My Kind of Country

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

Album Review: John Anderson – ‘I Just Came Home To Count The Memories’

ijustcamehomeJohn Anderson’s third outing for Warner Brothers found him sharing production duties with a new co-producer, Frank Jones, and showcasing a slightly more polished sound. This is most apparent on songs such as the title track and “When Lady Is Cloudin’ Your Vision”, which feature a string section, something that hadn’t been typical of Anderson’s recordings up to that time.

The title track had previously been recorded by Bobby Wright in 1975 and had been a moderate hit for Cal Smith in 1977. Anderson’s 1981 version, in addition to the string section, finds him toning down the twang just a bit, possibly as a concession to country radio’s tastes at the time. It seems to have paid off; “I Just Came Home To Count The Memories” reached #7 on the Billboard country singles chart, helping Anderson rebound nicely after his previous single “I Love You A Thousand Ways” had stalled at #54. His inconsistent performance at radio continued, however, when the next single, “I Danced With The San Antone Rose”, failed to chart. Despite a poor reception at radio, it is a beautiful song, penned by Anderson and Lionel A. Delmore, and it is one of my favorites on the album.

The biggest hit from this album was “Would You Catch A Falling Star”. Written by the legendary Bobby Braddock, the song tells the story of a country music star who is past his commercial peak. It reached #6 in Billboard.

As is often the case, this album has its share of hidden gems, that were never released to radio as singles. Anderson’s cover of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” is just stunning, thanks to an excellent vocal performance from Anderson, as well as Fred Carter, Jr’s wonderful guitar work. The Jo-El Sonnier and Hoy Lindsey composition “One Of Those Things (We All Go Through)” tells a tale of financial woe — something to which many modern day listeners can, unfortunately, relate.

The twang is back in full force for the album’s most unusual song, “Jesse Clay and the 12:05.” It tells the dark tale of an alcoholic who accidentally kills his wife in a drunken rage. In his panic, he decides to lay her body across the railroad tracks that pass by their shack, to make her death look like an accident, or possibly a suicide. The plot fails when Jesse prematurely reports the “accident” to the sheriff, unaware that the usually reliable 12:05 had jumped the tracks a few miles back. I hate when that happens.

Despite the slightly more sophisticated veneer on some tracks, this is still a very traditional country album, both by the standards of today and the time it was released. In 1982 Country Music Scene described it as “just the record to lead country music lovers out of the crossover wilderness and back to basics.” But despite the critical acclaim, the album was only a modest commercial success. It reached the #40 position on the Billboard country albums chart, which may explain why, beginning with his next album, Anderson began moving towards a less traditional and more commercial sound. But despite the slightly outdated production on some of the tracks — the strings on the title track, in particular — this is a solid album with very few flaws which still “stands as a textbook example of how to make a great country album”, as Country Music Scene said over a quarter century ago. It is available in both CD and digital form on Amazon and is well worth checking out.

Grade: A

7 responses to “Album Review: John Anderson – ‘I Just Came Home To Count The Memories’

  1. Pingback: Patty Loveless Builds On Mountain Soul; Digital Album Sales Climb | The 9513

  2. Occasional Hope July 9, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    This is another one I really like. My favourites are Would You Catch A Falling Star, One Of Those Old Thing We All Go Through, and Jesse Clay and the 12:05 – although I’m not sure that an alcoholic with a history of domestic violence finally killing his wife can quite be described as accidental ;).

    • Razor X July 9, 2009 at 11:44 pm

      Well, I don’t think it was a premeditated murder; otherwise he’d have come up with a better plan to dispose of the body. At least I hope he would have. 🙂

  3. J.R. Journey July 9, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    This is one of John Anderson’s early albums that I don’t even know the singles from. I am really enjoying learning about John and his music from the 1980s.

    I’m also re-discovering a lot of 90s hits that I had forgotten about. He’s given us some mighty fine music over the course of his career and deserves to be acclaimed for it.

  4. Paul W Dennis July 9, 2009 at 11:17 pm

    Another good album – the title track came off well – Cal Smith is a difficult act to cover but John pulled it off

  5. Meg July 10, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    You’ve got me curious! Will need to check this out – even that morbid one. Got a chuckle out of that last line, “I hate when that happens.”

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