JOE SOUTH – Don’t It Make You Want to Go Home? – (Capitol) – 1970

Joe South - Dont It Make You Want To Go Home

I'm excited.

Check my other comments in relation to Joe South's career and musical pedigree but I will say here that Joe's music fits into a genre that emerged in the late 1960s and which subsequently was called "white southern soul" or "country soul".

This genre was popularised (mainly) by Elvis Presley, Joe South and Tony Joe White but it can be found in contemporaneous recordings by Glen Campbell, Jerry Lee Lewis, John Hartford, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bobbie Gentry, Jerry Reed, Billy Joe Royal, Charlie Rich, Jeannie C Riley, Delaney & Bonnie, Bob Dylan and others.

The music was pop, country and rock but also soulful. Occasionally (perhaps because of the times) it was slightly trippy (and gently psychedelic). Lyrically the music leaned to introspection whilst also displaying some cynicism to social mores.

Joe South was the pinnacle of that writing style within the genre. On this, his second album, the liner notes (written by an unknown person) refer to that postion: "Joe believes that today, popular music is much more than entertainment. More, even, than a mirror of our times. It has become steadily more important, until now it is probably the most profound and significant means of communication between people. The ideas it contains and communicates are the dominant force in the development of tomorrow. In fact, popular music is making history. Literally. This is his viewpoint"

Musically, Joe South was more to the pop side of the country soul equation though his music is singularly distinctive. He (perhaps as a result of being a producer and session musician) liked to try new things in the studio. Accordingly, his music is quirky and occasionally jarring especially when a country pop song is followed by a psych trip out song. It was, perhaps, a reflection of the times but I'm sure it must have thrown off some people who bought his LPs.

People want a consistency of style in what they listen to. More often than not they want the album to sound like the hit single.

Joe South was never so obliging.

And, that is part of his genius. He has his sound but he likes mixing things up so that every time, you (or rather I) hear a new Joe South album I'm not sure what I will get.

His albums capture the stew that was mid 60s pop craft and gospel, late 60s rootsy country and psychedelia. The result is a perfect blend of tuneful melodies, reflective lyrics, funky guitars, regional accents, and soulful vocal performances.

It will be frequently great, sometimes magnificent but always, even at it's worst, consistently interesting.

Without a doubt, Joe South is the most important lost artist of the late 1960s, early 1970s.

Produced, arranged and written by Joe South.

Tracks (best in italics)

  • Clock Up On The Wall – A good tune with some good lyrics reflecting on a love ended. There is a (little of) the sound of the late 60s Beach Boys here. In fact if you could picture Elvis singing for the Beach Boys it wouldn't be much different to this. There are some interesting studio tricks in here also. Excellent.
  • Bittersweet – a good pop tune with a melancholy (though not downbeat) point of view.
  • Shelter – another good pop song with a gospel chorus backing.
  • What Makes Lovers Hurt One Another? – a nice bass line with another gospel chorus. South's voice is almost drowned out as the song progresses which I think is intentional, as if, his voice and the chorus are the lovers fighting with each other.
  • Before It's Too Late – very late 60s in theme, "come on everybody let's get together" is the chorus …before "before it's too late" repeats and the song gets trippier.
  • Children  – some good lyrics about children and the modern age. Children being both kids and adults and adults who were kids …sharp.
  • Walk A Mile In My Shoes –  This is the song that introduced me to Joe South. I loved the Elvis Presley version (recorded by Elvis on 19 February 1970 and released on the "On Stage" (1970) album) and decided to tack down the original. Elvis is version was Vegas (and great) so this is a little more low key but the song is catchy with some very sharp (and pointed) lyrics.
  • Be A Believer –  a mid tempo lush ballad with gospel overtures.
  • A Million Miles Away – a funky swamp blues instrumental. This is just South and the band having fun. Picture Jerry Reed on acid and it may sound a little like this.
  • Don't It Make You Want To Go Home – A magnificent song with great lyrics. The narrator of the song wants to go home (home being as much his youth as a place) and yearns for it but finds that things have changed when he does return …

                        But there's a six-lane highway down by the creek

                        Where I went skinny-dippin' as a child

                        And a drive-in show where the meadows used to grow

                        And the strawberries used to grow wild


                       There's a drag strip down by the riverside

                        Where my grandma's cow used to graze

                        Now the grass don't grow and the river don't flow

                        Like it did in my childhood days


                        Don't it make you wanna go home?

                        Don't it make you wanna go home?

                        All God's children get weary when they roam

                        Don't it make you wanna, wanna go home?

And …

Excellent …. I'm keeping it.

Chart Action



1970  Walk A Mile In My Shoes  The Billboard Hot 100  #12 

1970  Walk A Mile In My Shoes  Country Singles  #56 

1970  Walk A Mile In My Shoes  Adult Contemporary  #3 

1970  Why Does a Man Do What He Has to Do #118


1970  Don't It Make You Want To Go Home?  Country Albums  #39 

1970  Don't It Make You Want To Go Home?  The Billboard 200  #60 




Clock Up On The Wall

mp3 attached



Before It's Too Late


Walk A Mile In My Shoes

A Million Miles Away

Don't It Make You Want To Go Home

mp3 attached








  • Musicians: Backing Vocals  – Pee Wee Parks / Backing Vocals, Piano, Keyboards and Other Keyboard Instruments  – Barbara South / Bass, Backing Vocals – Eddie Farrell / Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals – Tommy South / Engineer, Mixed By – Bob "Tub" Langford
  • Strangely, the LP was credited to Joe South alone, whereas the single showed Joe South and The Believers.
  • There is an Australia compilation from 1984 (EMI Capitol SCA 260318) which has the same front and back sleeves and album title but is, actually, a compilation made up of all the tracks from the original album (minus "Shelter" and "A Million Miles Away" ) and adding another 12 songs.
  • Elvis trivia: Elvis recorded four lines of the song "Don't It Make You Wanna Go Home" live in concert, on Wednesday, 29 July 1970 following a "Little Sister/Get Back" medley.


About Franko

Hi, I'm just a person with a love of music, a lot of records and some spare time. My opinions are comments not reviews and are mine so don't be offended if I have slighted your favourite artist. I have listened to a lot of music and I don't pretend to be impartial. You can contact me on though I would rather you left a comment. I also sell music at Cheers
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