Roger Miller – Golden Hits

Artist: Roger Miller
Genre: Folk, Country
Title: Golden Hits
Released: 1965
Label: Smash
Format: Vinyl

Roger Dean Miller, Sr. (January 2, 1936 – October 25, 1992) was an American singer-songwriter, musician, and actor, best known for his honky-tonk-influenced novelty songs. His most recognized tunes included the chart-topping country and pop hits “King of the Road”, “Dang Me”, and “England Swings”, all from the mid-1960s Nashville sound era.

I got this record for precisely the reason of the songs. They are silly and yet fun and fascinating. I heard them growing up once in a while.

The sound on this LP is quite good considering the time it was done.It is an early stereo record, but was not done electronically. It’s a fun record overall and by the way, the Smash label was a subsidiary under the Mercury label.

Side One
1. King Of The Road – This was a hit for him and one of my favorites. It is also one of those songs that can get stuck in your head. The lyrics tell of the day-to-day life of a vagabond hobo who, despite being poor (a “man of means by no means”), revels in his freedom, describing himself humorously as the “king of the road”. It was Miller’s fifth single for Smash Records.
2. Dang Me – It was Miller’s first chart-topping country hit and first Top Ten pop music hit,it was a novelty song whose “jazzy instrumental section” helped make it “the quintessential example of Miller’s lighthearted humor, which brought him many more hits”. To me this sounds like a Johnny Cash style song, but written by Roger Miller and I just found out why: From Wikipedia: Miller, in his official biography, recalled writing the song in four minutes in a Phoenix, Arizona hotel room. Johnny Cash in his last major interview would claim Miller wrote the song at the Joshua Tree in California when Miller got out of the car with pen and paper to go write the song. Cash asked Miller what he was doing to which Miller replied “I’m writing a song. You can’t come look.”
3. Engine Engine No9 – This is my least favorite song, it sounds more like 50s pop, but has an underlying feel that it should have been done in a similar style to Dang Me.
4. In The Summertime – This song has a Spike Jones flavor to it.
5. You Can’t Roller Skate In A Buffalo Herd – This was a novelty hit at one time. It’s ok, but I never really liked it all that much.
6. (And You Had A) Do Wacka Do – Another novelty song, but more fun than the previous one. What is a “Do Wacka Do”? According to Wikipedia:The expression “do-wacka-do” is a funny way of saying “do-like-I-do”.
The song expresses envy in a humorous way. The lyrics are written like a letter to a friend or possibly a former friend (“I hear tell you’re doing well, good things have come to you …”) with whom the singer would like to trade places (“I wish I had your good luck charm, and you had a do-wacka-do, wacka-do, wacka-do, wacka-do, wacka-do”).

Side Two
1. England Swings – The title refers to Swinging London, a popular term for the progressive youth-centric cultural scene in London at the time. However, the lyrics don’t convey any of this progressiveness: they mostly relate to stereotypical notions of traditional Britain, with references to “bobbies on bicycles”, Westminster Abbey, and so forth (as in a tourism commercial). The song also provides the structure for Miller’s later song “Oo De Lally (Robin Hood and Little John)” for the film Robin Hood. The song is lambasted in ‘How The Brits Rocked America’ (BBC), where Miller is presented as mocking the youth culture in a cynical and commercial way.
2. Chug A Lug – One of my other favorites on this LP. The song is a humorous reminiscence of youthful encounters with homemade alcoholic beverages. The expression “chug-a-lug” refers to quickly downing a drink, and the lyrics describe the singer’s reaction to the extra-strong liquor. Example: “I swallered it with a smile / (sound of swallowing) / I run ten mile! Chug-a-lug, chug-a-lug / Makes you want to holler, ‘Hi-dee-ho!’ / Burns your tummy, don’t ya know / Chug-a-lug, chug-a-lug.” Miller said that the song was based on a true story of a friend of his who “could drink a beer in 3 seconds.
3. One Dying And A Burying – This is a surprising out-of-place song on this LP, a completely different mood and a sad song.
4. Kansas City Star –  This song is about a local television children’s show personality who would rather stay in the safety and security of his success in Kansas City than become a bigger star – or risk failure – in Omaha.
5. Atta Boy Girl – Another favorite of mine on this LP. Just a fun song in my opinion. I don’t know the story behind it or even if there is one.
6. It Just Happened That Way – Just an ok song in my opinion.


Melody of his hits:

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