With George Strait’s record of 44 Billboard no.1, it is definite that some songs will be more remembered than others. Fifth of his chart-topper “Let’s Fall To Pieces Together” might not be in your list of favorites but it was a turning point in his early career.
The song was partially written by Johnny Russell, who became a rich from writing an earlier song that a few people ever knew about. On October 15, 1959, and a rare 9:30 AM session, Jim Reeves finished laying down the track on what was to become his biggest hit “Hell Have To Go.” Everyone went for a lunch break then after, they returned for the afternoon work. Reeves recorded “ In A Mansion Stands My Love,” written by Russell and he was only 19 during that time. This song was selected by RCA Victor to be Reeves’ next single. It was released as the “A” side, with “He’ll Have To Go” designated as the “flip” or “B” side of the record. The trouble was, the radio disc jockey wanted no part of “In A Mansion Stands My Love,” he preferred to turn the record over and play “He’ll Have To Go,” and the rest is history.Although Johnny’s song was forgotten, he still received the same amount of royalties as Joe and Audrey Allison collected for writing “He’ll Have To Go,” an enormous sum due to the record’s worldwide success.
Russell’s first composition of notoriety was Buck Owens’ #1 smash “Act Naturally” in 1963. He continued writing songs through the ‘60s and into the ‘70s, by then obtaining a recording contract with RCA Victor. All told, he placed 28 singles on Billboard’s country chart (mostly on RCA and later Mercury) including several Top Ten hits, his biggest being “Rednecks, White Socks, and Blue Ribbon Beer” which peaked at #4 in 1973. After several more reasonably successful years at RCA, Russell signed with Mercury Records in 1978 but it proved to be a frustrating Association, as Mercury didn’t promote him very much and in some cases even refused to release his material. One of Russell’s most disappointing moments came when Mercury chose not to issue one of his albums that he strongly believed in. Among its ten tracks were the original recordings of “Song Of The South” (later a #1 hit for Alabama), “You’ll Be Back (Every Night In My Dreams)” which turned into a successful single for the Statler Brothers, and “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” the first version of what was to become George Jones’ most revered classic. Mercury deemed the material as “too weak,” so the album was scrapped! It’s true that Johnny Russell was no George Jones when it came to singing, but the “material was too weak?” Seriously!?
Fortunately, Johnny didn’t miss out with “Let’s Fall To Pieces Together.” Songwriter Tommy Rocco had suggested that title to four or five writing partners, but all had passed on it. One day at the Welk publishing offices in Nashville, Rocco heard Russell and Dickey Lee (who had his own #1 hit with “Rocky” in 1975) writing in another office and decided he wanted to work with them right then and there. Tommy “crashed in,” sang three lines of the chorus (the only part of the song he had written thus far), and Russell chimed in with a fourth line. Russell and Lee then dropped the song they had been working on and set to work on the new idea.
Russell said that writing with Dickey Lee was always a challenge, because no matter what song they happened to be working on at the time, Lee would always call for rewrite after rewrite. Rocco and Russell were satisfied with “Let’s Fall To Pieces Together” pretty quickly, but after working with it and polishing it up over the next several days to the point where Lee was happy, the three sent the song over to Billy Sherrill’s office in hopes that George Jones would cut it, but Sherrill turned it down. Next, they approached George Strait’s then-producer Blake Mevis about recording it with Strait, but Mevis also dismissed the song. Then fate stepped in. Strait had decided to change producers for his next album, and he selected Ray Baker for the project. Undeterred by Mevis’ rejection, the three songwriters again decided to try to get the song to Strait, and this time it worked! Baker loved “Let’s Fall To Pieces Together,” and George recorded it at the first session for the new album. It shipped as a single soon afterward and reached #1 on Billboard’s country singles chart on September 1, 1984.
Another unheard story, it was unfortunate but it’s great. What do you think? Let us know in the comments below and remember to share this to other country fans for them to know the story of behind the song ”Let’s Fall To Pieces Together” by George Strait.[like_button]