Saturday, 26 September 2009
Rockin’ Single of the Week No. 73 - Lawton Williams
Lawton Williams – Moon Joe / Lightnin’ Jones
Lawton Williams was better known for his song-writing than his singing, but don’t let that put for off. It’s not that his singing wasn’t any good, it’s just that his writing was breathtaking. Among the many hits he wrote are Fraulein, Color of The Blues and Farewell Party. When he died a couple of years ago, Bobby Braddock told the Tennessean that Lawton Williams’ songs “were hard country at a time when so much country was being influenced by rock and roll and rockabilly. He was a great songwriter." Williams was born in Troy, Tennessee on July 24th 1922, the son of a fiddler. I assume that the type of guy who play a string instrument not the type seeks dishonest ways of getting by.
While was stationed in Houston during World War II he fell under the influence of Floyd Tillman who helped hone his songwriting skills. He also began performing and by the end of the '40s he’d recorded for a handful of small country labels including Sultan and Fortune. Much of the ‘50s saw him working on the much celebrated Big D Jamboree, as well as more recording on Four Star, Coral, and Imperial. But it was the songs he wrote that got him the biggest accolades with Bobby Helms scoring big style with Fraulein, Hank Locklin’ making out with Geisha Girl and Color of the Blues going massive for the songs co-writer, George Jones. Williams did make the charts a couple of times in the early ‘60s with the 1963 novelty "Everything's OK on the LBJ," scoring during a quick stop at RCA Victor.
The song that has been getting me all excited this week, is Lawton’s Lightning Jones, which although it didn’t become a hit, did enough to spawn an album by the same name. The song could be a Johnny Horton number, from the guitar opening and shuffle beat to the western lyrics. The guitar figure has a bit of “the bells are shining me, for me and my girl”. Moon Joe is more of a novelty (telling Ike he’d be better off sticking to golf), and is definitely worth a listen. The guitarist is superb on both numbers. The two songs were cut in May ’59 in Dallas and the story goes that they were only supposed to be demos, but such was the quality that RCA decided to issue them. The November 9th, 1959 issue of Billboard advised “deejays desiring a sample of Lawton Williams’ latest RCA Victor Release Lightnin’ Jones b/w Moon Joe, have only to drop him a card at station KCUL, Fort Worth where he does a platter show from 2-5 pm daily. Williams is also a regular on the Big D Jamboree, Dallas each Saturday night”.