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:
“Everybody’s Reaching Out For Someone” – Pat Daisy (1972)
Beautiful and blessed with a great voice, she never did break through as a major star since she was buried at RCA behind Connie Smith, Dolly Parton, Dottie West and Skeeter Davis for promotional attention. This song reached #20 on the country chart and #112 on the pop chart and was covered on albums by many country artists. Pat pulled the plug on her own career to raise a family.
“Bluest Heartache of the Year” – Kenny Dale (1977)
One of my all-time favorite recordings, this song just missed the top ten. Kenny was a regular on Ralph Emery’s morning show on WSMV-TV in Nashville for a number of years. Kenny’s popularity overseas continued long after his American popularity faded, with successful tours of Australia and New Zealand within the last few years.
“Crazy Blue Eyes” – Lacy J. Dalton (1979)
This song introduced the smoky, sultry voice of Lacy J. Dalton to country audiences. Although it only reached #17, it remains one of my favorite Lacy J songs and it kicked off a half-decade of solid radio success.
“Orange Blossom Special” – Johnny Darrell (1974)
Johnny’s career was virtually dead when this recording came out, but I always liked this vocal version of the Rouse Brothers’ classic.
“Let Me Take You In My Arms Again” – James Darren (1978)
James has appeared in several television shows and some may remember him as the character ‘Moondoggie’ in several of the Gidget movies of the 1960s. This song was written by Neil Diamond.
“The Door Is Always Open” – Dave & Sugar (1976)
The first of several number one records for this group. This group was actually Dave Rowland and his hired help, as female singers came and left with regularity.
“Someone Is Looking For Someone Like You” – Gail Davies (1979)
One of the first, possibly the first to solo produce, her own records, this charming song deserved better than its #11 chart position. Gail would reach her stride in the 1980s with a five top ten hits including a great version of the Ray Price classic “I’ll Be There (If You Ever Want Me)”. Gail was one of the greatest all-around talents to ever grace the genre, and is still active.
“Bus Fare To Kentucky” – Skeeter Davis (1971)
Skeeter titled her autobiography after this song. By the time this song was issued, Skeeter’s best days were long behind her. This song reached #21 and she would have one more top twenty song, but from 1970 onward, eleven of her thirteen chart would not reach the top forty.
“I.O.U.” – Jimmy Dean (1976)
The last top ten record for ‘The Sausage King’ (and his first top ten in a decade), this Mothers’ Day classic was also a major pop hit and would receive airplay during Mother’s Day weekends for the next fifteen years, selling well over a million records in the process. Jimmy would have only eight top ten records during his long and varied career (he is probably most important as a pioneering country television personality), but the ones he had were monsters, receiving pop airplay and selling by the boatloads.
“Raggedy Ann” – Jimmy Dickens (1970)
One of Jimmy’s last chart records, although a song familiar to many as Jimmy has kept it in his performing repertoire. Jimmy is now 91 and still anchors a slot at the Grand Ole Opry and appears in Brad Paisley videos, but seems otherwise to be mostly retired.
“(After Sweet Memories) Play Born To Lose Again” – Dottsy (1977)
Loosely affiliated with the “outlaw” movement, this petite blond had three significant hits during the 1970s. This Susanna Clark penned song was the biggest of the three reaching #10. Her 1979 hit “Tryin’ To Satisfy You” featured Waylon Jennings on backing vocals. Dottsy left music to work with autistic children and has but recently returned to the world of music.
“Touch Me (I’ll Be Your Fool Once More)” – ‘Big’ Al Downing (1979)
This song reached #18 for Big Al, one of the few successful black country artists. Al’s bonafides go way back as he did session work for Wanda Jackson and other country stars and always performed country material, even during his R&B and rockabilly/rock and roll. Big Al was a great live performer pounding away on his piano.
“Long Long Texas Road” – Roy Drusky (1970)
This record is a wistful look back at childhood. It reached #1 on Record World. Roy had a bunch of top ten records and great success as a songwriter, but this almost marked the end for Roy as only one more top ten record would follow this one.
“This Night (Ain’t Fit For Nothing But Drinking) – Dave Dudley (1970)
Coming on the heels of Dave’s only #1 record “The Pool Shark”, this record barely cracked the top twenty but its ferocious tone always has appealed to me. Dave remained popular in Europe for another two decades after his American popularity faded. For it wasn’t “Six Days On The Road” but forty years on the road.
“Fools” – Johnny Duncan (1972)
Another record that barely hit the top twenty, I loved the steel guitar work on this record. Jim Ed Brown & Helen Cornelius had a bigger hit several years later, but this is the best version of the song. Johnny would have great success starting in 1976 with none consecutive top ten records, including four that would reach #1 on Billboard and/or Cashbox.
“Lonely Men, Lonely Woman” – Connie Eaton (1975)
This song reached #23 – her biggest hit and one of two singles she got to issue on a major. Her best work was on Chart Records earlier in the decade. For years I wondered why Connie didn’t make it as a star once she reached a major label. She had it all, a great voice, stage presence and she was beautiful. Later I found out that she suffered from manic depression, which derailed her career. Effective medications to treat her condition were still years off in the future. Connie died from cancer in 1999 at the age of 49.
“She’s My Rock” – Stoney Edwards (1973)
The other great black country singer of the 1970s, Stoney’s vocals were a bit too raw for him to become a major star, but he had a string of excellent records including “Two Dollar Toy” and “Poor Folks Stick Together” . George Jones would cover this song later. Stoney’s best record was “Blackbird (Hold Your Head High)” but his use of the “N-Word” in the lyrics prevented it from receiving much airplay as many stations banned the song.
“Mississippi” – Barbara Fairchild (1976)
Barbara had bigger hits but they were too cutesy for my taste. This song and “Standing In Your Line” better personified what she was capable of performing.
“Don’t Be Angry” – Donna Fargo (1977)
Ms Fargo had a lot of hits during the 1970s before being slowed by MS. This cover of a Stonewall Jackson hit is quite nice.
“Reconsider Me” – Narvel Felts (1975)
They don’t call him “Narvel the Marvel” for nothing. Just try to sing along with this record – I dare you ! This song reached #1 on Cashbox / #2 on Billboard. Narvel is still performing and he can still hit ALL the notes in this song. A member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, Narvel has had hits throughout the English-speaking world and a few years ago he even had a hit in Norway. Narvel is now 73 years old but I suspect that even the likes of Jason Aldean and Taylor Swift would be exhausted trying to keep up with the man.