On this day in 1936, the great songwriter and performer Roger Miller was born. It is best to consider him a songwriter. He was amazingly prolific and although I like his casual singing style, there is nothing especially notable about it. It did, however, go well with his songs. But it is his writing that really shines. He did a whole lot with very little. His songs are rarely more than I-IV-V numbers, but as has been shown for centuries, much can be done for that. Miller created very smooth and memorable melodies.
If it weren’t for one song, I probably wouldn’t be writing about him. That wouldn’t take anything away from him as a talent. He was a superb songwriter. He not only wrote a number of hit songs for himself, he did so for a number of other artists as well. That’s partly because he got his start as a songwriter, but that was also true of him later. And today, he’s come back into favor. What’s not to like?
The one song that really sets him apart, however, is also his biggest hit, “King of the Road.” It’s like On the Road in two minutes with far more to say. It’s interesting that that a song from 1964 that hearkens back to the Great Depression is probably as relevant today as ever. Except, of course, it is hard to have such a good attitude these days. Things are getting worse now and pretty much no one pays union dues. Instead, they’re on food stamps.
Happy birthday Roger Miller!