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November 22

Cal Smith and His “Country Bumpkin” Breakthrough

Born Calvin Grant Shofner on April 7, 1932, in Gans, Oklahoma is Cal Smith. Smith grew up in Oakland, California. Before he reached his teens, he learned to play guitar. At age 15, he was playing professionally in local nightclubs. By 1954, he was appearing on the California Hayride TV show in Stockton. After that, he went to the military. Years later, he became a DJ. Finally, he became a member of Grand Ole Opry star Ernest Tubb’s band, the Texas Troubadours.

Under Kapp Records, Smith charted his first single, “The Only Thing I Want” in 1967. Over the next three years, he scored eight more singles. Unfortunately, none of them went past the mid-30s of the charts. After moving to Decca Records in 1970, he was able to have his first Top 5 hit on that label — “I’ve Found Someone of My Own”. This he got two years later.

Just before Christmas in 1972, Decca released Smith’s recording of the Bill Anderson lament, “The Lord Knows I’m Drinking”. It soared to number one early the following year and it even reached number 64 on the pop chart.

After two disappointing follow-up singles, lightning struck again in 1974. “Country Bumpkin”, written by Don Wayne, topped the charts. The single stayed at number one for a single week and spent a total of ten weeks on the country chart. To add to its success, they voted it the Country Music Association’s single of the year.

The song was a favorite of many. One of which was a young Garth Brooks. In a mid-1990s appearance on TNN’s “Music City Tonight”, the singer said that “Country Bumpkin” was his favorite. Because of this, Smith gave Brooks the CMA trophy he won for the song.

Believe it or not, another fan of Smith’s was Loretta Lynn. In her 2002 “Still Woman Enough” autobiography, she admitted she had a crush on Smith. This was during her stint as a duet partner with Ernest Tubb. She even claimed that husband Mooney would sometimes get jealous of Cal Smith.

The Song’s Verses

  • First: A gentleman from the rural walks into a bar. There one of the barroom girls refers to him as a “country bumpkin” as she talks to him. The term is a common nickname for a person from a rural area.
  • Second: This talks about the woman who is now married to the man. She gives birth to her only son a year later.
  • Third: It discusses her impending death 40 years later. Her husband and son are present at her bedside.

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