A Little Bit Country, A Little Bit Rock 'N Roll

Album: Featuring Songs From Their Television Show (1976)
  • For Donny and Marie Osmond, their signature tune "A Little Bit Country, A Little Bit Rock 'N Roll" was a lighthearted take on sibling rivalry. From 1975 to 1979 the famous brother and sister hosted the popular ABC variety show Donny & Marie, and the song was a fixture of the series. It introduced a weekly segment that featured Donny singing a rock tune in opposition to Marie singing a country song.
  • This was written by Marty Cooper, a singer-songwriter who walked a fine line between country and rock 'n roll. When Nashville told him he was too rock for country and Los Angeles told him he was too country for rock, he poured his frustration into song. But the struggle was no longer about music; it was about romance. "I wrote a love song," he explained to The Tennessean. "It's a 'You're country and I'm rock 'n' roll, and you're crazy, and we're smooth and we're sweet. We love each other, we get married, and we have kids."
  • So how did Cooper's opposites-attract love song become the theme for a brother-sister duo? He had played the song for Mike Curb, the founder of Curb Records who also happened to produce for Donny & Marie. When it came time to shoot the pilot of the variety show, Curb remembered the song and asked Cooper if he could use it. "So they put it in the pilot... selling the show," the songwriter recalled. "And it did, and it became the centerpiece of their show. Except, they're brother and sister."

    That little detail changed everything: "Can't have babies, can't rock all night, can't have any of the, you know, sex in it. So it changed the song forever, because we changed it."
  • Donny was the breakout star of The Osmonds, a family band of brothers who had success in the early '70s as an R&B/pop group with hits like "One Bad Apple" and "Crazy Horses." A teen heartthrob, Donny forged a solo career with hit covers of Paul Anka's "Puppy Love" and Steve Lawrence's "Go Away Little Girl." Meanwhile, Marie - the only sister among eight brothers - found fame as a country singer with the chart-topping single "Paper Roses" in 1973. So it makes sense that Marie is "a little bit country." But is Donny really "a little bit rock 'n roll"? According to him, yes.

    He explained in a 2018 interview with Tulsa World: "If you really get down to the basics of the band the Osmond Brothers, it was rock and roll. 'Crazy Horses,' for instance, Ozzy Osbourne told me that was one of his favorite rock and roll songs. So even though I was recording the teeny bopper stuff with 'Puppy Love,' I was a part of this rock and roll band, so it was a natural fit when that song came to us when we started The Donny and Marie Show - 'A Little Bit Country, A Little Bit Rock and Roll.' It was just like it was meant to be. It was like it was written for us."
  • Despite it being one of their best-known songs, Donny & Marie never released this as a single. It was, however, included on their 1976 album, Featuring Songs From Their Television Show.
  • This was referenced on the sitcom NewsRadio in the 1995 episode "The Cane." Matthew tries to defuse an argument with Joe by calling himself "a little bit country" and claiming Joe is "a little bit rock 'n roll."
  • In the season 10 Friends episode "The One Where The Stripper Cries," siblings Ross and Monica start singing this song after admitting they always wanted to be like Donny & Marie.
  • This inspired the 2003 South Park episode "I'm A Little Bit Country." The townspeople are split over the impending Iraq War and sing a version of the song reflecting their different opinions. The conservative pro-war demonstrators are "a little bit country" while the liberal anti-war activists are "a little bit rock 'n roll."
  • Cooper recorded this for his 1979 album, If You Were A Singer. It was also covered by Col Joye & Little Pattie in 1977 and John Wesley Harding & Kelly Hogan in 1992.

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