My Kind of Country

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

Tag Archives: Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton

Classic Rewind: Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner – ‘If Teardrops Were Pennies’

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Classic Rewind – Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton – ‘Better Move It On Home’

Album Review: Charley Pride – ‘The Pride Of Country Music’

Charley Pride’s second album was released in June 1967, and was the record which broke him through into stardom. There were two top 10 singles, both of which were written by Charley’s producer Cowboy Jack Clement and became instant classics. ‘Just Between You And Me’, the breakthrough hit, which peaked at #9, is an excellent song about a broken heart. Perhaps better known today thanks to the Garth Brooks cover, is the ultra-traditional ‘I Know One’, which reached #6. The song is almost perfect in its simplicity.

Another Clement tune, ‘Spell Of The Freight Train’, is a pleasant song about a rambler who doesn’t want to settle down, with some nice harmonica. The endearing ‘Best Banjo Picker’, about an aspiring musician, features some great banjo (some deliberately faltering to illustrate the song), played by bluegrass great Sonny Osborne who also gets a name drop.

‘Take Me Home’, written in slightly tongue in cheek fashion by Clement with Allen Reynolds, is about a wanderer’s rather more rueful longing to return home:

Well, I’ve slept all night in a water trough
Had the flu and the croup and the whoopin’ cough
Had the mumps and the measles and the seven year itch
And I can’t count the times that I’ve had a cold (and sore throat)
Not to mention all the times that I cut my fingers on a sardine can

Take me home
My heart is heavy and my feet are sore
Take me home
I don’t want to roam no more

It had also been recorded by Johnny Cash and Bobby Bare.

As was customary at this date, Charley included a selection of recent and older covers, which make for enjoyable listening but cannot be described as essential. The delightful mandolin-led ‘A Good Woman’s Love’ was first recorded by Hank Locklin in 1955 but has also become a bluegrass standard following Bill Monroe’s recording. The mandolin is played by Bobby Osborne, brother of Sonny. There is a slow, emotional version of the Johnny Paycheck-penned ‘Apartment #9’, which was Tammy Wynette’s debut hit. ‘Touch My Heart’ is a broken hearted ballad which had been a big hit for Ray Price in 1966.

Tom Paxton’s contemporary folk classic ‘The Last Thing On My Mind’ was a popular choice of cover for country artists in the 60s, and Charley’s version is nice but forgettable set next to Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton’s hit version same out the same year. ‘The Middle Of Nowhere’ also has a somewhat folky feel, with its melancholy tale of a return to a childhood home where the narrator is now a stranger out of place.

‘I‘m Not The Boy I Used To Be’, written by Curly Putman, is a shamefaced confession from an ex-con on his way home:

You see, mama,
I’ve spent time in prison
For a crime that I’m too ashamed to tell
And when you meet me there tomorrow
Don’t be surprised at what you see
Cause mama I’m not the boy I used to be

For I’ve been gone away too long
And I’ve done everything that’s wrong
But I think I’ve finally found myself at last
And just you wait and see
Another chance is all I need
But mama I’m not the boy I used to be

Charley is a little too clean cut to completely sell the part of the guiltridden sinner. ‘Silence’, written by Margie Singleton and Leon Ashley, is a steel laced ballad about loneliness and missing an ex.

The music on this record stands up pretty well today, although it is the singles which have endured the best. The Nashville Sound trappings of the arrangements do not overwhelm what is essentially solid country music from one of the great country singers. You can find it on a joint CD with three other early Pride albums.

Grade: A-

Classic Rewind: Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton – ‘The Pain Of Loving You’

Classic Rewind: Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton – ‘Always, Always’

Album Review: Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton – ‘Say Forever You’ll Be Mine’

say forever you'll be mineThe duo’s 12th album, and the last before Dolly and Porter parted ways, was released in 1975.

The title track, the sole single, reached #5 on the Billboard country chart. It is one of the pair’s finest recordings vocally, a beautiful love song (one of four written by Dolly) with a faintly melancholy air to the vocals. A choir backing is perhaps a little too saccharine, but the duo’s harmonies are among their very best collaborations.

Even better is another Dolly-penned tune, ‘Something To Reach For’. This is a classic cheating song about desperation and loneliness, and being with the wrong person as a poor substitute. A great song, with an outstanding vocal from Dolly, although Porter’s solo verse isn’t quite as good. ‘I Have No Right To Care’ is an emotional statement of forbidden love, and another excellent song.

The delicate ‘The Beginning’ traces a relationship from the overwhelming delight of first falling in love, through the challenges of time and poverty, leading to “anger and regret”. The joy of parenthood then brings them back together and revives their love.

