April 24

Johnny Tillotson Covers Ernest Ashworth’s Only No.1 Song

The late singer/songwriter Ernest Ashworth started his music career playing with The Tunetwisters in 1948. He started recording songs in 1955 under MGM label. However, it was in the ’60s when his releases found a place on the music charts. In 1963, he scored his first and only No. 1 song throughout his career.

His single entitled “Talk Back Trembling Lips” topped the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart in October that year. The song was influenced by Paul Anka and Buddy Holly’s styling. Additionally, it was customized for Ashworth’s vulnerable and tenor voice. The single earned him Billboard and Cashbox’s Most Promising Male Artist awards. Moreover, it led to his appearance in the Grand Ole Opry in 1964.

Johnny Tillotson’s Cover

Following Ashton’s success with the song, Johnny Tillotson released a cover of it which charted in 1964. While his version did not enter the country chart, it reached the top 10 of both the Adult Contemporary (No. 6) and Billboard Hot 100 (No. 7) charts. Tillotson, a seasoned country music artist, proves his prowess in bringing songs to the charts. Whether the song is his original record or a cover version, his vocal style can turn it into a hit.

The Song

This John Loudermilk penned song is about a man who feels so weak to speak up his mind and express his real emotions to his partner. Written in a first-person point-of-view, the narrator tries to convince himself to say what he’s supposed to say to her. It opens with a line similar to its title and continues with words of self-encouragement.

“Talk back trembling lips
Shaky legs don’t just stand there
Don’t let her know that she’s getting through to you

Talk back trembling lips”

The succeeding lines reveal that the couple’s relationship on the rocks. Furthermore, it seems that he [narrator] is the one who’s suffering more from it. He knew deeply that if he’s gotten the courage to voice out what’s inside of him, things might have been different.

“But if I let you know how much I love you
You’ll do things to me you shouldn’t do”

Johnny Tillotson Covers Ernest Ashworth's Only No.1 Song 1
Johnny Tillotson / (Photo credit: www.kesteloo.net)


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Buddy Holly, Ernest Ashworth, John Loudermilk, Johnny Tillotson, Paul Anka, Talk Back Trembling Lips, The Tunetwisters

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