First hit #1: December 5, 1964
There hasn’t been a song quite like this since Big Bad John in 1961. Also telling a complete story, Ringo is all about gunslingers and morality, a lawman who saves a life and is later charged with taking it. Actor Lorne Greene provides the appropriate gravitas for the story, which is really the most important thing here. There’s not much that different from the old school cowboy tales, so it’s all in the delivery and the story itself, and in those matters it’s a very strong and compelling track.
A cynic might suggest that the title sharing the name with a popular drummer might be involved in its success, but I don’t think so. It’s a pretty interesting story, and there are often splashes of country every few years. I’m sure there’s a complicated explanation for that, but I just appreciate how they keep the charts from being too predictable.