The Bellamy Brothers released their tenth album in partnership between MCA Nashville and Curb Records in 1985. The record was produced by Emory Gordy Jr and Jimmy Bowen.
David Bellamy solely wrote lead single “Old Hippie,” which is my absolute favorite song the duo has ever released. David’s brilliant character sketch follows an unnamed man staring down forty disenfranchised by the changing times:
He turned thirty-five last Sunday
In his hair he found some gray
But he still ain’t changed his lifestyle
He likes it better the old way
So he grows a little garden in the backyard by the fence
He’s consuming what he’s growing nowadays in self defense
He get’s out there in the twilight zone
Sometimes when it just don’t make no sense
Yeh he gets off on country music
‘Cause disco left him cold
He’s got young friends into new wave
But he’s just too frigging old
And he dreams at night of Woodstock
And the day John Lennon died
How the music made him happy
And the silence made him cry
Yea he thinks of John sometimes
And he has to wonder why
He’s an old hippie
And he don’t know what to do
Should he hang on to the old
Should he grab on to the new
He’s an old hippie
This new life is just a bust
He ain’t trying to change nobody
He’s just trying real hard to adjust
He was sure back in the sixties
That everyone was hip
Then they sent him off to Vietnam
On his senior trip
And they force him to become a man
While he was still a boy
And behind each wave of tragedy
He waited for the joy
Now this world may change around him
But he just can’t change no more
The song peaked at #2. The Bellamy Brothers would revisit this character again, on two subsequent occasions. “Old Hippie (The Sequel)” came ten years later (1995) and updated the story to reveal the guy still felt disenfranchised by society but had softened since marrying and having kids. He would convert to Christianity eleven years later (2007) in “Old Hippie III (Saved),” featured on a gospel-themed project they released.
Another excellent number, “The Single Man and His Wife” is the story of an adulterer who takes advantage of his woman by stepping outside his marriage for loveless companionship with other women. “Everybody’s Somebody’s Darlin’” is also very good, although the production is a bit dated to modern ears.
“I’m Gonna Hurt Her On The Radio” was released that same year by David Allan Coe in the song’s original version. Charley Pride would take it to #13 in 1987 under the title “I’m Gonna Love Her On The Radio” and Shenandoah would release their version in 1989. Keith Whitley’s take on the song surfaced on Keith Whitley: A Tribute Album in 1994. All the versions seem to be about comparable to one another, with little variation. To that end, Howard and David cope with the song extremely well.
The remaining singles, which both peaked at #2, weren’t that great, either. “I’d Lie To You For Your Love” is a very good song that suffers from a horrendous arrangement that hasn’t aged particularly well. “Feelin’ That Feelin’” is lightweight filler.
Howard and David do a subpar job on “Wheels,” the Dave Loggins’ composition Restless Heart would take to #1 in 1987. “Seasons of the Wind” and “You’re My Favorite Waste of Time” are also unremarkable. “Jeannie Rae” is at least something different, and decidedly upbeat, but I didn’t care for it at all.
Howard and David is an uneven album with some bright spots along the way. I have a feeling that a number of these tracks would’ve been better had they been treated with more tasteful production in the vein of “Old Hippie” or “The Single Man and His Wife.” This isn’t a bad album at all, but the majority of it feels forgettable after listening to it just once.