“I’ve Got a Tiger By the Tail” is a song made famous by country music band Buck Owens and the Buckaroos. Released in December 1964, the song was one of Owens’ signature songs and showcases of the Bakersfield sound in the genre.
In 1965, Dave Berry used “I’ve Got a Tiger By the Tail” as the B-side of his single “Little Things” and the single reached number 5 in the UK Singles Chart.
Owens — in the liner notes to The Buck Owens Collection: 1959-1990 — recalled that he and songwriter Harlan Howard had gotten together to write songs, but things were going slowly. Then, Owens saw an Esso gas station sign with the company’s slogan at the time, “Put a tiger in your tank” … and got an idea.
Released in December 1964 (just weeks after he had recorded it), “I’ve Got a Tiger By the Tail” was Owens’ and the Buckaroos sixth No. 1 hit on the Billboard magazine Hot Country Singles chart in February 1965. The song is Owens’ and the Buckaroos biggest hit (and only top-40 hit) on the Billboard Hot 100, where it peaked at No. 25, although its five weeks atop the chart made it far from Owens’ biggest hit on the country charts — several of his other No. 1 songs spent anywhere from six to 16 weeks at No. 1
“I’ve Got a Tiger By the Tail” (Harlan Howard, Buck Owens) – 2:12
“Trouble and Me” (Howard) – 1:54
“Let the Sad Times Roll On” (Owens, Red Simpson) – 2:14
“Wham Bam” (Buck Owens, Bonnie Owens, Don Rich) – 2:01
“If You Fall Out of Love With Me” (Owens, Owens) – 2:15
“Fallin’ for You” (Owens, Owens, Rich) – 2:01
“We’re Gonna Let the Good Times Roll” (Owens) – 2:15
“The Band Keeps Playin’ On” (Red Simpson, Fuzzy Owen) – 3:02
“Streets of Laredo” – 2:55
“Cryin’ Time” (Owens) – 2:30
“A Maiden’s Prayer” (Bob Wills) – 2:33
“Memphis” (Chuck Berry) – 2:27
Review: Buck Owens had his share of country hits prior to the release of I’ve Got a Tiger by the Tail and the hit single that spawned it. But “I’ve Got a Tiger by the Tail” was Owens’ national breakthrough, featuring everything right about his Bakersfield honky tonk sound sweated down to a 2:12 single that proved to be an irresistible piece of crossover magic to non-country fans without diluting his basic sound one iota. This 14-track LP brings together the original Capitol tracks from that album (which also included the hit “Cryin’ Time,” later to be a crossover hit of its own when recorded by Ray Charles), along with two extra tracks. These are live versions recorded in Bakersfield at the Civic Auditorium in October 1963 of “This Ol’ Heart” and “Act Naturally,” taken from the Capitol anthology album Country Music Hootenanny. The sound of Don Rich is all over this album, with his signature biting Telecaster guitar style, plus his vocalizing on “Wham Bam” (which features Owens on lead guitar) and a feature with Buck on a duet of Chuck Berry’s “Memphis.” Bass player Doyle Holly handles the vocal chores on “Streets of Laredo,” while Don Rich’s fiddle work is highlighted on the instrumental “A Maiden’s Prayer.” But ultimately it’s Owens’ show, with tracks like “Trouble and Me,” “We’re Gonna Let the Good Times Roll,” “If You Fall Out of Love with Me,” “The Band Keeps Playin’ On,” and the ballad “Let the Sad Times Roll On” being classic examples of Owens’ Bakersfield honky tonk sound at the height of its freight-train rumbling powers. — Cub Koda
Schill Score: 9.5/10
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