January 21 2021

Dear Rodeo

At number 5 on the Texas Music Pickers Spotify charts this week is “Dear Rodeo” by Cody Johnson and Reba McEntire. Since the song has been on Spotify, the song has received almost 2 million streams.  

Cody was once a bull rider who gave up his career in rodeo to pursue his music. Reba was the daughter of a rodeo champion and grew up in and around the rodeo circuit.

Clark McEntire, Reba McEntire’s father, won three world championships in steer roping (1957, 1958 and 1961) and was reserve world champion in 1954. He was sometimes called “ropentire” by his peers for his cool head and his skill with the rope. For many years McEntire held the world records for fastest time on a single steer (14.5 seconds) and on five head. He won every major steer roping title on the rodeo trail, most of them more than once, including Cheyenne (1954, 1961) and Pendleton (1947, 1957-58).

In 1979, Clark McEntire was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Reba McEntire’s song “Daddy” tells his story.

Cody Johnson, sometimes referred to as CoJo, started playing music and writing songs at an early age. After high school and a short stint at college, he followed the path of one of his heroes, Chris LeDoux. He joined the rodeo circuit and often sold albums out of his truck at the rodeo grounds. Due to injuries suffered in rodeo, Johnson left the circuit and began a career as a prison guard in Huntsville, Texas. While working there, he played clubs and bars on his days off and was able to piece together some hits on the Texas Charts.

He has came a long way in only a short time, releasing six self -released albums and since signing with Warner has released a major label album, Ain’t Nothin’ to It.

Dear rodeo

I’d be lying if I tried to tell you I don’t think about you

After all the miles and the wild nights that we’ve been through

Lord knows, we had a few

Dear Rodeo- performed by Reba McEntire and Cody Johnson. Songwriters: Cody Johnson/ Dan Couch

I have always had a place in my heart for rodeo and cowboy songs. The spirit of the American West is alive and well with Cody Johnson, and I am looking forward to discovering more of his music.


November 2 2020

Ode to Billy Joe

Earlier today, I learned that the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame was inducting Bobbie Gentry to the Hall of Fame.

Bobbie Gentry gained international fame in 1967 after composing and recording “Ode to Billy Joe.” The song spent four weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It earned Gentry two Grammy Awards in 1968. Awards were, Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. At the Grammy’s that year, the song was also nominated for Best Contemporary Single and for Song of The Year.

When Bobbie recorded the demo of “Ode To Billie Joe” for Capitol, she had an ambition to write songs to sell to other artists. She only sang the song herself on her demo,  because, she said it was cheaper than hiring someone else to sing it.

Capitol Recording Studio (Hollywood) chose to release Bobbie Gentry’s version of the song. Gentry signed to Capitol on June 23,1967. The single was released July 10, 1967.

Rolling Stone lists “Ode to Billy Joe” among it’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Following the single’s success, an album was quickly put together. On August 21 Ode to Billie Joe overcame the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, topping the Billboard 200.

We still don’t know what she threw off of the bridge that day. Bobbie Gentry states, “That doesn’t matter.”

In 1969 Bobbie Gentry would write and record “Fancy.”

“Fancy” is my strongest statement for women’s lib, if you really listen to it. I agree wholeheartedly with that movement and all of the serious issues that they stand for- equality, equal pay, day care centers, and abortion rights.”

Bobbie Gentry

Fancy” released November 3, 1969. (As I am writing this, the song released 51 years ago as of tomorrow.)

In April of 1970, Capitol would release the album Fancy. Most of the album was recorded at Fame Recording Studio in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. The Album consisted of cover songs other than the title track. Fancy, was produced by Rick Hall.

The album peaked at number 37 in the US Billboard Top Country Albums chart. The song “Fancy” reached number 8 on the Billboard Top 40.

In 1991 MCA would release Reba McEntire’s version of “Fancy.” Her recording would also reach #8 on the Billboard Country chart.

Reba, who had wanted to record the song since 1984 refers to it as her “possible signature hit.”

If I didn’t know better, I would swear that Reba wrote the song “Fancy.” It fits her persona so well. She performs the song to perfection and has definitely made it her own.

Because of the current health climate, the honors ceremony for this years Nashville Songwriters Hall Of Fame has been postponed until November 2021.

Other 2020 inductees are Steve Earle, Kent Blazy, and Brett James. All of these artists including Bobbie Gentry experienced their first Top 20 song at least 20 years ago. Hall of Fame Songwriters were selected by their professional songwriting peers.

Congratulations To All of You!