Johnny Bush performs “Whiskey River” Live On The Penny Gilley Show 2019.

I would get to position number 3 of U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles, and number 1 in the Canadian RPM Country Tracks. Dolly was nominated for this song at the 19th Annual Grammy Awards (1977).

YouTube When The Cowboy Sings Channel
YouTube When The Cowboy Sings Channel

Whiskey River:

Lp cover Johnny Bush ( RCA 1973
Lp cover Johnny Bush ( RCA 1973

Song written by Johnny Bush & Paul Stroud, for the RCA label, on February 8, 1972, with the production of Jerry Bradley, was released in July 1972, the song would reach the number 14 position on the US Hot Country Songs charts, in the Canadian RPM Country Tracks lists he reached position number 7.
Whiskey river would be included on the album, Whiskey River / There Stands The Glass (RCA 1973), in the top country album lists it would reach position number 38. The song would be included again in three more albums, Armarillo Depot (Whiskey river records 1979) and, Whiskey River (Delta Records 1980) and Together Again (With Willie Nelson) (Delta Records 1982).

Lp cover Willie Nelson ( Atlantic 1973 )
Lp cover Willie Nelson ( Atlantic 1973 )

Nelson and Bush were old friends when Nelson covered this song, they had played together in the band of Ray Price, The Cherokee Cowboys in the early 60’s, he decided to record this song of his great friend Johnny (He has recorded more than 20 times), the first recording is for his album, Shotgun Willie (Atlantic 1973), the single was released in 1974 as duo Willie Nelson & Tracy Nelson (Atlantic 1974), it would be released as a single in November 1978, for the Columbia label, with the production of Willie Nelson himself, he would reach number 12 on the US Hot Country Songs charts. It would be included on the album, Willie And Family Live (Columbia 1978), it would be a total success, the album reached number one on the US top country albums charts.
The album was certified in USA 4 × Platinum and gold in Canada.
The song has become a classic of Willie Nelson, with which he opens many of his live concerts.



Story behind the song:

Lp cover Johnny Bush ( WRR 1979 )
Lp cover Johnny Bush ( WRR 1979 )

Johnny had moved from native Texas to Nashville, to sign a contract with RCA, at that time, Johnny had already experienced success with a series of hits that included, “You Gave Me to Mountain” and “My Cup Runneth Over.” But his new executive producer, Jerry Bradley, wanted him to write a very special song. Johnny told Jerry, how do you want him to write such a special song, with the great quality of composers that are here in Nashville, Harlan Howard, Willie Nelson, Hank Cochran, “Bill Anderson …… But Jerry knew that Johnny had a blow on him and put the ball back on Johnny’s court.
On the way back to Texas from Nashville, Johnny fell asleep in the autobus , and when he got to Texarkana, he had the idea of ‘Whiskey River’ And when he got home, he already had the song written. ”

Lp cover Johnny Bush ( Delta Records 1980 )
Lp cover Johnny Bush ( Delta Records 1980 )

At the time the original version was released, Bush inexplicably lost his voice. He had been struggling to play high notes for a while, but he did not realize it was serious. It took years to finally find a correct diagnosis, which was a spasmodic dysphonia, a neurological condition that affects one in 35,000 people. The vocal exercises helped him recover most of his singing ability, but his producer Tommy Hill insisted that if it were not for the affliction, Bush would have become one of the biggest voices in the industry.



 

lp cover Willie Nelson ( Columbia 1978 )
lp cover Willie Nelson ( Columbia 1978 )

Versions:

Willie Nelson & Tracy Nelson 1974 (Atlantic Records)
Willie Nelson 1978 (Columbia)
Cooder Graw 1998 (Three To One)
Freddy Fender 1999 (Atlantic Records)
The Reverends 2001 (Shove Records)
Trick Pony & Willie Nelson 2002 (Warner)
Jerry Lee Lewis & Willie Nelson 2010 (Verve Records)
Devil Driver 2018 (Napalm Records)




Johnny Bush – Whiskey River Lyrics

Whiskey River, take my mind
Don’t let her memory torture me
Whiskey River, don’t run dry
You’re all I got, take care of me

Whiskey River, take my mind
Don’t let her memory torture me
Whiskey River, don’t run dry
You’re all I got, take care of me

I’m drowning in a Whiskey River
Bathin’ my memory’s mind in the wetness of its soul
Feeling the amber current flowing from my mind
To a warm and empty heart you left so cold

Whiskey River, take my mind (whiskey river take my mind)
Don’t let her memory torture me (don’t let her memory torture me)
Whiskey River, don’t run dry
You’re all I got, take care of me

Oh
Whiskey River, take my mind
Don’t let her memory torture me
Whiskey River, don’t run dry
You’re all I got, take care of me

Whiskey River, take my mind
Don’t let her memory torture me
Whiskey River, don’t run dry
You’re all I got, take care of me

Oh
Whiskey River, take my mind
Don’t let her memory torture me
Whiskey River, don’t run dry
You’re all I got, take care of me

Whiskey River, take my mind
Don’t let her memory torture me
Whiskey River, don’t run dry
You’re all I got, take care of me

Single Johnny Bush ( RCA 1972 )
Single Johnny Bush ( RCA 1972 )

Miquel Batlle
mbatllegarriga@gmail.com