March 7

Mickey Gilley’s Songs: The Best Songs By Our Favorite Urban Cowboy

Today, we’re going to look back at some of the best of Mickey Gilley’s songs ever since his illustrious country music career started in the late 1950s. 

Mickey Gilley grew out to be one of the most popular names in the genre, with a string of hit records under his belt and the credit for kicking off a cultural movement. He became so famous that an entrepreneur in Pasadena, Texas, asked for the singer to lend his name to a nightclub he was planning to open. Gilley’s club indeed grew into the biggest country music bar in the world.

All throughout his career, Mickey Gilley charted more than 40 singles in the top 40 on the US Country chart – 17 of those are No. 1 country hits. Check out below some of our favorites.

1. “Room Full of Roses”

From: Room Full of Roses (1974)

“Room Full of Roses” was Gilley’s first No. 1 hit on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. But the country ballad was never meant to become a hit. It was recorded as the B-side for Gilley’s “She Called Me Baby.” What’s even more interesting was that Gilley was not pleased with the recording’s final result. “All I could hear was that damn steel guitar. The echo was just bouncing off the walls,” he said.

Gilley even got out of synch during the piano interlude and in the song’s middle portion. However, the song instantly became popular and it was later on picked for national distribution.

2. “Stand by Me”

From: Urban Cowboy (1980)

“Stand by Me” has been recorded more than 400 times and has been performed by many notable artists – and this includes Gilley in 1980. His version was included in the romantic western film, Urban Cowboy, starring John Travolta.

The song became another country No. 1 hit for Gilley and was even a crossover success, peaking at No. 22 on US Billboard Hot 100.

3. “True Love Ways”

From: That’s All That Matters to Me (1980)

“True Love Ways” is a song that dates back to 1958 and was co-written by Norman Petty and Buddy Holly as a wedding gift to Holly’s bride, Maria Elena Santiago. Petty’s wife recorded the first version of the song two weeks before Holly got engaged with Santiago.

Since then, several artists have covered the song – including the successful cover version of Gilley in 1980, snagging the top spot of Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.

4. “The Window Up Above”

From: Mickey’s Movin’ On (1975)

“The Window Up Above” was originally written and recorded by country legend George Jones and is said to be “his greatest composition.” Jones revealed that he wrote the country ballad within twenty minutes, one morning in 1960 while living in Vidor, Texas.

Fifteen years later, Gilley recorded his own version, and it became a No. 1 smash hit.

5. “Don’t the Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time”

From: Gilley’s Smokin’ (1976)

Gilley finds himself grieving about the late-night desperation of finding an attractive woman in a barroom in the song “Don’t the Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time.”

As the evening grew and the more drinks he consumed, he started to lower down his standard until he found the one who’s willing to come home with him. But when the morning came, he woke up with the most undesirable woman in the bar. He vowed to never “do it anymore.”

6. “You Don’t Know Me”

From: You Don’t Know Me (1981)

Written by Cindy Walker, who’s behind some of the most many popular and enduring songs, “You Don’t Know Me” has been performed or recorded by hundreds of artists, including Ray Charles, Willie Nelson, Elvis Presley, and Gilley, who took it to No. 1 in 1981.

7. “I Overlooked an Orchid”

From: Room Full of Roses (1974)

After Gilley’s first No. 1 hit, the country singer decided to give the record business another try, and his label urged him to look for something in the same manner as “Room Full Of Roses” for a follow-up.

“I Overlooked An Orchid,” a song Gilley would sing as a teenager, turned out to be the best choice. Originally recorded in 1950, Gilley’s record label had to dig up the sheet music because he can no longer remember all the words.

It ended up being another country No. 1 hit for Gilley, holding the top position for a week and spending a total of fourteen weeks at the country chart.

8. “Lawdy Miss Clawdy”

From: Gilley’s Smokin’ (1976)

Written by singer-songwriter Lloyd Price, “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” is among the biggest selling R&B records of 1952. 

It has inspired several songs that, for some time, every new R&B song released in New Orleans sounded dubiously like “Lawdy Miss Clawdy.”

9. “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me”

From: You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me (1984)

“You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me” was written by Smokey Robinson – the leader of rhythm and blues vocal group Miracles – while thinking about Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home To Me.”

Cooke’s song tells the tale of a man who loses the woman he loves. Though he did not think much of it in the beginning, he soon started missing her terribly, that he found himself apologizing to her and promising her that he would treat her right as long as she comes back.

“You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me” got a similar sentiment; however, the roles are now reversed. The woman mistreated the man, but he chose to love her unconditionally. Gilley recorded the song as the title track of his 1984 album. Many other artists also recorded their own versions, including The Beatles in 1963.

10. “That’s All That Matters” 

From: That’s All That Matters to Me (1980)

Written by Hank Cochran, “That’s All That Matters” has also been recorded by several country artists ever since it was released in 1964 – with Gilley’s version as the most famous one. It went to No. 1 on the country chart and spent a total of eleven weeks on that chart.

We could go on and on choosing the best Mickey Gilley’s songs. His easy-going blend of honky tonk and countrypolitan is definitely here to stay.


Mickey Gilley

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