The song “Amanda” was first recorded and released by the country icon Don Williams in the summer of 1973 as the flip side of his No. 12 hit “Come Early Morning.” And it peaked at No. 33 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart that year.
Though this song wasn’t one of Don Williams’ biggest hits, it’s absolutely an unforgettable segment of his discography as well as in his television performances from the early 70s.
The Song Was Written As An Apology
“Amanda” was written by songwriter Bob McDill, who has supplied Williams with his early major hits, like “If Hollywood Don’t Need You,” “Good Old Boys Like Me,” “(Turn Out the Lights And) Love Me Tonight,” “Come Early Morning,” and “It Must Be Love.”
McDill described the song as an “apology to my wife.”
“Amanda light of my life. Fate should have made you a gentleman’s wife,” it sings.
It was released in a time before Don Williams sported facial hair and would usually wear a cowboy hat in public. However, he had already perfected the smooth-as-silk vocal style that distinguished him as one of country music’s most effortlessly inviting entertainers for decades.
But did you know that “Amanda” could have been a chart-topping single for another country singer, Waylon Jennings? Before Williams’ recording caught the attention of the country fans, McDill had approached Jennings with it. He took “Amanda” over to Jennings’ office, but the singer was not around. So McDill left the song at the front desk, telling the receptionist to make sure Jennings would hear it when he got back, but he never did.
After Don Williams’ cut started getting played, Jennings heard it on the radio and called McDill, saying, “That’s the story of my life, Hoss. Why didn’t you give me that song?”
McDill told him, “If you look on your receptionist’s desk, I’ll bet you’ll find a copy of it. I tried my best,” to which Jennings replied, “Well, I’m gonna record it someday anyway,” and the following year, he was true to his word. “Amanda” became Jennings’s eighth solo No. 1 on the country chart. The track stayed at No. 1 for three weeks on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart.
A genuinely private person, Don Williams, is nonetheless revered by a new generation of performers. In 2017, a tribute album called Gentle Giants: The Songs of Don Williams was released, featuring a range of country stars performing Williams’ greatest hits. The artists on the compilation include Trisha Yearwood, Alison Krauss, Dierks Bentley, and Chris Stapleton. Stapleton, who calls Don Williams his “musical hero,” has chosen to record the iconic song “Amanda.”
Indeed, Don Williams is a country legend. While he may not be with us anymore, his music will live on forever. Watch Don Williams’ incredible performance of “Amanda” below.