Delta Dawn

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"Delta Dawn"
Delta Dawn - Tanya Tucker.jpg
Single by Tanya Tucker
from the album Delta Dawn
B-side"I Love the Way He Loves Me"
ReleasedApril 10, 1972
RecordedMarch 17, 1972
StudioColumbia Recording Studio (Nashville)
Producer(s)Billy Sherrill
Tanya Tucker singles chronology
"Delta Dawn"
"Love's the Answer"
"Delta Dawn"
Delta Dawn - Helen Reddy.jpg
Single by Helen Reddy
from the album Long Hard Climb
B-side"If We Could Still be Friends"
ReleasedJune 1973[1]
Songwriter(s)Larry Collins, Alex Harvey
Producer(s)Tom Catalano
Helen Reddy singles chronology
"Delta Dawn"
"Leave Me Alone (Ruby Red Dress)"

"Delta Dawn" is a song written by former child rockabilly star Larry Collins and songwriter Alex Harvey,[a] best known as a 1972 top ten country hit for Tanya Tucker[2] and a number one hit for Helen Reddy in 1973.


The title character is a faded former Southern belle from Brownsville, Tennessee who, at forty-one, is obsessed to unreason with the long-ago memory of a suitor who jilted her. The lyrics describe how the woman regularly "walks downtown with a suitcase in her hand / looking for a mysterious dark haired man" who she says will be taking her "to his mansion in the sky."

Reddy's recording in particular includes choir-like inspirational overtones.

Recording history[edit]

The first recording of "Delta Dawn" was made by Harvey for his eponymous album released in November 1971. Harvey had performed as the opening act for Helen Reddy at the Troubadour, in January 1972, but at that time Reddy (who also was signed with the Capitol Records label) made no connection with any of Harvey's compositions.[3]

Dianne Davidson sang backup for Harvey's recording. She was the first singer after Harvey to record the song and chart in 1971–1972.[citation needed]

Tracy Nelson also sang backup on Harvey's recording, and performed "Delta Dawn" in her live act.[citation needed]

Bette Midler[edit]

After hearing Tracy Nelson sing "Delta Dawn" at the Bottom Line in New York City, Bette Midler added the song to her repertoire.[citation needed]

During the time Tanya Tucker’s and Helen Reddy’s recordings of the song were being produced (see below), Bette Midler recorded "Delta Dawn" for her The Divine Miss M debut album, for which her bluesy version was planned as the lead single. Reddy's single was released June 1973, two days before Midler's. The preemption required a marketing change for Midler, so the original B-side "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" was shopped to radio, itself becoming a Top Ten hit.

Tanya Tucker[edit]

Before Bette Midler’s recording, Nashville-based producer Billy Sherrill heard her sing "Delta Dawn" on The Tonight Show and wanted to sign Midler to Epic Records and have her record it. Upon finding that Midler was already signed to Atlantic Records, Sherrill cut the song with Tanya Tucker, who was newly signed to Epic, and Tucker's version was released in April 1972; it reached #6 in C&W that spring.[4]

Helen Reddy[edit]

Record producer Tom Catalano created an instrumental track of "Delta Dawn." Catalano first offered the vocal track to Barbra Streisand, but she refused; after this he gave the vocal to Reddy.[5]

Reddy's version, which added upward modulation to Tucker's cold intro and nonstop vocals throughout, entered the Top Ten on 18 August 1973, on its way to its lone week at #1, on 15 September 1973. "Delta Dawn" was the first of Reddy's six consecutive — and eight overall — #1 hits on the Billboard Easy Listening chart.[6]

Reddy had reached #2 with both "I Don't Know How to Love Him" and "I Am Woman" in her native Australia; "Delta Dawn" became her first #1 hit there, spending five weeks at the top of the Kent Music Report in August and September 1973.[7] "Delta Dawn" also marked Reddy's only chart appearance in South Africa, reaching #13 in the autumn of 1973.[8]

Other recordings[edit]

Chart performance[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Tanya Tucker version[edit]

Chart (1972) Peak
US Billboard Hot 100[10] 72
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[11] 6
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 3

Helen Reddy version[edit]

Use in popular media[edit]


  1. ^ The co-writer more often goes by the name Alexander Harvey today, to avoid being confused with Glaswegian rocker Alex Harvey.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Discography". Billboard. Vol. 86 no. 31. 3 August 1974. p. 52. ISSN 0006-2510.
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book Of Top 40 Country Hits: 1944-2006, Second edition. Record Research. p. 357.
  3. ^ "(unknown)". Billboard. Vol. 84 no. 2. 8 January 1972. p. 12.
  4. ^ Tucker, Tanya (1997). Nickel Dreams: My life (Large print ed.). Waterville, Maine: Thorndike Press. p. 132. ISBN 0-7862-1182-2.
  5. ^ Tucker, Tanya (1997). Nickel Dreams: my life (Large print ed.). Waterville, Maine: Thorndike Press. p. 178. ISBN 0-7862-1182-2.
  6. ^ Hyatt, Wesley (1999). The Billboard Book of Number One Adult Contemporary Hits. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications. p. 126. ISBN 0-8230-7693-8.
  7. ^ a b "Australian Weekly Single Ccharts (David Kent) for 1973". Retrieved June 7, 2018.
  8. ^ a b "SA Charts 1965 - 1989 Acts R". South African Rock Lists. Retrieved 7 June 2018.
  9. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 117. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  10. ^ "Tanya Tucker Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  11. ^ "Tanya Tucker Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard.
  12. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". 2012-03-30. Retrieved 2018-02-19.
  13. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". 1973-09-29. Retrieved 2018-02-19.
  14. ^ Flavour of New Zealand, 27 August 1973
  15. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  16. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 Singles, September 15, 1973". Archived from the original on June 9, 2015. Retrieved February 28, 2018.
  17. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (doc) |format= requires |url= (help). Australian Chart Book, St Ives, N.S.W. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  18. ^ Canada, Library and Archives (December 26, 2017). "Image : RPM Weekly".
  19. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1973/Top 100 Songs of 1973".
  20. ^ "Billboard Year-End Charts 1973" (PDF).
  21. ^ "Cash Box Year-End Charts: Top 100 Pop Singles, December 29, 1973". Archived from the original on July 15, 2014. Retrieved February 28, 2018.
  22. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 60th Anniversary Interactive Chart". Billboard. Retrieved 10 December 2018.

External links[edit]