Skip to content

Country Music History – Essential Releases of 1983, Part II

544b68aaf556e17b359fcaf8b1aaab8a

Little Charlotte, she’s as pretty as the angels when they sing.

1. “Last Thing I Needed First Thing This Morning,” Willie Nelson. We first met Texas songwriter Gary P. Nunn as a member of Jerry Jeff Walker’s Lost Gonzo Band and the writer of “London Homesick Blues.” Nunn penned the #1 Willie Nelson country hit “Last Thing I Needed First Thing This Morning” with Donna Farar and would later state that he had “six million reasons” why he loved this song. Producer Chips Moman constructed a bluesy Muscle Shoals arrangement for this lost my best friend number. Songwriter Nunn, who still regularly plays gigs in Texas and is formally quoted on a display at the Jester Hall dormitory on the University of Texas campus, also had a writing credit on the 1980 Rosanne Cash hit “Couldn’t Do Nothin’ Right.”

2. “Little Old Fashioned Karma,” Willie Nelson. I’ve mentioned this before, but retrospectively looking at Nelson’s rise to fame, it’s surprising that most his major hits were cover songs. His 1983 “Tougher Than Leather” album was an anomaly for that era in Nelson’s career in that it was completely comprised of original Nelson material. This #10 country hit sounds like Southern gospel, until the fiddle break, while Willie communicates a vague warning about reaping and sowing. It then goes into extended boogie mode. Sometimes it’s hard to know whether Nelson is such a major American icon because of or despite his eccentricities.

3. “Pancho and Lefty,” Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson. “Pancho and Lefty” is a melancholy, cinematic classic of outlaw betrayal that songwriter Townes Van Zandt first released in 1972. Emmylou Harris released her cover version on her 1977 #1 country album “Luxury Liner,” but it wasn’t a hit until Haggard and Nelson released their duet version, recorded at the recommendation of Nelson’s daughter, Lana. Townes, who was included in the Haggard/Nelson video for the song, found the composition useful on another occasion. Van Zandt, “We got stopped by these two policemen and they said ‘What do you do for a living?,’ and I said, ‘Well, I’m a songwriter,’ and they both kind of looked around like ‘pitiful, pitiful,’ and so on to that I added, ‘I wrote that song ‘Pancho and Lefty.’ You ever heard that song ‘Pancho and Lefty’? I wrote that,’ and they looked back around and they looked at each other and started grinning, and it turns out that their squad car, you know their partnership, it was two guys, it was an Anglo and a Hispanic, and it turns out, they’re called Pancho and Lefty. I hope I never see them again.”

4. “The Randall Knife,” Guy Clark. West Texas songwriter Guy Clark had his first substantial commercial success in 1982, when the Ricky Skaggs cover of “Heartbroke” became a #1 country hit (that song was originally recorded by Rodney Crowell in 1980 and it was also covered by George Strait and The Marshall Tucker Band in 1982). As a performer, Clark had two minor country hits – “The Partner Nobody Chose” went to #38 in 1981 and “Home Grown Tomatoes” peaked at #42 in 1983. “The Randall Knife,” “Home Grown Tomatoes,” and the future John Conlee hit “The Carpenter” were all tracks from Clark’s 1983 “Better Days” album. On “The Randall Knife,” a father and a son are connected by a possession, one that represented both danger and love.

5. “Reasons to Quit,” Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson. Haggard wrote “Reasons to Quit,” the second single from the 1983 #1 country album “Pancho & Lefty.” Haggard and Nelson voice their understanding that there are valid reasons to quit smoking and drinking and “laughing at the price tags that we pay” and roarin’ down life’s fast lane. The enumeration of these reasons, however, does not result in a pledge to change. Haggard and Nelson had one more #1 album named after a twosome left in them, 2015’s “Django & Jimmie.”

6. “Swingin’,” John Anderson. Forget Romeo and Juliet, Little Charlotte Johnson inspired the best love story ever. John conveys the wondrous thrill of new romance and the band positively…um…swings with horns and a rock inspired organ interlude. Not only a #1 hit, not only the Country Music Association Single of the Year, but the best-selling country single in the history of Warner Brothers Records. Happiness is a warm swing. (Avoid John’s 1994 rerecorded version. It don’t mean a thing, ‘cause it ain’t got…).

7. “Unwed Fathers,” Tammy Wynette. John Prine’s critical success in the 1970s never translated into commercial success, leading him to some interesting experiments. He went to Sun Studios and cut a rockabilly inspired album in 1979 (“Pink Cadillac”), then starting collaborating with other songwriters for his 1984 “Aimless Love” album. “Unwed Fathers,” co-written with Nashville legend Bobby Braddock, is a sympathetic look at teen motherhood, a theme the Bottle Rockets reprised on “Welfare Music.” Tammy Wynette took the song from folk to country music, as the lead track to her 1983 album “Even the Strong Get Lonely.” Her version only peaked at #63 on the country charts, perhaps the deadbeat dad theme served up a bit too much home truth for her audience.

