Love Hurts, Sells Music
December 19, 2010 8:09 PM   Subscribe

"At the time, in the field that we flopped into, the artists wrote and performed all of their own material,” Felice recalled. “Then, after a while, the road got to them. They couldn’t think, they couldn’t doodle around on the front porch with a guitar, they couldn’t stroll through the woods and get inspired. So Boudleaux and I were the first people who came to Nashville who didn’t do anything but write. We were the factory." What do the songs Love Hurts, Rocky Top, Bye Bye Love, and Wake Up Little Susie have in common? Why, they were all written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, of course! Perhaps best known for the hits they penned for the Everly Brothers, The Bryants were an American husband and wife songwriting duo whose compositions, mostly country music, are estimated to have been on hundreds of millions of records sold. Let's get to know them a bit better, shall we?

The pair met and fell in love in 1945 in a Milwaukee hotel, and ran away together only five days later. Felice - née Matilda Genevieve Scaduto but called Felice by her husband - recalls meeting Boudleaux: "I had dreamed of Boudleaux when I was 8 years old. When this man was walking toward me I recognized him right away. The only thing that was wrong was that he didn't have a beard. Although he grew one for me later. In the dream we were dancing to our song. Only it was our song."

Among the hits they wrote for the Everly Brothers were All I Have To Do Is Dream, Bird Dog, Devoted To You, Problems, and Like Strangers.

Boudleaux had this to say of their success as songwriters: “Unless one feels driven to compose and at the same time has all the instincts of a Mississippi riverboat gambler, he should never seek songwriting as a profession. Unless you know in your heart that you’re great, feel in your bones that you’re lucky and think in your soul that God just might let you get away with it, pick something more certain, like chasing the white whale or eradicating the common housefly. We didn’t have the benefit of such sage advice. Now it’s too late to back up. We made it. Sometimes it pays to be ignorant.”

Phil Everly said of them, "[They] had the far-reaching thought process that goes behind writing. It would be inner-soul searching and stuff. As silly as it sounds and as trite as it sounds, there’s still a little piece of everybody’s heart in it—some little twist, some little phrase in `All I Have To Do Is Dream.’ They influenced everyone they met."

Selected versions of a few of their tunes:

Rocky Top: Everly Brothers | Crystal Gale | Dolly Parton | Chet Atkins | Roy Clark (on Sesame Street)
Love Hurts: Nazareth | Graham Parson & Emmylou Harris | Roy Orbison
Country Boy: Little Jimmy Dickens
Take A Message To Mary: The Everly Brothers
Mexico: Bob Moore
Raining In My Heart: Buddy Holly | Leo Sayer | Don McLean
My Last Date: Skeeter Davis
Hey Joe (not to be confused with the other Hey Joe): Carl Smith | Frankie Lane
Let's Think About Living: Bob Luman
Blue Boy: Jim Reeves
Come Live With Me: Roy Clark
Richest Man (In The World): Eddy Arnold
Have A Good Time: Tony Bennett

Full List Of Songs for the completist.
They are members of The Nashville Songwriters Foundation, The Songwriters Hall Of Fame, The Country Music Hall Of Fame, and The Rockabilly Hall of Fame (linked above).
posted by ORthey (13 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Great post, I love hearing about musicians and songwriters that are responsible for producing tons of quality stuff while toiling behind the scenes.

I think your Gram Parsons/Emmylou Harris link is borked. How about this?
posted by marxchivist at 8:16 PM on December 19, 2010

Is there a limit to the amount of Best Post entries one user can have? Just kidding, fascinating stuff. Who are the Felice and Boudleaux of today's pop music?
posted by Corduroy at 8:18 PM on December 19, 2010

Thanks for making this post. I've been incredibly impressed with the Bryants ever since I discovered that every one of my favorite Everly Brothers songs turned out to have been written by them.
posted by dfan at 8:19 PM on December 19, 2010

Oops, thanks marxchivist for catching that! Would have been a minor miracle for me to get all those links right anyway.
posted by ORthey at 8:21 PM on December 19, 2010

That banjo part on Rocky top... smokin'. Takes me back to the bluegrass festivals my parents would take me and my brother to back in the '70s in Florida (Gainesville area).
posted by smcameron at 8:22 PM on December 19, 2010

Two of my favorite American songwriters - a wonderful post.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 8:50 PM on December 19, 2010

I can't count the number of times I have gotten drunk and danced with a complete stranger putting his hand on my butt to Rocky Top, a local favorite in this bluegrass crazy town. I can't count the times because I was mostly too drunk to remember. Thanks for the tune, Bryants.
posted by Foam Pants at 9:05 PM on December 19, 2010

Their greatest song, in this listener's opinion, is "Sleepless Nights." The Everlys version is better known, but this Gram & Emmylou version kills me.
posted by kenlayne at 9:36 PM on December 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Need to add the Everly's own Love Hurts. I don't recall if they had first crack at it or Orbison, but both are great. I wish you hadn't even mentioned the Nazareth abomination.

Regrettably, Rocky Top is the Hotel California of country music. Even if you once liked it, do you really need to hear it ever again?

"They're playing our song." Great line.

Excellent post!
posted by Herodios at 9:39 PM on December 19, 2010

Apropos to absolutely nothing, I'm glad I am only just now hearing about this pair, after my babymaking days are over. Because I find myself overcome with the desire to name a child "Diadorius Boudleaux," and that surely would be a crime against one tiny piece of humanity. As luck would have it, I've only got naming rights on future pets from here on out. Thank goodness for small mercies.
posted by SomeTrickPony at 5:08 AM on December 20, 2010

Regrettably, Rocky Top is the Hotel California of country music. Even if you once liked it, do you really need to hear it ever again?

I would have to say yes to that question since I'd never heard the Osborne bros. version linked to by th OP, and found it quite enjoyable. Some of that enjoyment may have been due to the great facial hair though.
posted by Icky at 8:06 AM on December 20, 2010

Anybody who feels that way about Rocky Top, a little Hee Haw will set you straight. (1:24 in)
posted by evilcolonel at 4:26 PM on December 20, 2010

Oh awesome. I've been obsessively listening to the Everly Brothers lately. That video of them performing Bye Bye Love with all the girls screaming is mad.

Bird Dog is an awesome song.
posted by Put the kettle on at 10:20 AM on December 22, 2010

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