“Rose Colored Glasses” co-written with George Baber and recorded by John Conlee was released in April 1978. It was Conlee’s first single and title track from his debut album Rose Colored Glasses. “Rose Colored Glasses” was Conlee’s fourth release on the ABC label, but his first to enter a singles chart. Spending twenty weeks on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts, it peaked at number 5. Additionally, on the Canadian country music charts published by RPM, it occupied the 6th spot.
The song references the expression ‘rose-colored glasses’ with the male narrator ‘fooling himself about the woman he loves’.
Kurt Wolff and Orla Duane, in Country Music: The Rough Guide, described the song as “a surprise hit that defined him as a traditionalist…and put him more in league with modern-day honky-tonkers Gene Watson and Moe Bandy”. In 1978, “Rose Colored Glasses” was the most commercially successful single for the ABC Records label.
“It’s hard to believe it’s been that long, but it has”, he reflected to Billboard. “May of 1978 was when it first hit the charts, and it went on to become our first national hit record. We jumped off the radio as a disc jockey and moved onto it as a singer and also on the road in a big old bus, and we’ve been at it full time ever since”.
Working with Top Legends
From 1971 until 1978, John worked at Nashville AM powerhouse WLAC. Looking back at those seven fruitful years, he feels so proud of it. “I spent seven of my nine years in radio at WLAC. That was the reason I moved to Nashville. Had I not gotten that job, I probably would have never moved, and music would have remained the hobby it had been up to that point”.
Working at WLAC gave the Kentucky native a chance to work with some of the top legends of the airwaves. “I am so thankful for that. I have been, and continue to be so blessed in my life, and one of those blessings was to get to work around people like Bill “Hoss” Allen and John R, who played R&B. What a blessing that was”.
Remembering the thrill of hearing his first hit on the radio that summer, he shared:
“It wasn’t on my station, obviously, because we didn’t play country, but probably on a station out of Murfreesboro where I first heard it”, he recalled. “When I knew we had a potential hit, I was riding from Nashville to my farm in Kentucky, and was searching around the dial. In those days, there were still a lot of 50,000 watt AM stations playing music. I tuned into one of the Chicago country stations, and heard it there, then went to WBAP in Fort Worth, and heard it there. I remember thinking ‘Maybe we have a hit here’”.
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