Jeannie C. Riley: Harper Valley PTA

I worked with legendary singer/songwriter Tom T. Hall, who wrote Jeannie C. Riley's hit HARPER VALLEY PTA, back in the day. As the writer, Tom probably made more money on this particular song than most of his own stuff.

It was 1968 and the Country was transitioning from it's somewhat conservative past into a new paradigm in music, dress and life-style. Jeannie C. Riley (Jeanne Carolyn Stephenson) was working as a secretary at a publishing house and cutting demos on the side. Producer Shelby Singleton (a real piece of work) at Plantation Records heard one of her demos and liked her voice and decided to use her to record Tom T's song, "Harper Valley PTA," about the prudish women in a small town PTA who didn't approve of one mother's short skirts and gentleman friends.

Shelby had recently launched Plantation after doing A&R at Mercury Records, and this record put the new label on the map. "Harper Valley" performed the rare Hat Trick of going #1 on both Billboard's Pop and Country charts on the same day and went Gold in just 4 weeks selling more than 5 million discs globally, and propelled the same named album to million selling Gold Record status.

Like most of the big novelty songs, Ms Riley was unable to recreate that success, but had several chart records of lesser importance. In the late 70's she began recording Christian Gospel records and tried to separate herself from the sexy, "loose woman" image that she had gotten from Harper Valley PTA...but she still included it in her live shows because that's what the folks came to hear.

So here she is singing her signature song Live on TV back in the day. Notice that her "Mini Skirt" and dating life would not be considered very short today in our progressive culture. @therealdonrocks

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