I am a connoisseur of classic country music. If you need some accolades check out my look backs on Willie Nelson, Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, Dwight Yoakam and even contemporary Robbie Fulks. Loving the genre like I do I find myself frequently forming all time lists and the ranks always change to whatever mood I’m in at the time. Well they change except for one very important stand; I firmly believe that I know the saddest lyric in country music history!
Before I get into that lyric I want to say that this post is a challenge to others who love ’em some tear in my beer country to try and top my pick. It isn’t going to be easy even with a full arsenal of Hank Williams Sr. lyrics to fight me with. Now back to my thoroughbred in this plum pitiful country lyric battle.
The Louvin Brothers are widely regarded as the greatest brother harmony duo in the genre’s history. The red clay Alabama brothers started in gospel and their close blood harmonies only grew in potency as they moved on to secular music scoring a number of popular hits. Charlie and Ira are both gone now and have been institutionalized in the Country Music Hall of Fame.
The duo’s biggest hit was “I Don’t Believe You’ve Met My Baby” but for my taste their seminal single and the one that contains my nod for saddest country lyric of all time is 1955’s “When I Stop Dreaming.” Without further depths of despair ado here is my selection:
I’d be like a flower unwanted in spring
Alone and neglected, transplanted in vain
To a garden of sadness where its petals would fall
In the shadows of undying pain
Petals falling in the shadows of undying pain!?! I would be amiss if I didn’t provide you the opportunity to hear the oft covered song in its original version.
The songwriting is credited to both Charlie and Ira and that’s the way it should be. As I mentioned the song has been covered on numerous occasions but for some inexplicable reason that verse is often left out. I guess if you’re an artist, and you’re honestly trying to connect with the song you’re singing, I wouldn’t fault you if you just couldn’t come to grips with that level of sincere sorrow.
Well there it is, my nod for saddest country lyric of all time. Now it’s your turn cowboys and cowgirls. Give me your best shot at sadness, fire up that George Jones and Johnny Paycheck and dig deep because me and the Louvins have set the deep down low bar very high.