The 1970s were not my favorite decade for country music but it was the decade in which I did my largest amount of listening to country radio, having the good fortune to have such country giants as WSUN AM- 620 in St. Petersburg, FL, WHOO AM-1090 in Orlando and WCMS AM-1050 in Norfolk, VA for my listening pleasure, plus I could tune in WSM AM – 650 in Nashville at night. I did a lot of shift-work during this decade so my radio was on constantly.
This list is meant neither to be a comprehensive list of great country songs from the 1970s, nor any sort of ranking of records. It’s just a list of some songs that I liked and remember. See if you recall any of these records
“Silver Wings” – Jim & Jon Hager (1970)
Since Hag issued the song as a B side (“Workin’ Man Blues” was the A side), this version is the only charting version of Hag’s classic. The Hager Twins do a nice job with the song, although it only reached #59 on the charts . Fans of Hee Haw will remember this duo well.
“I Can’t Be Myself” – Merle Haggard (1970)
My all-time favorite Merle Haggard recording, this song went to #1 on Cashbox. Frankly, picking an all-time favorite Hag song is a hopeless proposition as he is the most consistently great artist of all time. Hag wrote about fifty #1 songs, the most of any songwriter. The flip side of this record “Sidewalks of Chicago” also received a lot of airplay and likely would be in my top ten favorite Haggard recordings.
“I Can’t Dance” – Tom T. Hall (1970)
“I can’t dance, I never could, I guess my feet don’t match“
Tom T tells my story with the lyrics to this song. This song was never a single but was an album track on One Hundred Children, which despite the saccharine of the title track remains my favorite Tom T Hall album.
“Country Music In My Soul” – George Hamilton IV (1972)
I’ve always had this condition. My favorite GH4 song, it only got as high as #63, although it did well in some regional markets. I’ve met GH4 on numerous occasions starting with in London, England in 1969 and as recently as 2010 in Longwood Florida. George is the quintessential gentleman, always willing to sign autographs and speak with the folks, for as long as they’d like to speak.
“Lovin’ Man” – Arlene Harden (1970)
This is the female take on Orbison’s “Pretty Woman”. I don’t know why Ms Harden didn’t make it big. This was her biggest hit, reaching #13, although she’s better remembered for “He’s A Good Ole Boy” which Chely Wright put on her debut album, or as part of the Harden Trio, who had a Cashbox #1 in 1966 with “Tippy Toeing”.
“Blue Jean Country Queen” – Linda Hargrove (1974)
This song barely cracked the top 100. Linda was an underrated performer who is better remembered as a songwriter. Johnny Rodriguez took her “Just Get Up and Close the Door” to the top of the charts.
“Too Far Gone” – Emmylou Harris (1979)
Not one of her bigger hits but a fine effort.
“My Hang-Up Is You” – Freddie Hart (1972)
The follow up to “Easy Loving” and actually a bigger chart hit, spending six weeks at #1. I think of this song sometimes after an argument with my wife, an argument which always finds me giving in!
“Bluer Than Blue” – Beverly Heckel (1978)
Country cover of a Michael Johnson #12 pop hit. Beverly was a performer on the WWVA-Wheeling Jamboree for a number of years, but may be best remembered for having married Johnny Russell in 1977 when she was 17 (Johnny was cradle-robbing as he was 37 at the time). Too bad, as she was a pretty decent singer.
“Dixie Belle” – Stan Hitchcock (1970)
Stan is more important on the business side of the equation than as a performer. He was director of CMT, has been a DJ, record producer and television personality. This charming song deserved better than its #54 chart position.
“Richard and The Cadillac Kings” – Doyle Holly (1974)
Richard and his band play country music out of tune every weekend at a local watering hole. They’re not good but they are enthusiastic, like many bar bands I’ve heard over the years. Doyle was a member of Buck Owens’ Buckaroos during their prime years of 1963-1970. Doyle charted seven records as a solo performer with this being the last of them, reaching #54. A genuinely funny performer, Doyle passed away in 2007.
