Sep 062012

Until reading about the recently deceased Southern pop-soul-country singer-songwriter Joe South I had no idea he wrote “Hush,” the best song Deep Purple ever recorded. Did you know that? This puts a serious dent in what little admiration I have for Deep Purple, but that’s beside the point.

I knew South first and best as the man behind the first song and second-best version of any song called “Games People Play” (The Spinners‘ different song known by the same name being the best version). Learning that South wrote not only “Hush” but a favorite country-pop song of my youth, “(I Never Promised You a) Rose Garden,” increases my appreciation of the man’s body of work. What a great title/lyric that song has; I think of it a few times a year when I hear my kids, friends, or coworkers whine about any of life’s expected hardships.

I also learned that South’s career stretched back to the 1958 novelty hit “The Purple People Eater Meets the Witch Doctor” and that he wrote Billy Joe Royal‘s “Down in the Boondocks.” And he played guitar on Bob Dylan‘s Blonde on Blonde and some of Aretha Franklin’s greatest hits. Not bad for a guy I’d had pegged as a sub-Box Tops 1-hit wonder.


  11 Responses to “Joe South, Dead at 72, Never Promised Us a Rose Garden”

  1. Funny, I had just finished writing a similar post about South.

    He was one of those guys who I had heard of forever of but who always was always on the edges of my musical radar. I didn’t realize he had written a bunch of songs that were the type of late 60s/early 70’s AM pop radio pop fodder that doesn’t get much respect, but for which I have a huge soft spot. And like you, I was surprised to discover this morning (via the Secret Cinema) that he wrote Deep Purple’s best song.

    I’m sure there are folks here who are much more well versed in his career than I, so feel free to speak up and share your favorite Joe South moment. Mine? “(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden” by Lynn Anderson.

    He was a subtlety Great Man.

  2. Wow, his version of Hush is fantastic. I never made the connection before but the Na-na-na’s of Hush and Games People Play seem more deliberate now.

  3. That’s a good point!

  4. To pick up on another thread, “(I Never Promised You a) Rose Garden” should be a mandatory theme song of any President running for re-election.

  5. And while we’re listing his credits, let’s not forget “Walk A Mile In My Shoes” and “Don’t It Make You Want To Go Home”.

    I did know he wrote Hush; I think I learned about that a loooong time ago because of his Dylan connection (not that there’s any connection with Hush and his Dylan connection but something I was reading about him because of the Dylan bit mentioned Hush). There’s a nice Rhino comp (complete with liner notes by Ben Vaughn) that I bought 20 some years ago. I’ve always wanted to get more but for some reason never have.

    Speaking of “late 60s/early 70′s AM pop radio pop fodder” for which I have a huge soft spot as well (although I would never use the term fodder because of the negative connotations of that word and I don’t find anything negative about these types of tunes), South is a good example of why I think that era was untouchable (and, not incidentally, why EPG’s theory of the end of good music in tenable). Think about it, South has quite a good c.v. as listed in this thread – and he is a minor, almost unknown, figure in pop music. Incredible!

    Here’s a great clip featuring the now all dead quartet of Joe South, Johnny Cash, June Carter, and…George Lindsay (that’s right, Goober Pyle).

  6. misterioso

    I had no idea he wrote Hush either, and, for that matter, did not know he wrote Rose Garden until I read his obit this morning. Anyway, RIP, and I am in total agreement on the virtues of Hush.

  7. Joe South is sorely missed by me. I am much impressed Joe South wrote Hush. I am so upset by Joe South’s passing I can’t eat and I can’t sleep.

  8. Goober sings better than Gomer!

  9. What is this theory?

  10. The theory goes way back. I don’t know that it’s ever been spelled out on the blog. Although the exact date is sometimes debated, it’s that there’s been almost no good rock ‘n roll music since 1981 (or ’83), a date that coincides with whatever EPG believes is the last great Costello album.

  11. He lived near me, in the North Atlanta suburbs (Buford to be exact) and the locals have been praising him in droves this week. Apparently he was a nice and decent man, that or people just will not speak ill of the dead.

    Either way, I am now going to look for a good best-of, since I have only cover versions of his work (Dan Baird’s” Hush” and The Georgia Satellites’ “Games People Play” are pretty damn good BTW.

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