My Kind of Country

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Tag Archives: Dorothy Jo Hope

Album Review: Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton – ‘Once More’

folder-6August 1970, saw the release of the fifth Porter and Dolly duet album in Once More. The album featured five songs that Dolly had a hand in writing, plus two fine songs from the Don Reno and Red Smiley songbook, perhaps not so surprising since Porter’s fiddle player Mack Magaha had spent years playing with Reno and Smiley

The album opens up with “Daddy Was An Old Time Preacher Man” co-written by Dolly with her aunt Dorothy Jo Hope about the Reverend Jake Owens, Dolly’s maternal grandfather, who was a Pentecostal minister. Surprisingly, this would be the only single released from the album, reaching #4 on Record World, #7 on Billboard and #12 on the Canadian country chart. The song has the feel of an old-time gospel song and remains one of my favorite Porter & Dolly songs.

Daddy was an old time preacher man
He preacher the word of God throughout the land
He preached so plain a child could understand
Yes, Daddy was an old time preacher man
He told the people of the need to pray
He talked about God’s wrath and judgement day
He preached about the great eternity
He preached hell so hot that you could feel the heat

Yes, Daddy was an old time preacher man
Aunt Leanona would get up to testify
And we’d sing “In The Sweet By And By”
The we’d sing “I’m On My Way To Canaan Land”
Yes, Daddy was an old time preacher man

This is followed by a magnificent cut on the Reno and Smiley classic “I Know You’re Married But I Love You Still” a song that Mack Magaha wrote with Don Reno. The song, a quintessential forbidden fruit song was a staple of the Reno & Smiley repertoire for years and has been covered as an album track by many country artists. The duo of Bill Anderson and Jan Howard had a minor hit with the song as did Red Sovine.

The day I met you my heart spoke to me it said to love you through eternity
I know exact you were another’s pride I vowed I always be close by your side
I love you Darlin and I always will
I know you’re married but I love you still
You broke a heart dear that would die for you
I’d give the world if I could be with you

“Thoughfulness” is a modest ballad written by Dolly’s uncle Bill Owens. The song is a little subdued compared to most of the duo’s material but it makes a nice album track.

“Fight and Scratch” is one of those humorous ‘bickering couples’ songs that Dolly excelled in writing. I think it would have made for a good single but perhaps RCA was leery of issuing too many novelties as singles.

Fight and scratch fight and scratch that’s all we ever do
There surely must be more to love than to fight and scratch with you
You you to fight and scratch with you
Well you just bought a foal last month now you want a wig
It looks like you couldn’t understand my paycheck ain’t that big
Well what about the dough you lose in them poker games downtown
I figured you’d mention that smart aleck
Yeah and that brand new boat and that fishin’ gear
But no uhhuh I don’t reckon that’d count really
Fight and scratch fight and scratch…

Louis Owens wrote “Before Our Weakness Gets Too Strong” is a straight ahead country ballad, a let’s not cheat song. I’m guessing that Louis Owens might be one of Dolly’s kin.

“Once More” was the last top ten chart hit for the King of Country Music Roy Acuff back in 1958. Later the Osborne Brothers recorded the song for Decca. Porter and Dolly harmonize nicely on the song, but their recording sounds tame compared to the Acuff and Osborne versions. I think if the song had been considered as a single, the duo would have put more muscle into this Dusty Owens (no kin to Dolly) song.

Once more to be with you dear
Just for tonight to hold you tight
Once more I’d give a fortune
If I could see you once more

Forget the past this hurt can’t last
So I don’t want it to keep us apart
Your love I need say you’ll love me
And say you’ll give me all of your heart

Joe Babcock’s “One Day At A Time” is neither the same song has Marilyn Sellars gospel hit from 1974 and nor is the same song that Don Gibson hit from that same year. This song is a reflective song about the way to approach life.

Dolly wrote “Ragged Angel”, another one of those doomed children songs that Dolly apparently needed to write as a catharsis. It’s a good song but the lyrics are nothing special. What is of interest is the exquisite Porter and Dolly’s vocal harmonies, which are a little different than their usual fare.

