A Change for Her Style

During the late ‘70’s, Crystal Gayle was still being produced by Allen Reynolds. He was the one who guided her career starting from her first big record, “Wrong Road Again” in 1975. When Reynolds was asked about the story behind the song “Why Have You Left The One You Left Me For,” he said:

“You need to maintain an artist’s ‘surprise element’ and not try to clone the previous big hit.”

The song was indeed quite a goodbye from Crystal Gayle’s bluesy, ballad style. All thanks to her “Talking In Your Sleep” and “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue, song were flooding from composers offering songs. “Why Have You Left The One You Left Me For” was a song presented Crystal Gayle with tongue-twisting lyrics. It was a total change for from what she had ever done.

The Story Behind the Song

This song was the first success for Mark True. At the age of 18, he signed his first songwriting contract with ABC Music. Once that deal was up, Crystal Gayle’s arranger put him in touch with Roger Cook, who signed him to his Pic-A-Lic firm. It was under that agreement that True hit paydirt with “Why Have You Left The One You Left Me For,” a song Mark True wrote in five minutes about his wife’s ex-fiancé.

This guy kept trying to get her back. He would write poems to her and send her cards. Mark was home one day and the mailman showed up with a book of poems the ex-fiancé had written for Mark’s wife. That set Mark to thinking,

“What if she did decide to go back with him? What would he say to her?”

Then the line just popped out:

“Why have you left the one you left me for?”

Thereafter, the lyrics quickly followed and the scribe had the whole thing finished in just five minutes.

Crystal Gayle and producer Allen Reynolds had already recorded eleven songs for the “When I Dream” album. However, when they heard Mark True’s demo of “Why Have You Left The One You Left Me For,” they made room for an extra track. Gayle had trouble getting the words in the right order as she learned it. They cut the song twice: once with studio players and, in the final version, with her own road band. This most uncharacteristic of all of Crystal’s hits shot to No. 1 on the Billboard Country Singles Chart. It marked her sixth of an eventual 18 career chart-toppers.