Saturday, May 31, 2014

Country Club 41: Almost Cheating Songs

Blogger Mick Hartley, who closely follows events in North Korea, is also a great photographer (and photo and a sharer of great popular music in various genres.  This week he featured the fine Randy Travis song "On the Other Hand," a really fine song.

It got me to thinking that there is an unrecognized country genre: the "almost cheating song." You can find many lists of top country cheating songs like this one.  The finest example to my ears is "Almost Persuaded," a 1966 hit for David Houston.


Wikipedia notes

 "Almost Persuaded" spent nine weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard magazine Hot Country Singles chart starting in August 1966[2] and has since gone on to become a country standard. The song was also a moderate pop hit, reaching twenty-four on the Billboard pop chart and was David Houston's only Top 40 entry on the pop charts.[3]

 For 46 years and two months, no No. 1 song matched the chart-topping longevity of "Almost Persuaded," until Taylor Swift's "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" notched its ninth week atop the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart the week of December 15, 2012.
I'm reasonably sure that I heard Almost Persuaded in 1966, though I don't know whether it was country tune played on the (mostly) Wichita or OKC rock station I would have been listening to or perhaps it caught my ear when I crossed KFDI on my way from one station to another.

Regardless, it is a fine song and it has been covered by lots of artists, from the unexpected  like George Jones, Merle Haggard, Tammy Wynette, and the Conway Twitty to the unexpected like R&B giant  Etta James.

It is interesting to note that James places the encounter at a party, while the original is in a bar room, a setting preserved (I think) by most country artists. There seems to be quite a few neo-soul women singers who have learned the song from James and use the party setting.  Female singers naturally need to change the "ruby red lips" lyric, but they differ whether the tempter has "baby blue" or "big brown" eyes.  

I found an interesting "Almost Persuaded" mix that has quite a few versions inspired by James.  Additional versions can probably be found by searching on YouTube, but be aware that there is a gospel song with the same title.

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