Great Country Songs from the 1970s, Pt. 6

Paul W. Dennis | June 15th, 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).

Forgive and Forget” – Eddie Rabbitt (1975)
Prior to this, Eddie was known, if at all, as a songwriter. This record got to #12, but did better than that in some markets, and gave Rabbitt his first significant hit. The next song “I Should Have Married You” got to #11; after that the next 33 singles would crack the top 10 with 19 of them getting to #1 on either Billboard and/or Cashbox.

Ladies Love Outlaws” – Jimmy Rabbitt and Renegade (1976)
The title track of a 1972 Waylon Jennings album, for some reason RCA never issued the song as a Jennings single, although it got considerable airplay (it didn’t chart because Billboard did not track non-singles airplay at the time). Jimmy’s version was good (Waylon’s was better) and got to #80, his only chart appearance.

Ain’t She Something Else” – Eddy Raven (1975)
Eddy’s second chart single reached #46 and became a #1 record for Conway Twitty in 1982. It took Raven eight years and 16 singles to have his first top 10 hit. Can you imagine any artist being given that much slack today?

Whatcha Gonna Do With A Dog Like That” – Susan Raye (1975)
Susan Raye had the Buck Owens organization behind her, was very pretty, and sang well, yet never really became a big star, probably because her heart wasn’t in it. This song got to #9, one of six solo top tens she was to enjoy. In theory “(I’ve Got A) Happy Heart” was her biggest hit, reaching #3, but she got so much pop radio action on “L.A. International Airport” that it sold a million copies.

The Preacher and The Bear” – Jerry Reed (1970)
This song dates back to pre-WWI vaudeville and Bert Williams. During the 1940s Phil Harris had a major hit with it. Jerry’s version was the B side of “Amos Moses” but there were some radio stations that initially played this side of the record until the huge pop chart action forced them to play “Amos Moses.” Amos Moses charted at #16 country and #8 pop, with the B Side as a tag-along. Cashbox charted “The Preacher and The Bear” as the main side, having it reach #25 on the country chart.

Working Like The Devil (For The Lord)” – Del Reeves (1971)
By 1971 Del was already over the hill. This quasi-gospel song reached #33.

Am I That Easy To Forget” – Jim Reeves (1973)
By the time this song charted, Reeves was already 10 years dead. He had 80 chart records–34 of them posthumously. Twenty years after his death he had the #1 pop album in the U.K. Jim Reeves is forever.

Hitching A Ride” – Jack Reno (1971)
Nice cover of a Vanity Fare pop hit. Jack was an excellent singer who never got any traction. This song got to #12 making it his biggest hit of the 1970s.

Travelin’ Minstrel Man” – Bill Rice (1971)
Better known as a songwriter, this was Bill’s biggest solo hit, reaching #33. This song was never a big hit for anyone, but it was recorded by many acts as an album cut, and the Carter Family (Mother Maybelle, June, Helen, Anita) had a minor hit in 1972 under the title “Travelin’ Minstrel Band.”

You Lay So Easy On My Mind” – Bobby G. Rice (1973)
Most of Bobby G. Rice’s hits were country covers of early 1960s rock & roll songs. This song was not a cover although it got covered many times by both pop and country acts. The song was Bobby’s only #1 record (#1 Cashbox/#3 Billboard).

I Take It On Home” – Charlie Rich (1972)
His first Top 10 record and still my favorite Charlie Rich recording. The next two singles would kick his career into overdrive. No prize for guessing those next two singles.

Sweet Sensuous Feelings” – Sue Richards (1976)
Her biggest hit, reaching #25 Billboard/#16 Cashbox. Talented singer, but even in the 1970s physical appearance counted for a lot, and Sue was merely average in appearance.

Good Morning Country Rain” – Jeannie C. Riley (1972)
My favorite Jeannie C. Riley song. (See the Forgotten Artist article for more on Jeannie C. Riley)

The Americans (A Canadian Opinion)” – Maurice Woodward “Tex” Ritter (1974)
The second living member elected to the CMHOF, cowboy movie star, now best remembered as John Ritter’s father. He sang the title tune in the soundtrack of the movie High Noon.

The Chair” – Marty Robbins (1971)
Not the same song as the George Strait hit of the same title. This is the grim story of a man scheduled to die in the electric chair.

