Once again we present an edition of our special feature known as Country Catalyst. I think I’ve said before that Country Catalyst is sort of a a variation on our older special feature called Anatomy Of A Song, but one designed for a specific purpose — presenting a song that I think might intrigue a few folks who are not normally country music fans
Our choice today is relevant in the sense that Detroit has been in the news a lot lately, although the song originated fifty years ago when things were a lot better for the city. Written by Danny Dill and Mel Tillis (who would later become a big singing star), “Detroit City” tells the sad tale of a transplanted southerner who found a good job in a big city auto plant but was desperately lonely and depressed.
It was first recorded by country singer Billy Grammer in 1962 as “I Wanna Go Home,” but it was Bobby Bare’s version the following year that really hit the target with fans, becoming a top crossover hit and winning a Grammy for the singer. Within a few years the song had been recorded by a lot of vocalists, including Jerry Lee Lewis, Tom Jones, and even Dean Martin, who did a surprisingly good job with a number of country songs. You can hear Dino’s version below, and Bobby Bare’s live performance in the video below that.