John Prine Co-Wrote David Allan Coe’s Hit “You Never Even Called Me By My Name” But Didn’t Want His Name On The Credits

John Prine
John Prine

Why would you not want your name on the perfect country and western song?

David Allan Coe’s hit “You Never Even Called Me By My Name” is a classic. And pretty much everybody knows the story behind it because, well, he tell us in the song:

“Well a friend of mine named Steve Goodman wrote that song, and he told me it was the perfect country and western song. I wrote him back a letter and I told him it was not the perfect country and western song, because he hadn’t said anything at all about mama, or trains, or trucks, or prison, or getting drunk.

Well he sat down and wrote another verse to the song and he sent it to me, and after reading it, I realized my friend had written the perfect country and western song.”

(I tried to write that out from memory without looking up the song. Got pretty close before I had to cheat).

But it turns out that wasn’t the full story behind the song, because Goodman actually had a co-writer on the song: The late, great John Prine.

Prine and Goodman wrote the song back in 1971, when they were staying in a hotel room together and Prine got back to the room after a night of partying while Goodman stayed behind to write.

As Prine explained:

“I looked over his shoulder and the words were, ‘It was all that I could do to keep from crying, sometimes it seemed so useless to remain.’

And I was feeling pretty good, so I jumped up on the bed and acted like I had an imaginary fiddle and I said, ‘You don’t have to call me darlin’, darlin’, but you never even call me by my name.’

So Steve and I started laughing and we just decided to have some fun with it.”

And he also said that by the time, they were pretty messed up on a “special cocktail punch” that they mixed up using pretty much everything in the hotel room’s bar.

Well the result was a song that Prine didn’t exactly want to put his name on, because he thought it was more of a “novelty song” and was worried that it would “offend the country music community.”

Goodman decided to release the song himself, but it didn’t become a hit until David Allan Coe released his version in 1975.

Though Prine wasn’t credited as a songwriter, Goodman made sure that he was still paid for his work (despite Prine refusing to accept any royalties from the song): Goodman used part of his royalties to buy Prine a 1942 Wurlitzer jukebox, which his family later donated to the Country Music Hall of Fame after he passed away.

So there you have it: The undeniable proof that John Prine wrote the perfect country and western song.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock