Detroit City (song)

"Detroit City" is a song written by Danny Dill and Mel Tillis, made famous by Billy Grammer (as "I Wanna Go Home"),[1] country music singer Bobby Bare and Tom Jones. Bare's version was released in 1963. The song — sometimes known as "I Wanna Go Home" (from the opening line to the refrain) — was Bare's first Top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart that summer, and became a country music standard.

"Detroit City"
Single by Bobby Bare
from the album Detroit City and Other Hits
B-side"Heart of Ice"
ReleasedMay 1963 (U.S.)
RecordedApril 18, 1963
Nashville, Tennessee
LabelRCA Victor
Songwriter(s)Danny Dill and Mel Tillis
Producer(s)Chet Atkins
Bobby Bare singles chronology
"Shame on Me"
"Detroit City"
"500 Miles Away from Home"
"Detroit City"
Single by Tom Jones
from the album Green, Green Grass of Home
B-side"If I Had You"
ReleasedFebruary 1967
Songwriter(s)Danny Dill and Mel Tillis
Producer(s)Peter Sullivan
Tom Jones singles chronology
"Green, Green Grass of Home"
"Detroit City"
"Funny Familiar Forgotten Feelings"
"Detroit City"
Single by Arthur Alexander
A-side"You Don't Care"
ReleasedApril 1965
LabelDot Records
Songwriter(s)Danny Dill and Mel Tillis
Producer(s)Noel Ball
Norman Petty
Bill Haney (uncredited)
"I Wanna Go Home"
Single by Billy Grammer
B-side"The Bottom of the Glass"
Songwriter(s)Danny Dill and Mel Tillis
Billy Grammer singles chronology
"I'd Like to Know Why"
"I Wanna Go Home"
"I'll Leave The Porch Lights A-Burning"

About the songEdit

Prior to Bare's success with "Detroit City," country singer Billy Grammer released his version of the Danny Dill-Mel Tillis penned song.[2] His version was known as "I Wanna Go Home" and peaked at #18 on the Billboard country charts in 1963.[3]

The song is the working man's complaint, and "with its melody reminiscent of the 'Sloop John B,' describes the alienation felt by many rural southerners in the mid North," wrote country music historian Bill Malone. "Here, [Bare's] earnest and planative interpretation lends great believability to this mournful song."[4] Bare's version begins in the key of E, until after the repeat of the refrain, he makes a transition to the key of B for the second verse and refrain. He makes a transition back to the key of E as the song fades out. Bare's version also features a spoken recitation following half of the second verse, before singing the refrain before the song's fade.

The song's peak in popularity during the summer of 1963 came during a time when Tillis was still experiencing most of his success as a songwriter. He had previously written hits for Webb Pierce, Brenda Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and others, but this was one of his earliest major hits as a songwriter outside of those artists.

The song won Bobby Bare a Grammy for the Best Country & Western Recording in 1963.[5]

Other CoversEdit

Jan & Dean covered the song for their 1963 album Surf City And Other Swingin' Cities.

Arthur Alexander released the song as a single in 1965 backed with "You Don't Care," but it did not perform well and proved to be his last single for Dot Records.[6] Nonetheless, historian Nat Hentoff described Alexander's rendition as "deeply compelling," stating that it "[eclipsed] the original version by Bobby Bare."[7] Alexander biographer described it as "a stirring rendition."[6] Music USA: A Rough Guide also praised Alexander's version.[8] No Depression magazine states that Alexander's version "mourns a rural-to-urban migration that black Americans could relate to every bit as much as poor Southern whites."[9]

Jerry Lee Lewis released a version on his 1965 album Country Songs for City Folks.[10]

The Jordanaires released a cover on their 1966 album The Big Country Hits.

In 1967, the song was also covered by Tom Jones, who had a UK Top 10 hit with it.[11] The Jones version features Bare's spoken Recitation as well. Jones also included the song on his 1967 album Green, Green Grass of Home.

Solomon Burke covered the song in 1967 as well. His version reached #10 in the Canadian RPM Soul charts, January 27, 1968.[12]

Country Music Legend Dolly Parton covered the song on her 1980 album 9 to 5 and Odd Jobs.

The song has also been covered by soul singer Joe Tex.

Chart performanceEdit

Grammer's "I Wanna Go Home" reached #18 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart in early 1963. That summer, Bare's re-titled version peaked at #6 on the Billboard country chart (it spent total of 18 weeks on this chart) and No. 16 on the Billboard Hot 100.[13]

Billy GrammerEdit

Chart (1963) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles 18

Bobby BareEdit

Chart (1963) Peak
Australian Kent Music Report 93
Danish Singles Chart 7
German Singles Chart 40
Norwegian Singles Chart 1
Swedish Singles Chart 1
U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary 4
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles 6
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 16

Tom JonesEdit

Chart (1967) Peak
U.K. Singles Chart 8
Austrian Top 40 14
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 27
German Singles Chart 35
Canadian Singles Chart 16 [14]

Dean MartinEdit

Chart (1970) Peak
U.S. Billboard Bubbling Under-Hot 100 1
U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary Singles 36
Canadian RPM Top Singles 93

References and sourcesEdit


  1. ^ "Discography". The Grammer Guitar. Retrieved 2014-03-25.
  2. ^ "BMI repertoire search". BMI. Archived from the original on 2012-07-15. Retrieved 2010-12-04.
  3. ^ Billy Grammer's "I Wanna Go Home" Chart Position Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  4. ^ Malone, Bill, "Classic Country Music: A Smithsonian Collection" ((booklet included with Classic Country Music: A Smithsonian Collection 4-disc set). Smithsonian Institution, 1990).
  5. ^ "Bobby Bare's Grammy history". Grammy Award. Retrieved 2010-12-04.
  6. ^ a b Younger, Richard (2000). Get a shot of rhythm and blues: the Arthur Alexander story. University of Alabama Press. pp. 104–105. ISBN 9780817310233.
  7. ^ Hentoff, Nat (2009). American Music Is. Da Capo Press. p. 211. ISBN 9780786728541.
  8. ^ Unterberger, Richie; et al. (1999). Music USA: A Rough Guide. Rough Guides. p. 114. ISBN 9781858284217.
  9. ^ No Depression Issues 13-16. 1998. p. 106. Retrieved 2016-12-18.
  10. ^ Jerry Lee Lewis, Country Songs for City Folks Retrieved June 17, 2012.
  11. ^ "Official Charts Company". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2010-12-04.
  12. ^ "RPM Top 30 Soul - January 27, 1968" (PDF).
  13. ^ "Bobby Bare's Billboard chart history". billboard. Retrieved 2010-12-04.
  14. ^ "RPM Top 100 Singles - April 29, 1967" (PDF).


  • Whitburn, Joel, "Top Country Songs: 1944-2005," 2006.
  • Whitburn, Joel, "Top Pop Singles: 1955-2006," 2007.

External linksEdit