Lacy J. Dalton – 16th Avenue

I remember this song as a teenager and have never grown tired of it. It’s a salute to the unheralded songwriters. This song means a lot me because I have talked to a few songwriters that this song was about. Back in the 1980s, Nashville wasn’t the clean tourist spot that it has turned into now. I saw many songwriters trying to hawk their songs to anyone that would listen.  Many did live out of their car (and still do) or with anyone who would take them. Many gambled their lives to achieve their dreams. Some made it but most had to find their way back home.

A songwriter by the name of Thom Schuyler wrote the song the same year he moved to Nashville. He knew a lot of the songwriters that were around and the song rang true to many of them.

Lacy J. Dalton was born in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania and had several country hits in the 1980s. She’s one of the most instantly recognizable voices in country…People Magazine called Lacy “Country’s Bonnie Raitt.”  In 1979 when she was awarded the Academy of Country Music’s Top New Female Vocalist of the Year.  16th Avenue became the Anthem for Nashville songwriters and was voted one of Country’s Top 100 Songs ever by Billboard Magazine. Lacy also appeared on shows with the likes of Neil Young, The Grateful Dead, Grace Slick, and the Jefferson Airplane.

The song peaked at #7 in the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks and #13 in the Canadian RPM Country Tracks in 1983.

When asked about her influences…these impressed me… Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Kris Kristofferson, Guy Clark, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Janis Joplin, Robert Johnson, Karen Dalton, Fred Koller, Big Mama Thornton, Billie Holiday, Hank Williams, Tammy Wynette and J.J. Cale.

Thom talking about what lead up to the song:

I was hired as a carpenter to remodel an old house on 16th Avenue that was purchased to house a music publishing owned by Eddie Rabbitt, Even Stevens and Jim and David Malloy. I was also to construct a recording studio within the remains of an old garage behind the property. Several weeks into the job I had made an appointment over my lunch hour to visit another publisher to play some of my songs. My reel-to-reel tape was laying on the kitchen table next to my lunch and the secretary/office manager–a young woman named Keni Wehrman–took it upon herself to listen to it. Unbeknownst to me she was impressed to the point of sharing it with Even and Jim that same day. Later that afternoon, while putting some shingles on the studio, Jim came out and said, “Thom, when you finish up there come and see me in my office.” He offered me a deal that afternoon. I stayed there for 5 years and it was my most fruitful deal.

As a songwriter, Thom Schuyler composed tunes recorded by over 200 different artists.


16th Avenue

From the corners of the country 
From the cities and the farms 
With years and years of living 
Tucked up underneath their arms

They walk away from everything 
Just to see a dream come true 
So God bless the boys who make the noise 
On 16th Avenue

With a million dollar spirit 
And an old flattop guitar 
They drive to town with all they own 
In a hundred dollar car

‘Cause one time someone told them 
About a friend of a friend they knew 
Who owns, you know, a studio 
On 16th Avenue

Now some were born to money 
They’ve never had to say “Survive” 
And others swing a 9 pound hammer 
Just to stay alive

There’s cowboys drunks and Christians 
Mostly white and black and blue 
They’ve all dialed the phone collect to home 
From 16th Avenue

Ah, but then one night in some empty room
Where no curtains ever hung 
Like a miracle some golden words 
Rolled off of someone’s tongue

And after years of being nothing 
They’re all looking right at you 
And for a while they’ll go in style 
On 16th Avenue

It looked so uneventful 
So quiet and discreet 
But a lot of lives where changed 
Down on that little one way street

‘Cause they walk away from everything 
Just to see a dream come true 
So God bless the boys who make the noise 
On 16th Avenue

Author: Badfinger (Max)

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

8 thoughts on “Lacy J. Dalton – 16th Avenue”

  1. It almost has the sound of soldiers in the trenches, which they are. God bless those with the passion to write music. Without it the world would be a very grim place indeed. Never heard this song before but have heard Lacy J Dalton. I love her voice!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey Bad, it just happens due to the alphabetical ordering of my music library that this song has popped up for me to post this Friday. Do you mind if I reblog your post here since you write about it so well? No way could do I do the song justice like you have.


  3. Reblogged this on Observation Blogger and commented:
    Today’s next song from the music library collection is ’16th Avenue’ – Lacy J Dalton. I came across it reading Badfinger’s Powerpop blog which features a dizzying array of excellent music from various genres. He has kindly allowed me to reblog his original post since I knew I couldn’t do the song justice like he had. Also I believe ‘Bad’ is from Nashville where the famous 16th avenue is located.


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