The Letter That Johnny Walker Read

  • songfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • This song is about a guy named Johnny Walker, who unsurprisingly, has a drinking problem. While sitting at the bar enjoying his namesake beverage (Johnny Walker red label scotch), he gets a letter from his wife, asking him to come home and take care of his family - that's the letter Johnny Walker read.
  • Chris Frayne, who is the brother of George Frayne (better known as Commander Cody), came up with the idea for this song. He brought it to Ray Benson and LeRoy Preston of Asleep at the Wheel, and the three of them put the song together.

    They recorded a demo and sent it to Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton, hoping they would record the song. They never heard back from them, so Benson and Preston recorded it with Asleep at the Wheel, who at the time were signed to Epic Records. They had little success on Epic, and the label was not encouraged by this track, so they dropped the group. Capitol Records picked them up and released "The Letter That Johnny Walker Read" as their first single - it became their biggest hit, going to #10 on the Country chart.
  • The spoken word section in this song is Ray Benson imitating Porter Wagoner.
  • In our interview with Ray Benson, he said: "Part of why I love country music, especially songwriting, is that it has the most wonderful play on words. My favorite is Roger Miller's 'The Last Word In Lonesome Is Me.' That's a great play on words. So 'The Letter That Johnny Walker Read' was the same thing and we made a great country & western song out of it."
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