Down In The Boondocks

Album: Down In The Boondocks (1965)
Charted: 38 9


  • This song, though it only climbed to #9, was Billy Joe Royal's biggest career hit. He was on the Billboard chart with three other Top-40 songs in the '60s. It has become a staple of oldies' radio since then, popular for its clear, distinct lyrics and clean guitar sound. The lyrics are easy to identify with, at least for us working folks.

    "Boondocks" is a word we've adopted for any rural area, the same as "out in the sticks." But it was ported to the US through American servicemen stationed in the Philippines - there it comes from a Tagalog word meaning "mountain." Even in the Philippines, a "boondock" means an uncultured or illiterate person from a rural area.
  • Billy Joe Royal is a Baby Boomer musician who's had a combination career - pop-rock in the '60s, country & western since the '80s. While mainstream audiences wonder if he's disappeared since the '60s, country fans know his chart success starts with 1985's "Burned Like a Rocket" at #10 on the US Country charts, and he had over a dozen more Top 40 charting singles there well into the '90s.
  • "Down In The Boondocks" was written and produced by Joe South, a country/folk singer who had a substantial career in his own right. You'll probably know him from either his 1969 hit "Games People Play" or his 1970 hit "Walk a Mile In My Shoes."
  • You can hear the American deep south in every syllable of Royal's vocals; he hails from Valdosta, Georgia, from where you can just about pitch a 'gator at the Florida border.
  • Kenny Loggins covered this song for his 1978 album, Nightwatch.

Comments: 8

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyPer:
    Billy Joe Royal died in his sleep Tuesday (October 6th) in his North Carolina home at the age of 73...
    Born in Valdosta Georgia and raised in Marionetta, he made a name for himself first on his uncle's radio program and later on the Georgia Jubilee-- both while in his early teens...
    While performing in Savannah, he roomed for a while with Joe South, who asked him to record a demo of one of his tunes called "Down In The Boondocks" The demo was successful enough to land Billy Joe a contract with Columbia Records, who released the song as a single, reaching #9 in 1965...
    Other tunes by Joe followed, including "I Knew You When" (#14-1965) and "Hush" (#52-1967). He also is remembered for "Cherry Hill Park" (#15-1969) and a dozen other charted pop hits, before his star began to fade. Then Billy Joe went on to a successful country career, including "Tell It Like It Is" and "Till I Can't Take It Anymore"-- both of which were #2 on the Country charts...
    May he R.I.P.
  • Roann from Apalachin, Ny10/06/2015 - Rest in Peace, Billy Joe Royal. You were a great singer and you will be missed.

    Billy Joe Royal, a 1960s pop and 1990s country star, has died. He was 73.
    Ronnie McDowell, Royal's tour partner, said the singer died in his sleep on Tuesday at his North Carolina home.

    Read more:
  • Babbling Babette from Tulsa OkI remember buying this single at Woolworths in 1965 & it was the last copy on the shelves! I nearly had to fight another girl for it, but I got it & it was mine. Ahh kids will be foolish!! Wasn't Billy Joe on Columbia Records? I can almost envision that red label right now. I loved his records. I even followed his country music career. He was a good hitmaker. I also bought his hit, "Cherry Hill Park." A very strange song. My boyfriend in high school at the time told me it was really about a girl being gangbanged. I never believed that idiot. "Down In The Boondocks" was more straightforward about a poor boy/rich girl relationship under stress. As I recall, some Tulsa AM radio stations had it at#1. I never referred to Billboard charts back then. Now, go in peace & sin no more. lol !!
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn June 20th 1966, Billy Joe Royal performed "Heart's Desire" on the ABC-TV program 'Where The Action Is'...
    The song had entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart on May 15th, 1966 at position #91; it stayed on the chart for three weeks, and on its 2nd and 3rd week it was at #88, needless to that was its peak position on the Top 100...
    Between 1965 and 1978 he had nine Top 100 records; one made the Top 10, "Down in the Boondocks", which peaked at #9 {for 1 week} on August 22nd, 1965...
    He did better on the country chart; between 1985 and 1992 he had fifteen hits on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart; six made the Top 10 with his covered version of Aaron Neville's "Tell It Like It Is" being his biggest hit, it peaked at #2 in 1989...
    Billy Joe Royal celebrated his 73rd birthday two months ago on April 3rd, 2015.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn November 6th 1965, Billy Joe Royal performed "Down In the Boondocks" on the ABC-TV program 'Shindig!'; thirty-five days earlier on October 2nd he had also performed the song on 'Shindig! {See next post below}...
    On the same Nov. 6th 'Shindig!' show he performed "I've Got to Be Somebody"; and twenty-two days later on November 28th, 1968 it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #83, then 6 weeks later on January 9th, 1966 it peaked at #38 {for 1 week} and spent 8 weeks on the Top 100.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn October 2nd 1965, Billy Joe Royal performed "Down in the Boondocks" on the ABC-TV program 'Shindig!'...
    On the same 'Shindig!' show he also performed "I Knew You When"; at the time the song was at #55 on the Top 100, and on October 31st, 1965 it peaked at #14 for 2 weeks...
    {See next post below}...
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn June 27th 1965, "Down In The Boondocks" by Billy Joe Royal entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #95; and on August 22nd, 1965 it peaked at #9 (for 1 week) and spent 13 weeks on the Top 100...
    And on August 9th, 1965 it reached #1 (for 1 week) on the Canadian RPM Top Singles chart (his next release, "I Knew You When", also peaked at #1 in Canada)...
    After his 9th and last record to make the Top 100, "Under the Boardwalk" in 1978, he then had fourteen records between 1985 and 1992 make Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart, with two of them reaching #2 ("Tell It Like It Is" and "Till I Can't Take It Anymore", both in 1989)...
    Billy Joe celebrated his 72nd birthday two months ago on April 3rd, 2014.
  • Steve from Whittier, CaI'd put "Cherry Hill Park" from four years later as Billy J.Royal's other big hit. By the way I'm the same Steve from Whittier, who used to be on here, I had login problems [not that it matters to the readers.:)]
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