Don Williams: 10 Essential Songs

From "Tulsa Time" to "Good Ole Boys Like Me," the key tracks of the country vocalist, who died September 8th at 78

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"Love Is on a Roll"

A key to Williams' success with country audiences, and also a reason he never crossed over more than he did, was that while he had clear affinities to the dominant pop-country sounds of his time – Outlaw, in the late 1970s; Urban Cowboy, in the early Eighties – he always stood out as his own man, doing his own no-fuss thing. He was a crooner, closer to Jim Reeves and Eddy Arnold than Hank and Lefty, and a domesticated country lover man, à la Reeves and Arnold, too, but he scuffed up the confident smoothness of their vocals with his own gentle brand of cautious hesitation. And as on this Roger Cook and John Prine co-write, he smoothed out his down-home drawl with poppy Buffet-style rhythms and a delivery that convinced you could do as well, at least until you try. He was sui generis. Nobody has ever done Don Williams like Don Williams. D.C.

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