My Kind of Country

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

Album Review: Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton – ‘Just The Two of Us’

R-6803309-1426956528-3477.jpegThe album opens up with “Closer By The Hour”, a song about a relationship moving towards its inevitable consummation. The song is a jog-along ballad written by Al Gore (not the same Al Gore as either of the two Tennessee hack politicos of yesteryear).

Next up is an outstanding version of Tom T. Hall’s “I Washed My Face In The Morning Dew”, This song was Tom T’s first charted single as a singer, reaching #30 in 1967. I think Porter & Dolly missed a bet in not releasing this as a single.

“Jeannie’s Afraid of the Dark” is one of those morbid dead child ballads that Dolly excelled in writing. The song was the B-side of “We’ll Get Ahead Someday” but was sufficiently popular that it charted separately at #51 in late 1968 (Record World had it reach #31).

Her two little feet would come running into
Our bedroom almost every night
Her soft little face would be wet from her tears
And her little heart pounding with fright
She’d hold out her arms, then she’d climb in beside us
In her small voice, we’d hear her remark
“Mommie and Daddy, can I sleep here with you
‘Cause Jeannie’s afraid of the dark”

Jerry Chesnut’s “Holding On To Nothin’”was the second Porter & Dolly single released, and the first single from this album. Released in April 1968, the single spent 16 weeks on the charts reaching a peak of #17. The song is a mid-tempo ballad about what happens when the flame burns out.

Oh, why do we keep holding on with nothin’ left to hold on to

Let’s be honest with each other that’s at least that we can do

I feel guilty when they envy me and you

We’re holding on with nothin’ left to hold on to

Curly Putman’s “Slip Away Today” is a bit more introspective than many of the pair’s songs, sort of in the vein of Carl & Pearl Butler’s “Don’t Let Me Cross Over”. It is a good song but not one with any real potential as a single.

“The Dark End of the Street” by Dan Penn and Chips Moman, is a song about slipping around and trying to keep it secret by stealing away at the dark end of the street.

At the time this album was released Jerry Chesnut was one of Nashville’s leading songsmiths. The next tow songs “Just The Two of Us” and “Afraid To Love Again” are both nice ballads well suited to Porter and Dolly’s vocal harmonies.

Mack Magaha, the fiddler in Porter’s Wagonmasters and before that in Don Reno & Red Smiley’s Tennessee Cutups , isn’t normally thought of as a songwriter, but he did some song writing with both Reno & Smiley and Porter & Dolly recording his songs. Mack’s “We’ll Get Ahead Someday” is a humorous up-tempo song that was the lead single from the album reaching #5.

The paper says there’s a sale downtown I gotta have some money today

Well there’s things at home that’s never been used you bought last bargain day

Well you go out one Saturday night just spend too much money on wine

Well I work hard all week long and I gotta have a little fun sometimes

We’ll get ahead someday…

If the sun comes up and my wife cuts down we’ll get ahead someday

Even in 1967, Merle Haggard’s songs were in great demand, and Porter and Dolly latched onto a good one in “Somewhere Between”, one of many Haggard compositions that the Hag never got around to releasing as a single (many years later Suzy Bogguss released it as a single). It works well as a duet for Porter and Dolly.

Somewhere between your heart and mine

There’s a window, I can’t see through
 T
here’s a wall so high, it reaches the sky

Somewhere between me and you

I love you so much, I can’t let you go

And sometimes I believe you love me

But somewhere between your heart and mine

There’s a door without any key


The album closes with a pair of Dolly Parton compositions in “The Party” and “I Can”. “The Party” is another one of those morbid ballads that Dolly seemed to crank out so easily. The highlight of the song is Porter’s narration:

The party started out wild and it grew wilder as the night wore on

With drinking laughing teling dirty jokes nobody thinkin’ of home

Then the stranger feeling came over me and it chilled me to the bones

And I told my wife that we’d better leave the party

Cause I felt that we were needed at home

As we rode along I got to thinking of how the kids that mornin’

Had asked if we would take them to church the next day

And how I’d put ’em off like I’d so often done

By sayin’ we’d probably get home too late

Then my thoughts were interrupted by the sound of sirens

As they cut through the still night air
 Then we turned down our street that’s when we saw the fire

The rest was like a nightmare 

We took their little bodies to church the next day

Though we’d left the party early we still got home too late

“I Can” has the feel of folk music. Both of these two Dolly Parton compositions are good album tracks.