“A Good Understanding” is one of Dolly’s compositions, which suggests a marital relationship in which the ground rules were agreed upon in advance. The opening lyric suggests that this might have been an open marriage but as the lyrics unfold a more traditional relationship is revealed.

The album closes with the Don Reno composition “Let’s Live For Tonight”. While still sticking with usual bluegrass array of instruments, Reno and Smiley probably were the bluegrass group whose music most closely resembled the country music of its era.

Bob Ferguson is listed as the producer on this album, but I suspect that Porter Wagoner carried the bulk of the production duties. There is a characteristic Porter Wagoner & The Wagonmasters sound that permeates all of Porter’s RCA records. That isn’t a bad thing because it made the production of Porter’s records sound different that the vast majority of RCA product, but I am sure that it must have gnawed at Dolly at least a little, because if you removed Dolly’s voice from the duet albums you would have a Porter Wagoner record that sounded incomplete, needing another voice or voices. I like this album quite a bit but for whatever reason, this album is not quite as exuberant as some of their prior (and future efforts). I’d give this a B+ but a little more emphatic treatment of a couple of the songs would have turned this into an A. 


Album Review: Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton – ‘Porter Wayne and Dolly Rebecca’

porter wayne and dolly rebeccaPorter and Dolly’s fourth album together was released in March 1970. Like its predecessors it was produced by Bob Ferguson.

There were two hit singles, both reaching the top 10. The duo’s version of country standard ‘Just Someone I Used To Know’ is one of the several definitive takes on the song, and although the production feels just a little dated, Dolly’s lead vocal backed by Porter’s harmony is perfect. In comparison, Dolly’s composition ‘Tomorrow Is Forever’ is forgotten today, but it is pretty good. It is a plaintive sounding love song about moving on together after some separation.

It is one of no less than six Parton tunes on the album, signalling Porter Wagoner’s debt to his young musical partner was not just for her singing or her glamorous stage presence. The melody of ‘Mendy Never Sleeps’ has a minor keyed folky-Beatles melancholy, and is about a teenage wild child who comes to a tragic end, written from the point of view of her parents. It’s an interesting perspective for Dolly (then only 24 herself) to choose to explore. ‘Silver Sandals’ is also a lament for a dead child, in this case a sentimental religious tune about a physically disabled girl which may try a little too hard to pull on the heartstrings.

The sassy ‘Run That By Me One More Time’ is charming as a married couple bicker, and my favourite track after ‘Someone I Used To Know’:

Run that by me one more time
To make sure that I heard you right
I hope you don’t expect me to believe that line
I might be crazy, but I ain’t dumb
And I know a lie when I hear one
Would you run that by me one more time?

Dolly: Well, you’re late again, I see
What’s your excuse this time?
Don’t you try to kiss and make up
When you smell so strong from wine

Porter: Well, I’m not late, the clock is wrong
You need to wind Big Ben
Honey, that’s not wine you smell
That’s aftershave for men

Also very good is ‘I’m Wasting Your Time And You’re Wasting Mine’, as another couple decide to call it quits.

Dolly and her aunt Dorothy Jo Hope co-wrote ‘It Might As Well Be Me’, a good song about an impending breakup. Dorothy Jo also wrote the earnest ‘We Can’t Let This Happen To Us’, about a couple determined to save a marriage threatened by their busy lives. Uncle Bill Owen contributed ‘No Love Left’, a pleasant mid-tempo song about accepting that a relationship has reached its natural end.

The nostalgic ‘Forty Miles From Poplar Bluff’, written by Frank Dycus, is reminiscent of some of Dolly’s own songs about her childhood, although the story’s Missouri setting is less desperately poor, and there is a more robust arrangement complete with horns.

The pretty ‘Each Season Changes You’ has bluegrass origins, but gets a more polished arrangement here (with yet more horns).

While the album is not available digitally, the tracks are all to be found on the second disc of the superb Bear Family box set.

Grade: B+