Remembering Boudleaux Bryant: The Songwriter Behind ‘Rocky Top,’ ‘Love Hurts,’ ‘All I Have to Do Is Dream’ & Many More

by Jim Casey

Boudleaux Bryant and Felice Bryant were the greatest husband-and-wife songwriting team in the history of country music.

The tandem penned thousands of songs together—and well as solo compositions—that were recorded by a who’s who of country stars, including the Everly Brothers, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Roy Clark, Emmylou Harris, Ricky Van Shelton, and more. In addition, cross-genre artists cut Felice and Boudleaux’s songs, including Ray Charles, Buddy Holly, the Beach Boys, Elvis Presley, the Beatles, and Roy Orbison, among others.

Boudleaux, 67, died on June 25, 1987, while Felice, 77, passed away on April 22, 2003. Together, Boudleaux and Felice were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1991, as well as the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame (1971) and the Songwriters Hall of Fame (1986).

The Country Music Hall of Fame currently has a fantastic exhibit about Boudleaux and Felice that runs through Sept. 2, 2021.

On the 34th anniversary of Boudleaux Bryant’s death today (June 25, 2021), let’s take a look back at three of his compositions.

‘All I Have to Do Is Dream’ – Everly Brothers

Penned solely by Boudleaux, “All I Have to Do Is Dream” was recorded by the Everly Brothers in 1958. The tune topped the all-genre Billboard 100 chart, as well as the Billboard country and R&B charts. The studio version featured guitar virtuoso, and future Country Music Hall of Fame member, Chet Atkins.

The Grammy Hall of Fame added “All I Have to Do Is Dream” to its catalog in 2004. Of course, the Everly Brothers recorded a number of tunes penned by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, including “Bye Bye Love,” “Wake Up, Little Susie,” ‘Take a Message to Mary,” and more.

‘Rocky Top’ – Osborne Brothers

Penned by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, “Rocky Top” was first recorded by the Osborne Brothers in 1967. Lynn Anderson, Buck Owens, John Denver, and Conway Twitty, among others, covered the song.

In 1982, “Rocky Top” was adopted as one of the 10 Official State Songs of Tennessee. And if you’ve ever been to a University of Tennessee football game at Knoxville’s Neyland Stadium, there’s a 100 percent chance you heard the song.

‘Love Hurts’ – Nazareth

“Love Hurts” is another cut that was solely penned by Boudleaux, and recorded by the Everly Brothers in 1960. Roy Orbison covered “Love Hurts” in 1961. Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris recorded it as a duet in the early 1970s

Scottish rock band Nazareth turned the tune into a power ballad in 1976, scoring a Top 10 hit with it on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100 chart. Of course, any fan of the 1993 Dazed and Confused soundtrack will immediately recognize Nazareth’s version.