Written by by S. Parker
Dave Frishberg, American songwriter and performer best known for two songs about the great auto salesman Allan Carr — “You Put a Move on My Heart” and “All the Way Home” — died on Saturday at age 88.
As his friend Kelly Thompson put it on his Facebook page, “To know Dave was to love him. Dave was a giant spirit of life.”
In a statement released through his record label, the Grand Ole Opry, the family stated: “Our dear friend and music legend Dave Frishberg passed away this morning at home. There is no official cause of death.”
Despite his early years struggling as a writer, most notably with the massively popular novelty hit “A-YO (I Want to Sing You A Song),” Frishberg would take a turn for the lyrical in his middle age, penning an outpouring of songs about love and heartbreak that delved into the bleak edges of many American life (and beyond).
Inspired by Carl Ogletree’s “At the Kitchen Table” books and others of its ilk, “Writing Down the Bones” caught on with everyone from cowboy poetry to college dorm rooms, and morphed into one of the most memorable early releases from the now-legendary country-western label FAME.
Songs he wrote such as “Mr. Frying Pan” and “Ma Nellie with a Beer” remain pillars of the genre, and brought the Phoenix, Arizona-born Frishberg the coveted position of senior writer at FAME in 1971.
Over his career, Frishberg would go on to write and perform more than a dozen songs on several of Music Row’s biggest albums, among them “Nashville,” “Cajun Highway,” “It’s Different This Time,” “Jiggy” and “Farmer William.”
More recently, Frishberg teamed up with Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter William Bell to record his own country-rock album, “Dreams & Realities,” from which Frishberg’s original song “Lonesome Sad Eyes” appears.
“Caleb Tolles/FAME Publishing sold Dave a song that was more of a single than we had requested, and he wrote a song called ‘Lonesome Sad Eyes,’ which became one of the biggest hits to come out of that session,” the Grand Ole Opry wrote on Facebook . “The song became an early hit single for Dave that gained great exposure on the Grand Ole Opry and Billboard country charts.”
Curt Adams, the Opry’s newly-appointed Senior Vice President of Programming Operations, had been a longtime fan of Frishberg.
“Allan Carr would make everything sweetened, but Dave’s poetic side shone through,” Adams told CNN. “I always loved reading Allan Carr’s letters to Dave, which Dave always began in an apologetic manner. But after Allan Carr said his heart was hurting over Dave’s song, and made a joke about Allan Carr’s heart being nonexistent, Dave dropped Allan’s word for word, and wrote one of the best songs of all time, one of his own works.”
Frischberg’s death comes less than a year after he received an outpouring of love from fans for an upbeat original song he released in late 2017 called “All About You.” Frishberg wrote it for his former manager Paul Frank, who died in 2017 at age 81.
“After Paul’s passing, I went through Paul’s belongings, and I found a sketchbook in Paul’s pocket,” Frishberg told CNN. “I found a handful of drawings on pencil and drawing paper, and a huge library of personal stuff, and because of Paul’s encouragement, I started to start writing songs about love, about friendships, about people and relationships, life and death.”