September 1

The Story Behind Kitty Wells’ “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels”

The Song’s Inspiration

It started when Songwriter J. D. Miller was driving along State Route 90 near Rayne, Louisiana when he heard Hank Thompson’s blockbuster hit “The Wild Side Of Life” come on the car radio. Miller immediately pulled off to the side of the road, grabbed a notepad and pencil and wrote a woman’s response.

This gave birth to a new song that he called his new song “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels.” Decca Records had no female country artists on its roster at that time, but a few of the company’s associates were familiar with Kitty Wells. Decca summoned her to come in and record “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels.” Kitty agreed, but only after her husband convinced her to do it just for the session money, a very meager amount which they needed at the time.


Kitty’s Recording

Decca was so happy with Kitty’s recording that they wanted to sign her to a long-term contract. At that time, some industry personnel questioned the label’s actions because no female soloist had ever posted a major country music hit single. That is with the exception of Patsy Montana’s pop hit of “I Want To Be A Cowboy’s Sweetheart” in 1935, few female country-oriented songs had even bumped the charts. We can say that the country music scene was a man’s world at that time.

Another challenge of the song was the fact that the society at that time was quite conservative. If we look into the song’s lyrics, it is pretty shocking (at least at that time). Kitty was a devoted mother, a pillar of the church, and a happily married woman who didn’t drink or smoke getting ready to record a song about a woman being condemned to the sinful world of taverns and liquor by the actions of an unfaithful man. It was just the opposite of the image she had always tried to project. Therefore, the song was inappropriate for her to promote. But, that didn’t stop them and this decision changed the world.

It would have been quite a celebration for the song to reach the charts but, to their surprise, “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” became the first #1 single for a country music female artist. With Kitty’s mournful voice pleading “not to blame us, women,” Kitty Wells became a major star. The female liberation movement has started for country music with a traditional melody but bold lyrics. So, that folks led us to where we are today.

I hope you enjoyed the video and tell us what you think about the song too.


God, honky tonk angels, kitty wells

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