8. “You’re the First Time I’ve Thought About Leaving,” Reba McEntire. It’s almost disorienting to hear Reba’s early traditional material, which is completely unlike the overproduced schlock that became her trademark. “You’re the First Time I’ve Thought About Leaving” was a #1 single/potential cheating number written by two pop stars turned country writers, Dickey Lee of “Patches” fame and Kerry Chater, who played bass for Gary Puckett & The Union Gap, best known for their 1968 #2 hit “Young Girl.” Reba hasn’t made a physical move on “You’re the First Time I’ve Thought About Leaving,” but her body and mind are suffering from misalignment.

Leave a Comment





Amazon_Smile_logo-e1623352788338-reupload
ScreenShot2020-10-05at12.00.04PM-reupload

Support Let Me Help Inc by shopping at smile.amazon.com

The Daisy Jopling Band To Perform “Who’s Who” At The Transfiguration Church In Tarrytown, NY Sunday May 12th, 2024 7 PM ET

By admin | May 9, 2024 |

The Transfiguration Church in Tarrytown, New York Presents “Who’s Who”, original violin arrangements of iconic songs by The Who performed by the Daisy Jopling Band featuring the Sleepy Hollow High School Chamber Orchestra on Sunday, May 12th, 2024. Location: Transfiguration Church 268 South Broadway Tarrytown, NY 10591 United States Tickets are $25 and can be…

Cyborg Drummer/DJ DRMAGDN Headlining Montauk Music Fest

By admin | April 9, 2024 |

Major Label BMG Records Artist & Producer DRMAGDN Cyborg Drummer / DJ will be making his Montauk Music Fest debut this year in May. DRMAGDN will be the Official Host & MC of The Montauk Music Fest plus play headlining sets on Friday 5/17 and Saturday 5/18 from 10pm-12am at Gurney’s Montauk Resort (290 Old…

RED CARPET EVENT @ Chelsea Table & Stage 4/12/24 Featuring THE AMERICAN RELICS & DRMAGDN

By admin | March 25, 2024 |

On Friday April 12th, 2024 beginning at 6:30 pm ET  there will be a Red Carpet event pre-show sponsored by Tribeca Records at the trendy nightspot Chelsea Table and Stage located in the heart of Chelsea at 152 west 26th street (inside the Hilton Fashion Hotel) in NYC. The Red Carpet will be followed by…

Live Review: Composer Randy Edelman Live at Chelsea T&S “2nd Annual St. Patrick’s Day Massacre” 03/16/24 and Record Release in NYC

By admin | March 17, 2024 |

There was an infinite vitality of velvet green flowing deliciously through the air as Composer Randy Edelman presented his 2nd Annual St. Patrick’s Day Massacre at the trendy new nightspot Chelsea Table & Stage in the heart of NYC on March 16, 2024….. a vivacious close to the spirited Irish Parade. His music is the…

DRMAGDN: Cyborg Drummer/DJ Debuts @ Chelsea T&S With Retro 80’s Party & Red Carpet Event 4/12/24

By admin | February 29, 2024 |

BMG recording artist, producer and World renowned, Global Touring Electrifying Powerhouse, DRMAGDN: Cyborg Drummer and DJ will make his debut at the popular, trendy night spot Chelsea Table & Stage (located at 152 west 26th street inside the Hilton Hotel) on  Friday April 12, 2024 @ 9:00PM. DRMAGDN will be celebrating his high energy brand of Electronic Dance Music (EDM)…

Going Steady: New Singles 2-23-24- 2-29-24 Reviewed

By Iman Lababedi | February 26, 2024 |

dance pop, gooey confection

US Top Ten Albums Tracking 2-16-24 – 2-22-24

By Iman Lababedi | February 26, 2024 |

75K EAUs is abysmal

Our Friend Tony Orlando’s Farewell Tour

By admin | February 25, 2024 |

“I still hit the ball, I just can’t run the bases!!!”

Sneak Peaks: New Album releases 3-1-24 – 3-7-24

By Iman Lababedi | February 25, 2024 |

contenders for the best punk rock around

Child Bite, Lamb Of God, Pantera At Madison Square Garden, Thursday, February 22nd, 2024, Reviewed

By Iman Lababedi | February 25, 2024 |

A three hours of hard rock, metal not metal, swift, loud, egoless pure metal

Scroll To Top