#706: Muddy Mississippi by Bobby Goldsboro
Bobby Goldsboro was born in Mariana, Florida, in the Florida Panhandle in 1941. Shortly after his birth his family moved 35 miles north to Dothan, Alabama, where he was raised. Goldsboro learned is musical skills as he grew, by the age of twenty-one, Goldsboro became a guitarist for Roy Orbison. From 1962 to 1964 Goldsboro toured with Orbison, including the tour where The Beatles appeared as the opening act on the UK tour with Orbison as headliner. He roomed with Roy Orbison and they became close friends. In 1962, Goldsboro released his first of four singles on Laurie Records. Only one of these, “Molly,” made the Billboard Hot 100, and only marginally. In 1964 Goldsboro had his first of sixteen Top 40 hits in the USA with “See the Funny Little Clown.” Having switched labels, United Artists had sent him three songs to choose from in advance of recording, hopefully, a hit record. But after sitting and listening to the three songs, Bobby thought none of them were hit material. So he sat down in his parents living room and wrote “See The Funny Little Clown.” The song peaked at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 when Goldsboro was turning 23 years old. but didn’t appear on the CFUN charts in 1964. That year Goldsboro was the opening act on tour with the Rolling Stones. Subsequently, he was the opening act on a tour headlined by the Four Seasons. The following year he was the opening act on tour with The Beach Boys.
After “See The Funny Little Clown”, Bobby Goldsboro released several more singles. “Whenever He Holds You” peaked at #39 on the Billboard charts. Then Goldsboro released a Burt Bacharach-Hal David song titled “Me Japanese Boy I Love You”. It stalled at #74. Although the song about a Japanese boy and his affection for a Japanese girl was sweet-natured, the third person narration in the song didn’t connect with radio audiences during Beatlemania. Goldsboro’s next release, “I Don’t Know You Anymore”, failed to crack the Billboard Hot 100. Bobby Goldsboro was beginning to wonder if he was going to be remembered as a one-hit-wonder. Then he recorded “Little Things”. The song went to #13 on the Billboard Hot 100. But consistent success eluded him. Of his next twelve singles released between 1965 and 1968, only three made the Top 40, and only marginally.
One of the singles he released during this period was “Broomstick Cowboy”. Dick Clark had Bobby Goldsboro perform on American Bandstand. However, he told Goldsboro that ABC wouldn’t let “Broomstick Cowboy” be played on the show. ABC banned the song from all the ABC affiliated radio stations. The song’s lyrics told about a young boy who plays with his broomstick cowboy and his toys. Then he has to become a soldier and fight in a war. He has to “learn to hate” and “learn to kill.” The lyrics teach: “It’s always been that way, my son, I guess it always will.” The song lamented the change in the boy who now has to call a man his enemy he once called friend and questioned why people had to die. This was too controversial. Many DJ’s gave the song a pass and it peaked at #53 on the national charts. Goldsboro recalls, “half the stations in the country wouldn’t play it (“Broomstick Cowboy”). On the American Bandstand show, Dick Clark told Bobby Goldsboro he had to sing the B-side to “Broomstick Cowboy”, titled “Ain’t Got Time For Happy”. Nonetheless, “Broomstick Cowboy” peaked at #6 in San Jose (CA), #7 in Orlando (FL), #10 in Knoxville (TN) and Nashville (TN)
After a dozen efforts to get another hit in the Top 20 failed, Bobby Goldsboro recorded “Honey”. This was a song that told a tragic story about a deceased lover. It was written by Bobby Russell. In 1968, “Honey” sold over five million records. In 2018, Warren Lawrence of WKNY radio in Kingston, New York, asked Bobby Goldsboro if he knew he had a hit record with “Honey” when he recorded the song. Bobby told him that usually session musicians go out for a smoke or a break to get some snacks after a recording session has ended. But with “Honey”, all the session musicians stayed to hear the song played in the recording studio. They all told Goldsboro, “you’ve got a hit record.” Among the singles Bobby Goldsboro released over the next year was “Muddy Mississippi Line”.
“Muddy Mississippi Line” was the title song from the album of the same name released by Bobby Goldsboro in July 1969. Though Goldsboro managed to place this single among the fifth of six in a row in the Top Ten US Adult Contemporary chart, the song performed poorly on the Billboard Hot 100. “Muddy Mississippi Line” is a song about a guy who works on a barge in New Orleans loading coffee beans. His dad was a riverboat man and his mom is Cajun through and through. He spends all the money he earns on Cajun queens and he’s happy as he can be. Goldsboro wrote the song.
It peaked at #6 in Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia; #8 in Columbus, Georgia, and #7 in Kansas City, Missouri. It got airplay in over 25 other radio markets in North America, but mostly festered in the lower part of the pop charts wherever it got on a playlist. Bobby Goldsboro released another 35 singles between 1968 and 1982. Of these, his third biggest hit, “Watching Scotty Grow”, peaked at #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 on February 20, 1971. The song was pitched to Goldsboro by Jerry Fuller.
In the years that followed Goldsboro had a TV show that ran for three years starting in 1973. While he enjoyed the experience of hosting his own TV show, Goldsboro told Warren Lawrence of WKNY radio that he missed being able to write songs. With the demands of the TV show, there just wasn’t any time left for songwriting. So, he quit the TV show.
He wrote “Behind Closed Doors”, a million-selling hit for Charlie Rich. He later wrote “Wind Beneath My Wings”, a hit for Bette Midler. Over his career he has been a nominated for a Grammy award six times. In the 1980’s Goldsboro began writing the first of his ten best-selling children’s books. He also successfully produced 52 episodes of his children’s TV series, The Swamp Critters of Lost Lagoon. The effort featured Goldsboro writing the scripts, music, playing all the instruments and doing the voices for each of the animated characters.
In addition to his work as a touring musician, songwriter, author and TV producer, Bobby Goldsboro has become an established painter. According to his official website, Goldsboro’s numerous paintings have been purchased by art galleries across America. And they have been sold for as much as $25,000. In the autumn of his real life, Bobby Goldsboro and his second wife, Dianne, have been married since 1985, after a year of courting.
August 2, 2018
About Bobby Goldsboro, Bobby Goldsboro.com
Warren Lawrence, Interview with Bobby Goldsboro, WKNY, Kingston, New York, July 7, 2018.
“Boss 30,” CKLG 730 AM, Vancouver, BC, September 26, 1969.
For more song reviews visit the Countdown.