In the 1941 Universal film "Never Give A Sucker An Even Break", W.C. Fields uttered his immortal phrase:
"Drown in a vat of whiskey, death where is thy sting?"
You could virtually fill an entire book of songs which refer to liquid refreshments including
contemporary favorites ranging from Snoop Dogg’s GIN AND JUICE through to Dan + Shay’s current hit TEQUILA.
I was reading recently of Bob Dylan’s plans to open a whiskey distillery in Nashville next year
and it got me thinking about how often that particular alcoholic beverage has been the subject of
or at the very least referred to in so many folk, country and R&B songs.
So I put together the following brief list of just 20 of the countless vintage Whiskey-related songs
and I’ve included a few relevant lyric lines along with some YouTube audio links so that you can sample them for yourself,
with or without a glass by your side!
AGED AND MELLOW (Johnny Otis) by Little Esther/Pro: Johnny Otis (Federal: 1952)
‘I like my men like I like my whiskey/Mmm, aged and mellow!’
AX SWEET MAMA (Sleepy John Estes) by Ry Cooder
Pro: Jim Dickinson & Lenny Waronker (Warner Bros: 1972)
‘I never saw no whiskey/The blues made me sloppy drunk’
BAD, BAD WHISKEY (Maxwell Davis) by Amos Milburn & His Aladdin Chickenshackers
(Aladdin: 1950) US R&B #1 in ’51
Blues singer/pianist Amos Milburn enjoyed considerable success with other drinking songs including
LET ME GO HOME WHISKEY (see below), GOOD, GOOD WHISKEY (#5 R&B in ’54)
and ONE SCOTCH, ONE BOURBON, ONE BEER which hit #2 R&B in ’53.
CHEROKEE FIDDLE (Michael Murphey) by Johnny Lee & Friends
Pro: John Boylan & Jim Ed Norman. (Full Moon: 1982) US #10 Country
‘Good whiskey never lets you lose your place’
The ‘Friends’ included Michael Murphey singing backup and Charlie Daniels playing fiddle.
Michael had originally recorded the song himself in ’76.
CIGAREETS, WHUSKEY AND WILD, WILD WOMEN (Tim Spencer) by Red Ingle & The Natural Seven
(Capitol: 1948) US #15 Pop. Song first recorded by the Sons Of The Pioneers.
DIVING DUCK BLUES (Sleepy John Estes/Arr: Taj Mahal) by Taj Mahal
Pro: David Rubinson (Columbia: 1968)
‘If the river was whiskey/I would be a diving duck’
DRINKIN' DARK WHISKEY, TELLIN' WHITE LIES (Chris Stapleton/Mike Henderson) by The SteelDrivers
Pro: Luke Wooten & The SteelDrivers (Rounder: 2007)
This is the bluegrass band which Chris Stapleton joined prior to going solo.
GOOD FRIENDS, GOOD WHISKEY, GOOD LOVIN’ (Hank Williams Jr.) by Hank Williams Jr.
(Warner/Curb: 1990) US #10 Country
I GOT LOADED (Harrison Nelson) by ‘Peppermint’ Harris w/Maxwell Davis & His All-Stars
(Aladdin: 1951) US #1 R&B
‘Night before last I got loaded on a bottle of whiskey’
KENTUCKY STRAIGHT (Johnny Cash) by Johnny Cash
Pro: Larry Butler (Columbia: 1973)
‘Up in Kentucky they make a whiskey’
LET ME GO HOME, WHISKEY (Shifte Henri) by Amos Milburn & His Aladdin Chickenshackers
(Aladdin: 1953) US #3 R&B
RYE WHISKEY (Trad. Arr: Johnny Bond) by Tex Ritter
(Capitol: 1948) US #9 Country
TENNESSEE WHISKEY (Dean Dillon/Linda Hargrove) by George Jones
Pro: Billy Sherrill (Epic: 1983) US #2 Country
Song was first recorded by David Allan Coe in ’81
and it became a smash again by Chris Stapleton in 2015.
WHISKEY AND WIMMEN (John Lee Hooker) by John Lee Hooker (Vee-Jay: 1960)
John Lee recut the song in 1970 when he recorded the album “Hooker ‘n Heat”
with the blues-rock band Canned Heat.
WHISKEY BENT AND HELL BOUND (Hank Williams Jr.) by Hank Williams Jr.
(Elektra/Curb: 1979) US #2 Country.
WHISKEY HEADED BLUES (John Lee Williamson) by Sonny Boy Williamson (Bluebird: 1938)
WHISKEY HEAVEN (Cliff Crofford/John Durrill/Snuff Garrett) by Fats Domino
Arr & Cond: Steve Dorff
Pro: Snuff Garrett (Viva/Warner Bros: 1980)
From the soundtrack of the 1980 Clint Eastwood movie “Any Which Way You Can”.
WHISKEY RIVER (Johnny Bush) by Willie Nelson
(Columbia: 1978) US #12 Country in ’79.
Song was first recorded by Johnny Bush in ’72.
WHISKEY ROCK-A-ROLLER (Edward King/Ronnie Van Zant/Billy Powell) by Lynyrd Skynyrd
Pro: Al Kooper (MCA: 1975)
WHO THREW THE WHISKEY IN THE WELL (Johnny Brooks/Eddie DeLange)
by Lucky Millinder & His Orcherstra
Vocal by Wynonie Harris
(Decca: 1945) US #1 R&B, #7 Pop
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