My junior high was probably one of the oldest buildings in my little town. Back in 1910 or so, it had served as the high school ~ black and white portraits of stern long-ago high school principals adorned its sanitarium-grey walls. From the outside it resembled a prison.
The school's dress code prohibited pants (for girls, I mean), and our dresses were audaciously short; so on minus twenty-degree winter mornings, I'd alight the city bus at the Terror Hotel and commence my six-block tramp along slippery sidewalks in my mini-dress, faux-rabbit coat, plastic knee-high snow boots and no hat (hats were for sissies), clutching my US history and earth science textbooks and three spiral notebooks.
All to frost-bittenly arrive at a place I didn't want to visit for six-plus hours, but an argument my parents (such as they were) were not of a mind to debate.
My only saving grace was that I had a best friend, albeit one who crazily loved country music (one has to take their best friends wherever they find them). A year or so before, I was grooving to The Rascals and Three Dog Night, and now here I was, taking a crash course in the idiosyncrasies of honky tonk.
By now I pretty much got it. I'd figured out who I liked (Merle, Waylon, Tammy) and who I didn't (Glen, Conway, Sonny James). I'd long known who Buck Owens was, but I also learned about new artists like David Houston and Dolly Parton.
Unfortunately, 1968 was a weird year in country music. The worst singles hit number one, while (now) classic songs languished far below on the charts.
My best friend Alice and I agreed that this song reeked. I've always hated political songs, especially those that preach (and which ones don't?) Our main objection to this single, however, was that it was barely country. That, and the fact that it was played on the radio all the time. "Stab 'em in the back, that's the name of the game" ~ we enjoyed making fun of that line. Plus the whole, "Daddy hates Mommy and Mommy hates Dad" really didn't need to flow out of my speaker. Unless my speaker was spewing my own personal reality.
I came to appreciate this song later. At the time I frankly wanted twin fiddles and steel guitar.
Regardless, number twenty-one is good:
This single wasn't from 1968, but I think David Houston deserves a mention. Nobody remembers him now (well, I do), but David Houston was huge. Not only did he have many top solo singles throughout his career, but he recorded hit duets with both Tammy Wynette ("My Elusive Dreams") and a newcomer, Barbara Mandrell. In 1968 alone, he had four top one hundred songs. As life marched on, I sort of forgot about David Houston, until I learned he had died at age fifty-eight from a brain aneurysm. Houston is one of those artists that this blog is about, because some of us don't forget.