Honey (Bobby Goldsboro song)

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Single by Bobby Goldsboro
from the album Honey
ReleasedFebruary 17, 1968[1]
RecordedJanuary 30, 1968[1]
StudioRCA Studio B, Nashville[1]
LabelUnited Artists
Songwriter(s)Bobby Russell
Producer(s)Bob Montgomery
Bobby Goldsboro singles chronology
"Pledge of Love"
"Autumn of My Life"

"Honey", also known as "Honey (I Miss You)", is a song written by Bobby Russell. He first produced it with former Kingston Trio member Bob Shane, who was the first to release the song. It was then given to American singer Bobby Goldsboro, who recorded it for his 1968 album of the same name, originally titled Pledge of Love. Goldsboro's version was a hit, reaching No. 1 in several countries.[2]

In the song, the narrator mourns his absent wife, and the song begins with him looking at a tree in their garden, remembering how "it was just a twig" on the day she planted it. Only in the third verse is it finally revealed that "one day...the angels came," and that his wife had died.

Composition and recordings[edit]

"Honey" was written by Bobby Russell, who took inspiration from a tree in his front yard, when he noticed how big it had grown while he was writing the song one night. From this came the first line of the song, "See the tree, how big it's grown ...".[3] He song was first recorded by Bob Shane of The Kingston Trio, produced by Russell himself.[3]

Before Shane's recording was released, Goldsboro was recommended the song by Larry Henley of the Newbeats. However, Goldsboro thought the recording by Shane was over-produced with excessive drumming, and the lyrics overpowered by the production.[3][4] Goldsboro at that time was in need of songs to record, he and his producer Bob Montgomery invited Russell over to play a few of his songs, which included "Honey". Goldsboro. After listening to Russell's simpler rendition accompanied by just a guitar, Goldsboro became interested and asked if he could cover the song.[4] Russell was initially reluctant as Shane's version was due to be released, but eventually agreed that Goldsboro could record it as long as his single did not compete with Shane's record. They agreed to delay the release of Goldsboro's recording by four weeks.[5][6]

The song was recorded on January 30, 1968,[6] with an arrangement by Don Tweedy. Goldsboro later attributed the success of the song to Tweedy's arrangement, and believed that Shane could have the same success with Tweedy's arrangement.[4] According to Goldsboro, the recording session for the song went so well that they got it right in one go. They then recorded it again just to see if anything was wrong, and it came out just as well, so they went with the first take.[5][7]


Goldsboro's recording of "Honey" was released as a single in the U.S. in February 1968. While Shane's recording reached only 104 on the Bubbling Under chart,[8] Goldsboro's version became successful very quickly, and reached the top of the chart in April. It spent five weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart (the 200th song to reach No. 1 on that chart), from April 7 to May 11, and three weeks atop Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart. It was preceded on the Billboard Hot 100 by "(Sittin' on) the Dock of the Bay" by Otis Redding and was followed by Archie Bell & the Drells' "Tighten Up". It was Goldsboro's only No. 1 hit on the Pop Singles and Country Singles charts and it was his first song to top the Adult Contemporary chart. Billboard ranked the record as the No. 3 song for 1968.[9]

"Honey" reached No. 2 on the UK Singles Chart on its initial release in 1968, and a re-release of the single in the United Kingdom in 1975 also reached No. 2.[10] In Australia, it spent four weeks at No. 1 on the ARIA Charts, replacing the Beatles' "Lady Madonna", and was the No. 6 song of 1968.[citation needed]


"Honey" was immediately and immensely popular. It sold a million copies in its first three weeks,[1]: BG4  the fastest-selling record in the history of United Artists.[11][12] It was certified gold on April 4, 1968, the same day that Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, an event that may have helped the sales of the single.[13] It was the best-selling record worldwide for 1968, even more popular than "Hey Jude".[1]: BG8  It was a crossover hit, topping both the pop and country singles charts, one of only three songs to do so in the 1960s.

The recording was nominated for two Grammy Awards in 1968: Record of the Year and Best Contemporary-Pop Vocal Performance, Male.[14] It was awarded Song of the Year in 1968 by the Country Music Association.[15]

Today the song is sometimes dismissed or disparaged, its contemporary popularity notwithstanding. It has been called "innocuous pop",[16] "classy schlock",[17] more "dreadful" than Pavarotti,[18] and, hyperbolically, the "Worst Song of All Time" by a writer whose ambivalent antipathy left him "transfixed" by "one of the biggest songs of the year."[19] In a 2011 poll, Rolling Stone readers ranked "Honey" the second-worst song of the 1960s.[20]

Other versions[edit]

Margaret Lewis released an answer version titled "Honey (I Missed You Too)", which reached No. 74 on the country chart in 1968.[21] A jazz instrumental version was recorded by The Distant Galaxy as a medley with the "Elvira Madigan theme", and it reached No. 39 on the AC chart the same year.[4] In 1969, O. C. Smith's version of the song reached No. 44 on the pop chart, while Orion recorded a version that reached No. 89 on the country chart in 1979.[4]

There were also non-English versions: in Italy, for example, the well-known author Daniele Pace wrote lyrics in the local language with the title Amore, mi manchi (My love, I miss you). This cover version was recorded by Bobby Solo, Peppino Gagliardi, the late Roman singer Giuliana Valci and by Goldsboro himself.

