October 11

Cal Smith: “The Lord Knows I’m Drinking,” A Controversial Hit

Bill Anderson did not only have success for writing and recording his own songs. He also achieved success by supplying hits for his fellow country artists. Eight of his compositions actually became No. 1 in the hands of other artists. One of the eight was “The Lord Knows I’m Drinking” by Cal Smith.


One of Eight

“The Lord Knows I’m Drinking” by Cal Smith is a controversial hit that Bill Anderson grappled with because of the judgmental nature of religious people. This song stemmed from a dinner date with his wife in a restaurant near their church.

Bill Anderson and his wife Becky were having a glass of wine with their meal when suddenly they looked up and saw a few faithful members of their congregation walking into the restaurant. His first reaction was to hide the glass of wine behind a menu that was standing up. Becky saw what Bill was about to do and she didn’t do anything about it. Then, she said,

“Hey, lord knows I’m drinking.”

Bill Anderson immediately reached for a pen and wrote down what she said on a paper napkin. Becky calmly finished her meal while Bill sat there and wrote the entire song.

Pitching the Song to Nashville

It was not surprising that a lot of artists immediately turned down “The Lord Knows I’m Drinking” because of its controversial content. However, there was one artist who didn’t shy away from controversy, Cal Smith. He was a former guitar player with Ernest Tubb’s Texas Troubadours band.

Cal Smith’s Success With a Bill Anderson Composition

Cal Smith began his solo career in 1967. Unfortunately, all he had was a minimal success. Signing a record deal with Decca Records in 1971 helped his cause, and he logged his first hit in 1972 with “I’ve Someone Of My Own” that landed on the No. 4 spot on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles Chart. After this success, the prominent DJs in Nashville started playing “The Lord Knows I’m Drinking.” Then, Decca Records ordered the song’s release, and it rocketed to the No. 1 on March 4, 1973. “Country Bumpkin,” Cal Smith’s signature song came a little over a year after.

A fan of Classic Country Music? There’s more at www.countrythangdaily.com. Don’t forget to share this story with your family and friends. God Bless Your Heart!



Bill Anderson, Cal Smith

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