Following the country music artist Ricky Van Shelton’s first No. 1 hit “Somebody Lied” was his cover of Harlan Howard’s “Life Turned Her That Way.” It was only after more than two decades since the song’s composition when Shelton first came across with it. That time, he was readying the materials for his debut album. Having signed to Columbia Records, he teamed up with its producer Steve Buckingham. It was Buckingham who introduced the song “Life Turned Her That Way” to Shelton. Hearing the song for the first time, Shelton got instantly hooked with it. Little did he know that the classic tune has been in existence for over twenty years already. As such, many legendary artists in country music covered the song. Nonetheless, the single’s most successful cover is yet to be made. And, the artist meant to create that version is no other than himself.
Brief Song History
Harlan Howard’s name earned significant prominence in the 1960s following his move to Nashville. Many artists during this decade turned into stars by recording his historic catalog of songs. For example, Ray Price earned a No. 1 hit with “Heartaches By The Number” that Howard wrote. Also, he gave then-country newcomer Charlie Walker his major hit “Pick Me Up On Your Way Down,” and many other artists that followed the same path. Because of this, he has been dubbed as “the dean of country songwriters.” In 1961, he made a remarkable history when 15 of his penned tunes reached Billboard’s country music chart – all at the same time! And to note, no other songwriter has yet beaten or come close to such a record.
It was in 1965 when he wrote the song “Life Turned Her That Way.” Originally, he pitched the song to Little Jimmy Dickens who was best known for his novelty hits. Unfortunately, the song did not turn successful for him. Howard predicted it so. However, it found new hope with Mel Tillis’ cover of the song. Accordingly, Tillis’ version reached No.11 on the country music chart.
More than two decades have passed, the song was again predicted to become a bit for another artist. This time, its producer Buckingham who made such prediction and it involves Shelton in it. Thankfully, the singer listened to his producer’s advice. As it came out, his cover of “Life Turned Her That Way” reached No. 1 on the country chart in 1988 giving Shelton his second chart-topper hit. Listen to Shelton’s rendition of the song below.
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Harlan Howard, life turned her that way, mel tillis, Ricky Van Shelton, Steve Buckingham