Why Baby Why
"Why Baby Why" is a country music song co-written and originally recorded by George Jones. Released in late 1955 on Starday Records and produced by Starday co-founder and Jones' manager Pappy Daily, it peaked at 4 on the Billboard country charts that year. It was Jones' first chart single, following several unsuccessful singles released during the prior year on Starday.
|"Why Baby Why"|
|Single by George Jones|
|from the album Grand Ole Opry's New Star|
|B-side||"Seasons of My Heart"|
|Released||September 17, 1955|
|Recorded||August 27, 1955|
Gold Star Studios, Houston, TX
|Length||2:47 (original 1955 version) 2:16 (Unbridged Version)|
|George Jones singles chronology|
|"Why Baby Why"|
|Single by Charley Pride|
|from the album Charley Pride Live|
|B-side||"It's So Good to Be Together"|
|Charley Pride singles chronology|
Recording and compositionEdit
Jones's first chart hit, "Why Baby Why", has gone on to become a country standard, having been covered by many artists. The recording session for "Why Baby Why" took place in Houston, Texas's Gold Star Studios and featured the house lineup of Glenn Barber on lead guitar, Herb Remington on pedal steel guitar, Tony Sepolio on fiddle, and Doc Lewis on piano. The arrangement is upbeat honky tonk, led by a fiddle that plays throughout the song. Overall, the song has been described as a classic of the "finger-pointin' cheatin' song". In the liner notes to the retrospective Cup Of Loneliness: The Classic Mercury Years, country music historian Colin Escott observes that part of the song's appeal "lay in the way a Cajun dance number was trying to break free of a honky tonk song." Jones recorded the backing vocal himself, with help from innovative techniques from engineer Bill Quinn, after a planned appearance by more established singer Sonny Burns did not materialize due to the latter's drinking. According to the book George Jones: The Life and Times of a Honky Tonk Legend, Jones's frequent songwriting partner Darrell Edwards was inspired to write the words after hearing an argument between a couple at a gas station. The lyric sets up the theme of the song:
Lord, I can't live without you and you know it's true
But there's no livin' with you so what'll I do
I'm goin' honky tonkin', get as tight as I can
And maybe by then you'll 'preciate a good man
Tell me why baby, why baby, why baby why
You make me cry baby, cry baby, cry baby cry
Credits and personnelEdit
For the 1955 Original recording.
- George Jones – vocals, acoustic
- Herb Remington – steel
- Lew Brisby – bass
- Tony Sepolio – fiddle
- Doc Lewis – piano
The single's early airplay occurred in Jones' home state of Texas, with Houston's country music station KIKK ranking it number one locally. Their charts were sent to stations around the country, which began to pick it up as well, partially overcoming Starday's regionally limited distribution. However, its progress on the chart was blunted by Red Sovine and Webb Pierce's cover duet, which benefited from Decca Records' major label status and national distribution and rose to number one on the chart over the 1955–1956 Christmas holiday period. Jones's rendition was later included as the first track on his 1957 debut album Grand Ole Opry's New Star.
Since the release of Jones' rendition, "Why Baby Why" has been covered by several other artists, many of whom have also charted with it. Jones himself re-recorded it a couple of times as a duet; first with Gene Pitney for their It's Country Time Again! album released in 1966, and with Ricky Skaggs for the 1994 album The Bradley Barn Sessions which featured re-recordings of Jones' songs as duets with various artists. Two different versions of the song have reached Number One on the country charts, making it one of the only country songs to hold that distinction. Artists who have had country chart hits with renditions of this song include the following:
- Red Sovine and Webb Pierce, #1 in 1956
- Hank Locklin, #9 later in 1956
- Warren Smith and Shirley Collie, #23 in 1961
- Charley Pride, #1 in 1983
- Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson recorded the song for their 1983 album Take It to the Limit.
- The Good Brothers, #20 in 1991 in Canada
- Palomino Road, #46 in 1992
- Patty Loveless cut the song in 2008.
- Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "George Jones biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2008-09-11.
- Nathan Brackett; Christian Hoard (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 438. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
- Irwin Stambler, Grelun Landon (2000). Country Music: The Encyclopedia. Macmillan Books. p. 223. ISBN 0-312-26487-9.
- Andy Bradley; Roger Wood (2010). House of Hits: The Story of Houston's Gold Star/SugarHill Recording Studios. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press. pp. 48–50. ISBN 978-0-292-71919-4.
- Holland, Richard (2001). "'It All Began the Day My Conscience Died': The Cheatin' Song From Prototype to Post-Modern". In Francis Edward Abernethy (ed.). 2001: A Texas Folklore Odyssey. University of North Texas Press. pp. 138, 142. ISBN 1-57441-140-3.
- Allen, Bob (1996). George Jones: The Life and Times of a Honky Tonk Legend. St Martin's Press. p. 103. ISBN 978-0312956981.
- Jones, George; Carter, Tom (1996). I Lived to Tell It All. Villard. pp. 41–42. ISBN 0-679-43869-6.
- "Red Sovine biography". Red Sovine website. Retrieved 2008-09-11.
- Whitburn, Joel (2006). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Country Hits. p. 512. ISBN 9780823082919.
- RPM Country Tracks - Volume 53, No. 10, February 09 1991
- "Palomino Road biography". Oldies.com. Retrieved 2008-08-10.