Go to main content

Clean up Your Own Backyard

4.4 / 5

Words & Music: Billy Strange Mac Davis

Back porch preacher preaching at me
Acting like he wrote the golden rules
Shaking his fist and speeching at me
Shouting from his soap box like a fool
Come Sunday morning he's lying in bed
With his eye all red, with the wine in his head
Wishing he was dead when he oughta be
Heading for Sunday school

Clean up your own backyard
Oh don't you hand me none of your lines
Clean up your own backyard
You tend to your business, I’ll tend to mine

Drugstore cowboy criticizing
Acting like he's better than you and me
Standing on the sidewalk supervising
Telling everybody how they ought to be
Come closing time 'most every night
He locks up tight and out go the lights
And he ducks out of sight and he cheats on his wife
With his employee

Clean up your own backyard
Oh don't you hand me none of your lines
Clean up your own backyard
You tend to your business, I’ll tend to mine

Armchair quarterback's always moanin'
Second guessing people all day long
Pushing, fooling and hanging on in
Always messing where they don't belong
When you get right down to the nitty-gritty
Isn't it a pity that in this big city
Not a one a'little bitty man'll admit
He could have been a little bit wrong

Clean up your own backyard
Oh don't you hand me, don't you hand me none of your lines
Clean up your own backyard
You tend to your business, I’ll tend to mine

Clean up your own backyard
You tend to your business, I’ll tend to mine

Recordingdate: 1968/10/23, first released on: single (album)


Musicians who contributed to the first recording of Clean up Your Own Backyard:



(french horn)
(french horn)

*Orchestra, overdubs


Find available albums with Clean up Your Own Backyard.

