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Kitty Wells It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels
Kitty Wells It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels
01/09/2021
Kitty Wells The Queen of Country Music

'It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels'

"It's a shame that all the blame is on us women
It's not true that only you men feel the same
From the start
Most every heart that's ever broken
Was because there always was a man to blame"

Wat een prachtig verhaal schuilt hierachter. Dacht ik ooit, in 1969, dat Mick Jagger uniek en origineel een legendarisch nummer had geschreven over Honky Tonk Women en dan ontdek je in 2021 dit geweldige nummer van een in haar tijd en in haar omgeving ongelofelijk dappere country zangeres, die even korte metten maakte met de macho prietpraat van de Good Old Country Boys.

Wat was het geval?

Het verhaal begint in 1952 met een hit van Country Muzikant Hank Thompson: 'The Wild Side of Life'. Het tamelijk cynische nummer wijst de Honky Tonk Angel aan als de schuldige aan het hartzeer van de man die door dit type vrouw in de steek gelaten zou zijn.
Binnen enkele maanden komt Kitty Wells met een gepast antwoord: "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels".

Kitty Wells The Queen of Country Music
"Ellen Muriel Deason (30 August 1919 – 16 July 2012), known professionally as Kitty Wells, was an American pioneering female country music singer. She broke down a barrier to women in country music with her 1952 hit recording "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels", which also made her the first female country singer to top the U.S. country charts and turned her into the first female country superstar. “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” would also be her first of several pop crossover hits. Wells is the only artist to be awarded top female vocalist awards for 14 consecutive years. Her chart-topping hits continued until the mid 1960s, paving the way for and inspiring a long list of female country singers who came to prominence in the 1960s." Bron: Wikipedia

"The Wild Side of Life" is a song made famous by country music singer Hank Thompson. Originally released in 1952, the song became one of the most popular recordings in the genre's history, spending 15 weeks at number one on the Billboard country chart, solidified Thompson's status as a country music superstar and inspired the answer song, "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" by Kitty Wells.
"The Wild Side of Life" carries one of the most distinctive melodies of early country music, used in "Thrills That I Can't Forget" recorded by Welby Toomey and Edgar Boaz in 1925, "I'm Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes" by the Carter Family in 1929, and "Great Speckled Bird" by Roy Acuff in 1936. That, along with the song's story of a woman shedding her role as domestic provider to follow the night life, combined to become one of the most famous country songs of the early 1950s.
According to country music historian Bill Malone, "Wild Side" co-writer William Warren was inspired to create the song after his experiences with a young woman he met when he was younger—a honky tonk angel, as it were—who "found the glitter of the gay night life too hard to resist." Fellow historian Paul Kingsbury wrote that the song appealed to people who "thought the world was going to hell and that faithless women deserved a good deal of the blame."
Jimmy Heap and His Melody Masters first recorded "Wild Side" in 1951, but never had a hit with the song. Thompson did, and his version spent three and one-half months atop the Billboard country chart in the spring and early summer of 1952.
The song's title inspired the title of Nelson Algren's 1956 novel A Walk on the Wild Side (itself an influence on Lou Reed's 1972 song "Walk on the Wild Side").
The lyric, "I didn't know God made honky tonk angels", and the tune's overall cynical attitude—Kingsbury noted the song "... just begged for an answer from a woman" inspired "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels", which was also based on the same melody. Recorded by Kitty Wells and released later in 1952, that song, too, became a No. 1 country hit. In "It Wasn't God ... ", Wells shifts the blame for the woman's infidelity to the man, countering that for every unfaithful woman there is a man who has led her astray. Bron: Wikipedia

'The Wild Side of Life' Hank Thompson

Well, you wouldn't read my letters if I wrote you
You asked me not to call you on the phone
There's something I've been waiting for to tell you
So I wrote it in the words of this song

You never knew there were honky tonk angels
Or you might have known I'd never make a wife
You walked out on the only one who ever loved you
So I went back to the wild side of life

Now the glamor of the good life always lead me
To the places where the wild liquor flows
I tried to be your one and only angel
But I'm not that kind of angel, heaven knows

I cried so hard the day you went and left me
'Cause some things you said, they cut me like a knife
What you wanted was another kind of angel
And you should be back to the wild side of life

No, well, I guess I'm just a honky tonk angel
I might have known I'd never make a wife
Well, you left the only one who ever loved you
And I'm back here on the wild side of life

I'm only a honky tonk angel
I might have known I'd never make a wife
You walked out on the only one who ever loved you
And you left me here on the wild side of life

