Week ending 6/18/16: #1 singles this week in country music history
1956 (Sales): Heartbreak Hotel/I Was The One — Elvis Presley (RCA)
1956 (Jukebox): Heartbreak Hotel/I Was The One — Elvis Presley (RCA)
1956 (Disc Jockeys): Heartbreak Hotel — Elvis Presley (RCA)
1966: Take Good Care of Her — Sonny James (Capitol)
1976: I’ll Get Over You — Crystal Gayle (United Artists)
1986: Life’s Highway — Steve Wariner (MCA)
1996: Blue Clear Sky — George Strait (MCA)
2006: Summertime — Kenny Chesney (BNA)
2016: H.O.L.Y. — Florida Georgia Line (Republic Nashville)
2016 (Airplay): T-Shirt — Thomas Rhett (Valory)
I’m hard pressed to think of any song I’ve heard lately that is as terrible as “T-Shirt’.
One aspect of the current chart system is that we don’t just get one terrible non-country song pretending to be the country #1 each week, we get two. And it’s particularly shocking when the Florida Georgia Line one is the less awful.
I haven’t heard it, but I don’t think ‘Vacation’ is any better. 14 songwriters notwithstanding.
Sonny James had remarkable success with re-makes of songs that were formerly pop or R&B hits. He arranged the songs to fit his smooth singing style and was surrounded by a tight background chorus of his “Southern Gentlemen” often accompanied by a female soprano with a voice that soared above them. Rather than steel guitar & fiddles as lead instruments Sonny showcased acoustic guitars and electric organ. That folk/country style provided a distinctive sound that set him apart from other country performers from that era and earned him immense popularity from devoted fans that consistently rewarded him with #1 records.
Fifty years ago this week Sonny hit #1 with his first pop remake. It was a superb version of Adam Wade’s #7 hit from five years earlier. In 1990 when Capitol Records was mining their vaults to create greatest hit CD compilations for their “Collector’s Series” they created 11 new ADD remixes of Sonny’s 1960’s hits. Sadly those involved were not familiar with the original records because they significantly altered the sound of those recordings. Most notably reverb was removed from the vocals and background vocals were significantly reduced in volume. The link to the song posted above is to the 1990 re-mix of the song. But here is how the song actually sounded as it was released in 1966:
This is Adam Wade’s original 1961 pop hit: