To younger fans, Bill Anderson should be a familiar name as Jamey Johnson's songwriting buddy ("The Guitar Song," George Strait's "Give It Away") and a recurring Brad Paisley collaborator, most notably as co-writer of "Whiskey Lullaby."
His talents as a wordsmith date back to the same late '50s crop of songwriters that included Willie Nelson, Mel Tillis and Roger Miller. Beginning with the 1959 solo hit "That's What It's Like to Be Lonesome," his soft-spoken delivery and country boy charm earned its own following.
As the singer and writer of numerous great songs from an ongoing career, including these top 10 all-time favorites, Anderson was a sure-fire selection for the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Songwriter's Hall of Fame, the Nashville Songwriter's Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry.
10. "Liars One, Believers Zero"
Anderson's storytelling talent and trademark delivery wasn't "too country" for '70s Nashville, as heard on this single off the underrated album Peanuts and Diamonds and Other Jewels.
9. "Wild Weekend"
This fun, upbeat, guitar-driven song finds Anderson slipping around behind everyone's back for an out-of-town Friday through Sunday fling.
8. "Sometimes" (With Mary Lou Turner)
Like Porter Wagoner and other contemporaries, Anderson found chart success as a duet partner. While his work with Jan Howard--the singer of Anderson's "Bad Seed"--is superb, the top duet worth mentioning is this number one hit from 1976.
7. "City Lights"
Although it's better associated with fellow Hall of Fame inductees Ray Price, Connie Smith and Ronnie Milsap, Anderson cut an amazing version of this song he wrote at age 19.
6. "The Tip of My Fingers"
While most of Anderson's better songs tell sentimental tales of simpler times, his vocal delivery sounds downright carnal on this lustful number and the singles "I Love You Drops," "Double S," "I Can't Wait Any Longer," "World of Make Believe" and others.
5. "The Corner of My Life"
Although the song specifies that it's about the narrator's life, the message about having someone in your corner no matter what could apply to a best friend, parent, sibling or anyone else who's just a text message away.
4. "Bright Lights and Country Music"
Anderson knew a spot on Broadway that can a cure a freshly broken heart. After all, "honky tonks were made for men with women on their minds."
3. "Po' Folks"
This legendary single spoke for all of the Southern baby boomers raised with numerous siblings in sharecropping families. Like characters in a Dolly Parton song, these po' folks didn't know they had it so rough.
2. "Mama Sang a Song"
Anderson also spoke for country folks of all ages who remember their Christian mother singing hymns around the house, even when times were bad.
Beyond being one of his best-written songs, Anderson's soft delivery and spoken word verses from "Still" defined the "Whisperin' Bill" persona that still thrills live audiences.