DOLLY YOUR ENTHUSIASM (27)
March 22, 2023
Coda to a series of 25 enthusiastic posts, contributed by 25 HILOBROW friends and regulars, on the topic of favorite Country singles from the Sixties (1964–1973). Series edited by Josh Glenn. BONUS: Check out the DOLLY YOUR ENTHUSIASM playlist on Spotify.
CHARLEY PRIDE | “IS ANYBODY GOING TO SAN ANTONE” | 1970
The record kicks off with a fiddle, which passes quickly to pedal steel and then, echoing their melody, that extraordinary voice: a rich, resonant baritone, southern for sure, with both grit and twang to spare. What one hears in that voice is what they bring to it: Lefty Frizzell, Ray Price;, Merle Haggard. But then, Merle wasn’t southern. He was an Okie raised in Bakersfield, California, and San Quentin State Prison: a sharp reminder that, sight unseen — without talking to a man — who can say what they really are?
In any event, it’s a tremendous song, written by Dave Kirby and Glenn Martin and superbly produced by Jack Clement, with just enough vocal sweetening to please Nashville Sound fans and old honky-tonkers alike. Released as a single in between albums in early March 1970, this latest Charley Pride record was irresistible from the start:
Rain dripping on the brim of my hat
Sure is cold today
Here I am walking down 66
Wish she hadn’t done me that way
Sleeping under a table in a roadside park
A man could wake up dead
But it sure seems warmer
Than sleeping in our king-size bed
And then the chorus:
Is anybody goin’ to San Antone
Or Phoenix, Arizona?
Any place is alright as long as I
Can forget I’ve ever known her
Two more verses and another chorus follow, with a little whistling on the outro. Two minutes and ten seconds long, it’s a freedom song forever.
In April, when it spent two weeks atop the Billboard Country charts, the record became Pride’s third straight #1 single. The pop charts were less impressed, as the record peaked at #72 and vanished. But what did pop know? “Let It Be”? Please.
Pride was born in 1934 in Sledge, Mississippi — population less than 400, nearly all of whom were “Colored,” including his sharecropper parents. The city of Clarksdale, was thirty-odd miles away; Memphis, Tennessee, more than fifty, though radio made everything seem closer: gospel, blues, jazz, pop, hillbilly — it was all American music. Nat King Cole was black, Hank Williams was white; both were true.
Though Pride sang and played guitar as a teenager, his first ambition was baseball. Talented but somewhat injury-prone, Pride had notable success with the Memphis Red Sox of the Negro American League, and in 1960, wisps of minor league opportunity led him to Missoula, Montana. Semi-pro ball for the East Helena Smelterites followed, as did a day job as zinc smelter with the Anaconda Mining Company.
At night, Pride sang country music, eventually fronting a Great Falls-based band called the Night Hawks. Encouraged by veteran county star Red Sovine to try making it in Nashville, Pride did so and, after some obstacles, Chet Atkins signed him to RCA in 1966.
Though it was never anybody’s intention to make a statement — most of all, they wanted to make money — the baseball scuffler was about to become the Jackie Robinson of country music. And if when he sings, it sounds like Pride means it, he does. But remember also the title of Robinson’s 1972 autobiography: I Never Had It Made.
DOLLY YOUR ENTHUSIASM: INTRODUCTION by Josh Glenn | David Cantwell on Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton’s WE FOUND IT | Lucy Sante on Johnny & June Carter Cash’s JACKSON | Mimi Lipson on George Jones’s WALK THROUGH THIS WORLD WITH ME | Steacy Easton on Olivia Newton-John’s LET ME BE THERE | Annie Zaleski on Tammy Wynette’s D-I-V-O-R-C-E | Carl Wilson on Tom T. Hall’s THAT’S HOW I GOT TO MEMPHIS | Josh Glenn on Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen’s BACK TO TENNESSEE | Elizabeth Nelson on Skeeter Davis’s I DIDN’T CRY TODAY | Carlo Rotella on Buck Owens’ TOGETHER AGAIN | Lynn Peril on Roger Miller’s THE MOON IS HIGH | Erik Davis on Kris Kristofferson’s SUNDAY MORNIN’ COMIN’ DOWN | Francesca Royster on Linda Martell’s BAD CASE OF THE BLUES | Amanda Martinez on Bobbie Gentry’s FANCY | Erin Osmon on John Prine’s PARADISE | Douglas Wolk on The Byrds’ DRUG STORE TRUCK DRIVIN’ MAN | David Warner on Willie Nelson’s WHISKEY RIVER | Will Groff on Tanya Tucker’s DELTA DAWN | Natalie Weiner on Dolly Parton’s IN THE GOOD OLD DAYS (WHEN TIMES WERE BAD) | Charlie Mitchell on Stonewall Jackson’s I WASHED MY HANDS IN MUDDY WATER | Nadine Hubbs on Dolly Parton’s COAT OF MANY COLORS | Jada Watson on Loretta Lynn’s DON’T COME HOME A DRINKIN’ (WITH LOVIN’ ON YOUR MIND) | Adam McGovern on Johnny Cash’s THE MAN IN BLACK | Stephen Thomas Erlewine on Dick Curless’s A TOMBSTONE EVERY MILE | Alan Scherstuhl on Waylon Jennings’s GOOD HEARTED WOMAN | Alex Brook Lynn on Bobby Bare’s THE WINNER. PLUS: Peter Doyle on Jerry Reed’s GUITAR MAN | Brian Berger on Charley Pride’s IS ANYBODY GOING TO SAN ANTONE.
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