"It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" is a 1952 country song written by J. D. "Jay" Miller, and originally recorded by Kitty Wells. It was an answer song to the Hank Thompson hit "The Wild Side of Life."
The song — which blamed unfaithful men for creating unfaithful women — became the first No. 1 Billboard country hit for a solo woman artist. In addition to helping establish Wells as country music's first major woman star, "It Wasn't God..." paved the way for other women artists, particularly Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, and Tammy Wynette,[1] and songs where women call out unfaithful men.
It was preserved by the National Recording Registry in 2007.
In the late 1940s, Wells had recorded on RCA Victor, but had little success there. By 1952, she was recording on Decca Records, and recorded "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" at her first recording session.
In "The Wild Side of Life," Thompson expresses regret his bride-to-be has left him for another man whom she met in a roadhouse, stating, "I didn't know that God made honky tonk angels." That song and its appeal to people who "thought the world was going to hell and that faithless women deserved a good deal of the blame...just begged for an answer from a woman".
The rebuttal song, as it turned out, was written by Jay Miller, although it was Wells who made it a hit.[3] In "It Wasn't God..." – which follows the same melody, but more uptempo – she cites the original song and counters that, for every woman who had been led astray, it was a man who led her there (often through his own infidelity). She also expresses frustration about how women are always made scapegoats for the man's faults in a given relationship.
Wells' statement was a rather daring one to make in 1952, particularly in the conservative, male-dominated realm of country music; women's liberation and their sentiments in song were still more than 10 years away. There was plenty of resistance to the song and its statement: the NBC radio network banned the song for being "suggestive," while Wells was prohibited from performing it on the Grand Ole Opry and NBC's "Prince Albert" radio program.
Yet Wells struck a chord with her fans, as "It Wasn't God..." went to number one for six weeks on Billboard magazine's country charts. In topping the charts, Wells became the first woman to ever accomplish the feat, at least as a solo act; if all female singers are considered, then Margaret Whiting gets the honor (in a 1949 duet No. 1 with Jimmy Wakely called "Slippin' Around").
Wells was at first reluctant to record the song, but eventually agreed, if only to get the standard $125 session fee payment. Eventually, "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky-Tonk Angels" outsold Thompson's "The Wild Side of Life," and launched the then little-known Wells to stardom. Years later, Wells told an interviewer she was shocked over the song's success and endurance. "Women never had hit records in those days. Very few of them even recorded. I couldn't believe it happened," she said.
Historian Charles Wolfe noted "It Wasn't God..." was one of the few notable exceptions to the rule of an answer song not enjoying the same success as the original.
"The Wild Side of Life" and "It Wasn't God ..." are set to an apparently traditional tune used in the song "Thrills That I Can't Forget" recorded by Welby Toomey and Edgar Boaz in 1925, and more familiarly in the Carter Family's "I'm Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes" recorded in February, 1929, as well as the Rev. Guy Smith's "Great Speckled Bird"—popularized in 1936 by Roy Acuff. In view of the common associations and Wells' 1959 "Great Speckled Bird" recording, the correspondence was hardly accidental.
The connection between these songs is noted in the David Allan Coe song "If That Ain't Country" that ends with the lyrics "I'm thinking tonight of my blue eyes/ Concerning a great speckled bird/ I didn't know God made honky-tonk angels/ and went back to the wild side of life."
Bron: Wikipedia

Many country radio listeners (and artists) complain about the lack of airtime for women on the genre’s airwaves today. But women were once almost completely ignored by country radio’s male tastemakers. That was before Kitty Wells recorded the number one single “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels.”
Entirely unintentionally, Wells broke down huge barriers in 1952 by becoming the first woman to rise to the top spot on the country music charts. “Honky Tonk Angels” was written by J.D. Miller (more about him later) in response to Hank Thompson’s 1952 hit “Wild Side of Life,” a song about a woman who would rather hang out in a bar than be a faithful companion. Thompson’s song clearly placed the onus on the woman for her totally unacceptable behavior. But in “Honky Tonk Angels,” Wells put part of the blame on men for alienating their women and for pushing them in the direction of the nearest bar, even referencing the title from Thompson’s song in the first verse of “Honky Tonk Angels”:
As I sit here tonight, the jukebox playin’
The tune about the wild side of life
As I listen to the words you are sayin’
It brings memories of when I was a trustin’ wife
Musician and engineer John Sturdivant, Jr. is the grandson of Wells and her late husband Johnnie Wright, of the legendary country duo Johnnie and Jack. Fondly referring to his grandparents as “MeMaw” and “PawPaw,” Sturdivant recounted his version of how the recording came to be from his recording studio in the family’s longtime home base of suburban Madison, Tennessee.
“PawPaw was downtown when [Decca Records executive] Paul Cohen said he had a song that he thought MeMaw should record … The song was ‘Honky Tonk Angels,’ and PawPaw told Paul that he would take it to MeMaw and see what she thought about it. MeMaw said that if PawPaw thought it was all right that they would at least ‘make scale’ on it, meaning they would get paid for the recording session [Wright played on the session as well]. They recorded the song and [Decca] released it.”
Some radio stations refused to play the song, as it wasn’t politically correct for a woman to sing a song blaming a man for her bad behavior. Radio acquiesced after callers kept demanding it, and the song went to the top of the charts. “She got a call from her friend Audrey [Mrs. Hank] Williams,” Sturdivant, Jr. said, “and asked MeMaw what she thought about what was going on. MeMaw asked her, ‘What do you mean?’ Audrey told her that she had the number one song in country music!”
Songwriter J.D. Miller was a Louisiana label owner and producer whose songs would later be cut by the Kinks and Dwight Yoakam. He produced swamp blues legend Slim Harpo (“I’m a King Bee”), and his studio would later host Paul Simon and John Fogerty. Those things may never have happened for him, though, without his having written the song that changed the country music industry and made Kitty Wells the “Queen of Country Music.” Bron: American Songwriter

'It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels' Kitty Wells

As I sit here tonight, the jukebox playin'
The tune about the wild side of life
As I listen to the words you are sayin'
It brings memories when I was a trusting wife

It wasn't God who made honky tonk angels
As you said in the words of your song
Too many times married men
Think they're still single
That has caused many a good girl to go wrong

It's a shame that all the blame is on us women
It's not true that only you men feel the same
From the start
Most every heart that's ever broken
Was because there always was a man to blame

It wasn't God who made honky tonk angels
As you said in the words of your song
Too many times married men
Think they're still single
That has caused many a good girl to go wrong