John Prine sheds light on the story behind “You Never Even Called Me By My Name” in newly released archival footage. Shared by Oh Boy Records, the undated performance sees the late singer-songwriter peel back the curtain on the song popularized by David Allen Coe.
First appearing on Coe’s 1975 album Once Upon A Rhyme, “You Never Even Called Me By My Name” is considered by many a quintessential country song. Credit for the lyrics is attributed solely to Steve Goodman, but the singing mailman from Maywood, IL played his own part in the song’s creation.
The story goes back to New York City’s Roosevelt Hotel in 1971 when Goodman and Prine were sharing a room. Prine went out for the night, while Goodman hung back.
“I come in pretty late, and there was this one little light in the corner and Steve was sitting there writing something on this hotel stationary,” Prine recalled. “So I looked over his shoulder and the words were ‘Well, 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 said ‘But you don’t have to call me darlin’, darlin’ / You never even called me by my name.’ So Steve and I started laughing and we just decided to have some fun with it, and this is what came out.”
Watch John Prine divulge the history of “You Never Even Called Me By My Name”.
John Prine – “You Never Even Called Me By My Name” (Live)