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“If You Leave Me Tonight I’ll Cry” by Jerry Wallace: A Heartbreak Anthem

Jerry Wallace + If You Leave Me Tonight I'll Cry

The chart-topping hit “If You Leave Me Tonight I’ll Cry” became Jerry Wallace’s No. 1 song on the Billboard’s Hot Country Singles chart. It sold 800,000 copies and peaked in the charts for two weeks. The song garnered a huge number of listeners after it got played for Rod Serling’s 1972 Night Gallery episode, The Tune in Dan’s Cafe. Wallace was nominated the same year for Male Vocalist of the Year and Single of the Year for his song “To Get to You” at the Country Music Association Awards.

The American pop country singer was dubbed Mr. Smooth for his sweet and radiant singing style. Wallace already had hits before the aforementioned record, with nine songs on the Billboard Hot 100. Among them is “Primrose Lane,” which served as The Smith Family’s TV theme song. From releasing pop smashes during the late 50s, he later debuted as a country artist in 1965 and stayed at the forefront of country radio during the 70s.

Meaning Behind the Song

Jerry Wallace first entered the country music scene in 1965, but he had trouble breaking through to the top of the charts until he sang “If You Leave Me Tonight I’ll Cry.” Universal Studios demanded a singing voice similar to Nat “King” Cole for an episode of the TV Series Night Gallery. He got picked right away and was chosen to sing the piece. 

The song was featured on the last episode of the Night Gallery where a song on a jukebox continued to play unexplainably eerie after it got switched off. The episode’s protagonist, Joe Bellman, inserts his coin into the machine and chooses a song that makes him think of his relationship with his wife, Kelly Bellman. But instead, somber country lyrics played: “Words like love and truth and goodness. Words like ’till death,” and was abruptly followed by pictures of the jukebox exploding. 

RELATED: Decades Finest: Here Are The Top 10 Country Songs Of The 1960s

Written by Richard P. Havens and Arnold Capitanelli, the song poses sincere and heartbreaking lyrics contrary to the TV series’ supernatural horror genre. Wallace delivers the deep emotions attached to the song through his velvety voice as it ends with “Take my heart… Take my heart… Take my heart.”

Sing along to Jerry Wallace’s “If You Leave Me Tonight I’ll Cry” as you play the video below.

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