Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1969 Vikki Carr – With Pen In Hand

1969 Vikki Carr – With Pen In Hand

Bobby Goldsboro began playing guitar in Roy Orbison’s backing band in 1962. He later wrote and recorded See The Funny Little Clown, and the single reached #9 on the Hot 100 in the Spring of 1964. After that, Bobby left Roy’s band and concentrated on a solo career.

Four of Bobby’s twenty singles reached the top Forty before he recorded Honey, a song written by Bobby Russell. That single reached number one in 1968 on the Hot 100, the Country chart, and the Adult Contemporary (AC) chart. It became his first gold record. He recorded an album named for the single but did not release another single from the album. He wrote about half the songs on the album, one of which was With Pen In Hand.

Johnny Darrell moved to Nashville and managed a Holiday Inn near Music Row until he was discovered and began recording Country music. He covered With Pen In Hand as soon as Bobby’s album came out and had the biggest hit of his career. His single peaked at #3 on the Country chart and almost made it to the Hot 100 (it peaked at #126).

Billy Vera eventually had a number one single with At This Moment in 1987 after Family Ties used the song as part of the drama between Alex and Ellen. His first solo single came much earlier: he recorded With Pen In Hand in 1968 and reached #43 on the Hot 100 and #25 on the Easy Listening chart.

Florencia Bisenta de Casillas-Martinez Cardona was born in El Paso, Texas. Her parents were of Mexican ancestry. In 1962 she signed with Liberty Records and began using the stage name Vikki Carr. Gene Pitney wrote the song, He’s A Rebel. When Vikki recorded the song, Phil Spector was listening to the session and rushed out and recorded the song with the Blossoms. He released the single as being by the Crystals, and that version reached number one on the Hot 100. Vikki’s version moved slower and peaked at #115.

She continued recording songs but did not reach the charts again until a few of her singles reached the AC chart in 1966. The biggest hit of her career came with the release of It Must Be Him the next year; the single topped the AC chart and reached #3 on the Hot 100.

Vikki also recorded With Pen In Hand in 1968 after getting Bobby to write some new verses that reflected a woman’s concern for her daughter rather than a man’s concern for his son. She was in London when the song was released, and her appearances there helped the single reach #39. She returned to the US and recorded a concert in November at the Persian Room nightclub in Manhattan. Her record company released an album using the live performances and then released the live version of With Pen In Hand as a single. The record charted on the Hot 100 in May 1969 and peaked at #35 in July. The record reached #6 on the Easy Listening chart and they nominated Vikki for a Grammy award for that performance.

Vikki’s career faded in the seventies. In the eighties, she reinvented herself by recording songs in Spanish and met with greater success. She eventually won three Grammy awards and continued releasing albums as recently as 2014.

Bobby’s version of With Pen In Hand didn’t get completely forgotten. His record company finally released his version as a single in 1972. His version didn’t get any higher than #94 on the Hot 100, but reached #28 on the AC chart.


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