“Bye Bye Love,” “All I Have to Do Is Dream,” “Wake Up Little Susie,” “Love Hurts,” “Rocky Top,” and more—husband-and-wife songwriting team Boudleaux and Felice Bryant made decades of groundbreaking contributions to American music history, and are remembered during this 2019 panel discussion at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
Panelists include the songwriters’ son Del Bryant; historians Bill C. Malone and Bobbie Malone, authors of the biography “Nashville’s Songwriting Sweethearts: The Boudleaux and Felice Bryant Story”; and Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member Dennis Morgan (“Sleeping Single in a Double Bed,” “Smoky Mountain Rain,” “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool”), who collaborated with Felice.
The Bryants’ prolific output can be heard on recordings by Little Jimmy Dickens, the Everly Brothers, Charley Pride, Carl Smith, Roy Orbison, Emmylou Harris, and a host of other top country, pop, and rock artists, and the panel examines the couple’s long and successful songwriting career, from moving to Nashville at the encouragement of songwriter and publisher Fred Rose, to writing attempts with the “Hillbilly Shakespeare” Hank Williams, hitmaking with the Everly Brothers in the 1950s-60s, and opening their own publishing companies, Showcase Music and the House of Bryant.
Del Bryant, who was present when his parents wrote a lot of their songs, shares how pitching songs was a family affair, and often involved clients gathering at the family’s home for a meal of his mother’s famous spaghetti and sauce.
As Bill Malone notes, Boudleaux And Felice Bryant's story was “more than a story of songwriters, it was a marvelous love story,” too.
Video clips displayed include Little Jimmy Dickens performing the Bryants’ first Top Ten hit, “Country Boy,” on “Stars of the Grand Ole Opry” in 1955, and the Everly Brothers singing “Bye Bye Love” on “The Perry Como Show” in 1957. Audio clips include Charley Pride’s 1974 recording of “We Could” and Carl Smith’s and Frankie Lane’s versions of “Hey Joe.”
The panel also discusses the Everly Brothers’ “Wake Up Little Susie,” along with “Rocky Top,” one of the official state songs of Tennessee and the unofficial fight song of the University of Tennessee.
Presented in support of the Museum’s exhibition “We Could: The Songwriting Artistry of Boudleaux and Felice Bryant” (September 27, 2019 through September 2, 2021), and funded in part by a grant from Humanities Tennessee.