Johnny Horton was on the verge of becoming one of the top stars when he met a tragedy that caused his untimely death and cut his career short in 1960. From the late 50s and early 60s, a series of Johnny Horton songs actually topped the country charts and even crossed the pop charts. He even achieved more success with his history-inspired narratives that became international hits.
Now, we’re going to look back at some of Johnny Horton‘s greatest hits. Keep on scrolling below to find out.
1. The Battle of New Orleans
The song narrates the Battle of New Orleans that happened in 1815 between the British Army and the United States Army – as told by an American soldier. It has been recorded by many artists, but Horton’s version was the most notable and memorable one.
His recording did not only reach No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart but also earned a Grammy Award for Best Country & Western Recording and, later, a Grammy Hall of Fame Award. In 2001, it was hailed as one of RIAA’s Songs of the Century.
2. When It’s Springtime in Alaska (It’s Forty Below)
Horton earned his first No. 1 on the country chart with this downright funny song about a prospector making a trip to Fairbanks, Alaska. Its catchy storytelling revolves around the man who met a lovely lady, danced with her all night, and later engaged in a romantic night.
“When It’s Springtime in Alaska” ended with the revelation that the woman is actually a wife-to-be of a scary man named Big E, who will absolutely be putting him six feet down under.
3. I’m A One-Woman Man
This song narrates a man’s deep affection for his lover, swearing he will never love another even if he could, which will surely make you weak in the knees. Many country fans fell in love with the classic that it ranked No. 7 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.
George Jones recorded “I’m A One-Woman Man” twice, in which his second recording brought the song back to the country chart.
4. Honky-Tonk Man
Released as Horton’s debut single on Columbia Records, the song went on to become one of his biggest hits. “Honky-Tonk Man” tells the story of a man whose life is filled with drinking and dancing with young women in honky-tonk bars – something that he’s been struggling to stop.
Horton re-released the song six years later, and it ranked No. 11 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. Since then, several artists have covered and released the song. This includes Dwight Yoakam, whose version reached No. 3 on the country chart.
5. North To Alaska
While Horton had sung quite a few popular movie tie-in songs, “North To Alaska” marked his first song to be sung over the film’s opening titles. This song was featured in the film of the same name, in which its lyrics provided a backstory for the point where the movie stars.
6. Sink the Bismarck
This marching song was based on the quest and ultimate sinking of the German battleship Bismarck during World War II in 1941. It was meant as a novelty tune for the film of the same name. “Sink the Bismarck” was used in the film’s theater trailers – however, it was never used in the film itself.
Horton recorded the song despite his concern over the subject’s relative obscurity in the United States.
7. Sal’s Got A Sugar Lip
What’s better than a springtime love song about young love? Well, “Sal’s Got A Sugar Lip” is a light and comical tune about a guy who wants to steal a kiss from a girl who’s rumored to give sweet kisses.
8. I Won’t Get Dreamy Eyed
Like most of Horton’s songs, this bluegrass-inspired ballad tells the story of a man missing someone back home. He vows to never wander despite being miles apart, and holds on through the letters she has sent him.
9. Sleepy-Eyed John
While the song has been recorded by various artists, it was Horton’s version that became a million-selling hit. It reached No. 9 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.
The song was released as the B-side of Horton’s rendition of “They’ll Never Take Her Love from Me” by Hank Williams.
10. Johnny Reb
Johnny Reb has been used to refer to veteran Confederate soldiers or the states’ white natives that once belonged to the Confederacy – and this patriotic ballad is especially dedicated to them. It showcases the Confederate soldiers’ bravery and heroism shown during the battle until the time they breathe one’s breath.
In each verse of the song, the lyrics artistically described the historical events in which Johnny Reb played a significant role.
Some More Johnny Horton Songs That Will Surely Impress You
After Johnny Horton’s death, his recordings were compiled, issued, and continued to sell throughout the 1960s. Here are our other picks.
These Johnny Horton songs will truly make you wonder what his career would have been like had things been different.