In Sweden Björn Ulvaeus, who later would achieve world success as a founding member of Abba, in 1968 recorded a version with Swedish lyrics by Stig Andersson. It was titled "Raring", which has the same meaning as "Honey".

Chart performance[edit]

Peter Lotis
Chart (1968) Peak
South Africa (Springbok)[43] 9
Distant Galaxy (medley)
Chart (1969) Peak
U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary 39
O.C. Smith
Chart (1969) Peak
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[44] 62
Canada Adult Contemporary (RPM)[45] 40
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[46] 44
U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary 19
U.S. Billboard R&B 44
U.S. Cash Box Top 100 64

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "You've come a long way Bobby.", Billboard, October 5, 1974. p. BG-20. Accessed December 3, 2015.
  2. ^ King, Grant (February 2, 2018). "Back in 1968, this was a No.1 Hit, "Honey" by Bobby Goldsboro". countrythangdaily.com.
  3. ^ a b c Bronson, Fred (1997). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits. Billboard Books. p. 239. ISBN 9780823076413.
  4. ^ a b c d e Hyatt, Wesley (1999). The Billboard Book of Adult Contemporary Hits. Billboard Books. p. 239. ISBN 9780823076932.
  5. ^ a b Bickhart, Jim (October 5, 1974). "Watching Bobby Grows: A Decade of Hits". Billboard. pp. BG-3, 4, 8.
  6. ^ a b Reynolds, Robert (2018). The Music of Bobby Goldsboro. p. 34. ISBN 9780359235711.
  7. ^ Bobby Goldsboro Interview (2011), Stuart Cameron. Event occurs at 13:05–14:20 – via Spotify.
  8. ^ "Bubbling Under The Hot 100". Billboard. April 13, 1968.
  9. ^ Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1968
  10. ^ a b "Bobby Goldsboro: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company.
  11. ^ "'Honey' Honey Single for UA". Billboard. April 13, 1968. Bobby Goldsboro's 'Honey' is the fastest selling single in United Artist's 10-year history... The disk has been certified by the RIAA as a million seller after only four weeks on the market.
  12. ^ "Bobby Goldsboro - The Website of Bobby Goldsboro!". bobbygoldsboro.com.
  13. ^ "Gold & Platinum - RIAA". RIAA.
  14. ^ "GRAMMY Award Results for Bobby Goldsboro". The Recording Academy. 19 November 2019.
  15. ^ "CMA Awards Show 1968". The Tennessean. February 7, 2014.
  16. ^ Perone, James E. (2012). The Album: A Guide to Pop Music's Most Provocative, Influential, and Important Creations [4 volumes]: A Guide to Pop Music's Most Provocative, Influential, and Important Creations. The Praeger Singer-Songwriter Collection. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9780313379079. The charts were still sprinkled with such innocuous pop as Bobby Goldsboro's "Honey" ...
  17. ^ Christgau, Robert (November 1968). "Secular Music". Esquire. [Joe] Tex's record closes with Bobby Goldsboro's "Honey," the classiest schlock of the year and the epitome of what is called modern country.
  18. ^ Rodricks, Dan (May 8, 1991). "More melodies to shoosh kids". The Baltimore Sun.
  19. ^ Leopold, Todd (April 21, 2006). "The worst song of all time". CNN.com. Archived from the original on February 6, 2019. Retrieved August 18, 2019. I sat transfixed in my car as it played, as if I were in the midst of an accident. The simpering melody, the tearjerking lyrics: God, how I hated it. And yet I couldn't change the station.
  20. ^ Greene, Andy (November 16, 2011). "Readers' Poll: The Worst Songs of the Sixties". Rolling Stone.
  21. ^ "Billboard Hot Country Singles". Billboard. July 6, 1968. p. 36.
  22. ^ "Go-Set National Top 40". Go-Set. May 29, 1968.
  23. ^ "Bobby Goldsboro – Honey" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  24. ^ "Bobby Goldsboro – Honey" (in French). Ultratop 50.
  25. ^ "Bobby Goldsboro – Honey" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  26. ^ "Top RPM Country Tracks: Issue 5736." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  27. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 100193." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  28. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Honey". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved July 11, 2017.
  29. ^ "Bobby Goldsboro – Honey" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  30. ^ Flavour of New Zealand, 21 June 1968
  31. ^ "Bobby Goldsboro – Honey". VG-lista.
  32. ^ "Bobby Goldsboro Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard.
  33. ^ "Bobby Goldsboro Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  34. ^ "Bobby Goldsboro Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard.
  35. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Bobby Goldsboro – Honey" (in German). GfK Entertainment charts.
  36. ^ "Irish-charts.com – Discography {{{artist}}}". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved March 26, 2020.
  37. ^ "Go-Set Magazine Charts". www.poparchives.com.au. Barry McKay. January 2007. Retrieved 10 July 2017.
  38. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". collectionscanada.gc.ca.
  39. ^ The 100 Best-Selling Singles of 1968
  40. ^ Musicoutfitters.com
  41. ^ "Britain's best selling records of '75". Record Mirror. London: Billboard. January 10, 1976. p. 12. Archived from the original on September 21, 2016. Retrieved August 29, 2016.
  42. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 60th Anniversary Interactive Chart". Billboard. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  43. ^ "SA Charts 1965–March 1989". Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  44. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 5936." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  45. ^ "Top RPM Adult Contemporary: Issue 5929." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  46. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955–1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X

External links[edit]