Al Dexter and the country hits of 1944

Pistol Packin’ Mama

Until I noticed that the country music charts started in 1944, per Joel Whitburn’s Record Research book, Al Dexter was unknown to me. This even though he was a massive star.

Per the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame page, he was born Clarence Albert Poindexter on May 4, 1905.  “Al Dexter is considered to be one of the forefathers of the honky-tonk music style. But rather than specializing in forlorn heartache laments, he emphasized the rollicking, good-time, barrelhouse side of this country barroom genre… He was proficient on guitar, banjo, harmonica, organ, and mandolin.” He died in January 1984.

So Long Pal – Al Dexter, #1 for 13 weeks

Smoke On The Water – Red Foley, #1 for 13 weeks. A WWII song, Some of these performers I do know, probably from the 50 Stars, 50 Hits album that my grandfather McKinley Green brought me when I was a kid.

I’m Wasting My Tears On You – Tex Ritter and his Texans, #1 for six weeks. I know that name too, but not just because he was the father of John Ritter of Three’s Company fame. Ritter co-wrote it.

Straighten Up And Fly Right – the King Cole Trio, #1 for six weeks. I own this on a Nat Cole CD. Cole co-wrote this.

Pistol Packin’ Mama – Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters with Vic Schoen and his Orchestra, #1 for five weeks. Dexter wrote it. I have this on a Crosby/Andrews Sisters CD compilation.

Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t (Ma Baby) – Louis Jordan, from the Universal picture Follow the Boys, #1 for five weeks. This song, written by Jordan and Billy Austin, appears on my only Jordan CD compilation. I first heard this song by Joe Jackson in the early 1980s.


Soldier’s Last Letter – Ernest Tubb, #1 for four weeks. After my father-in-law died in 2020, I sorted his CDs and picked out my first two Tubb albums, though I’d known the name for decades.

Pistol Packin’ Mama – Al Dexter, #1 for three weeks.

Ration Blues – Louis Jordan, #1 for three weeks, co-written by Jordan.

Too Late To Worry – Al Dexter, #1 for two weeks

For one week each:

Rosalita – Al Dexter

They Took The Stars Out of Heaven  -Floyd Tillman and His Favorite Playboys, written by Tillman

Some notes:

Al Dexter and his Troopers hit the pop charts with Pistol Packin’ Mama in 1943. The song was used in a 1943 film of the same name.

Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters, together and separately, hit the top of the pop charts in 1944 but with different songs. The same is true of Louis Jordan.

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