Four Walls was written in 1951 and it waited for six years before its first recording took place. The song credited its lyrics to Marvin J. Moore while George H. Campbell Jr. provided its musical accompaniment. Based on its wordings, “Four Walls” is quite a sad song. It narrates someone’s woes over a lost love. He waited for her to come back but she never did. And the four walls are silent witnesses to his prolonged waiting.
Jim Reeves’ Cover
Similar to its theme of ‘waiting’, the song was perhaps waiting for the right time to be recorded by the right artist. The record producer Chet Atkins kept the song in his office until Reeves discovered it. Immediately, Reeves felt the desire to record the song and so he told Atkins about it. However, thinking the song is more suitable for a female vocalist, the producer didn’t agree with Reeves right away. With the latter’s persistence, he recorded the song on February 7, 1957.
Mostly, the singer employed a forceful style on his previous records. However, he wanted this song’s recording to be different. Standing closer to a microphone, Reeves performed a more mellow delivery of the song.
He enlisted the help of other musicians in the song’s recording. Bob Moore was on bass, Chet Atkins on guitar, Farris Coursey on drums, Floyd Cramer on piano, and The Jordanaires provided the vocal backing. The group’s collaborative effort brought the song to the top of the country music chart in 1957 while it peaked at No. 12 on the pop chart.
With the song’s quick success after release, other music artists came up with their own recording of it. In fact, this lonely tune has been consistently covered since its release in 1957 until 1995. Below is a list of the song’s other versions.
1957: Jim Lowe and Michael Holiday. The former’s recording appeared on the Billboard charts reaching No. 15.
1962: Kay Starr for her album Just Plain Country and Patti Cage for her album Go on Home. The song also appeared on the 1968 album Gentle on My Mind.
1965: Bing Crosby for his album Bing Crosby Sings the Great Country Hits
1967: Connie Francis for her album My Heart Cried for You
1968: B.J. Thomas for his album On My Way
1969: Jerry Lee Lewis for the album Sings the Country Music Hall of Fame Hits, Vol. 1 and Dillard and Clark for their album Through the Morning, Through the Night
1977: Vera Lynn included in her album Vera Lynn in Nashville
1981: Ronnie Milsap recorded a version for a tribute album to Jim Reeves. It featured 10 songs previously made hits by Reeves before and after his death. Milsap derived the title’s album from the opening line of “Four Walls”, Out where the bright lights are glowing.
1995: Willie Nelson for his album Just One Love