Pass Me By (If You’re Only Passing Through” – Johnny Rodriguez (1973)
The first big hit for ‘Little John,’ the first Latino country star and a fine singer.

Need You” – David Rogers (1972)
(See the Forgotten Artist article for more on David Rogers)

Love Lifted Me” – Kenny Rogers (1975)
This #19 hit got Kenny’s foot in the door with country radio.

Lovenworth” – Roy Rogers (1971)
Yes, Roy had some country chart hits during the 1970s. This was the biggest at #12.

When Will I Be Loved” – Linda Ronstadt (1975)
Her only #1 solo country hit. Nice up-tempo remake of an Everly Brothers classic.

Saturday Morning Confusion” – Bobby Russell (1971)
One-time husband of Vickie Lawrence, better known as a songwriter having written three massive pop hits “The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia” (Vickie Lawrence), “Honey” (Bobby Goldsboro) and “Little Green Apples” (Roger Miller, O.C. Smith). While not a compelling singer, this paean to domestic life had a certain charm–it reached #24 country and #28 pop. This song essentially was a rewrite of his 1968 hit “1432 Frankin Pike Circle Hero.”

Rednecks, White Socks and Blue Ribbon Beer” – Johnny Russell (1973)
Johnny’s only chart topper (#1 Cashbox/#4 Billboard) as a performer, I kind of regard this song as my theme song. I always liked Johnny Russell as a singer and as a songwriter (“Act Naturally,” “Got No Reason Now For Goin’ Home”).

Once In A lifetime Thing” – John Wesley Ryles (1977)
Ryles makes a good living as a session background singer in Nashville. This was his biggest country hit, reaching #5; however 1968’s “Kay” sold more records due to heavy pop airplay and exposure.

Walk All Over Georgia” – Ray Sanders (1971)
This obscure song is my favorite Ray Sanders song. Sanders issued several albums and CDs but this song never made it on one of them. That same year, he also had the best version of “All I Ever Need Is You” which was a pop hit for Sonny & Cher.

Nashville Skyline Rag” – Earl Scruggs (1970)
Instrumentals rarely get very high on the charts, and this one was no exception, reaching #74. Earl is still alive and at 85 years old is still one heck of a picker.

Can I Sleep In Your Arms” – Jeannie Seely (1973).
Her last top ten hit, this song uses the same melody as “Red River Valley.”

One Day At A Time” – Marilyn Sellars (1974
The original recorded version of this song, I much prefer her version to the later Cristy Lane hit. This version may have actually sold more copies as it got significant pop radio airplay reaching #37 on the pop charts. As a country hit, Billboard had it get to #19 whereas Cashbox had it reach #8 for two weeks.

Love and Honor” – Kenny Serratt (1973)
Lowell Haggard brought Kenny to his brother Merle’s attention, and while Kenny scored no major hits, both Haggards thought him to be a fine singer, an assessment with which I agree.

Wiggle Wiggle” – Ronnie Sessions (1977)
Another Bakersfield artist, this rather silly song was one of only two top 20 songs for Sessions, who toured at various times with Buck Owens, Merle Haggard and Glen Campbell.

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

  1. Brady Vercher
    June 15, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    Next time Amazon, iTunes, or Rhapsody touts the size of their mp3 libraries, I think we can just point them to these lists. A lot of the stuff is actually linked up to remakes as well, which makes it even more pitiful that so much music remains inaccessible.

    Thanks for the list, Paul. I listened to quite a bit of Johnny Russell over the weekend. I imagine a song like “Son of Hickory Holler’s Tramp” would be a lot more contentious today, although Chesney did cut “Dancing for the Groceries,” which is similar in concept, but not as interesting.

  2. Roger Wink
    June 16, 2009 at 1:21 am

    Jim Reeves is STILL popular in the U.K. He currently has the number 10 album on their charts with the new Very Best of Jim Reeves.

  3. Rick
    June 18, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    Interesting article as usual with a bunch of people I’ve never heard of before and likely never will again! (lol) Paul, of the artists touted and supported by Buck and Merle who did the best overall in the marketplace between Susan Raye, Ronnie Sessions, Kenny Serratt and others I’m not aware of? (Offspring don’t count! lol)

    PS – Bobby Russell’s songwriting pop hits list is impressive. I’m surprised the Terry Jacks’ song “Seasons In The Sun” isn’t on there as it and “Honey” were two of the sappiest songs I remember from my youth! (lol)

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