“I Do My Swinging At Home” – David Houston (1970)
One of many fine songs Houston recorded during the early 1970s. At any point through 1973, Houston appeared headed for Country Music Hall of Fame induction. I can make a decent case for his induction, although I won’t do it here.
“Rock Me Back To Little Rock” – Jan Howard (1970)
Jan only had five top twenty hits as a solo artist – this wasn’t one of them. She is best remembered for her duets with Wynn Stewart and Bill Anderson. Her biggest solo hit was in 1966 with “Evil On Your Mind” which generated a male answer song recorded by the legendary Burl Ives.
“I’ve Been Waiting For You All of My Life” – Con Hunley (1979)
I think of Con Hunley as more of a “blue-eyed soul singer” than as a country singer but his smoky voice sure sounded good. This song made it to #14. Con never had a top ten hit although there were markets in which he did very well. He recently came out of retirement and has a website where his 70s & 80s music can be purchased, as well as some newer music.
“Within My Lovin’ Arms” – Kenni Huskey (1972)
Kenni was part of the Buck Owens show, and Buck wrote this song for her to sing. Even though it topped out at #74, you can get a copy of this recording at CD Baby along with the demo track Buck laid out for her.
“Heavenly Sunshine” – Ferlin Husky (1970)
Reached #10 on Cashbox, Ferlin’s last top ten hit and a great song.
“You’re The One” – Jerry Inman (1975)
This is the same song that the Oak Ridge Boys took to #1 (Cashbox) several years later. This is the better version, with prominent steel guitar and a bit more up tempo. Inman won the most promising new artist award at the ACM in 1975 and then largely disappeared.
“Me and You And A Dog Named Boo” – Stonewall Jackson (1971)
The last top ten hit for Stonewall Jackson, this following four years after the previous top ten. This cover of a Lobo hit reached #1 in some markets but Stonewall himself always was ‘too country’ for country radio.
“In The Jailhouse Now” – Sonny James (1977)
After his string of twenty-six #1 records came to a halt, Sonny started recording projects that interested him, rather than aiming for chart success. This cover of a Jimmie Rodgers classic, recorded with the Tennessee State Prison Band at a live concert is a lot of fun. Trumpets effectively take the place of the Jimmie Rodgers blue yodel.
“Brown Eyed Handsome Man” – Waylon Jennings (1970)
A good cover of a Chuck Berry classic – this reached #1 on Record World, making it Waylon’s first #1 record of the 1970s.
“The Golden Rocket” – Jim & Jesse (1970)
A bluegrass take on a Hank Snow classic, this song reached the top forty, which was a rarity for a bluegrass act.
“Send Me Some Lovin’ ” – Lois Johnson & Hank Williams, Jr. (1972)
A nice duet on a Fats Domino hit from 1959.
“Loving You Will Never Grow Old” – Lois Johnson (1975)
This song was the only solo top ten hit for Lois although she charted fourteen times as a solo artist during the 1970s to go with her four duets with Hank Jr.
“Take A Letter Maria” – Anthony Armstrong Jones (1970)
A Conway Twitty protégé, AAJ did not enjoy nearly the success of his mentor. This cover of an RB Greaves pop hit went to #8 and was his biggest hit. Born Ronnie Jones in 1949, AAJ passed away a number of years ago.
“A Good Year For The Roses” – George Jones (1970)
#1 Cashbox – I could have picked any of twenty songs George recorded in the 1970s. This was one of his last Musicor hits.
“Say You’ll Stay Until Tomorrow” – Tom Jones (1977)
Okay – so he’s really not a country singer. Tom Jones was a heck of a singer and could tackle country songs effectively. This got to #1, and deservedly so. Tom, of course , had many pop hits during the 1960s all over the world, including four consecutive pop hits on country songs (not done, however, as country music) with “Green Green Grass of Home”, “Detroit City”, “Sixteen Tons” and “Funny Familiar Forgotten Feelings”. Since the 1960s Tom has charted sporadically on charts all over the world including two stints on the US country charts. After three country hits in 1977, Tom turned his attention elsewhere, but turned again to country music in 1981 running off a string of thirteen country chart hits for Mercury.
Still active, Tom Jones had a #1 record in England as recently as 2009.