Monday, August 10, 2015

How did I miss the sad news of the passing of country great Lynn Anderson?

Divorce is a terrible thing...and not just because it's claimed the Hollywood unions of Ben Affleck + Jennifer Garner and Gwen Stefani + Gavin Rossdale as well as, if those often-repeated statistics are correct, half of all marriages.

The divorce announcement by Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert and all the follow-up headlines (This just in: Miranda is drinking to get over Blake...which actually succeeded in making her more interesting than I ever found her to be) have overshadowed the most important country-music story of the year.

Lynn Anderson, the '70s country great best known for the crossover hit "(I Never Promised You a) Rose Garden" and, by extension, Kon Kan's 1989 reboot "I Beg Your Pardon," died from a heart attack at age 67 on July 30. That was nearly two weeks ago, and I just found out today. I blame Blake and Miranda from keeping me in the dark for so long. Yes, I hate divorce.

Had it not been for the passing of American sports great Frank Gifford at age 84 on Sunday, I might still not know that Anderson is no longer with us. After reading an article this morning on Gifford's death on TMZ, I spotted a link to an Anderson obit in a list of related stories.

Though Lynn Anderson had absolutely nothing to do with Frank Gifford, and I doubt that she was ever interviewed by Gifford's widow Kathie Lee, there is something of a loose link there. Both were giants in their chosen field, only Anderson's peak popularity period was decidedly more compact than Gifford's.

But boy, what a peak. Among '70s female country singers in the early '70s, she was probably fourth behind Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette, and Loretta Lynn, and just ahead of  Donna Fargo. In fact, she was the first major female country star to score a crossover smash when "Rose Garden, her 1970 country No. 1, went all the way to No. 3 on Billboard's Hot 100, a height to which neither Wynette nor Lynn would ever ascend. 

By the latter part of the decade when Crystal Gayle, Anne Murray and Barbara Mandrell had emerged as country contenders, Anderson's popularity was waning. Before her death, she was probably mostly regarded as a relic of the '70s or -- worse! -- a one-hit wonder because even most country fans probably couldn't name any of her songs aside from her signature one.

I can't argue with the '70s angle, but her list of hits extends well beyond the one for which she's best known. "Rose Garden" aside, Anderson scored four other No. 1 country hits and 13 other Top 10s between 1967 and 1983. Not so bad for a one-hit wonder, right?

Here are five Lynn Anderson hits other than "Rose Garden" that should be required listening for every country fan who thinks Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert splitting up is more important news than Anderson's passing.

"How Can I Unlove You" (No. 1, 1970)



"Fool Me" (No. 4, 1973)



"He Turns It Into Love Again" (No. 13, 1974)



"You're My Man" (No. 1, 1971)



"Isn't It Always Love" (No. 10, 1979)

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