The famous country vocal quartet, The Oak Ridge Boys’ track about a girl named “Bobbie Sue” became a massive hit. It was the first single off their same-titled album, and just months after its release in 1982, it nabbed the Oaks their sixth number-one hit on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart. Not just that, but it also entered the Hot 100, peaking at number 12.
The track captured the vibe of the up-and-coming mix genre of country-pop that had been starting to become popular. It featured catchy melodies and a rhythm that easily got its listeners tapping their feet and singing along. But at the same time, it kept the distinct sound of Oak Ridge Boys, differentiating it from the rising tide of country-pop songs.
With how seamlessly the Oak Ridge Boys integrated a semi-new genre into their unique harmony style, it was no surprise that “Bobbie Sue” was met with an overwhelmingly positive reception. The catchy tune and the relatable story appealed to not only country music fans but even mainstream pop music listeners.
Meaning Behind the Song
This track was written by Wood Newton, along with Dan Tyler and his wife, Adele. In an interview with singer-songwriter Keith Burns, Newton shared the story of how “Bobbie Sue” came to be.
Newton said that Tyler was one of his first co-writers, and he had a little boy with his wife, Adele. And one of the boy’s first words was “baba,” which was a baby’s adorable way of saying “bottle.” That was how Tyler came up with the idea for the title. As for the rockabilly sound they injected into the track, it was influenced by Razzy Bailey’s 1981 number-one hit track “Midnight Hauler,” which Newton co-wrote with Tim DuBois.
They started writing the lyrics of the song, and it was mainly inspired by their teenage days. “When I was growing up, the idea of a girl from across the county line was so exciting when you’re from a town that only had 30 people in your high school class.”
The song told the story of a barely eighteen woman named “Bobbie Sue” going through the process of sexual awakening. She ran away from home to go and marry her boyfriend despite what her daddy Robert and Mama Ruth said.
When asked by Burns how long it took to complete the song, Newton said that it was one thing that came really quickly. And the demo turned out good and amazing.
Listen to The Oak Ridge Boys’ “Bobbie Sue” below.
The Oak Ridge Boys