Week ending 2/23/13: #1 singles this week in country music history
Posted by Razor X
on February 24, 2013
1953 (Sales): Kaw-Liga — Hank Williams (MGM)
1953 (Jukebox): I Let The Stars Get In My Eyes — Goldie Hill (Decca)
1953 (Disc Jockeys): No Help Wanted — The Carlisles (Mercury)
1963: Don’t Let Me Cross Me Over — Carl Butler & Pearl (Columbia)
1973: I Wonder If They Ever Think Of Me — Merle Haggard (Capitol)
1983: Faking Love — T.G. Sheppard and Karen Brooks (Warner Bros./Curb)
1993: Can I Trust You With My Heart — Travis Tritt (Warner Bros.)
2003: The Baby — Blake Shelton (Warner Bros.)
2013: Wanted — Hunter Hayes (Atlantic)
2013 (Airplay): Better Dig Two — The Band Perry (Republic Nashville)
Blake Shelton, Carl Butler, Goldie Hill, Hank Williams, Hunter Hayes, Karen Brooks, Merle Haggard, Pearl Butler, T.G.Sheppard, The Carlisles, Travis Tritt
After Hank Williams untimely death on January 1, 1953 sales of his recordings continued at a record-breaking pace. Hank Williams’ most successful posthumous release was a two-sided hit single that paired a ballad with a novelty recording. Both songs came from Hank’s final recording session at Nashville’s Castle Studio on September 23, 1952 just six days after his 29th birthday. Hank’s inspiration for the novelty song issued as the “A” side came from a fishing trip to Kowaliga Bay on Lake Martin in Alabama. That unusual name gave Hank inspiration for the title but it was his producer and frequent collaborator Fred Rose who encouraged Hank to fine-tune his original concept from a serious story about two real-life Indians to a novelty song about cigar-store wooden Indians. At the session Rose incorporated a distinctive drumbeat and a “faded” audio ending, the only Hank Williams recording to use that technique. Hank proudly told everyone that he believed “Kaw-Liga” would become his biggest hit yet. Less than two months after his death that song debuted at number one on the best seller survey, the only Hank Williams single to hold that distinction. The “B” side “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” debuted at #7 that same week and eventually hit number one In April. “Kaw-Liga” held the number one position for 13 weeks and ranked as Billboard Magazine’s top country song for the entire year of 1953. The song became a hit again for Charley Pride in 1969 (#3) and Hank Williams, Jr. in 1980 (#12)
Because several of Merle Haggard’s early hits had a prison theme, “I Wonder If They Ever Think Of Me” initially made most listeners think that he had returned to a familiar topic. But Merle surprised most folks (including me) when more than halfway though the song his lyrics revealed that the prisoner is an American Soldier held as a POW in North Vietnam. Merle had to look no further than the daily newspaper headlines for inspiration as the Vietnam War continued in 1972. Merle’s first attempt at recording the song was at the end of an August 22, 1972 session for a Strangers band album at Capitol studios in Hollywood. Unsatisfied with the results Merle tried it again two weeks later at Columbia studio in Nashville with a slightly different arrangement featuring a much more prominent rhythm track. At the September 5, 1972 session Merle’s Strangers were augmented by Johnny Gimble on fiddle, Pig Robbins on piano and background vocals from the Nashville Edition. Released on November 20, 1972 that single became Merle’s 14th number one hit forty years ago this week. Shortly after the song first entered the Billboard top ten, the U.S. signed a treaty effectively ending the Vietnam War.
TRIVIA: The single hit was never released on a regular Merle Haggard album at that time. A live version of the song was recorded in 1973 for Hag’s “I Love Dixie Blues” concert album. Only since 1987 has the hit version become available via several Haggard CD compilations.
T.G. Sheppard chose Warner Brothers Records label mate Karen Brooks to join him for his first duet in 1982. The pretty 28 year old Texas singer/songwriter came to Nashville via Los Angeles. “Tennessee Rose” a song that Karen co-wrote became a 1982 hit for Emmylou Harris and paved the way to her own record contract. Karen’s first Warner single “New Way Out” climbed to #17 in late October 1982 and her performance caught T.G. Sheppard’s attention. He had just recorded a new song but believed it could sound much better as a duet. Brooks agreed to participate and “Faking Love” became T.G. Sheppard’s 12th number one single thirty years ago this week. Unfortunately it was also the summit of Brooks’ career. Named the best New Female Vocalist by the Academy of Country Music for 1982, five subsequent Warner Brothers solo singles and a duet with Johnny Cash never came within striking distance of the top ten. A decade later a duet album and a single with Randy Sharp released for Mercury in 1992 did not revive her career.
“Faking Love” is also noteworthy as the first hit to be written by Matraca Berg, who co-penned the tune with Bobby Braddock.
I thought that the song was pretty lame when I first heard it 30 years ago. It sounds even worse to me today. Candidly I’m not a Matraca Berg fan and it was hard for me to believe that Braddock had a hand in this one. How can someone who co-wrote “He Stopped Loving Her Today” turn around and churn out a shallow piece of dreck like this? My guess is that she is likely responsible for the majority of the song.
Um, Braddock has written far worse than this. Ever hear “I Want To Talk About Me”?
The above link is to the first version of Merle Haggard’s “I Wonder If They Ever Think Of Me.”
Here’s the hit single: