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Today In Country Music History – Mama Socks It All The Way To #1

There was once a time in the history of these United States when there were no music videos. We the listening audience had to create our own pictures to go with the song we heard on the radio. Then there were songs that were so intriguing that they required an entire television series to be built around them. Harper Valley PTA is one such song.

Jeannie C. Riley’s adaptation of a Tom T. Hall written hit took America by storm in 1968. It was number one on the country charts and number one on the pop charts. It missed by one week being in that position on both charts at the same time.It was by far the biggest hit of Jeannie C. Riley’s career. A career that saw her nominated for 4 Grammy awards for which she won Best Country Performance in 1968. She was also nominated for 4 CMA Awards for which she won single of the year for Harper Valley PTA.

The story told in the song Harper Valley PTA reflected the changing times of the late 1960’s. It was about a widowed woman who had been liberated from the standards of a small town society. This woman was being chastised by her small town PTA for not being a good parent to her teenage daughter.That opinion was based on a “do as I say, not as I do mentality”.  The hypocrisy of the Harper Valley PTA was brilliantly rebuked in the song as lady in question pointed out all of the PTA board members shortcomings.

Harper Valley PTA was such a  phenomenon that it sparked a TV Variety special that Jeannie C. Riley co-hosted with the great Jerry Reed. The song also was inspiration for a full length feature film. The success of that film was the genesis of a television series as well.

It was on this date in 1968 that we  all found out about Shirley Johnson and her little sip of gin and why Mr. Harper couldn’t be at the meeting. This was the day Mama socked it all the way to number one with Harper Valley PTA.

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