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Saturday Song: Carl and Pearl Butler

June 30, 2012

There is a certain sound and feel to Carl and Pearl Butler that make them essential ingredients of country music.  Many artists have been a part of Saturday Song, but as I was looking back over the years no music from this amazing couple has been posted.  This week they get the royal treatment.

I came to think of Carl and Pearl Butler while singing in the shower this week.  For some reason an old song, Sundown In Nashville came to me and later I spoke the classic lines to James that makes the song just about perfect.

But it’s lonely at sundown in Nashville
That’s when beaten souls start to weep
Each evening at sundown in Nashville
They sweep broken dreams off the street

I had not thought of that song in ages, but since it came to mind….

Carl & Pearl Butler’s first charted duet became their greatest success. ‘Don’t Let Me Cross Over,’ spent eleven weeks at #1 on the country charts in 1962 and 1963.

On the strength of that success Pearl joined her husband on the Grand Ole Opry, where he had been a regular since 1958.

Carl Butler was also a gifted songwriter, penning classics including “If Teardrops Were Pennies”  Back in 2008 I posted what I considered the five best country classics–those songs that are as powerful on paper as when performed by any singer. That is the start of any great song.  “If Teardrops Were Pennies” was such a song in my estimation.

By the 1980s, they were basically retired, although they continued to make some appearances on the Opry. Pearl Butler died on March 1, 1988 at the age of 60. Carl attempted a comeback and made several Opry appearances, but he had little success and he passed away on September 4, 1992, after suffering a heart attack.

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