Our Top 10 Hoyt Axton songs list serves as a perfect example of why we include country music artists on classicrockhistory.com. There are so many connections between country music artists and rock and roll that it is a necessity for a history site to dig deep into the music of some of the legendary country music artists. Many country artists crossover in to rock and roll and pop like Johnny Cash, Steve Earle, the Dixie Chicks and so many others. Yet there are some like Hoyt Axton which have written some of the most classic rock and roll songs of all time. This list will take a look at the some of the classic songs that Hoyt Axton has written for rock and pop artists as well as many of the brilliant songs Hoyt Axton recorded himself.
Hoyt Axton was born a year before World War II started in 1938 in the town of Duncan, Oklahoma. As a teengaer he experienced the birth of rock and roll. He was a first hand witness to artists like Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley changing the landscape of music. That experience would play a major role in his songwriting. It would not be until his early twenties that Hoyt Axton would release his first album entitled The Balladeer in 1963 on Horizon Records. Hoyt Axton would release three more albums in 1964 on Horizon Records.
Hoyt Axton would find himself recording for multiple labels throughout his solo recording career including Vee Jay Records the company that released the first Beatles album. He would also record for Capitol Records that would release all the Beatles Albums, and Columbia Records who released Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Frank Sinatra and thousands of other legendary artists albums. Hoyt Axton also recorded for other labels such as A&M and MCA home of Elton John and Three Dog Night. It was the latter band in which Hoyt Axton would work with and celebrate his greatest musical success that would cement his legacy in Classic Rock History.
There are so many classic Hoyt Axton Songs. Since it’s hard to compare the success of those big time cover versions and his own releases, we decided to list our ten favorites in chronological order.
# 10 – Greenback Dollar – 1963
Opening up our top 10 Hoyt Axton songs list is a stirring song that Hoyt Axton released as his first single entitled “Greenback Dollar.” You can hear it from the opening strumming guitar riffs, the deep voice, and the passionate lyrics that this was a special songwriter and performer. He could sing in a dark Johnny Cash like voice and then shift gears into howling Bruce Springsteen territory. All being done back in 1963. What the man was able to do with just two chords defined an extraordinary talent that was about to be unleashed onto the music world. The song was released on the album entitled Greenback Dollar. The song was also covered by The Kingston Trio.
# 9 – The Pusher – 1969
Continuing with our top 10 Hoyt Axton songs list we jump right into the classic covers. One of our favorite rock bands from the 1970s was the very much underrated group Steppenwolf. One of Steppenwolf’s most popular songs outside of their biggest hit single “Born To Be Wild,” was the killer recording of Hoyt Axton’s “The Pusher.” Those opening guitar riffs and that crying lead guitar solo will captivate us everytime we hear it. And oh those lyrics! Hoyt Axton was a songwriting genius. This was one of the most intense rockers that Hoyt Axton ever composed. The song was released on the Steppenwolf album also entitled The Pusher. The album was released in 1969.
# 8 – Joy to the World – 1971
In the number eight position on our top 10 Hoyt Axton songs list is the song entitled “Joy to the World.” It doesn’t get much bigger than this one. Not only was “Joy To The World,” Hoyt Axton’s most successful song he ever composed, the Three Dog Night version stands as one of the most legendary songs of the 1970s. The song hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1971 and stayed in that position for a month and a half. One could not turn on the radio in 1971 without hearing the song within the first 15 minutes of flipping the radio on. I remember that very well as I was ten years old at the time. “Joy to the World.” ended the year as the number one song of 1971.
# 7 – Never Been To Spain – 1971
Whenever we have written about Three Dog Night in the past, we have always been pounded with comments from readers mentioning this song. “Never Been To Spain,” was truly one of the all time great Three Dog Night recordings. The band has Hoyt Axton to thank for writing this mesmerizing song. In the number seven spot on our top 10 Hoyt Axton songs list we present the song entitled “Never Been To Spain.” The song was released on the Three Dog Night album entitled Harmony. The album was released on September 30, 1971. It was the second single released from the album. The song was a top hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 peaking at number five for Three Dog Night. Hoyt Axton had originally released the song on his album entitled Joy To The World.
# 6 – No No Song – 1974
Landing in the number six spot on our top 10 Hoyt Axton songs list we present the “No- No Song” This was the perfect song for Ringo Starr as it fit the personality and singing style of Ringo Starr so wonderfully. This was another one of those songs that was always on the radio. Hoyt Axton’s humor came shining through on a song mostly viewed as a novelty song. Yet the early 1970s were filled with novelty songs as the public responded well to them and so did am radio.
# 5 – When the Morning Comes – 1971
At the halfway point on our top 10 Hoyt Axton songs list is the grooving song entitled “When the Morning Comes.” This is the first of two song that Hoyt Axton recorded with the lovely and most talented Linda Ronstadt. The song “When the Morning Comes,” was issued on the album entitled Life Machine. The album was released in 1974. “When the Morning Comes,” would become Hoyt Axton’s only number one single he ever released as a recording artist. It was the first single released from the album. The song was a number hit on the Canadian Country Music Charts in 1974.
# 4 – Boney Fingers – 1974
At the number four spot on our top 10 Hoyt Axton songs list we present the rhythmic song entitled “Boney Fingers.” We just love this one. Hoyt Axton recorded the song “Boney Fingers,” with Renee Armand. This was actually Hoyt Axton’s highest charting solo release. No other song he ever recorded by himself ever charted higher on the US Country charts than “Boney Fingers.” The song was released on the album entitled Life Machine. The album was released in 1971. It was the second single released from the album. The song was a hit on the US Billboard Country Music Charts peaking at number eight. The song also was a hit on the Canadian Country Music Charts also hitting number eight.
# 3 – Lion in the Winter -1975
How could you not love this one. It’s amazing how wonderful Linda Ronstadt and Hoyt Axton sounded together. Listen to Linda Ronstadt belt this one out as Hoyt Axton laid down his deep baritone vocal line. The song “Lion In The Winter” was released on the album entitled Southbound. The album was released in 1975 It was the first single released from the album. The song was a hit on the US Billboard Country Music Charts peaking at number fifty four.
# 2 – Della and the Dealer -1979
Just of the top spot on our top 10 Hoyt Axton songs list we celebrate the rip-roaring song entitled “Della and the Dealer.” This one was legendary. Hoyt’s voice resonates perfect on this classic tune. It’s a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll and a little bit of blues all wrapped up in a story that echoes some of the work of the Charlie Daniels Band. The song was released on his classic album entitled A Rusty Old Halo. The album was released in 1979. It was the first single released from the album. The song was a hit on the US Country Charts peaking at number seventeen.
# 1 -Evangelina – 1980
We close out our top 10 Hoyt Axton songs list with the song entitled “Evangelina.” Even though this list has been composed in chronological order, we have to say this has always been one of our favourite Hoyt Axton song. The song “Evangelina,” was first released in 1976 on the album Fearless. It was also released on the classic 1980 album A Rusty Old Halo. Everything about this song is perfect from the flamingo meets country guitar strumming to the Jimmy Buffett style groove to the innovative chord changes right down to those brilliant lyrics. It’s Hoyt Axton at his best.
Feature Photo: news service, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
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