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September 22

In Memory: Don Williams and his First Hit “I Wouldn’t Want To Live If You Didn’t Love Me”

A Lookback

On the same day 43 years ago in 1974, Don Williams reached #1 with the first single issued after signing with his first major label, ABC/Dot. They later merged with giant MCA. The song was called “I Wouldn’t Want To Live If You Didn’t Love Me.”

The song’s composer, Al Turney, was an attendant at a Nashville gas station. He recognized Williams when Don stopped in to fill up his tank. Turney asked him if he wouldn’t mind looking over some of his songs. Williams instructed Al to send over a tape to his publishing company. Of the four tunes on it, Don especially liked “I Wouldn’t Want To Live If You Didn’t Love Me.” The song became the first of his 17 career chart-toppers.

Behind the Song

Here are the details for the story behind the song. Don Williams had a two-year history as a country recording artist when he picked up his first number one single with “I Wouldn’t Want To Live If You Didn’t Love Me.” The song’s development into a hit began at a Red Ace service station in Nashville. Williams had stopped in to put gas in his tank and when he went to pay for it, the attendant recognized his name on the credit card. At that time, Don had racked up four Top Twenty singles: “The Shelter Of Your Eyes,” “Come Early Morning,” “Atta Way To Go” and his most recent, “We Should Be Together,” which had reached #5.

As if by fate, the service station attendant happened to be a struggling young songwriter by the name of Al Turney, who asked Williams if wouldn’t mind checking out a few of his songs. Don said yes and had Turney send over a tape. It contained demos of four different compositions, and of the four, Williams especially liked “I Wouldn’t Want To Live If You Didn’t Love Me.” Don recorded the song for his third album, appropriately titled “Volume III.”

Dot Records issued the song as Williams’ first single under a new recording contract, and when it appeared on the chart, the label took out a congratulatory ad in Billboard Magazine which read:

“Don, we here at Dot Records believe that your first single for our label is the greatest. ‘I Wouldn’t Want To Live If You Didn’t Love Me’ will be a giant record. We believe in it, and we believe in you.” That last line is almost prophetic, since “I Believe In You” became his biggest career hit five years later.

The ad proved correct in the short run, too. After debuting at a meager #90 on July 6, 1974, “I Wouldn’t Want To Live If You Didn’t Love Me” climbed its way to #1 in its twelfth week. Williams went on to log sixteen number one hits thereafter and appeared on the national charts through 1992. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall Of Fame in 2010.

From here, we can realize how other people, no matter who they are, can greatly impact us. We never know what they can do and change our lives. So, never forget to look back and recognize people and the little things that might be blessings from the heavens above.


Tags

al turney, don williams, livelove


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