Found Performance: “Husbands & Wives” by Roger Miller

This one goes back to my early days of listening to the radio. In 1966 this song was on the playlist at Top-40 KPUG in Bellingham. I bet Gary Shannon and Kirk Wilde remember playing it. I think the KPUG jocks actually gave heavier airplay to the flip side “Long Time Leavin,'” but the station played both sides of this country crossover hit.

“Husbands and Wives” was written by, and first recorded by, Roger Miller. It was the bigger hit of the two sides, achieving Top 10 status on the U.S. Country Chart (#5), and Adult Contemporary Chart (#2), and on the Billboard Hot 100 (#26). The double sided hit single was released in Feb.1966. The flip “I’ve Been a Long Time Leavin’ (But I’ll Be a Long Time Gone),” peaked at #13 on the country charts.

“Husbands and Wives” became another smash in 1998, back when I owned KBFW radio in Bellingham, when the tune was covered by country stars Brooks & Dunn. That version went to #1 on the Billboard Country Chart and to #36 on the Billboard Hot 100.

This performance is from The Dean Martin Show in February 1968. Click twice on the video…once to go to Vimeo and then click again to start it.

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Author: Steven L. Smith

Presently editor and historical writer with QZVX.COM in Seattle. Former radio broadcaster and radio station owner, 1970-1999. Journalism and speech communications degrees. I enjoy researching articles and online reporting that allows me to meld together words, audio and video. P.S. I appreciate and encourage reader comments and opinions.
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13 thoughts on “Found Performance: “Husbands & Wives” by Roger Miller

  1. I think it was not as much Roger as my choice in Roger’s music. I went for the wackiest stuff. But in that era he really did lots of good songs that were not so drug induced like Walking in the Sunshine and lesser known Tom Green County Fair. But those were not the ones I played.

  2. Jay…as I recall at KBFW you thought my enthusiasm for Roger Miller silly songs was exceeding the enthusiasm of the listeners. I remember you would suggest that instead of playing Roger four times a shift I might mix in more bluegrass

    1. Steven ~ Age may be fogging your memory glands. Loved that “tasty” bluegrass … but also loved that “silly” Roger!
      I always thought if I ever had a bluegrass band I’d call them The Fuzzy Bottom Boys!

  3. Roger Miller was the king of absurdity. Story is he wrote many of his songs while smoking one of those funny little cigarettes. I mean where else do you get songs like “You Can’t Rollerskate In A Buffalo Herd”, “My Uncle Used To Love Me But She Died”! And then there’s just the sweet silliness of “Dang Me”, “England Swings”, “Kansas City Star”, Chug-A-Lug”, etc. – His “King Of The Road” even had motels named after it. I always love the pure ‘ punny’ cleverness of “The Last Word In Lonesome Is Me”. The other singer-songwriters around Nashville loved this man! Was a friend to all!

  4. Roger Miller, the first time he saw a lady at the beach wearing a thong: “Hmm … flossing … ”

    Roger Miller unpublished song of unrequited love: “If you won’t be my #1, then #2 on you”

  5. Steve ~ I’ve always liked this song. Although it received tons of covers, Roger Miller’s is still the best and definitely my favorite. Brooks & Dunn did a credible version in ’98, but I can’t say much for the David Frizzel/Shelly West cover or Neil Diamond’s … or even The Everly Brothers. I do like the cover by a fairly obscure singer-songwriter named Jules Shear. He wrote the 1984 Cyndi Lauper #5 Pop-hit “All Through The Night”. If you’ve never heard the Jules Shear version here’s a link :

    https://youtu.be/SX62qXOqXhE

    Roger Miller was one of our all time great songsmiths. Even wrote a terrific Broadway Musical, “Big River”, with a book by William Hauptman and music by Roger.

  6. Jason….I guess you are correct on that. Sort of a dose of reality that did not fit with Ozzie and Harriet…and the Cleavers.

  7. Divorce was on the rise in the mid-1960s. Women were out of the home and in the workplace. Wife-beating was no longer an accepted behavior. If you didn’t like her coffee, you had better keep your mouth shut, or you would be drinking Sanka. Nagging wives, alcoholic husbands, cheating spouses and the promiscuousness of the times, were only a few of the reasons for the increase in the dissolution of marriages. Pride being another. Our parents were examples of the perfect couple. Ozzie and Harriet, Donna and Alex Stone, Jim and Margaret Anderson, and The Cleavers, were the examples shown on tv. But, through tough times, even Ralph and Alice Kramden managed to keep it together. The womanizing behavior of photographer Bob Collins, the lifestyle of bachelor stepdad Bentley Gregg, and the frazzled nerves of Herbert T. Gillis showed us what life was like in other households. In my opinion, MadMen gave us the best flashbacks to how relationships evolved in the decade of the 60’s.

    1. Then there was the Hansen family, Norske immigrants who moved to the little house on Steiner Street in San Francisco in the 1910’s.

      “Mama”, starring Peggy Wood, ran from 1949 to 1957. It was a good family show. I never missed it. Here’s an episode from 1950, split into two parts. Enyoy it, by yoompin’ yiminy! “Mama” talked just like my grandma, who came from Norway alone in 1903 when she was eighteen.

      Part 1: https://youtu.be/8qxB3sHgrGo

      Part 2: https://youtu.be/LM557joGZsA

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