Danny O’Keefe – Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues

I ran across this song yesterday. It was the first time I heard this song in many years. It peaked at #9 in the Billboard 100 and #19 in Canada in 1972.  It was recorded at American Studios in Memphis with Arif Marden producing. Danny O’Keefe was a one-hit wonder with Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues his only Billboard hit.

O’Keefe wrote this song and it was also recorded by Elvis using the same musicians as O’Keefe did on this recording. He also wrote the song “The Road” on Jackson Browne’s Running on Empty Album.

From Songfacts.

Danny O’Keefe’s biggest hit, this song struck a chord with restless young people who were stuck living dreary lives in dead-end small towns while their friends were moving away to better things. “Charlie” is a fictional character, but O’Keefe was managed by Charlie Greene, who also managed Buffalo Springfield and had the ear of Ahmet Ertegun at Atlantic Records. After hearing O’Keefe perform the song on a steel guitar, Ertegun signed him and produced his 1970 debut album, with included the first version of this song.

O’Keefe told Mojo about the song’s lyrical content: “Maybe it was about hipsters drawn to the high life. I lived in interesting times and there was a lot of experimentation with every kind of drug. There were a lot of damages and strange intersections of lives that provided much grist for a young songwriter’s mill.”

O’Keefe on the song’s legacy: “The success of one’s dreams is always exhilarating. Elvis cut the song with the same group of musicians I had, so there was a pride in continuity, but I didn’t think he brought anything new to it. Over the years I’ve come to appreciate it more as part of the song’s great legacy.”

Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues

Everybody’s goin’ away
Said they’re movin’ to LA
There’s not a soul I know around
Everybody’s leavin’ town
Some caught a freight, some caught a plane
Find the sunshine, leave the rain
They said this town’s a waste of time
I guess they’re right, it’s wastin’ mine
Some gotta win, some gotta lose
Good time Charlie’s got the blues
Good time Charlie’s got the blues
Ya know my heart keeps tellin’ me
“You’re not a kid at thirty-three”
“Ya play around, ya lose your wife”
“Ya play too long, you lose your life”
I got my pills to ease the pain
Can’t find a thing to ease the rain
I’d love to try and settle down
But everybody’s leavin’ town
Some gotta win, some gotta lose
Good time Charlie’s got the blues
Good time Charlie’s got the blues
Good time Charlie’s got the blues
(whistling to end)


Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

4 thoughts on “Danny O’Keefe – Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues”

  1. Good tune! I remember it from back in the day but haven’t heard it for a long time either. I really like ’72 music- guess it brings back memories and was first year I really got to listen to my own radio

    Liked by 1 person

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