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Buck Owens’ “Act Naturally,” The Song That Established His Name

Buck Owens + Act Naturally

Some songs pave the way to an artist’s success; for Buck Owens’ it’s his 1989 single, “Act Naturally.” The song, which Johnny Russell and Voni Morrison wrote, was first recorded by Buck Owens and the Buckaroos, whose version became their first chart-topper in 1963 when it peaked at number one on the Billboard Country Singles list.

Meaning Behind The Song 

When Johnny Russell co-wrote “Act Naturally,” he was a struggling singer-songwriter working the Californian club scene in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Johnny recalls, “I wrote Act Naturally out on the coast.” 

At the time, he was a producer for Boyd Records. While on a visit with his mother, Johnny received a call from the record business requesting him to come to Los Angeles to collaborate on a project. 

Johnny explained to his mother that he was going to Hollywood because they would use him in the movies and turn him into a huge celebrity. Johnny composed a song centered around the catchy sentence in roughly fifteen minutes.

However, Johnny could not persuade someone to record the song for two years. By then, he was co-writing songs with Voni Morrison, a woman who collaborated with Buck Owens. Voni pitched the song to Buck, and Russell agreed to split the song’s rights with her, and the rest is history.

The lively pace and honky-tonk atmosphere of Buck Owens’ “Act Naturally” may make you believe it’s a feel-good song. But in reality, the song’s lyrics convey a sense of hopelessness and self-effacement. The music was presented from a first-person perspective, about a betrayed man. Given his circumstances, he was ideal for the character of a depressed and lonely person.

RELATED: Throwback to Buck Owens Songs Which Musical Influences Live On

His ability to “act naturally” will make it easy for him to portray the role. The upbeat tone perfectly captures the narrator’s attempt to hide his suffering.

Buck Owens’ “Act Naturally” was a mega-hit, landing No. 1 on the charts and staying on the national playlist for almost half a year. Even today, it is still one of the biggest singles ever produced, withstanding the test of time and being appreciated by the newer generation of singers worldwide.

Interested? You can listen to Buck Owens’ “Act Naturally” right now by clicking on the video below.

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