resurrected his career.

All American Husband” – Peggy Sue (1970)
Peggy Sue Wright was too similar to older sister Loretta Lynn to be able to break out of her sister’s shadow. This song reached #37, one of six Top 40 records for her.

The Good Lord Giveth (And Uncle Sam Taketh Away)” – Webb Pierce (1975)
By 1975, Webb was over the hill and recording for Plantation Records. Even so, this song deserved a better fate than only reach #57. Webb, who was the number one country artist of the 1950s, had records stay at #1 for 113 weeks. Only Eddy Arnold has done better. George Strait, in third place, is still a long way behind Pierce and unlikely to ever catch him.

Why Don’t We Go Somewhere And Love” – Sandy Posey (1972)
This song was a bit much for 1970s country radio programmers, so it got uneven air play across the nation, winding up at #51.

Kentucky Rain” – Elvis Presley (1970)
Another song penned by Eddie Rabbitt, this recording did better on the pop charts than on the country chart where it languished at #31.

I’d Rather Be Sorry” – Ray Price (1971)
Ray had a string of big hits during the early 1970s. This one reached #1 on Cashbox and is my favorite Ray Price song since his 1950s classics.

Sea of Heartbreak” – Kenny Price (1972)
From Kenny’s Don Gibson tribute album, this fine recording only reached #24 but is my favorite version of the song. (See the Forgotten Artist article for more on Kenny Price)

It’s Gonna Take A Little Bit Longer” – Charley Pride (1972)
This song had more fiddle and steel on it than the rest of the Top 40 combined during its three week run at #1.

Satin Sheets” – Jeanne Pruett (1973)
Her husband played guitar for Marty Robbins, and Marty recorded several of the songs she wrote. This one she saved for herself.

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

  1. Rick
    June 10, 2009 at 10:50 am

    Fun stuff and a good read as usual Paul. I’m usually lucky if I’m familiar with even a handful of artists and songs on these lists but I recognize a lot of these! Hooray! (lol)

  2. Nicolas
    June 10, 2009 at 10:53 am

    Martina McBride had “Satin Sheets” on her cover album – it was a good song

  3. Bob
    June 10, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    Price Mitchell…now there’s a name I haven’t heard dropped in forever. A wonderful list!

  4. Perry Bennett
    June 15, 2009 at 11:51 am

    I just saw a Pop Goes the Country on RFD TV with George Jones and T G Sheppard, and a great looking flemale singer. Ralph introduced her as Charly McCoy. During the interview with Ralph she mentioned she had had a relationship with Pete Rose at one time. Does anybody know why she isn’t listed in any of the country music sites, and what happened to her? She had a great voice but after trying to look her up on the internet it like she fell off the face of the earth.

  5. Ken Johnson
    June 15, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    Thanks for the memories. Definitely agree that Kenny Price did a great job with “Sea Of Heartbreak.” The acoustic guitars sparkle. “Georgia Pineywoods” proved the unlikely combination of traditional bluegrass with a full orchestra could sound amazing together.

    A correction – Jeanne Pruett did not write “Satin Sheets.” Amateur songwriter John Volinkaty penned that tune circa 1970. According to Jeanne, her producer Walter Haynes became aware of the song after Bill Anderson & Jan Howard recorded it as a duet but decided not to release it. She rewrote some of the lyrics from the original version but declined to accept a co-writing credit.

    TO PERRY BENNETT: Episode #93 for “Pop Goes The Country” from 1979 starred George Jones, T.G. Sheppard and Charly McClain. At that time, Charly had just one top ten hit to her credit “That’s What You Do To Me” (#8 in 1978) She later had #1 hits with “Who’s Cheatin’ Who,” (1981) “Radio Heart” (1985) and her #1 1983 duet with Mickey Gilley “Paradise Tonight.” She married soap opera star Wayne Massey and is now retired from the business.

    Charlie McCoy is the male musician (harmonica player) who was just inducted this year to the Country Music Hall Of Fame.

  6. Terrie Lay
    July 20, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    In reference to the line of a song “we lost old Marty Robbing, and El Paso, a little while back. And now Ms. Patti Page, or one of them, is wearing black.” Were they in a relationship? Can you elaborate on this song lyric? Thank you.
    Terrie

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