My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Week ending 6/2/12: #1 singles this week in country music history

1952: The Wild Side of Life — Hank Thompson (Capitol)

1962: She Thinks I Still Care — George Jones (United Artists)

1972: (Lost Her Love) On Our Last Date — Conway Twitty (Decca)

1982: Just To Satisfy You — Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson (RCA)

1992: Achy Breaky Heart — Billy Ray Cyrus (Mercury)

2002: Drive (For Daddy Gene) — Alan Jackson (Arista)

2012: Somethin’ ‘Bout A Truck — Kip Moore (MCA)

13 responses to “Week ending 6/2/12: #1 singles this week in country music history

  1. Ken Johnson June 3, 2012 at 9:17 am

    This week in 1952 Hank Thompson scored his first triple play as “The Wild Side Of Life” topped all three of the Billboard country charts. When Hank recorded this song on December 11, 1951 multi-track recording equipment had not yet come into use. That is, when a song was recorded in the studio it was in essence a “live” performance of the song similar to a concert. If the vocalist or anyone in the band made a mistake they would have to start all over again from the very beginning. Later on the invention of multi-track tape allowed the band to first pre-record their part. When that recording was perfected the vocalist would then overdub their vocal. Each could individually record their parts numerous times until a perfect recording was achieved. That was not the case in 1951 so in preparation for his session at Capitol studios in Hollywood, Hank and his band rented a small Dallas, Texas studio to rehearse the songs and work out the arrangements. That was done to save precious time at the Capitol studios where session time was at a premium. At the December 11th session Hank was paired for the first time with producer Ken Nelson. Hank had played the recording of the practice demo that he had recorded in Dallas of “The Wild Side Of Life” and Ken believed it would a good “B” side one of his single releases. The band kicked it off and after the first run-through Ken listened to the playback and told Hank that he didn’t think they could improve on that version. One of country music biggest hits and most important recordings was created in just ONE TAKE.

    George Jones continued to hold the #1 spot this week in 1962 with “She Thinks I Still Care.” The flip side of that single “Sometimes You Just Can’t Win” had also charted in Billboard and peaked at #17 in mid-May. George re-recorded that song a few years later for the Musicor label and it became a top ten hit for him in May 1971.

    “Last Date” was an instrumental hit written and recorded by pianist Floyd Cramer in 1960. His RCA Victor single barely missed the country top ten (it peaked at #11 during the second week of 1961) but climbed to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop survey. Boudleaux Bryant wrote lyrics for Floyd’s melody and Skeeter Davis’ vocal recording of “My Last Date (With You).” became a top 5 country hit in February 1961. Skeeter’s RCA Victor single and a version by Joni James on MGM both made the top 40 on the Billboard pop survey that same year. Conway Twitty was a big rock & roll star at the time. After hearing Cramer’s instrumental he wrote his own set of lyrics. Conway filed the song away at the time but in the early 1970’s after he had become a country star he began to perform his version of that song in concert. Given the extremely positive response of his fans Conway recorded the song for Decca on January 17, 1972 despite the objections of his producer Owen Bradley. John Hughey’s mournful steel guitar licks substituted for Cramer’s slip-note piano style to frame Conway’s emotion filled vocal. The single became Conway Twitty’s 9th number one country hit. Ten years later Emmylou Harris’ version became the title track for a live album and the single release returned the song to the #1 spot in 1983.

    While “Just To Satisfy You” was topping the chart for Waylon & Willie, Willie Nelson was entering the chart as part of a new Roger Miller single. Willie had teamed with his old friend for a duet album. One track also included Ray Price and was issued as a single release. Unfortunately the nostalgic “Old Friends” only peaked at #19. Years later Roger’s widow Mary Miller said that Roger adored Willie Nelson. He always said that Willie flushed to the beat of a different plumber.

  2. Razor X June 3, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    I don’t know about the rest of you, but “Achy Breaky Heart” is on my short list of worst country songs of all time.

    • Occasional Hope June 4, 2012 at 11:07 am

      When it first came out I thought it was THE worst country song of all time. Rgerettably, the bar’s been lowered a lot since then and if released today it might not even be the worst song on the chart that week.

      • Razor X June 4, 2012 at 8:44 pm

        I agree — and Paul and Ken also summed it up very well. There is a lot worse out there now, but few songs have annoyed me as much as this one did – and I think one of the things that I really resented was that it was the first exposure to country music a lot of people had, and it’s one of the genre’s worst examples.

  3. Paul W Dennis June 3, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    At one time I would have agreed with you but particularly since 2000 there have been many bad country songs to chart – I can probably come up with five or six Jason Aldean songs that I think are worse than “Achy Breaky Heart” – “Johnny Cash” for one, not to mention all the name dropping and macho posturing songs the genre has suffered.

  4. Ben Foster June 3, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    I never really understood why people seem to find “Achy Breaky Heart” so deeply reprehensible. I believe I’ve heard many a worse record.

    • luckyoldsun June 3, 2012 at 8:41 pm

      Gotta agree with Ben there.
      Most of the country greats have cut songs with dopier lyrics than “Achy Breaky Heart.” “I’m a People,” anyone?
      “Achy Breaky” wouldn’t be nearly as hated if it had not been #1 for six or however many weeks or i Billy Ray Cyrus had not adopted that tank-top wearing persona.

  5. Ken Johnson June 3, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    Achy Breaky Heart became so hated primarily due to repetition. On it’s own merit it’s a very catchy & danceable tune. During the “Hot Country” era of the early ’90’s it was a major dance hall favorite. But radio played it to death as a current hit and then again as a recurrent hit and then for a few years afterward as an oldie until the audience became so burned out that it was unplayable. It’s one of those “earworm” songs that became annoying to many folks very quickly. And yes the song defintely suffered from the visual connection to Billy Ray Cyrus’ goofball mullet & tennis shoes image. I always thought of the song as country music for people who really didn’t like country music. That included most of that lame Hot Country dance crowd.

    Personally I’d rather hear “I’m A People” by George Jones 100 times than “Achy Breaky Heart” just once. At least “I’m A People’ is country.

  6. Ben Foster June 4, 2012 at 10:21 am

    Overexposure definitely doesn’t help. I was still an infant in 1992, so I missed all of that, but I can definitely understand why those who were listening to country radio at that time do not remember the song fondly, though I agree with Ken that it’s a catchy tune on its own merits. That said, we can least get a good chuckle over the old photo of classic Billy Ray in all his mullet and tank top wearing glory.

    • Paul W Dennis June 4, 2012 at 10:06 pm

      The funny thing is that the song was a cover version. The Marcy Brothers issued the song the year before on an album, with virtually the same arrangement, under the title “Don’t Tell My Heart”

      • Ben Foster June 5, 2012 at 5:50 pm

        I think I may have been aware of that fact at some point, but it slipped my mind entirely. That is surprising.

        • Ken Johnson June 5, 2012 at 7:30 pm

          Boxcar Willie also released a version of Achy Breaky Heart on a 1992 album . His rendition was a bit more country sounding than Billy Ray’s.

  7. justanothercastle June 8, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    Alright, Achy Breaky Heart is far from a country classic, but is king of fun in a goofy, corny sort of way. I’d rather listen to it than the much more annoying “Somethin’ ‘Bout a Truck,” a cliche filled song about girls, trucks, and beer, the kind. It’s the same kind of song I’ve heard a countless number of times and never even liked the first time.

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