Friday, October 11, 2013

Cal Smith, 1932-2013: R.I.P.

Country-western singer I used to listen to as a teen in Florida on WDVH-AM out of Gainesville:

Calvin Grand Shofner -- known professionally as Cal Smith, and famed for top-charting hits Country Bumpkin, The Lord Knows I'm Drinking and It's Time To Pay the Fiddler -- died Thursday in Branson, Mo., at age 81.

Born in Gans, Okla., Smith grew up in the San Jose, Calif., area, and became a popular disc jockey prior to joining Ernest Tubb's Texas Troubadours as a rhythm guitarist in 1962. Smith worked with Tubb until 1968, when he became a solo performer.

In 1972, he recorded Bill Anderson's The Lord Knows I'm Drinking , which became a No. 1 country hit for Decca Records. In 1974, Smith scored with Country Bumpkin, which became the Country Music Association's song and single of the year and the Academy of Country Music's song of the year.

Don Wayne wrote Country Bumpkin, after being critiqued by a publishing industry professional as being too country: Nobody wants to hear about that frost on the pumpkin, was the criticism. Wayne wrote of a man who met a woman who teased him, "Hello, country bumpkin/ How's the frost out on the pumpkin?"

"And then the story just unfolded," Wayne told author Philip Self in Guitar Pull: Conversations With Country's Legendary Songwriters. "I thought to myself, 'Man, I've stumbled on to a hit song here.' But after thinking about it further, I thought, 'This could be more than a hit song. This could be a great song, if I write what I'm seeing.'"

Wayne wrote what he was seeing, and Smith's vocal on the song was relaxed and authentic.

Here it is, the Contry Bumpkin:

Yeah, it's maudlin, cry-in-your-beer country. What a great voice, though.

1 comment:

TOTWTYTR said...

Great voice, great song. I never get tired of hearing it.