Jeannie C. Riley: On The Honky Tonk Highway With Jeannie C. Riley (CD)
Tell The Truth And Shame The Devil
1‐CD (Digipak) with 48‐page booklet, 29 tracks. Total playing time c. 75 min.
* The first in Bear Family Records’® new series of hard‐hitting country music from artists who travelled the Honky Tonk Highway in the 1960s and ‘70s.
* This CD displays the full range of the astonishing recordings Jeannie C. Riley made for Plantation Records between 1968 and 1971, a time when her songs told the truth and shamed the devil.
* Jeannie had 24 country hits and 6 pop hits, including her international smash Harper Valley P.T. A. ‐ the only song by a female country singer to top both the country and pop charts until Dolly Parton went pop 13 years later. She also had 9 charted albums.
* Jeannie was an excellent singer, the real deal, whose authentic Texas honky tonk twang came together with an ability to put across a song to wider audience.
* Standout songs from the finest country writers include Tell The Truth, The Girl Most Likely, The Back Side Of Dallas, Oh Singer, Country Girl, Roses And Thorns, The Street Singer, In A Moment Of Weakness, and … Harper Valley P.T.A.
* The accompanying booklet by Martin Hawkins tells the fascinating story of young Jeanne Carolyn Stephenson complete with original interviews and rare photographs.
Jeannie C. Riley was born Jeanne Carolyn Stephenson in 1945 in Stamford, Texas. Her childhood was lonely but competitive, and focused on singing – at first into her hairbrush, then on the local Jones County Jamboree. She moved to Nashville in 1966 with her husband and a six‐month old daughter, Kim. She was turned down by Monument and Capitol and messed around by undelivered promises from other labels. Her 1981 autobiography called out the casting couch processes in Nashville years before “Me Too” came along. Johnny Cash wrote the introduction: “She was a diamond in the rough… Her story is a textbook example of what many girls have come through in order to ‘make it’ in the Nashville music community.”
In 1968 she was heard by producer Shelby Singleton. His vision saw how her voice and personality could bring alive a story song by Tom T. Hall about a woman calling out the various small town hypocrites who were criticising her. He saw Harper Valley P.T.A. as a hit single, an album, a movie and a TV series ‐ all of which came to pass. When Jeannie recorded Harper Valley, she said: ”There wasn’t a sound as the last echoes of the guitars faded. Then I heard one of the musicians say, ‘Great God A’mighty’.” Everyone in the room was now hearing what Shelby had envisioned. Legend has it that half the music people in Nashville came in to hear the playbacks.
Within a month, her song was number one on the national Hot 100 chart, and number one country, and she was on TV for American Bandstand and the Bing Crosby Show. Soon she was awarded the CMA Song Of The Year and nominated as the Best Female Performer at the Grammies. She was earning 30 grand in Vegas and had her picture made with Elvis Presley. HE came to see HER. From 1969 onwards she formed a band and had a tour bus. She said, “I was virtually living on my bus,” as husband Mickey Riley drove her entourage down the honky tonk highway. Even though the highway took her first to the top of the pop charts, to national and international TV, and to Vegas, she was still as country as they come. She said, “I took every engagement that came along – state fairs, concerts, night clubs, dinner clubs, and joints.”
Behind Jeannie, this CD features the incredible studio band of Plantation Records led by Jerry Kennedy and including some of the best players in Nashville. The music Jeannie made during her three years with Plantation has been overshadowed by Harper Valley and not recognised for the significant and influential body of work it is – until now! Here, the story is told the Bear Family way in words, pictures, and especially in this music.
The accompanying booklet by Martin Hawkins tells the fascinating story of young Jeanne Carolyn Stephenson from west Texas, who was transformed into the iconic singer Jeannie C. Riley, who reached the highs of the record business before the lows, and who fought her way back along the honky tonk highway. Complete with original interviews and rare photographs.
After Plantation, Jeannie made some good records for MGM, Mercury and other labels. She would periodically sing only gospel, then relent, reflecting many years of what she called “torment” and what the medics eventually called bi‐polar. Today, aged 77 at the time of writing, an old but glam lady, she lives back home in Texas and still sings Harper Valley in her living room, posted on Youtube.
01 Harper Valley P. T. A.
02 Tell The Truth And Shame The Devil
03 The Girl Most Likely
04 The Little Town Square
05 The Back Side Of Dallas
06 Things Go Better With Love
07 Country Girl
08 Duty Not Desire
09 Good Enough To Be Your Wife
10 Oh Singer
11 Darling Days
12 Roses And Thorns
13 I Almost Called Your Name
14 Satan Place
15 Light Your Light (And Let It Shine)
16 Am I That Easy To Forget
17 In A Moment Of Weakness
18 The Tree Of Joy
19 Teardrops On Page 43
20 The Cotton Patch
21 Shed Me No Tears
22 Before The Next Teardrop Falls
23 One Toke Over The Line
24 The Street Singer
25 I’ll Take What’s Left Of You
26 No Brass Band
27 That’s A No No
28 We Were Raised On Love
29 Yesterday All Day Long Today