January 2

From a Movie to The Hit Charts “Bar Room Buddies” by Merle Haggard and Clint Eastwood


From a Movie to The Hit Charts “Bar Room Buddies” by Merle Haggard and Clint Eastwood 1

In a 1985 interview with Tom Cahill of Rolling Stone Magazine, Clint Eastwood commented

“I think you can say that Merle Haggard had a hit and sort of dragged me along,” referring to his only

No. 1 single, “Bar Room Buddies”.

Merle Haggard agreed. He told Newsweek Magazine:

“In a way, I think I prostituted myself”.

Well, in my opinion, this is a bit too strong of an assessment. Clint Eastwood is a good actor but not a very good singer. However, he was making the movie “Bronco Billy” and he was financing and directing it. Haggard was in the movie, so why not let Clint Eastwood do a duet with him?

In the movie “Bronco Billy,” Eastwood portrayed Billy, the owner, and star of a traveling Wild West show. Unlike most of his earlier pictures, this film put Clint in a humorous, almost cute, role. The critics seemed to appreciate this change of pace for Eastwood. However, the ticket-buyers obviously weren’t as enamored and the movie died at the box office. The soundtrack’s three singles fared much better.

Bar Room Buddies

Eighteen months earlier, three of the songwriters of “Bar Room Buddies” had also collaborated on the title track for another Eastwood film, “Every Which Way But Loose.” For “Bronco Billy,” producer Snuff Garrett commissioned “Bar Room Buddies” for a specific scene in the movie. He recruited again Steve Dorf, Milton Brown and Cliff Crofford to write the song. Brown actually composed the lion’s share of the lyrics and Dorf handled most of the melody.

Initially, “Bar Room Buddies” was intended as a duet between Eastwood and George Jones. However, schedules and legal commitments got in the way and Haggard became the producers’ second choice. Merle also contributed one more single, “Misery And Gin,” to the soundtrack. This song peaked at No. 3 a few weeks after “Bar Room Buddies” reached the summit of Billboard’s country singles chart on July 26, 1980.

Clint Eastwood, who credits a Bob Wills concert with introducing him to country music, entered the Billboard chart on two other occasions. In late 1980, he teamed up with Ray Charles on “Beers To You,” from the movie “Any Which Way You Can,” but this song achieved a high-water mark of only No. 55. In 1984, Clint joined T. G. Sheppard for “Make My Day,” a novelty record incorporating the famous tag-line from his film “Sudden Impact.” This release came up just shy of the Top Ten, peaking at No. 12.


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