Anyone could make a list of the most influential country songs ever, and it would never be complete without Lefty Frizzell songs. After all, he brought another dimension to the genre with his relaxed singing style that greatly impacted a wide variety of country and pop music stars.
But Frizzell’s talent was not limited to his incredible vocals. As a matter of fact, the music legend was also widely recognized for his songwriting skills. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of his greatest hits that made an indelible mark in country music.
1. If You’ve Got the Money (I’ve Got the Time)
Lefty Frizzell, who was only twenty-two years old then and barely knew anything about making records, co-wrote this song with his producer Jim Beck. When it was released, “If You’ve Got the Money” quickly topped the charts and brought Frizzell into stardom.
It stayed on top of the Most Played Country & Western Jukebox Records for three weeks and spent twenty-two weeks on the country chart, where it peaked at No. 2. Since then, its iconic titular chorus has been sung countless times in honky-tonks and American Legion halls throughout the decades.
Several notable country artists also recorded the song, including Willie Nelson in 1976, whose version reached No. 1 on the country chart. In 2001, Merle Haggard also recorded his version.
2. Saginaw, Michigan
Released in 1964, the song became Frizzell’s final No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, where it spent a total of twenty-three remarkable weeks. Not only that but “Saginaw, Michigan” also earned Frizzell a Grammy Award nomination.
Written by Nashville veteran songwriters Bill Anderson and Don Wayne, the song tells the story of a fisherman’s son who hails from the titular city. The working-class young man fell in love with the daughter of a much wealthier man, who believed he was not worthy of his little girl. So, the young man traveled north to Alaska, hoping he’d find some gold.
Sadly, there was none for him. So, he created a ruse and went back to Saginaw, where he told the rich man that he had struck a massive amount of gold. He then sold the worthless plot for the rich man to develop. The song ended with the swindled rich man looking in vain for the gold in Alaska while his daughter happily accepted the man’s hand in marriage.
3. I Love You a Thousand Ways
Another song that launched Frizzell to stardom was “I Love You a Thousand Ways,” which was the A-side of his smash hit “If You’ve Got the Money (I’ve Got the Time).”
Frizzell wrote the song as a letter for his grief-stricken wife following his arrest in 1947 for having sex with an underage fan.
Frizzell was seventeen when he married Alice Harper. He made a living and started making a name for himself with regular appearances at a radio station and at the Cactus Garden club. However, a disaster struck when a night out with some teenage boys and girls went awfully wrong. One of the underage girls he’s been with complained to her parents, and Frizzell was charged with statutory rape. He ended up in the local prison, where he served six months.
Filled with guilt, Frizzell wrote several poems and song lyrics, asking and pleading to his newlywed wife not to leave him. This includes “I Love You a Thousand Ways,” and it was the first song he recorded when he kicked off his contract with Columbia Records.
4. Long Black Veil
Written by Danny Dill with Marijohn Wilkin, “Long Black Veil” has now been considered a country standard. Frizzell recorded it in 1959 and brought it to the country charts, where it peaked at No. 6. Since then, a myriad of country stars have released their version; this includes Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen, Joan Baez, and so much more.
The song tells the story of a man accused of murder on circumstantial evidence but decided not to defend himself as he was sleeping with his best friend’s wife during that fateful night. He remained silent to save the woman’s reputation.
5. I Want to Be with You Always
Here’s another song Frizzell wrote with his producer Jim Beck! It is actually Frizzell’s first No. 1 hit on the Country & Western Best Seller charts, where it spent six weeks atop.
In the song, Frizzell finds himself expressing his desire to be with the woman he loves “forever and a day” – and he’s hoping she feels the same way.
Some More Lefty Frizzell Songs That Touched The Lives Of Millions Of People
Truly, Lefty Frizzell is one the most loved and respected artists in country music history. Here are some more of his songs that you need to check out.
These Lefty Frizzell songs are absolutely the true definition of country classics.