September 13

Joe Maphis’ Honky-Tonk Bar Song, “Dim Lights, Thick Smoke”

Joe Maphis' Honky-Tonk Bar Song, "Dim Lights, Thick Smoke" 1
The King of Strings Joe Maphis | Photo credit: Youtube

If going to bars is your thing, then this song would resonate well with you. Why do people go to bars, anyway? The reason varies, but in general, bars are made for people who want to have a good time. The title of the song “Dim Lights, Thick Smoke (and Loud, Loud Music)” perfectly represents what a bar is like. All of these, plus other essential elements such as alcohol are what people expect to see when entering a bar. The feel-good factor that these things exude makes bars a go-to place for people who want to have fun.

About the Song 

Its Composition

A country song that drew inspiration from a bar experience is “Dim Lights, Thick Smoke (and Loud, Loud Music).” The King of the Strings Joe Maphis wrote the song with his wife Rose Lee Maphis and Max Fidler sometime in 1952. Joe Maphis’ stint with barn dance shows in Virginia and Chicago and playing honky-tonk in Bakersfield, California helped him craft the song. His composition went on to become a honky-tonk standard and propelled his rise to prominence. He and his wife Rose Lee recorded a version of the song and released it as a single toward the end of 1953. 

Notable Covers

Given the heavy “country element” present in the song, numerous artists from the country music genre had since recorded their versions of it. The bluegrass duo Flatt and Scruggs made the original recording of “Dim Lights, Thick Smoke” in 1952, the same year Maphis wrote it. The honky-tonk tune continued to appear on the albums of various artists in the succeeding decades. Among its notable covers were from Conway Twitty (1968), The Flying Burrito Brothers (1973), Vern Gosdin (1985), Marty Stuart (1997), Ricky Skaggs (2001), Daryle Singletary (2002), and Dwight Yoakam (2012).

Let’s listen to the different versions of the song below from some famous country music artists. Don’t forget to mention in the comment box whose version you liked the best.

Flatt & Scruggs (1952)

Joe Maphis (1959)

Conway Twitty (1968)

Vern Gosdin (1985)

Ricky Scaggs (2001)

Dwight Yoakam (2012)

Did you enjoy this piece?

We would be glad to hear your thoughts or experiences related to the song. Likewise, please do not forget to hit the like button and share the fun with other fans of country music. Here on Country Thang Daily, we strive to bring you a daily dose of cutting-edge entertainment through country music and information.

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conway twitty, Dim Lights Thick Smoke (and Loud Loud Music), Dwight Yoakam, Flatt & Scruggs, Honky-tonk Song, Joe Maphis, Ricky Skaggs, vern gosdin

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