Music throwback: Roger Miller

“I can’t breathe in the morning ’til l get myself a cigarette lit”

I’m fairly sure I got my first Roger Miller album, the greatest hits collection pictured, from the Capitol Records mail order club circa 1966. While he was billed as a country performer, he was really a crossover artist whose lyrics I often found hysterically funny when I was a kid. And his name was Roger.

CW is country, AC is adult contemporary.

Dang Me: #1 CW for six weeks, #7 pop in 1964
Chug-A-Lug: #3 CW for two weeks, #9 pop in 1964
One Dyin’ and a Buryin’: #8 AC, #10 CW, #34 pop in 1965
Kansas City Star: #3 AC, #7 CW, #31 pop in 1965

But more remarkable was that he was one of a relatively few artists in the 1960s to have MULTIPLE songs that got to the Top 10 on THREE different US Billboard charts:

King of the Road: #1 AC for TEN weeks, #1 CW for five weeks, #4 pop in 1965
Engine Engine #9: #2 AC for three weeks, #2 CW for two weeks, #7 pop in 1965
England Swings: #1 AC, #3 CW, #8 pop in 1965/66

Those songs were all on that hits albums. King of the Road I’ve been thinking about a LOT. Here’s a guy down on his luck, a charming scoundrel:

Two hours of pushin’ broom
Buys an eight by twelve four-bit room
I’m a man of means by no means, king of the road…

I smoke old stogies I have found short, but not too big around…

I know every engineer on every train
All of their children, and all of their names
And every handout in every town
And every lock that ain’t locked, when no one’s around.

Then I bought his subsequent LP, with the big hit, the more serious Husbands and Wives, #2 AC, #5 CW. #26 pop. “It’s my belief pride is the chief cause in the decline in the number of husbands and wives.”

Here’s someone’s list of his best songs.

Roger Miller died on October 25, 1992, 25 years ago this week, at the age of 56 from lung cancer. The prophetic lyrics of Dad Blame Anything A Man Can’t Quit:

I’m a two pack a day man, smoke like a fiend
Like a burned out bearing in a bad machine
I can’t breathe in the morning ’til I get myself a cigarette lit
I say, “Dad blame anything a man can’t quit”

Still I keep it up, keep it up and do it all the time
Every now and then I make up my mind
To give it up, give it up, throw it away
I usually change my mind later on up in the day

Links to all songs, though one or two sound like rerecordings by Roger Miller.

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