Porter and Dolly would record stronger albums as far as song quality is concerned, but of more importance than that was that this early in the game, they had their vocal style down pat. The production on the album sounds like Porter’s solo albums, but that’s a good thing.

Tracks
01. “Closer by the Hour” Al Gore 2:15
02. “I Washed My Face in the Morning Dew” Tom T. Hall 2:45
03. “Jeannie’s Afraid of the Dark” Dolly Parton 2:44
04. “Holding On to Nothin'” Jerry Chesnut 2:26
05. “Slip Away Today” Curly Putman 2:37
06. “The Dark End of the Street” Dan Penn, Chips Moman 2:15
07. “Just the Two of Us” Jerry Chesnut 2:36
08. “Afraid to Love Again” Jerry Chesnut, Theresa Beaty 1:53
09. “We’ll Get Ahead Someday” Mack Magaha 1:55
10. “Somewhere Between” Merle Haggard 2:13
11. “The Party” Dolly Parton 2:54
12. “I Can” Dolly Parton 2:06

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3 responses to “Album Review: Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton – ‘Just The Two of Us’

  1. Ken August 8, 2016 at 1:26 pm

    Nice review of this album with the exception of unnecessarily and incorrectly labeling two distinguished U.S. lawmakers as “two Tennessee hack politicos of yesteryear.” Al Gore Sr. & Al Gore Jr. both served the United States with dedication and distinction and do not deserve that label. As a U.S. Senator Al Gore Sr. authored one of the most significant pieces of legislation during the 20th century – the Federal Highway Aid Act of 1956 which created the interstate highway system. He also supported civil rights and helped to create the framework for Medicare. Al Gore Jr. also served as both a four term Congressman and a Senator and then for two terms he served as Vice President Of The United States. If not for the Supreme Court Al Gore Jr. would have been elected as the 43rd President Of United States. In fact he won the popular vote in the 2000 election. His work as an environmental advocate led to him receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.

    I can find no reasonable rationale to brand either of these intelligent and dedicated Americans as “hack politicos of yesteryear.” Just because someone may not be a member of your political party is no reason to call them names or to degrade their accomplishments.

    • Paul W Dennis August 9, 2016 at 8:22 am

      Ken – I’m not a Republican, I am a proud Libertarian. I occasionally even vote for Democrats when a decent one is nominated for some office.

      I regard almost ALL politicians as hacks (DDE, RR and JFK excepted among US Presidents in my lifetime). Al Gore Sr. voted AGAINST the 1964 Civil Rights Act (you can look it up).

      There are a lot of valid reasons to dislike Gore Jr. which I won’t enumerate here. I also tend to be monumentally unimpressed with Nobel Peace Prizes (Yasser Arafat won it, but neither Truman, Eisenhower nor Richard Nixon ever won it and collectively and individually they may be more responsible for the fact that WW3 never occurred than anyone else).

      • Ken August 9, 2016 at 9:03 am

        By definition a political hack is one who acts in a self-serving manner to further their own goals or that of their party. In general they lack ANY personal conviction. Though many politicians are textbook cases for that I don’t believe that the majority of them fit that category including the Gores.

        Every politician at some point makes a decision that they later regret and Gore Sr. did so in opposing the 1964 Civil Rights Act. However he did so because it was an election year and he believed that he faced certain defeat in Tennessee if he supported that bill. The bill passed without his support and he was able to win re-election. The following year he showed courage by supporting the 1965 Voting Rights Act and a few years later became an outspoken critic of the Vietnam War which ultimately contributed to ending his political career. A hack would never have risked their own career at any point.

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