Bill Anderson was noted by Billboard Magazine as the third-most-prolific songwriter in country music history. He also forged a great career as a singer, scoring 37 Top Ten singles between 1960 and 1978. Seven of those landed at No. 1, including a couple of chart-topping duets with two different female singing partners.
In the first one, Bill Anderson teamed with Jan Howard on “For Loving You” in 1967. Howard had already worked with Bill for several years on his TV show. She replaced Jean Shepard as the regular female singer on the program. During those times, Howard also expanded her solo work. She landed a No. 5 single, “Evil On Your Mind” in 1966. After “For Loving You” reached No. 1, Anderson and Howard continued their momentum with several more big records. It includes “If It’s All The Same To You” and a cover of the Supremes’ No. 1 pop smash, “Someday We’ll Be Together.” Howard also wrote Anderson’s 1970 hit, “Love Is A Sometimes Thing.”
The Duet with Mary Lou Turner
In 1973 Jan Howard left “The Bill Anderson Show.” Over 200 replacements were considered before Bill settled on Mary Lou Turner. After “World Of Make Believe” climbed to No. 1 in 1974, Anderson was unable to reach that position for a couple of years until he finally recorded a duet with Turner.
The Story Behind “Sometimes”
That song turned out to be “Sometimes.” The song was written by Bill Anderson while riding on a bus during his tour of England. He picked up a magazine and was reading a review of the new movie, “Shampoo.” The columnist had written about a part in the film where one of the actors asks another if the person is married and the response was “sometimes.” Great songwriters always look for a line like that to trigger an idea. Anderson instantly took the ball and ran with it. His immediate thought was that the comment could be transformed into a duet between a man and a woman. Since there was no paper to write on in the bus, he tore a page out of the magazine he was reading and jotted down the lyrics on it. He finished the song before he got to his destination.
While getting ready for the show that evening, Anderson brought the song to the sound check and showed it to Mary Lou. They did a brief rundown of it on the spot.
Bill considered the blend of their voices to be “not the greatest I’ve ever heard.”
However, he felt from the beginning that the song was a hit. It didn’t matter who sang it. So Anderson kept the song for them.
After “Sometimes” made its successful No. 1 landing on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles chart on February 7, 1976. After that, Bill and Mary Lou followed it up with one more Top Ten hit, “That’s What Made Me Love You.” Meanwhile, Anderson’s continued work as a solo performer and songwriter would yield further dividends for decades to come.
Bill Anderson, Mary Lou Turner