Flashback: Watch the Judds Roar Through a Live 'Have Mercy' - Rolling Stone
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Flashback: Watch the Judds Roar Through a Live ‘Have Mercy’

Paul Kennerley-penned tune was the mother-daughter duo’s fifth Number One

As the most successful country duo of the Eighties, the Judds racked up an impressive 14 Number One songs between 1984 and 1989 — four of which appeared on the mother and daughter’s debut album Why Not Me.

Wynonna and Naomi easily avoided the dreaded sophomore slump with Rockin’ to the Rhythm, which produced four more Number Ones and some of their most-loved songs. The first of the bunch was the rollicking “Have Mercy,” which reached the top of Billboard‘s Hot Country Songs chart 30 years ago today on December 28, 1985.

Written by Paul Kennerley, a British immigrant who left his advertising job to write country songs (and whose 1978 concept album White Mansions was the inspiration for Dave Cobb’s upcoming Southern Family LP) “Have Mercy” depicts a woman whose relationship distress only grows worse. She suspects her beau of cheating and — once she confirms it — he empties her bank account and gets the hell out of town. With its sultry, boogie-woogie feel, the music runs counter to that tale of woe but would perfectly complement a night of drowning sorrows. The Judds followed the hit with “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Ol’ Days),” “Rockin’ with the Rhythm of the Rain” and the Kennerley-penned “Cry Myself to Sleep.”

In October, Wynonna and Naomi reunited for Girls Night Out, a short residency at The Venetian in Las Vegas that featured the duo’s classic hits as well Wynonna performing material from her solo career. 

Wynonna and her band the Big Noise will hit the road on January 21st, to support Wy’s forthcoming solo album Wynonna & the Big Noise. Produced by Wynonna’s husband Cactus Moser, the new album is due February 12th and includes guest appearances from Jason Isbell, Susan Tedeschi and Timothy B. Schmit.

In This Article: Wynonna


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