Lex wrote on April 08, 2008
Very different and very catchy: if you hear it, it's in your head for at least a couple of days.
Jerome wrote on June 16, 2008
always reminds me of literally cleaning up my backyard..
JerryNodak wrote on September 21, 2008
An underrated gem. And it's NOT about cleaning up the backyard.
My boy, my boy wrote on June 09, 2009
A very, very, very good song...to me the Davis/Strange combination teamed up with Elvis was a pure delight throughout all the 1968 recordings ! Can't get enough of that one particularly !
Rob Wanders wrote on June 09, 2009
yeah a great song with a great message!
old shep wrote on June 09, 2009
After the great success of In the Ghetto, this record was viewed as a bit of a disappointment here in the UK by many fans. as the follow up single.However it did manage to reach the top thirty. Certainly a cut above many of the film songs of the 1960s
Natha wrote on June 09, 2009
Actually I do remember the release of this song in those years. I loved it from the very first time I heard it. Apart from the message (a trueism!) the song sticks to your mind. It has been ever since on my mind. Less known to the general public and should be given a little more attention. I don't like remixes, but wonder why this one was not done (luckily for me!).
TBG wrote on June 09, 2009
I love this song, I even play it on my guitar (which sounds terrible but is fun). Great lyrics and great guitar slide playing on it. Don't understand why it wasn't more popular, maybe cause Elvis in '68 wasn't so popular. The Special wasn't aired until dec that year so.. Anyway, I love this song, together with A Little Less Conversation and Rubberneckin' from the same year it's a real gem and way underrated!
Pedro Nuno wrote on June 09, 2009
Strange it may be, the 1980 "Guitar Man" album was my very 1st. Elvis LP. This song was the 1st in the B side. I liked it then. Later I eared the original, and fall in love with its country/blues sound. My infatuation was stronger when I saw the music number of "The Trouble with Girls". A fantastic song, with a contemporary sound, even nowadays. I listen to it very often.George Harrison must liked it because he referred to this song in several moments.
Steve V wrote on June 09, 2009
Indeed an underrated gem which should have been a hit since it was released in 1969 (not 68) after the Comeback Special. In fact, this came out around the same time, June 69 as the Memphis LP and AFTER In The Ghetto, so the comeback was in full swing. Why wasn't it a hit? I don't know, it should have received airplay since Elvis was coming off a big single. Probably because it was a film song from a not so popular film? Cant figure it, but a great song , performance, lyrics. Hey maybe we have another ALLC in the making here!
Steve Morse wrote on June 09, 2009
One of the best filmed of Elvis's movie songs - imaginative camera work and Elvis looks cool. Swing Down Sweet Chariot, from the same film, is an equally fabulous viewing experience.
dgirl wrote on June 09, 2009
This is a great song. Amazing it never caught on as a follow-up single in 1969. So good in fact, it could have been part of the Memphis recordings of that year!
Swen wrote on June 09, 2009
Another absolutely awful movie but this time with an absolutely awesome song. How often can you say that? I think it was considerred just another film single (from a catastrophic film) so nobody took it seriously when it came out. We were all waiting for the next "real" single to appear.
Cher wrote on September 26, 2009
Have to agree that this is a gem of a song with a great message. I refer to it often when encountering those who are swift to cast judgment on others. That and the "Walk a Mile in My Shoes" message. Haven't seen the movie version yet but I'm getting there.
Jim Hoff wrote on September 26, 2009
Go get it, Spankox!
derekd wrote on September 26, 2009
yes, this is a recording just waiting for a remix.
NONE000000 wrote on September 26, 2009
I like the message, the lyrics and the way it was filmed in the movie, but I have just never quite liked the song--though I want to. I think it's a little too twangy or country to me--much moreso than anything on the Elvis Country album. Still, I don't skip it when it pops up on the iPod and I sing along with it in the car too. And I appreciate the way Elvis digs into the lyrics, particularly the "nitty-gritty" section.
JLpResLey wrote on September 26, 2009
A great song from a good picture. I think Elvis´ performance from the movie is the best one. After I heard the movie version I realized that there were too much chorus on the master. That´s what I think. Anyway a great song from a great year
Deke Rivers 6 wrote on September 27, 2009
Very good song,I love the way Elvis does the falseto as in "Burning Love". A fair film showing Elvis playing the piano "Almost" although the camera stay's on Marylin too long. Yes I like this song !
Gorse wrote on January 04, 2013
This was never A side single material when released in 1969 and the chart positions reflected the fact. It is a laid back bluesy type song with a touch of country from one of my top 5 Elvis films 'The Trouble With Girls '. Superb in the film and good on vinyl as a powerful album track, the song has a grow on you factor but not as as a aingle.
ElvisSacramento wrote on January 21, 2013
This is such a sensational, fun, electrifying, unique and catchy song and it should have been a hit for Elvis, but it wasn't. The other six songs that Elvis recorded that were co-written or written by Mac Davis are "In The Ghetto", "Don't Cry Daddy", "Memories", "A Little Less Conversation", "Charro!" and "Nothingville".
sugartummy wrote on March 01, 2013
A really outstanding track. Again a superb band backing Elvis up.
Deano1 wrote on September 20, 2014
Great lyrics conveyed perfectly by Elvis. You truly feel like the artist is ticked off about the hypocrisy around him. This song WAS a hit in the U.S. hitting #35 on the Billboard pop chart. It also hit #37 on the easy listening chart and it was definitely strong enough to be an A-side (light years better than the B-side of "The Fair Is Moving On"). The movie was different, but good and usually garners favorable praise when reviewed today. It also was not the reason the song didn't chart higher and claims that it wasn't successful are inaccurate. Elvis' movies were always made to make a quick buck and they weren't expected to have legs (be successful at the box office for a long period of time). "The Trouble With Girls" did just that and was #1 at the box office for three consecutive weekends (when the majority of money was made on movies in the 60s) in 1969. It earned 3 million its first week, 2.57 its second and 2.18 in its third. Variety's rentals statistics that are often quoted are very misleading and impossible to use when showing how successful a movie was. It was replaced at #1 for weekend gross by "Butch Cassidy" which would hold down the #1 spot for 11 weeks (legs).
shoesuedeblues wrote on July 21, 2016
I was a little disappointed initially with this release as it came after Ghetto which was a monster hit here in the UK.I never saw the film in fact I didn't watch the last three scripted movies he did as I was so downhearted by this time . The song isn't too bad at all and scraped into the UK top 40 but was much better than it's chart position indicated.
Cruiser621 wrote on July 24, 2017
A decent tune but when you consider what was being released in those days, it was just a little too sedate. Shame.
Back to List