“‘Til a Tear Becomes a Rose” was another posthumously released song of Keith Whitley off his Greatest Hits album. The song was also the only single released from the album in 1990, and it ended up peaking No. 13 on the Billboard country charts.
After tying the knot in November 1986, Keith Whitley and wife Lorrie Morgan were frequently asked when they would record a duet. It was with much sorrow when fate stepped in, and Whitley died from alcohol poisoning three years after their marriage. Luckily, the couple did lay tracks for a few songs together.
A Duet We Will Never Forget
Whitley recorded “‘Til a Tear Becomes a Rose” as a duet with Morgan, which was their first together. The song ended up earning the couple the award for Vocal Event of the Year at the Country Music Association awards, which was an emotional moment for Morgan. Listeners flocked toward the song too, as they mourned over Whitley’s untimely passing— and the fact that the next extraordinary husband-wife duo was over, just as they were starting.
Interestingly, the song seems to serve as Whitley’s message to Morgan to keep going even after he’s gone. Serving as the narrator, Whitley witnessed his love suffering through pain, and so he tried to comfort her with his touching words, singing:
“Dearest love, I know your heart is shattered, and all my words can offer no release. But my love will heal the pain you suffered, and I’ll be here if you should turn to me. Darling, I can see the clouds around you, and in your heart, I know a sorrow grows. But if you weep, I’ll be right there to hold you ’til each tear you cry becomes a rose,” the song goes.
“‘Til a Tear Becomes a Rose” was first recorded by country singer Leon Everette and was released in 1985 from his Mercury Records album Where’s the Fire. His version of the song peaked at No. 44 on Hot Country Songs.
In 1999, country legend John Prine also covered the song with his wife, Fiona Whelan Prine, for his album In Spite of Ourselves.
And in 2013, Lorrie Morgan shared the stage with his son Jesse Keith Whitley, who was only two years old when his legendary father died, to pay tribute to the one and only Keith Whitley. The two have so much chemistry singing “Til A Tear Becomes A Rose,” that it’s difficult to imagine anyone doing this song better.
And although there will never be another Keith Whitley, his son Jesse comes pretty close. We are sure his dad would be so proud of him.
You can listen to Keith Whitley’s performance of “‘Til a Tear Becomes a Rose” with Lorrie Morgan in the video below.