Little Green Apples

Album: A Tender Look At Love (1968)
Charted: 19 39
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  • In this understated country ballad, Roger Miller sings about the little ways his wife expresses her love for him - from simply asking how he's feeling to making time out of her busy day to have lunch with him. The title is based on the saying, "Sure as God made little green apples," which is upended in the lyrics to prove his wife's devotion:

    And if that's not lovin' me
    Then all I've gotta say
    Is God didn't make little green apples
    And it don't rain in Indianapolis in the summertime
  • This was written by Nashville songwriter Bobby Russell, who also wrote the hit "Honey" for Bobby Goldsboro. A couple years earlier, Russell and fellow songwriter Buzz Cason formed their own publishing company, Rising Sons. Cason told Billboard that the two songs were "an experiment in composing" after they recognized that there was a market for slice-of-life stories with more "meat" in the lyrics.
  • Miller, who typically wrote his own hits, such as "Dang Me" and "King Of The Road," was the first to record "Little Green Apples," which went to #6 on the Country chart (his last Top 10 entry on the tally), #39 on the Hot 100 (his final Top 40 entry), and #5 on the Easy Listening chart. His version earned Russell a Grammy Award for Best Country Song in 1969.
  • In 1968, the same year Miller released his version, R&B singer O.C. Smith had a huge hit with his soul-style take, augmented by a tinkling piano and female backing vocals. It went to #2 on the Hot 100, held off from the top spot by The Beatles' "Hey Jude."

    Smith, who was Count Basie's vocalist in the early '60s, notched his first solo hit earlier that year with "The Son Of Hickory Holler's Tramp" from his Hickory Holler Revisited album, which also featured the track "Little Green Apples." When a Detroit disc jockey played the album cut, the overwhelming response prompted Steve Popovich, the head of promotion at Columbia, to release Smith's cover in place of his existing single, "Main Street Mission."

    Smith's version earned Russell another Grammy in 1969 for Song Of The Year, besting the song's chart rival "Hey Jude," as well as " Mrs. Robinson," "Harper Valley P.T.A.," and Russell's own "Honey."
  • "Tennessee Waltz" singer Patti Page recorded this for her 1968 album, Gentle On My Mind. Her version, which barely broke the Hot 100 at #96, was her final entry on the chart. It also peaked at #12 on the Easy Listening chart.
  • Many other artists have covered this, including Frank Sinatra, Burl Ives, Johnny Mathis, The Temptations, Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Tony Bennett, and Ben E. King, among others.

    Actress/singer Vicki Lawrence recorded it for her 1973 album, The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia. Lawrence was married to Bobby Russell at the time, who also wrote the album's hit title track.

    Robbie Williams and Kelly Clarkson also recorded it as a duet for Williams' 2013 album, Swings Both Ways. Their version went to #25 on the Mexico Airplay chart.
  • O.C. Smith's version was used on the TV series Aquarius in the 2016 episode, "Why Don't We Do It In The Road."


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