- Mar 5, 2020
- AFL Club
While Anderson never quite duplicated that crossover worldwide phenomenon of 'Rose Garden', she racked up 14 more Top 10 hits on the country charts through to 1974, including the # 1 'How Can I Unlove You', 'You're My Man', 'Keep Me
in Mind' and 'What a Man, My Man Is'. However, hoping to cash in on more crossover success, the songs sounded more Country-pop, that was very popular at the time, giving country songs a more pop-edged sound it, by adding orchestral instruments and way over-produced sound. These songs haven't dated well and based on these objective reasons - and subjectively I just don't like them - I'm skipping these big hits and going for more enduring songs with a country flavour, even if a majority (though not all) my selections for today are covers rather than originals. If you want to check out the songs named above, they're all on youtube - but you've been warned, those smooth but trite romantic pop dirges just ain't (IMO) all that good. Here are some better ones -
'Sunday Morning Comin Down', written by an up and coming songwriter, Kris Kristofferson and now a country standard, was first recorded in 1969 by Ray Stevens before becoming a # 1 hit for Johnny Cash (see post # 341). Anderson then recorded a version - with some lyrics slightly changed to represent a female's point of view - for her top-selling # 1 1970 album "Rose Garden". This song is a marked departure from Anderson's usual repertoire of optimistic or not to serious themes that suited her personality. Though it doesn't have the rawness or sense of despair of the Cash version, it's an interesting contrast with some nice touches, including the gospel choir for the chorus, giving this song of loneliness and despair a not so desolate vibe -
'Cry' is a 1951 pop song written by Churchill Kohlman and first recorded by Ruth Casey but the biggest hit version was recorded by Johnnie Ray and The Four Lads in 1951. Ronnie Dove also had a big hit with it in 1966. Anderson had major success in with her 1972 (semi) countrified version, released, which hit # 1 in the U.S. and Canada and also charted # 16 on the U.S. Adult Contemporary Chart. It's enduring popularity as a standard and great melody led me to include it over some of Anderson's bigger, original but more mundane country-pop hits that haven't aged as well as this -
'Listen to a Country Song' was originally recorded by Kenny Loggins and Jim Messina on their 1971 album "Sittin' In", however it was first released as a single by Anderson in 1972 from her album "Listen to a Country Song" and peaked
at # 4 in the U.S and # 1 in Canada. Of course I chose to include this because it really is a country song, with country lyrics and a thoroughly country accompiament, amongst all the POP-country (capitals are deliberate) stuff Anderson
was coming out with (not that I blame her - they sold well at the time, but they've aged badly) at the time. Perhaps
she was reminding her fans - or reassuring herself - that her heart was still with more authentic country music.
The song itself hardens back to a time (but still within the memory of many country music fans in 1972), where people living in the country, often without electricity, provided there own musical entertainment - and spawned so many of our country music heroes. It also has some inventive lyrics, like rhyming Sue with jujitsu -
"... My brother Jack sneaks out from the back tryin' to get to sister Sue
Watch him closin' on the ground about turnin' around she knows a little jujitsu .."
'Top of the World' is a 1972 song written and composed by Richard Carpenter and John Bettis and first recorded by the soft-pop group, The Carpenters, who originally intended the song to be only an album cut. Anderson covered the song in 1973 for her album "Top of the World" and was the first single released from her album, becoming the first hit version, reaching # 2. The success of Anderson's version then prompted the Carpenters to re- record an upgraded version from their original album cut, topping the US pop charts in December 1973. Anderson's also later re-recorded the song for her 2004 album, "The Bluegrass Sessions". It's another of those cheery, optimistic songs with lyrics and vibe that so suited Anderson's cheery personality -
Anderson's had a daughter with husband, Glenn Sutton, a Songwriters HoF inductee, but they were divorced in 1977, after she was promised more than a rose garden by Louisiana billionaire oilman Harold Stream III. During this marriage, she concentrated on her equestrian and fund-raising activities, but still made the upper regions of the country charts with POP-country singles such as ‘Isn’t It Always Love’ and ‘I Love How You Love Me’. This marriage produced 2 more children, before her second divorce in 1982.
Anderson remained one of the top female country singers into the 1980's. Her last top 10 record was 1984's 'You're Welcome to Tonight'. After spending time on her ranch, raising horses and participating in equestrian events, she began recording again in 1992. She was especially popular in the U.K, appearing several times at the annual international country music festival at Wembley Stadium. Anderson also starred as a country singer in "Wreck on the Highway",
a BBC TV play in 1990.
Anderson had finished her last album in 1988, concentrating on her cowgirl and horse breeding careers and raising her family when in 1992 she came out with her first album in 4 years, containing all new material. The album had a Western theme, with songs reflecting this. The title "Cowboy's Sweetheart" fitted Anderson's own personal profile as a national champion professional equestrian and horse cutter and breeder in addition to her music business. Songs included on
this album were new songs for Anderson to record, but many were cover versions, including her 1980 top 30 hit, 'Even Cowgirls Get the Blues', as well as Patsy Montana's 1935 classic Western hit, 'I Want to Be a Cowboy's Sweetheart', and Slim Whitman's version of the classic 'Red River Valley'. Pop songs with a Western theme we're also included such as Gogi Grant's 'The Wayward Wind' (a duet with Emmylou Harris) and Cole Porter's 'Don't Fence Me In'.
'Red River Valley' is a folk or cowboy (or in this case, cowgirl) song. The song was known in at least 5 Canadian provinces before 1896 and was probably composed at the time of an 1870 expedition to Manitoba's Red River Valley. It expresses the sorrow of a local woman as her soldier lover prepares to return to the east - though in Anderson's version, she has reversed the genders, so the singer is a cowgirl. What's more, Anderson turns this traditional ballad into an absolute Western swing honky tonker. Given that Anderson was also a champion real life cowgirl as well as singer, this seems
an appropriate way to finish her music -
"The Bluegrass Sessions", released in 2004, earned Anderson her first Grammy nomination in over 30 years. That same year she was arrested in Texas, for drunk driving. Anderson released a new CD of original songs entitled "Cowgirl" in 2006, all of the songs penned by her acclaimed songwriting mother, Liz Anderson, who later passed away in 2011.
Battling with alcoholism (so what lay beneath her cheery exterior?), Anderson had several more arrests for drink-driving. Following her last 2014 arrest in Nashville, she apologized to her fans in a statement and went into rehab. In 2015, she seemed poised for a comeback, releasing a gospel album to positive reviews and appeared at the CMA Music Festival. However, after being hospitalized for pneumonia following a trip to Italy, Lynn Anderson unexpectedly died of a heart attack in 2015. She was 67 years old.
In 2018, the Lynn Anderson Rose Garden was dedicated at her final resting place in Nashville, and included a rose variety named after her, In 2020, 50 years after the release of her signature song 'Rose Garden', the song was widely celebrated in country music circles, including special recognition at the CMA awards. A special pink vinyl edition of the song was also released.
When the history next returns, it will be with a living legend of American music and without doubt one of the greatest (and I don't need to add "country" here) - recently named by the BBC as the world's most popular celebrity.
Love your work, Prof. Are you into Fred Eaglesmith?