The Songwriters and the Inspiration
During 1975, Earl Thomas Conley and his future record producer Nelson Larkin still lived in Huntsville, Alabama. They frequently headed over to Muscle Shoals to hang out with some of the local musicians. The two formed a friendship with songwriter Tommy Brasfield. Despite the camaraderie, Brasfield never pitched a song to Conley until 1983. It was the time when he finally felt he had written one suited to Earl’s musical personality, “Holding Her And Loving You.”
Brasfield and his songwriting buddy Walt Aldridge, composed the song about a friend of theirs who was going through the difficult situation described in the song’s storyline.
They were talking about this guy one night, trying to put themselves in his place. They imagined what it must be like to be in that sad predicament. That’s how the song “Holding Her And Loving You” was born.
When Brasfield took the song to Nashville, Conley and his producer Nelson Larkin were preparing for a rough recording session. Conley wanted to use his road band in the studio. However, the night before, things had not progressed well. They decided that evening to bring in session players for the next day’s work, but only after a long, drawn-out argument. Larkin wasn’t particularly thrilled about the songs they planned to cut. He decided to attend the session out of duty.
Larkin was about to head to the studio when Brasfield came into his office, promising a hit for Conley. Larkin tried to put off listening to the demo, but at Tommy’s insistence, he put the tape in his cassette player. He didn’t like the first song, but he let the tape run while he gathered up material. After hearing the first few lines of the next track, the song came up “Holding Her And Loving You”. From there, he knew he had a hit.
Getting Conley to listen to the song wasn’t easy. Larkin showed up at the session fifteen minutes late and Conley didn’t want to hear anything new. They worked on the two scheduled songs and after things went smoothly, Earl consented to listen to “Holding Her And Loving You”. After hearing three lines, he decided to record it. The musicians played it through just twice and Conley laid down his track. However, Thomas was getting sick and didn’t feel like doing another take. He promised Larkin that he would come back in and do another vocal when he felt better. However, the producer didn’t want another performance and thought the first one was perfect.
“Holding Her And Loving You” sailed to No. 1 on Billboard’s country singles chart November 26, 1983. It became Conley’s fourth of his eighteen career chart-toppers. Also, it is one of the hits included in Earl’s string of sixteen number ones in a row. This achievement ties Sonny James for second place on the list of consecutive number one singles. After reaching the summit, “Holding Her And Loving You” earned respect for Aldridge and Brasfield from their peers when the Nashville Songwriters Association named it the “Song of the Year”.