Hoyt Axton – Della And The Dealer

I cannot remember the first time I heard this song but I heard it alot growing up. The imagery of the lyrics is a lot of fun. It’s country but it’s also a little rock and a little blues. It’s hard to classify many of his songs although he was mainly known for being a country singer and songwriter. He also ventured out into garage rock, folk, and hard rock with his songs.

Hoyt Axton:  “I’m one of those fringe dudes: half folkie, half hippie, half Okie. My input has been very eclectic. I was always surrounded by all kinds of music, as my family moved around the country: jazz, classical, gospel, whatever… the influences enter from a lot of directions.”

Hoyt Axton was a talented artist. He was a singer, songwriter, and actor. We all know his songs. Joy To The World, Never Been To Spain, Snowblind Friend, The Pusher, The No, No Song, and When the Morning Comes. He was also in a number of movies, commercials, and tv shows. The movie I remember him most for was Gremlins. Axton always came off as incredibly likable.

Hoyt Axton’s mom could write songs herself…Mae Boren Axton, a songwriter, co-wrote the classic rock “Heartbreak Hotel”, which became a major hit for Elvis and an iconic rock song. Now that is a cool mom.

Axton had his big hits with other people singing his songs. His composition “Joy to the World”, as performed by Three Dog Night, was #1 on the charts for six straight weeks in 1971, making it the top hit of the year. He named his record label Jeremiah after the bullfrog mentioned in the song.

Axton had an addiction problem early in his career. He wrote songs about it like Snowblind Friend, The Pusher, and The No No Song which Ringo covered.

There are a lot of theories about this song. The dog and cat are real people. He is being purposely vague as they were all involved in some shady dealings…hanging out with what is obviously a drug dealer and murderer, but the narrator is no snitch….he’s a “cool cat.” There are a lot of theories about the song…it’s a fun story song regardless.

This song was released in 1979 and peaked at #17 on the Billboard Country Charts. It was on his album A Rusty Old Halo that peaked at #27 in the Billboard Country Charts and #14 in the Canada Album Charts.

Hoyt Axton passed away on October 26, 1999, at the age of 61.

On November 1, 2007, Axton and his mother were both inducted posthumously into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame in Muskogee, Oklahoma.

Tomorrow I have another Axton song but not with Hoyt singing.

Della and the Dealer

It was Della and the Dealer and a dog named Jake
And a cat named Kalamazoo.
Left the city in a pick up truck,
Gonna make some dreams come true.

Yea, they rolled out west where the wild sunsets
And the coyote bays at the moon.
Della and the Dealer and a dog named Jake
and a cat named Kalamazoo

If that cat could talk what tales he’d tell
About Della and the Dealer and the dog
as well
But the cat was cool, and he never said a mumblin word.

Down Tucson way there’s a small cafe
Where they play a little cowboy tune.
And the guitar picker was a friend of mine
By the name of Randy Boone.

Yea, Randy played her a sweet love song
And Della got a fire in her eye
The Dealer had a knife and the dog had a gun
and the cat had a shot of Rye.

If that cat could talk what tales he’d tell
About Della and the Dealer and the dog
as well
But the cat was cool, and he never said a mumblin word.

Yea, the dealer was a killer,
He was evil and mean
And he was jealous of the fire in her eyes.

He snorted his coke through a century note
And swore that Boone would die.

The stage was set when the lights went out.
There was death in Tucson town.
Two shadows ran for the bar back door
And one stayed on the ground

If that cat could talk what tales he’d tell
About Della and the Dealer and the dog
as well
But the cat was cool, and he never said a mumblin word.

Two shadows ran from the bar that night
And dog and cat ran too.
And the tires got hot on the pick up truck
As down the road they flew.

It was Della and her lover and a dog named Jake
And a cat named Kalamazoo.
Left Tucson in a pick-up truck
Gonna make some dreams come true.

If that cat could talk what tales he’d tell
About Della and the Dealer and the dog
as well
But the cat was cool, and he never said a mumblin word.


Author: Badfinger (Max)

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

27 thoughts on “Hoyt Axton – Della And The Dealer”

  1. I liked his tunes, and his mother’s as well. He passed much to young. He used to play a lot around Dallas in the late 70s but I didn’t see him live. I didn’t know he wrote “The Pusher” the big hit for Steppenwolf.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved this song. He was so talented but didn’t ever really stand out or ride a wave of hype. I knew he wrote some famous songs, but not that his mom wrote Heartbreak Hotel. What a legacy.


    1. I liked him also. I remember him more for his acting at times. Him and his mom were some special songwriters. Heartbreak Hotel and Joy To The World… that’s pretty good!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. No he should have stayed out of Tucson… I should never try interpreting songs again… that’s what videos did. This one is great for the imagination.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Kind of a cool tune. I had known “Joy to the World” and the “No No Song” but had no idea they were written by Hoyt Axton. Or that he penned “The Pusher” for Steppenwolf. Or that his mom co-wrote “Heartbreak Hotel”, one of my all-time favorite Elvis tunes. Very interesting stuff!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My younger sister once invited a ‘boyfriend’ from South of England come stay with us. They’d met on our family holiday.
    We never hit it off, me and him. Apart from him being a bit of a ****, I was into Punk – he was into Hoyt Axton, some geezer with weird name i’d never heard of.
    Forty-five years later, times change, tastes change. I still like Punk of course, but my attitude to Country music and Hoyt Axton have changed right around.

    (My sister’s short term boyfriend is probably still a **** though. ) 😉 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well at least he was a short term boyfriend… short term being the key words. Hard to believe this is the same guy that wrote The Pusher and Snowblind Friend.


  5. Pretty catchy little tune cleverly written. Sounded quite country but that’s ok with me. His writing somehow reminds me of Shel Silverstein’s…same wit in lyrics & for some reason I can’t discern this actual tune reminded me of ‘The Unicorn’

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is the one I wondered if you heard before….I remember this one back then…that made me think of his appearance on WKRP


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