Curtis Eriksmoen, Published July 24 2011
Country music singer-songwriter lived in Grand Forks
At the 1967 Grammy Awards, Liz placed in the top five for Best Country Vocal Performance – Female and Best Country Vocal Performance by a Group.
Liz composed hit songs for Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn, George Jones, Faron Young, Waylon Jennings, Del Reeves, Conway Twitty, Kitty Wells, Charley Pride, Ernest Tubb, Lorrie Morgan, Tammy Wynette, and her daughter, Lynn Anderson.
Elizabeth Jane Haaby was born Jan. 13, 1930, in Roseau, Minn. She grew up in a family that loved religion and country music. Every Saturday night, the radio dial was set to pick up “National Barndance” out of Chicago. Among her favorite singers were Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Rex Allen and the Sons of the Pioneers.
Liz began playing the family mandolin and singing duets with her brother. By the time she was 8 years old, she was singing solos in church. She recalled that when she walked through the woods to school, she would yodel “very loudly, hoping to scare away the bears that were prevalent in that area.” It must have worked, because she said she never saw any bears.
When Liz was 13, the Haaby family moved to Grand Forks. While there, she met Casey Anderson, who was home on leave from the Naval Air Corps. He was discharged in 1946, and the two married, even though she was only 16.
Liz said, “The first thing we did was buy an old three-apartment house in Grand Forks that needed fixing.”
Casey went into the homebuilding and home-restoration business to provide for his wife and daughter, Lynn, who was born in 1947.
After several years, Casey Anderson moved his family to Redwood, Calif., where he hoped to attend jet engine school.
As it turned out for Casey, the school was “too expensive, and he went to work selling cars.” Liz attended business college and worked briefly as a secretary.
In 1957, the Andersons moved to Sacramento, and with Casey’s encouragement, Liz began composing songs. Casey joined a group “called the Sheriff’s Posse, which was planning to take part in the National Centennial Pony Express Celebration.” He convinced Liz to write a song in honor of the celebration, and it became such a hit that it was chosen as the official song of the Pony Express.
One of Casey’s co-workers was Jack McFadden, who was beginning in the country music business. McFadden, who owed his start to Liz, later managed the careers of Buck Owens and Billy Ray Cyrus and was the talent coordinator for the television show “Hee Haw.” He pitched Liz’s songs to record producers who, in turn, pitched them to Del Reeves. Some of the songs Reeves recorded were “I Watched You Walking,” “I Don’t Wonder” and “Be Quiet Mind.”
By the mid-1960s, country artists were clamoring to receive songs penned by Liz Anderson. In 1964, “Pick of the Week” was a major hit for Roy Drusky, “All My Friends Are Gonna Be Strangers” for Merle Haggard in 1965 and “The Fugitive” for Haggard in 1966.
Liz also began her own recording career, signing a contract with Chet Atkins, a producer for RCA records. Realizing that they needed to live in the capital city of country music, Nashville, the Andersons relocated there in 1966.
In 1967, her self-penned song “Mama Spank” soared to a “top-five hit” and earned her a Grammy nomination. She also had big hits with “Go Now Pay Later,” “The Wife of the Party,” “Tiny Tears,” “Husband Hunting” and “Thanks a Lot for Tryin’ Anyway.” Liz composed all of these songs except for the last one.
To try to assist and protect composers, Liz and Casey were founding members of the Nashville Songwriters Association International in 1967. Later, Liz served as vice president of the organization.
Liz composed the songs “Ride, Ride, Ride” and “If I Kiss You (Will You Go Away)” for her daughter, Lynn, in 1967. In 1968, Liz wrote the duet “Mother May I,” which she recorded with Lynn. After it soared on the country charts, Lawrence Welk invited Liz and Lynn to perform it on Mother’s Day on his popular television show. In 1970, Liz wrote the song “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” which became a big hit for Lynn.
In 1971, Liz switched to Epic Records and, after a couple of years, “semi-retired” from singing and composing. Meanwhile, Casey had started a log-homebuilding business called Music City Builders. Liz joined him and helped design the buildings. Willie Nelson and Barbara Mandrell were two major country artists who purchased homes built by the Andersons.
In the late 1970s, Liz returned to songwriting, turning out hits for Faron Young and Lorrie Morgan. In the 1980s, Liz and Casey co-hosted a travel show for television on the Nashville Network. In the mid-1990s, Liz began her own record company, Showboat Records, which released “The Cowgirl Way,” her first album in over a decade. In 2006, Lynn released the album “Cowgirl for Showboat.” All of the songs on the album were composed by Liz.
Despite the fact that she has become an octogenarian, Liz Anderson has shown little evidence of slowing down.
“Did You Know That” is written by Curt Eriksmoen and edited by Jan Eriksmoen of Fargo. Send your suggestions for columns, comments or corrections to the Eriksmoens at firstname.lastname@example.org.