Long before her iconic 1996 performance of Leslie Gore's "You Don't Own Me" with First Wives Club co-stars Diane Keaton and Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn cut an overlooked country album in 1972 with the help of arrangers Buck Owens, Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner and accompaniment by Owens' backing band, The Buckaroos.
Owens arranged Hawn's cover of Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys' "Uncle Pen," which is one of two album cuts on Goldie (Reprise Records) featuring his Buckaroos. Something about the background vocals screams folk revival, making this a cross between classic bluegrass and the rock-adjacent artists that first pointed Hawn's target audience to the work of Monroe.
The Tampa Times' reviewer Rick Norcross described the debut album by the former Laugh-In "dumb blonde" turned Oscar-winner for 1969's Cactus Flower as holding "more surprises than a traveling salesman's diary."
Norcross selected "Uncle Pen" as the album's finest track, lauding how "Goldie vocally handles the tune with little twang but just enough country influence to make it real."
Other covers on Hawn's country album include Parton's "My Blue Tears," Van Morrison's "I Wanna Woo You," Joni Mitchell's "Carey," Travis Edmonson's "Cloudy Summer Afternoon" and a Buckaroos-accompanied version of Bob Dylan's "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight."
"That she would even attempt to put together such a collection of different types of tunes speaks even more highly of her initiative," Norcross concludes. "One gets the idea that these are really the songs that she enjoys recording the most and not a pre-arranged program some producer set up for her first LP."
"Uncle Pen" Lyrics:
Oh the people would come from far away
They'd dance all night till the break of day
When the caller hollered "do-se-do"
You knew Uncle Pen was ready to go
Late in the evenin about sundown
High on the hill and above the town
Uncle Pen played the fiddle lord how it would ring
You could hear it talk, you could hear it sing
He played an old piece he called "Soldier's Joy"
And the one called "The Boston Boy"
The greatest of all was "Jenny Lynn"
To me that's where the fiddle begins
I'll never forget that mournful day
When Uncle Pen was called away
They hung up his fiddle, they hung up his bow
They knew it was time for him to go