Sunday, December 20, 2009

Kitty Wells

The Kitty Wells Story
This is The Kitty Wells Story, straight goods, from start to finish. I picked the album up at Pyramid Records during a time that I was doing a hardcore exploration of country music. And it doesn’t get more country than this…

Kitty Wells:

It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels – It’s not only that this is a theologically dubious concept, but it’s coming from the world of Nashville, where gospel was sacred, so to speak. This is a condemnation that’s worse than it seems to our secularized ears. It was an answer song, this, to Wild Side Of Life by Hank Thompson, and the whole theme here, which is cheating husbands, resonates through her entire repertoire. Number 1 on the country chart in 1952.
I Heard The Jukebox Playing – “You said that you’d be happy,” sings Kitty, “with a baby on your knee.” And it’s an actual baby she’s talking about, not a girlfriend. But baby or no baby, he’s out carousing. A cheating song.
A Wedding Ring Ago – A cheating song. An unholy mix of naivety, money, recovery. From 1952.
Paying For That Back Street Affair – A cheating song. It’s Kitty who had the affair, but she was an innocent victim, knew nothing about his wife and kids. A likely story. A different time and a different place, where having an affair would ruin you for life.
I Don’t Claim To Be An Angel – Not being an angel, well I guess she was created by God then. Here it’s Kitty who’s the one who is, what we used to call, promiscuous. But now she vows to “change her ways.” Well ok, I say go for it. But keep listening… From 1953.
Whose Shoulder Will You Cry On – A cheating song. At least here she’s showing a bit of spunk. This is the B side of Makin’ Believe, from 1954.
I Gave My Wedding Dress Away – A bittersweet testimony to the nexus between sibling love and sibling rivalry. Country music seems to be full of songs where the bride, or is some cases the groom, is switched at the last minute. I can’t imagine what the wedding party is like
Release Me – Ray Price did this. Remember? So did Jeanne Shepherd. Esther Phillips put it on the pop chart in 1962, and Engelbert Humperdinck did it again in 1967. Kitty put this chestnut into the country top 10 in 1954.
After Dark – A cheating song. She is the other woman, just like she was in Paying For That Back Street Affair, though here she knows what’s going on.
Lonely Side Of Town – A cheating song. Her man is “having fun and holding hands.” We don’t find out with whom. We do learn, though, that they are not yet married. We don’t know, however, why she can’t be with him. From 1955.
Making Believe – A song of love lost, and the failure to recover from same.
Searching For Someone Like You – Given what happened to the romance, maybe she should look for some not like him. From 1956.
Repenting – A cheating song, but this time it’s Kitty who’s been cheating, again. She seems to do that a lot. From 1956.
Your Wild Way’s Gonna Let You Down – I guess she’s singing to the same guy she sang to on It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels. From 1959.
Three Ways To Love You – Ok, get your mind out of the gutter. This is a waltz, which is fitting I suppose, given the title. It’s rare, a straight love song by Kitty Wells. Straight, but for the fact that the 3 ways are the right way, the wrong way, and the “way I love you.” Now, what’s that all about. From 1957.
She’s No Angel – And if she were, she would be a miscreant, apparently. From 1958.
Tough And Go Heart – An almost cheating song. From 1958.
Jealousy – Love is always so perfect in pop songs; it’s a relief when some reality sneaks in. Suspicion by Terry Stafford, Suspicious Minds by Elvis Presley, and of course, Jalousy, which is not this song. All songs about jealousy, and the poison it injects into a relationship. This was not Kitty’s only top 100 single; the other was It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels. This one reached number 78 in the summer of 1958.
I Can’t Help Wondering – Kind of a country version of I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now. More down to earth, we feel the everyday details of her life mixed in with the musing.
Mommy For A Day – An interesting twist. The post divorce story, kid is with Dad, highly unusual I would think, particularly in 1959 when this song was released.
Amigo’s Guitar – It’s usually the guy that sits in the bar drowning his sorrows in wine and music. From 1959.
All The Time – The B side of Amigo’s Guitar. A straightforward love song. No cheating, no jealousy, no back street affair, no honky tonk angels lurking about. What’s wrong with this guy, anyway?
The Other Cheek – Once bitten, twice smart. From 1959.
Left To Right – A song of separation, sadness, and hope. The title refers to the hands on which she wears his ring.

1 comment:

Belle said...

Hey, meant to tell ya' - Momma never liked Kitty Wells... funny huh?

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