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February 15

Remembering the Definitive Honky Tonk Singer Lefty Frizzell

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Remembering the Definitive Honky Tonk Singer Lefty Frizzell 1

Lefty Frizzell was the definitive honky-tonk singer, the vocalist that set the style for generations of vocalists that followed him. Frizzell smoothed out the rough edges of honky tonk by singing longer, flowing phrases — essentially, he made honky tonk more acceptable for the mainstream without losing its gritty, bar-room roots. In the process, he changed the way country vocalists sang forever. From George Jones, Merle Haggard, and Willie Nelson to George Strait, John Anderson, Randy Travis, and Keith Whitley, hundreds of artists have emulated and expanded Lefty’s innovations. Frizzell’s singing became the foundation of how hard country should be sung.

“If You’ve Got the Money, I’ve Got the Time,” Lefty’s first single, climbed to number one upon its release. “I Love You a Thousand Ways” also a number one hit — with other artists hurrying into the studio to cut their own versions; over 40 performers wound up recording the song. Within 17 days of the single’s release, Columbia had Frizzell record another single. The result, “Look What Thoughts Will Do”/”Shine, Shave, Shower (It’s Saturday),” wasn’t as big a hit, but it did reach the Top Ten.

Despite his influence, there was a time when Lefty wasn’t regarded as one of Country’s definitive artists. Unlike Hank Williams — the only contemporary of Lefty that had greater influence — he didn’t die young, leaving behind a romantic legend. After his popularity peaked in the early and mid-’50s, Frizzell continued to record, without having much success. However, his recordings continued to reach new listeners and his reputation was restored by the new traditionalists of the ’80s, nearly ten years after Lefty’s death.

I Want to Be with You Always” was the 1951 country music song released by Lefty Frizzell in March 1951. The song was Frizzell’s third #1 US Country hit since his explosive debut the year earlier. The song was written by Lefty Frizzell and his producer, Jim Beck. The two had also penned the huge #1 hit in 1950 titled: If You’ve Got the Money (I’ve Got the Time). The song recorded on January 11, 1951, and later released on March 19, 1951.

The song was Lefty Frizzell’s first number one on the Country & Western Best Seller charts where it spent six weeks at number one and a total of twenty-seven weeks on the chart.

The words that complete the song

I lose my blues, honey, when I’m with you
No one else can do you’re in my heart to stay
But when I’m gone, and I’m all alone
I’ll be singing this song I wanna be with you, always
I’d be happy, dearest, if you could only be here
And always be nearer, forever and a day
Then we’d travel far, we’d be some big shinin’ star
Just you and my guitar and stay there, sweetheart for always
I hope you feel the same, you really want my name
Well, you’ll be the one who’s to blame
If it works out wrong that day
Cause my love is true, my love is only for you
I’ll never be blue, if I can be with you, always


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