Porter wrote ‘Again’, which is quite good, about an on-off relationship. The brisk mid-tempo ‘How Can I (Help You To Forgive Me)’ is a Wagoner co-write with Tom Pick, and quite pleasant if very short (under two minutes).

Porter and Dolly co-wrote the philosophical ‘Life Rides The Train’ set to rail rhythms and a harmonica-train whistle. Dolly’s brother Randy contributed the pleasant ‘If You Were Mine’.

Frank Dycus and Al Gore co-wrote the two remaining songs. ‘Our Love’ is an earnest love song with a stately fiddle intro. ‘Love To See Us Through’ has more substance; this is a cheerful song about a couple struggling through hard times.

This is a strong album, but it is notable that the best songs are the ones Dolly wrote, and her vocals clearly outshine Porter’s. One can see why she was feeling restless as the “junior” partner in the duo, and wanted to take the spotlight solo.

Grade: A

Classic Rewind: Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton – ‘Jeannie’s Afraid Of The Dark’

Classic Rewind: Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton – ‘If Teardrops Were Pennies’

Classic Rewind: Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton – ‘We Found It’

Album Review: Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton – ‘Love And Music’

love and musicLove And Music was the tenth duet album by Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton. Released in July 1973, only one single was released from the album, a cover of a Carl Smith oldie from 1951, “If Teardrops Were Pennies”, a song which Carl took to #8, but Porter and Dolly took to #3. As always, Bob Ferguson is listed as the producer.

The album opens up with “If Teardrops Were Pennies”. I don’t happen to own a vinyl copy of this album, but I’ve seen it and if I recall correctly Carl Butler, who wrote this song, also wrote the liner notes to this album. The song is a mid-tempo romp that Porter & Dolly do very well indeed, although I also like Carl Smith’s version of the song and the recordings that Carl & Pearl Butler made of the song.

If teardrops were pennies and heartaches were gold
I’d have all the treasures my pockets would hold
I’d be oh so wealthy with treasures untold
If teardrops were pennies and heartaches were gold

An acre of diamonds I’d offer to you
A solid gold mansion, an airplane or two
This whole world would be yours to have and to hold
If teardrops were pennies and heartaches were gold

Next up is the first of four Porter Wagoner tunes on the album “Sounds of Night” a gentle ballad with a nice fiddle intro by Mack Magaha. The song describes the lonely sounds of night (whippoorwills, church bells) and how they translate to human emotions

I don’t know much about Howard Tuck, other than what I found in his obituary (http://www.mywebtimes.com/obituaries/howard-red-tuck/article_e67fea9d-9ee8-5b24-8d2c-e7e5cf4e0300.html ) but his song “Laugh The Years Away” is a good song that would have made a good single. The song is a humorous look at married life, happy even if not blessed with material wealth.

A corporation owns the factory I work in
Someone else owns the house we call our home
The bank owns the car we drive around
And we’ve got something we can call our own

We’ve got love happiness surrounds us
And we thank the Lord for every single day
And with love we’ll always have each other
And together we can laugh the years away

Next up is the first of four Dolly Parton tunes on this album “You”, a rather bland ballad of domestic bliss.

Porter’s “Wasting Love” also would have made a good single, an up-tempo song about a couple growing apart. While the lyrics are good, the strength of the song is the melody.

“Come To Me” is a slow, serious ballad, that essentially finds Porter and Dolly trading verses. The song is inspirational without being religious. The song had no potential as a single, but it is a nice song.

Porter co-wrote “Love Is Out Tonight” with Tom Pick. The song is a slow ballad with very vivid imagery.

As blue skies and daylight darken into night
Surrounding us with beauty as the stars make their light
They spell out our names all the stars up above
As they flicker and shine like letters of love

Then a warm breath of air whispers through the trees
As the leaves on their branches have blown to the breeze
Ripples of water seemed to echo the sound
Love’s out tonight there’s love all around

Small drops of dew act as nature’s perfume
Placing its fragrance on all that’s in blue
While I hold you so close your lips touching mine
With nature all around us watching our love entwine

Porter Wagoner penned “In The Presence of You”. The song features a nice piano intro to a slow ballad of a people who cannot find the right words to say to each other, although they love each other deeply.

In the presence of you I wonder
Why I can’t say the things that I want to
All the pretty words that I planned to say when I’m with you
I lose them in the presence of you

Your nearness makes my voice tremble
There’s a weakness that I feel through and through
Searching for words to describe how I love you
Don’t come easy in the presence of you

Dolly penned “I Get Lonesome By Myself”, another of Dolly’s lonesome little girl songs. In this song the narrator stumbles across the daughter he abandoned a few years back. Dolly’s part is spoken in a somewhat creepy effort at a six year old girl’s voice.

