Known to country fans as Mr. Grand Ole Opry and host to The Porter Wagoner Show that expanded into nearly a hundred markets, with more than three million viewers, it’s a little surprising how Porter Wagoner ran up a string of hits. Porter Wagoner songs – including his duets with Dolly Parton – were among the most beloved tunes from the 1950s to 1970s.
So, with that in mind, let’s take a closer look at some of his greatest hits. Here are the best songs of Porter Wagoner throughout his career.
1. The Carroll County Accident
The song was written by Bob Ferguson and became one of Wagoner’s biggest hits and signature tunes. It took home the Country Music Association’s Song of the Year and has been covered by several musicians.
“The Carroll County Accident,” tells the story of a single car accident that involves a seemingly happily married man named Walter Browning and a well-respected woman named Mary Ellen Jones, who testified that she was taking Browning to town on an errand of mercy. Sadly, Browning didn’t survive the ill-fated crash.
Meanwhile, the song’s narrator found evidence of an extramarital affair between Browning and Jones – which he wiped out for the sake of their reputation. It was later revealed that the narrator was Browning’s son.
2. A Satisfied Mind
“A Satisfied Mind” has been covered by a variety of well-known artists – including Johnny Cash for the soundtrack of Kill Bill: Volume 2, as well as Bob Dylan, who recorded the song twice. But it was only Wagoner who charted at No. 1 in 1955.
3. The Last Thing on My Mind
The song that’s based on the traditional lament ballad “The Leaving of Liverpool” was first released by singer-songwriter Tom Paxton in 1964. But it only became popular when Wagoner released the song as a debut duet single with Dolly Parton. Their version of “The Last Thing on My Mind” peaked at No. 7 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart and kicked off a nearly uninterrupted string of top ten singles throughout the years.
4. Uncle Pen
This famous bluegrass song was written and originally recorded by Bill Monroe. He wrote the song as a tribute to his uncle and musical mentor, Pendleton “Pen” Vandiver, who raised him after his parents died.
Wagoner released his version of the song in 1956, which then peaked at No. 14 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.
5. The Cold Hard Facts of Life
Wagoner has been known for taking listeners into the deepest, darkest clutches of emotions. It is evident in this song, “The Cold Hard Facts of Life,” which tells the story of betrayal and murder.
6. Misery Loves Company
This song became the second No. 1 country hit for Wagoner, which finds him singing about a woman who left her for somebody else. Now, her memory keeps haunting him whenever he’s alone. So, he asks some friends to come and join him, help him get over and move on – after all, “misery loves company.”
7. Green, Green Grass of Home
Written by Claude “Curly” Putman Jr., this country song was inspired by a crime scene in the film The Asphalt Jungle. It tells the story of a sentenced prisoner who yearns to escape to the green, green grass of home.
The song was first recorded by Johnny Darrell in 1965 but was made famous by Porter Wagoner the same year. Wagoner’s version reached No. 4 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. It was later on recorded by several notable country artists such as Bobby Bare, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Tom Jones.
8. Please Don’t Stop Loving Me
While Wagoner and Parton had each topped the charts as solo artists, and most of their duet singles ranked within the country charts’ top ten, this song was their only chart-topper as a duet act. It stayed atop the country chart for the entire week, spending a total of ten weeks.
9. Sorrow on the Rocks
Wagoner finds himself drowning his troubles with some drink from a bartender as he sings how one broken heart can do the strangest things to someone who can’t take the pain. Yet, at the end of the song, he admits that he has done her wrong and he’s in no position to take her back again.
10. I’ve Enjoyed as Much of This as I Can Stand
Bill Anderson wrote quite a few songs of Wagoner, and they made such a great tandem, as proven by this country ballad – which sings about a man who had a chance encounter with his then-lover. Sadly, she has now found a new love.
More Porter Wagoner Songs To Enjoy
Here are some more of the beloved hits of Porter Wagoner that reflected his relentlessly upbeat, eager-to-experiment persona.
Which of these Porter Wagoner songs are your favorite?