Bobby Braddock is what great songwriters aspire to be. He is the definition of prolonged greatness. Since the 1960s, Braddock has been publishing songs that both bruise the heart and tickle the funny bone. His sardonic style combines cerebral wit and brilliant phrasing. There is no more respected songwriter in all of Music City.
Born in 1940 in the Central Florida town of Lakeland, Robert Valentine Braddock developed a love for music early on. He first performed at age eight and had moderate success on the Florida music scene through young adulthood.
In 1964, Braddock moved to Nashville where he soon joined the road band for country music icon Marty Robbins. Two years later, Bobby was hired as a staff writer to Nashville’s Tree Publishing Company (now Sony Music Publishing). He has been there ever since. A prototypical pop hitmaker he is not, Braddock’s tunes are steeped in symbolism. They range from the wry and whimsical to multilayered sagas. All uniquely melodic.
Bobby is a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame as well as the Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 2011, the Country Music Hall of Fame debuted its newly formed songwriter category. Braddock was the first inductee. But the biggest validation of his incredible career must be his amazing consistency. As his personal bio states, Bobby “is the only living person to have written #1 country songs in five consecutive decades”. Here are ten tunes that topped the charts for the great Bobby Braddock.
“D-I-V-O-R-C-E” – Tammy Wynette (1968)
Co-written with mentor Curly Putman, this was Braddock’s first tune to make it to #1. “D-I-V-O-R-C-E” was produced by the renowned Billy Sherrill. As Bobby recalls, “The moment he heard it he said that he knew it was a hit”. This song marked the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship between Sherrill and Braddock while it also garnered Wynette a Grammy nomination.
“Golden Ring” – George Jones and Tammy Wynette (1976)
Bobby wrote this monster duet hit with friend Rafe Van Hoy. The song features superstars Jones and Wynette who, despite their recent divorce, were known as “Mr. & Mrs. Country Music”. This was their first release after their split became official. “Golden Ring” marked Braddock’s second #1 tune to be produced by Billy Sherrill and remains a George & Tammy staple.
“Thinkin’ of a Rendezvous” – Johnny Duncan (1976)
This duet features Texas singer/songwriter Johnny Duncan along with session vocalist Janie Fricke. Braddock co-wrote the tune with fellow songsmith Sonny Throckmorton. Spending two weeks at the peak position, it was Bobby’s second #1duet of 1976. “Thinkin’ of a Rendezvous” was Duncan’s first of three career songs to top the charts. Billy Sherrill and Larry Gatlin share producer credit.
“He Stopped Loving Her Today” – George Jones (1980)
This song is a definitive work in the catalog of American music. The concept, Braddock says, was that of “A love that was so strong that only death could terminate it.” Bobby once again teamed up with Curly Putman to craft the masterpiece. “He Stopped Loving Her Today” spent 18 weeks at #1 and cemented the legacies of Braddock, Jones, and producer Billy Sherrill.
“I Feel Like Loving You Again” – T.G. Sheppard (1980)
Originally cut by co-writer Sonny Throckmorton, “I Feel Like Loving You Again” was Braddock’s second #1 released in 1980. The tune was produced by Buddy Killen and features the phenomenal T.G. Sheppard. It spent only one week atop the list but established a fruitful relationship with the country crooner. Singer John Conlee recorded a version for a 1981 album to little fanfare.
“Faking Love” – T.G. Sheppard and Karen Brooks (1983)
Produced once again by Buddy Killen, this tune hit #1 on the Billboard country chart in February 1983. The duet matches T.G. Sheppard with country songstress Karen Brooks. Braddock wrote the song with Matraca Berg, a 2008 inductee into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. “Faking Love” was the first notable exposure for Berg. She had just turned 19.
“Texas Tornado” – Tracy Lawrence (1995)
This tune represents a resurgence of sorts for Braddock. The songwriter had failed to achieve the top spot in over a decade when the studio paired him with superstar Tracy Lawrence. Tracy balked at first, stating “I really didn’t like it that much”. When the studio agreed to let Lawrence produce the record, he agreed to sing it. Good decision. “Texas Tornado” hit #1 in both the United States and Canada in the summer of 1995.
“Time Marches On” – Tracy Lawrence (1996)
Bobby calls this song, “my favorite hit”. It tells the story, as Braddock says, “of someone’s life and their observations and the changes going on around them”. Produced by Don Cook, “Time Marches On” spent three weeks at #1. Of his signature tune, Lawrence states, “I thought this one was really special because the imagery was so vivid…It’s a masterful piece of work”.
“I Wanna Talk About Me” – Toby Keith (2001)
Braddock’s first foray into the rap genre resulted in this #1 hit for megastar Toby Keith. It was motivated by an uncharacteristic source, rap legend Eminem. “I’m a big Eminem fan” Bobby says. Produced by James Stroud and Keith, “I Wanna Talk About Me” was originally written for Blake Shelton. When Shelton’s label passed, Bobby pitched it to Toby over the phone. Keith responded simply, “I’m going to cut this son of a bitch.”
“People Are Crazy” – Billy Currington (2009)
This composition was co-written with Troy Jones and recorded by new wave country balladeer Billy Currington. “It’s one of those that lifts your spirits…I knew the first time I heard it, I wanted to lay it down”, says the singer. Produced by Carson Chamberlain and Currington, “People Are Crazy” topped the charts in July of 2009. The tune was nominated for two Grammy Awards and resulted in Braddock’s sixth nomination for CMA Song of the Year.
You can also read:
- Ranking All The De La Soul Studio Albums
- The 10 Best Nappy Roots Songs of All Time
- 10 Acoustical Bands You Need to Know About
- The 10 Best Jackson Wang Songs of All-Time
- Ranking All The Songs from the WALL-E Soundtrack