Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Kitty Wells

It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels

First recorded as “Did God Make Honky Tonk Angels” by “Al” Montgomery (1952).
Inspired by “The Wild Side of Life” by Hank Thompson (1951).
Based on “Thrills That I Can’t Forget” by John Ferguson (1927), “Great Speckled Bird” by Roy Acuff (1936).
Hit version by Kitty Wells (C&W #1 1952).

From the wiki: “Jay Miller wrote ‘Did God Make …’ as a reply to Hank Thompon’s hit ‘Wild Side Of Life‘. Alice ‘Al’ Montgomery was a gas station attendant in Louisiana at the time of her recording, which Miller produced and issued on one of his many labels. When covered by Kitty Wells in 1952, the song – which blamed unfaithful men for creating unfaithful women – became the first #1 Billboard Country hit for a solo female artist.

“In addition to helping establish Wells as country music’s first major female star, ‘It Wasn’t God …’ her success paved the way for other female artists to achieve chart success in Country music, particularly Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, and Dolly Parton, and for songs where women defied the typical stereotype of being submissive to men and having to put up with their oft-infidel ways.

“Even with its popularity, there was plenty of resistance to the song and its statement: the NBC radio network banned the song for being ‘suggestive,’ while Wells herself was prohibited from performing it on the Grand Ole Opry and NBC’s ‘Prince Albert’ radio programs.

The Wild Side of Life

Inspired by “Thrills That I Can’t Forget” by ‘John Ferguson’ (1925).
Inspired by “I’m Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes” by The Carter Family (1929).
Inspired by “Great Speckled Bird” by Roy Acuff (1936).
First recorded (as “Wild Side of Life”) by Jimmie Heap & The Melody Masters (1951).
Hit versions by Hank Thompson (C&W #1 1952), Burl Ives & Grady Martin & His Slew Foot Five (US #30/C&W #6 1952), Tommy Quickly & The Remo 4 (UK #33 1964), Freddy Fender (C&W #13 1976), Status Quo (UK #9 1976).

From the wiki: “‘The Wild Side of Life’ carries one of the most distinctive melodies of early country music, used in ‘Thrills That I Can’t Forget’ (recorded by Welby Toomey, using the pseudonym ‘John Ferguson’ in 1925), ‘I’m Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes’ (by the Carter Family in 1929), and ‘Great Speckled Bird’ (by Roy Acuff in 1936). That, along with the song’s story of a woman shedding her role as domestic provider to follow the night life, combined to become one of the most famous country songs of the early 1950s when recorded as ‘Wild Side of Life’, first by Jimmie Heap & the Melodie Masters and, then, a #1 hit by Hank Thompson.

“According to Country music historian Bill Malone, ‘Wild Side’ co-writer William Warren was inspired to create the song after his experiences with a young woman he met when he was younger — a honky-tonk angel, as it were — who ‘found the glitter of the gay night life too hard to resist.’

I Can’t Stop Loving You

Originally recorded by Don Gibson (US #81/C&W #7/NOR #2 1957).
Other hit versions by Kitty Wells (C&W #3 1958), Ray Charles (US #1/MOR #1/R&B #1/UK #1/AUS #1 1962), Conway Twitty (C&W #1 1972).
Also recorded by Count Basie & His Orchestra (1963).

From the wiki: “‘I Can’t Stop Loving You’ was written by country singer-songwriter and musician Don Gibson, who first recorded it in 1957. It was released in 1958 as the B-side of ‘Oh, Lonesome Me’ (itself a C&W chart topper and Top-10 Hot 100 hit for Gibson), becoming a double-sided country hit single. Kitty Well’s 1958 cover charted even higher on the Country Singles chart.

“The song was most famously covered by Ray Charles in 1962, included on Charles’ Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music album and released as a single. Charles’ recording reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1962, for 5 weeks and would also top the U.S. R&B and Easy-Listening charts. (The song, a ‘Country-politan’ ballad with lush, cushioned arrangements, was placed at the 11th spot in the album track listing, assumed by Sid Feller to be the album’s weakest song. After becoming the album’s top-selling single, Charles was disappointed with him, as Feller was in charge of sequencing for the album).

“The Count Basie Orchestra’s 1963 cover recording, a Quincy Jones arrangement for Basie’s This Time by Basie! album, won the 1964 Grammy Award for ‘Best Performance by a Band for Dancing’. Conway Twitty covered ‘I Can’t Stop Loving You’ a decade later, in 1972, topping the Country Singles chart.

“‘I Can’t Stop Loving You’ was ranked #164 on Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and #49 on CMT’s 100 Greatest Songs in Country Music.”