Friday Five: Kitty Wells Answer Songs

Juli Thanki | February 26th, 2010

Kitty Wells is the queen of country music. She’s also the queen of answer songs. Here are my five favorites.

  • Country Music Hall Of Fame Series: Kitty Wells5. “My Cold, Cold Heart Is Melted Now” – Kitty Wells

    Though it borrows its title from another Hank Williams classic, this one’s set to the tune of “Your Cheatin’ Heart.” If you’ve ever been done wrong, there’s some comfort in hearing Wells sing from the wrong-doer’s perspective “I go to bed but only weep/My cold, cold heart won’t let me sleep…My tears pour down like falling rain/Through restless sleep I call your name.”

  • Queen Of Country4. “Hey Joe” – Kitty Wells

    This one’s a companion to Carl Smith’s “Hey Joe,” with Wells’ filling in the lady’s thoughts as she sings “Hey Joe, go put on your dancin’ shoes/And I’ll help you forget your blues/I’ve simply got to have you for my own.” Sounds like Joe’s girl-stealing pal from the Smith song is outta luck.

  • 20 All-Time Greatest Hits3. “I’ll Always Be Your Fraulein” – Kitty Wells

    This top 10 hit in ’57 was a response to Bobby Helms’ chart topper “Fraulein.” Here Wells is singing from the perspective of that “old German’s daughter” who’s an ocean away from her true love. Maybe it’s for the best that the two are separated: “I’ll Always Be Your Hausfrau” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

  • 20 All-Time Greatest Hits2. “I’m Paying For That Back Street Affair” – Kitty Wells

    This response to Webb Pierce’s #1 hit went to #6 in 1953. Here Wells laments ever getting involved with a married man, singing “The love I gave so free/Is left to torture me” Sounds like paying for that back street affair involves a scorching case of the clap.

  • 20 All-Time Greatest Hits1. “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” – Kitty Wells

    It was this response to Hank Thompson’s “The Wild Side of Life” that catapulted Wells to the top of the charts in 1952, making her the first female solo artist with a #1 country song. “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels,” is, in my opinion, one of the most important songs in country music history. It’s also damn good.

  1. Paul W Dennis
    February 26, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    “I’m Paying For That Back Street Affair” was an excellent song, although I don’t care for your veriage in describing it – Kitty was too much of a lady for that to have been the case !

    I hope it wasn’t the remakes from 20 ALL-TIME GREATEST (for songs 1, 2 & 3) that you were listening to when putting your list. The originals are so much better

  2. Juli
    February 26, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Paul: nope, they were from the Bear Family box. And yes, Kitty Wells is much more of a lady than I am–tasteless jokes are sort of my forte ;-)

  3. Rick
    February 26, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    Yes Juli, use of the term “a raging social disease” would have been much classier! (lol)

    The fact answer songs can copy the melody of another hit song and then just change the words for an opposite perspective makes them like an early Weird Al Yankovic effort without the humor! Its almost like Kitty rode to success on the coattails of some of the top male artists of her day! Well considering how “girl singers” were treated back then by the country music establishment, I guess it was a gimmick that worked extremely well to get her in the door! If only Rose Maddox had thought of this first….

  4. stormy
    February 26, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    Paul: So she was the classy kind of husband stealing skank? That would make her the Rachel Uchitel, right?

  5. Paul W Dennis
    February 27, 2010 at 12:35 am

    Stormy – Kitty was actually nothing of the sort – she and husband Johnnie Wright recently celebrated their 72nd wedding anniversary

  6. J.R. Journey
    February 28, 2010 at 11:29 am

    I never realized Kitty Wells recorded so many answer songs. Really enlightening feature this week.

    Also, I think it’s the mark of a true artist that he or she can make you feel like they’ve actually lived the story in the song, whether they have or not. Obviously, Miss Wells was an up-standing lady, but her performance on cheating songs was genuine to the point that we still believe what she’s singing some 60 years later. I could think of a handful of female star(lets) that may have contracted ‘social diseases’ during their rise to fame, but I wouldn’t ever place Wells in that group.

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  • Barry Mazor: Thanks for explaining that to me, Luckyol.
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