The spoken word has been an effective vehicle for transporting lyrics to the ears of country music listeners ever since there was country music to listen to. Some of the most famous songs in the country genre feature “more sayin’ than singin” and that’s not a bad thing at all. Country music by its own nature is about telling a story and having the story set to a beautiful melody or enchanting rhythm only enhances the story being told. While many of these songs aren’t entirely spoken word performances the bulk of the song is being delivered in more of that style than in a singing voice. So here are some of my favorites.
The Devil Went Down To GeorgiaCharlie Daniels Band
This fast paced flaming fiddle favorite features a silver tongued Charlie describing a fiddle fight for the soul of a young man named Johnny. Johnny bests the Devil himself in the story delivered with the passion of a Bible Belt preacher and accented by some of the finest fiddling you will ever hear on the radio.
This song single handedly started the CB craze of the 70’s. Everyone I knew had a Citizen Band radio and was on the look out for Smokey Bear. C.W. McCall was not a singer by trade, he was in the advertising business and he used his savvy as an ad man and an amazing voice to create this anthem of the open road.
Here’s Your SignBill Engvall
Comedian Bill Engvall is no singer. But his comedy routine featuring his signature phrase Here’s Your Sign was put to the music of Travis Tritt for the musical interlude and turned out to be quite the smash video on the country music video channels. We could also toss in Jeff Foxworthy’s Redneck 12 Days of Christmas too.
Here is another song that came out of the CB craze that Convoy started. This heart touching story of a young boy reaching out via the CB to truck drivers is one of the most requested song on our Classic Country Saturday Night Show. Red Sovine just had a way of taking the listener to the edge of tears in his masterful story telling. He also had similar spoken word styled songs in Phantom 309 and Roses for Mama.
Dirt Road AnthemJason Aldean
This song written and performed originally by Colt Ford and Brantley Gilbert was a number one song this past year for Jason. This fast paced almost hip hop delivery had many radio programmers wondering if the country audience would embrace the song. It’s quite obvious that you the listeners liked it. The song went to the top of the charts and remains one of the most requested songs on our play list today.
Still“Whisperin” Bill Anderson
Bill Anderson is a legend in country music. His whispering soft spoken style of singing and speaking lyrics earned his nickname from his fellow country performers. In fact in his hit “I Can’t Wait Any Longer” the pulsing beat of the song caused fellow country star Vince Gill to call the song “Whis-Co” a combination of whispering and disco music.
This cold stone country tale of a mine collapse and a big man that saved everyone but himself from the disaster topped the country charts for weeks. Jimmy Dean’s hammer like delivery brings the listener down deep in the mind with his vocal styling. Jimmy later went on to make every one love sausage for breakfast.