And, like I’ve Got You On My Mind Again, this album opens with its title track, “Tall Dark Stranger,” which was also released as a single and reached #1 on the country chart. This one has something of a different style than a lot of Buck Owens’ work, describing a dramatic character. The presence of backing vocals is particularly effective on a line like “And jump up on his pony and ride, ride, ride.” This track also features some good work on guitar. That is followed by “There’s Gotta Be Some Changes Made,” a slow country number that is much more in line with what we know and expect of Buck Owens, and featuring steel guitar. “Should I leave or stay/Am I just in your way.”
“White Satin Bed” is an excellent song about being poor and looking forward to death just to get some rest. It seems like it might be a playful song, but its delivery is serious and earnest. “I’ve got to work tomorrow/Just to pay for today/Well, I’ve worked all that I can stand/Now I long for the day/That I can sleep in my white satin bed/With a red velvet pillow for my head.” This great slow country song was written by Buck Owens and Gene Price, and is one of my favorites of this album. It’s followed by another of my favorites, “Darlin’, You Can Depend On Me,” a wonderful song with a delightful change in speed for the chorus. It’s a song about being there to help ease another’s pain and trouble, certainly a song that many folks can appreciate during these irksome times. Then we get “In The Middle Of A Teardrop.” While the title might be a bit maudlin, this song is still enjoyable, and it makes good use of the string section. I like these lines: “I’m on the brink of a misery/I’m at the edge of reality/That I’m about to be a memory.” It was written by Buck Owens, Don Rich and Doyle Holly.
In “Across This Town And Gone,” Buck Owens sings of a troubled relationship. “We couldn’t change the bad to good/The good lord knows we tried/And a one-way love just ain’t no good/And I can’t live a lie.” It soon becomes a song about hitting the road, about leaving. There is still hope in the song, for he still loves the woman, and his vocal delivery has a good amount of passion in it, helping make this one another of the disc’s highlights. The strings play a prominent role in this one too. It was written by Buck Owens and Gene Price. That’s followed by “Maybe If I Close My Eyes (It’ll Go Away),” a good, slow number. “If I pretend there never was a thing between you and me/But I can’t sleep and I can’t eat/It haunts me night and day/But maybe if I close my eyes, it will go away.” Buck Owens is so good at these songs about loving a woman who, for one reason or another, is no longer present, or who will soon be gone.
“I Would Do Anything For You” is a sweet and rather goofy song declaring one’s love. “If I were a kite, I would fly for you/If I were a ship, I would sail for you/If I were a heart, I would beat for you.” It even has a little “la la la” moment. “Sing me a song about heartache,” Buck Owens then sings at the beginning of “Sing That Kind Of Song,” which is interesting, because of course that is a type of song he is so skilled at delivering. But when we are down, we sometimes want our music to reflect or echo our feelings, to help us get it all out and feel less alone. “Leave out all of the happiness/But put in all of the loneliness/And sing me a song/About a love affair gone wrong/Make me cry.” And then, what does he do, but deliver a song of heartache, “Hurtin’ Like I’ve Never Hurt Before.” The first lines are “Yes, I’m hurting like I’ve never hurt before/Well, every place I look, I see a trail of broken hearts.” The album concludes with “But You Know I Love You,” the only song on it not written by Buck Owens. Mike Settle wrote this one, and it was a hit for First Edition. It’s another that makes good use of the backing vocalists. “How, I wish that love/Was all we’d need to live/Oh, what a life we’d have/Because I’ve got so much to give/And it seems so wrong/Deep inside my heart/That the dollar sign/Should be keeping us apart/But you know I love you.”
CD Track List
- Tall Dark Stranger
- There’s Gotta Be Some Changes Made
- White Satin Bed
- Darlin’, You Can Depend On Me
- In The Middle Of A Teardrop
- Across This Town And Gone
- Maybe If I Close My Eyes (It’ll Go Away)
- I Would Do Anything For You
- Sing That Kind Of Song
- Hurtin’ Like I’ve Never Hurt Before
- But You Know I Love You