The Story Behind The Song: “Swingin’”

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(written by John David Anderson and Lionel A. Delmore)

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John Anderson (#1 country, #43 pop, 1983)

In 1983, Ralph Emery, host of TNN’s “Nashville Now,” was interviewing his guest John Anderson about his new hit “Swingin.’” He asked John why he pronounced it “Swangin,’” while the female background singers on the record pronounced the word “Swingin.’” John calmly replied that “someone had to sing it properly, and I sure cain’t.”

“Swingin,’” with its small-town praises of amorous neighbor “Charlotte Johnson,” put Anderson together with frequent writing partner Lionel Delmore – son of Alton Delmore, who registered his own number one hit, “Blues Stay Away From Me,” in 1949 as one-half of the Delmore Brothers.
Lionel had the basic idea, just a line or two. He and Anderson worked on the song for a long time, but they never felt like it was quite right.

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Even on the day of recording they were still doing re-writes on the studio floor, and never did get to the point where they were 100% satisfied with it, but they finally agreed that “you’ve gotta quit somewhere” and laid down the track.

At the session, (one of the last at Columbia “Studio B” before it was dismantled for office space), Anderson introduced “Swingin’” to his producer, veteran Frank Jones who had co-produced dozens of major hits at Columbia for over twenty years. John was using only an acoustic guitar when he first played it for Frank, and the producer was decidedly unimpressed with the song in that format.However, as the session got underway with the band, Jones’ opinion about “Swingin’” changed dramatically and he started diggin’ it like everybody else.

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