A world away from Clarence Carter’s usual oeuvre of innuendo and sexual drama, “Patches” is as full of corny sentimentality as any weepy country song. The eponymous hero of the tune single-handedly brings up his younger siblings, tends the fields and still has time to go to school after he becomes an orphan. His father’s dying words are “Patches, I’m depending on you son / To pull the family through / My son, it’s all left up to you”. No pressure there, then. To Carter’s credit, he not only sings it all with a straight face, including the despairing spoken word passages where anything that can go wrong does go wrong, but with such an impassioned, heart-rending delivery that all the corn is forgotten and you’re rooting for the kid to overcome all the obstacles littered in his way. Allied with a great, passionate chorus, the single was destined to become a classic. Even if it was hardly representative of the bulk of Carter’s work, it was his biggest ever hit (it reached the top of the Cashbox listings in September 1970) and has become the song he’s best known for.