My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Daily Archives: June 2, 2009

Single Review: Tanya Tucker – ‘What’s Your Mama’s Name’

TanyaTuckerWhatsYourMamasNameReleased in 1973, “What’s Your Mama’s Name” was the title track and lead single from Tanya Tucker’s second album for Columbia Records. Written by Earl Montgomery and the legendary Dallas Frazier and produced by Billy Sherrill, this is a typical country music story song in three verses.

In the first verse we are introduced to a young man named Buford Wilson who has recently arrived in Memphis, and we are told that he is looking for his lost love. By the end of the verse, it is revealed that he has been approaching little green-eyed girls and asking them, “What’s your mama’s name, child?” Even in those days when pedophelia and crimes against children weren’t in the daily headlines, folks were clearly uncomfortable with this behavior.

In the second verse, ten years have passed, and Wilson has descended into alcoholism, but is still approaching young green-eyed girls. He is arrested and sentenced to 30 days of hard labor in the county jail for bribing a young girl with a nickel’s worth of candy if she reveals her mother’s name.   There is to be no happy ending to this sad story as the third verse reveals.   Wilson, now an old man, has died a pauper, and among his possessions a letter is found that explains his behavior:

It said, ‘You have a daughter, and her eyes are Wilson green.’

Saw it coming, didn’t you?   Tucker’s vocal delivery is strong and gives no hint that the singer was only 15 years old.   “What’s Your Mama’s Name” became Tanya’s first #1 hit and the LP from which it was taken became her first gold album.  It remains one of the best known songs in her catalog.

Grade:  A+

Written by:  Dallas Frazier & Earl Montgomery

Listen to “What’s Your Mama’s Name” at Last FM or purchase the track from iTunes or Amazon MP3.

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