|First posted 3/16/2021.|
Writer(s): Bobby Russell (see lyrics here)
First Charted: March 23, 1968
Peak: 15 US, 14 CB, 15 HR, 12 AC, 13 CW, 2 UK, 12 CN, 15 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)
Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 7.0 world (includes US + UK)
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 26.1 video, -- streaming
Awards: (Click on award for more details).
About the Song:
Bobby Russell had a handful of country hits in the ‘60s and ‘70s, reaching no higher than #24 with 1971’s “Saturday Morning Confusion.” He had greater success as a songwriter, winning a Grammy for Song of the Year for writing “Little Green Apples” in 1969 and penning the #1 hit “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” for his then-wife Vicki Lawrence in 1973. His greatest success, however, came with “Honey,” a five-week chart-topper for Bobby Goldsboro in 1968.
Russell was inspired by a tree in his front yard. He noticed how much it had grown in four years and developed the idea into a song BR1 in which the song’s narrator mourns his dead wife, looking at the tree in the garden that she planted. WK Defenders of the song called it “heartfelt and moving” SF while detractors called it “overly sentimental and cloying.” SF In an article for CNN, Todd Leopold called it “the worst song of all time,” pointing out that the narrator isn’t particularly kind to his wife and isn’t even by her bedside when she dies. CNN
Bob Shane, a founding member of the Kingston Trio, was the first to record it. Goldsboro thought the arrangement covered up the lyrics and asked Russell if he could record it. Russell agreed as long as Goldsboro didn’t release it as a competing single. Goldsboro agreed to wait four weeks. BR1
Goldsboro’s version became the fastest-selling record in the history of United Artists, selling a million copies in its first three weeks. WK It topped the pop, country, and adult contemporary charts and was nominated for Grammys for Record of the Year and Best Contemporary Pop Vocal Male Performance. The Country Music Association also awarded it Song of the Year.
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