Friday, July 20, 2012

It wasn't God who made Kitty Wells famous...

Posted By on Fri, Jul 20, 2012 at 12:35 PM

Since the death of country music's first female megastar, the great Kitty Wells, earlier this week, the blogosphere has been flooded with tributes and links to stories. One of her more recent interviews was with Wall Street Journal music writer Barry Mazor, who talked to the Queen of Country in 2008 in conjunction with the opening of a Kitty Wells exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville.


Wells told Mazor that the game changed for her — and by extension, for all women in country music — after she recorded her famous reply to Hank Thompson's 1952 hit "Wild Side of Life," in which the male singer had suggested that God Himself had made honky tonk angels solely for the purpose of tempting innocent, vulnerable men. Wells' reply came later that year in "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels." It was a strong statement in an era when the good-ol'-boys network still had a vise-grip on Nashville.

The No. 1 country hit (No. 27 pop) meant Wells could now tour in style, she told Mazor.

"I recorded the song — and that really changed my life. I started making hits, and I went back out on the road; we started traveling on the bus in the '50s, and that was one of the best things that's happened to us, because we had beds in there to rest and sleep."

Read Mazor's WSJ interview here.

One of the better tributes to Wells, who died Monday at 92, over the past few days came from Kansas City journalist Diana Reese, who wrote that she took her daughter to meet the country singer because she considered Wells a powerful role model. Here's an excerpt from Reese's piece, which ran in the Washington Post on Tuesday:

I wanted my daughter to see her not just because she was a legend in country music, but because she had broken barriers for women in the entertainment business.

“1st female country superstar Kitty Wells dies,” Taylor Swift tweeted on Monday, perhaps inspired by the Associated Press story that says, “Without Kitty Wells, there might be no Taylor Swift.”

Read Reese's Post tribute here.

There also would be no Loretta Lynn, as Wells' feisty attitude inspired such Lynn songs as "You Ain't Woman Enough To Take My Man" and "The Pill."

"She was my hero," Lynn said in a statement following Wells' death. "If I had never heard of Kitty Wells, I don't think I would have been a singer myself. I wanted to sound just like her, but as far as I am concerned, no one will ever be as great as Kitty Wells."

Listen to "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels":

Compare to Hank Thompson's "Wild Side of Life":

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