Country Covers of Classic Country Songs (Part 1)
Can’t think of a better place to start than with the amazing Chris Stapleton who is a throwback to the great voices of Country music. Here he takes a classic by one of the celebrated singer songwriters of Country Music, ironically though he didn’t write this one…but what a fantastic song. And no far as I know they aren't related.
Some songs are just destined to be hits but there are few that have done that with three different artists. First was the original, Dec. 24, 1988 by Keith Whitley, #1 on US Hot Country Songs (Billboard). Next Alison Krauss hit #3 in 1995 and then Ronan Keating in 1999 where it hit #1 in the UK, Ireland, and New Zealand. Personally I came to this song through Alison Krauss, how about you?
“When You Say Nothing at All” (1988) by Keith Whitley, written by Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz
“When You Say Nothing at All” (1994) by Alison Krauss
“When You Say Nothing at All” (1999) by Ronan Keating
“Heartaches by the Number” by Ray Price (1959) written by one of the best songwriters ever, Harlan Howard. Price went to school to be a veterinarian, served in the Marines during WWII and sort of fell into a career in music doing weekend gigs while working at his father's Texas ranch after the war. His career lasted up until his death at age 87.
Guy Mitchell would record this also later in 1959 and surpass Price’s #2 ranking by going #1 for two weeks in December.
“Heartaches by the Number” by Rosanne Cash featuring Elvis Costello from the Album ‘The List’ which featured some of the ‘essential’ Country songs her father Johnny Cash wrote down and gave her.
“Heartaches by the Number” by Cyndi Lauper
“Big Big Love” written by Kenneth Carroll and Wynn Stewart, recorded by Wynn Stewart (1961) Best know for “Another Day, Another Dollar" and "It's Such a Pretty World Today" which was his only #1 hit.
Nick Lowe from his 1988 album Pinker and Prouder Than Previous. Here is a sort clip from napster (don’t worry it's quite safe)
a not so great quality live recording
k.d. lang (1989), exposed to Nick Lowe through working with Dave Edmunds on her first Album “Angel with a Lariat” recorded this for her third album “Absolute Torch and Twang”.
“It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” (1952) by Kitty Wells, written by J.D. Miller but originally written by William Warren and Arlie A. Carter. Often credited as an original, she was actually the fourth woman to record this song, but her version was the first for a female Country solo act to hit #1(for six weeks) on the Country charts and #27 on the Billboard Hot 100. Yet this 'racy' song was banned by the Grand Ole Opry.
It was written as an “answer song” to "The Wild Side of Life" written by William Warren and Arlie A. Carter, giving the female side of the songs storyline. 'Wild Side' was released early in 1952 and immediately covered by Hank Thompson and it became a huge hit song reaching #1 (15 weeks), yet unlike the Kitty Wells song did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100. Both songs are based on a melody traced back to songs from the 1920’s and 30’s. The song launched the careers of both artists, and the movie ‘Crazy Heart’ with Jeff Bridges is from a book based on Thompson. Combined these songs have been covered about 80 times.
Dolly Parton covered this song in 1963 and again in 1993 (with Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette and Kitty Wells)
For my money the best version of this song is from Terri Clark, born in Montreal August 5, 1968, raised in Medicine Hat and from a long line of musicians, she was determined to make it as a Country singer. She saved her money working in a Chinese Restaurant and moved to Nashville in 1987 almost right after High School. Two #1 hit songs and 26 charted singles and 11 albums later she still lives in Nashville.
The lead into the song features her grandmother, Betty Gauthier who along with Terri’s grandfather Ray opened for the likes of Johnny Cash and George Jones.
Click here for a playlist of the rest of the songs.
Music Trivia. Where did Terri Clark live just before moving to Nashville? London Ontario. Her grandparents lived here in my hometown of London and Terri herself stayed for 9 months working as a waitress before moving to Nashville, were she was not coincidentally a waitress before getting her first paying gig.
References: http://theboot.com/best-cover-songs/, https://www.simcoe.com/whatson-story/6846321-london-is-terri-clark-s-home-away-from-home/, images: Billboard.com, itunes.com, chrisstapleton.com, npr.org. http://radiotexaslive.com, ,