The album closes with the forth Dolly Parton composition “There Will Always Be Music”, a nice capstone to the album.

As the farmer works the fields he sings a song
The songbirds in the trees sing along
And the wind makes melodies as it whistles through the trees
Man’s burdens are made lighter with a song

There’ll always be music as long as there’s a story to be told
There’ll always be music cause music is the voice of the song
There’ll always be music

Dolly Parton has a well deserved reputation as a songwriter, but Porter was no slouch either, although neither Porter nor Dolly would rank up there with Cindy Walker, Dallas Frazier, Harlan Howard or Hank Cochran. On this album at least, Porter’s songs are stronger than Dolly’s.

This is a pretty decent album, although not necessarily one of their better albums. As Jonathan Pappalardo noted in his excellent review of The Right Combination/Burning The Midnight Oil, “[w]hile none of these songs have truly amounted to anything, they combine to make a fine collection on their own”.

My feelings exactly – B+

Classic Rewind: Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton – ‘Together Always’

Classic Rewind: Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton – ‘Her And The Car And The Mobile Home’

Album Review: Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton – ‘Together Always’

together alwaysThe duo’s eighth album, released in 1972, featured only songs written by one or the other of them. Dolly’s talent was by now outshining Porter’s at least vocally, and although she wrote only four of the songs here to Porter’s six, both of the singles were her songs. Dolly’s voice sparkles throughout, and Porter sounds mediocre in comparison on his solo sections.

‘Lost Forever In Your Kiss’ is a romantic song about falling in love which was a top 10 hit. It is very pretty, although Dolly’s vocal works better than Porter’s. The perky mid-tempo piano-led title track is about a more mature but solidly happy relationship, is not as memorable, and was less successful, although it reached #14.

‘Poor Folks’ Town’, which Dolly revised and recorded in a slightly different version a few years later, is a cheerful song with bouncy fiddle accompaniment about being happy despite lacking material things:

We got no money but we’re rich in love
That’s one thing that we got a plenty of
So come on down have a look around
At rich folks living in a poor folks town
We got no carpets on the floor
We got wall to wall love
Who could ask for more?

‘Christina’ is an adoring lullaby to a couple’s new baby; it is so personal and realistic I wonder if Dolly, herself childless, wrote this for a friend’s child?

Two of Porter’s songs are classic cheating songs. The excellent ‘Looking Down’ has an unrepentant pair of cheaters defending themselves against the criticism of others:

They say the love we steal is a disgrace
That we should be ashamed to look the world in the face
But they don’t know how much love we must hide
While the world looks down upon our pride
Seems there’s always someone looking down – down – down
Not knowing the inner feelings of the ones they’re puttin’ down
The love we feel’s as true as a baby’s cryin’ sound
Still there’s always someone looking down
We still honor the vows we made long ago
But when there’s no love at home it hurts us so
And then your heart begins to look around

In ‘You And Me, Her And Him’ the couple plan on talking it all out with their other halves:

You and me, and her and him, must get together
And see if maybe we can find a way
To put an end to hurting one another
Cause he don’t know
And she don’t know
How much we hurt each day
It’s not fair, and you and I both know it
To have to hide and love the way we do
The time is now that we must get together
Her and him
Me and you
She and I had lost it long before I met you
We tried and tried but all the love had gone
And I guess respect is all that’s kept me with him
Cause there hasn’t been no love there in so long

‘Love’s All Over’ is also about a once-illicit affair which is now all too obvious to everyone. ‘Take Away’ is a more conventional love song.

‘Ten Four – Over And Out’ is a novelty inspired by the CB radio craze of the 1970s. In fact Porter Wagoner was ahead of the game, as it didn’t become a country music trend until a few years later, after a national reduction in speed limits made the radios’ messaging system popular. In this song Dolly and Porter are a sparring married couple communicating to comic effect by the radios, which means the song is still entertaining today even if its context has dated.

Finally, ‘Anyplace You Want To Go’ is about the power of daydreams in a workaday life.

This album showcases the duo at their best. The tracks are split between the third and fourth discs of the wonderful Bear Family box set.

Grade: A

Classic Rewind: Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton – ‘The Right Combination’

Classic Rewind: Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton – ‘Yours Love’

Classic Rewind: Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton – ‘Daddy Was An Old Time Preacher Man’

Classic Rewind: Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton – ‘We’ll Get Ahead Someday’

Classic Rewind: Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton – ‘Run That By Me One More Time’

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+

Classic Rewind: Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton – ‘Holding On To Nothin”