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June 24

Why today? Whisperin’ Bill Anderson cut the song that would become his theme on this date in 1965.

About the record: Decca 31825, recorded on June 24, 1965, at Columbia Studios in Nashville. Released Aug. 2, 1965, eventually reaching No. 11 on Billboard‘s country chart. First LP appearance was on Bright Lights And Country Music, Decca DL7- 4686, released Nov. 15, 1965. It eventually reached No. 6 on Billboard‘s country album chart.

Anderson wrote this song with his right-hand man and leader of the Po’ Boys band, fiddler and bassist Jimmy Gateley. Though it didn’t make the Billboard Top 10, it has become one of the numbers most associated with him, and it’s his theme song on stage.

Music blogger Michael McDowell recently posted an extensive article and Q&A on the Country Music Hall of Famer, on the occasion of Anderson’s Songwriter album. Here’s what the artist had to say about “Bright Lights And Country Music”:

    Q: By 1965, you hit an artistic zenith with your “Bright Lights And Country Music” single and album. Of course the title track was a collaboration with Jimmy Gateley. Aside from the obvious story line in the lyrics, what was the background behind the creation of that song?

    A: We were working at a little nightclub in Toronto called the Horseshoe Tavern. When you worked at the Horseshoe, you went in there for an entire week. I played every night, Monday through Friday.Then on Saturday, you had a matinee show in the afternoon. I don’t think they sold alcohol during the afternoon show, so kids could come. It was like a family thing in the afternoon. Then on Saturday nights, you went back to doing your regular show.

    I had a big fan who lived in London, Ontario. She wrote me a letter at the Horseshoe. It was waiting for me when I got there that week. She said, “I just want you to know that I’m coming to see you on Saturday. But I’m not coming to the afternoon show. I’m coming to the night show, because I like bright lights with my country music!”

    When I read that line, I told Jimmy, “That’s a song idea if I ever heard one!” We actually wrote the song downstairs in the dressing room at the Horseshoe Tavern. We had about, golly, I don’t know, about fifty or sixty people standing outside the door after one of the shows.

    Jimmy and I started writing the song. But these people were wanting autographs! I said, “Folks, you’re just gonna have to wait.” It’s the only song that I’ve ever written in front of an audience!

As for me, I’m not much on the bright lights. But I do love that country music.

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