Greetings from Asheville, where the good music still lives on the turntable. Today’s Classic 45 is one of my favorites from 1950’s hit-maker Carl Smith. Tennessee native Carl Smith burst onto the scene in 1951, with his first hit, “Let’s Live A Little”. Soon, his records were regularly at, or near the top of the charts, and he was as hot in country music as anyone was.
Carl was one of the many country and pop artists whose careers were hurt by the onset of rock ‘n’ roll. After 1956, his top 10 visits became few. He made Billboard’s top 10 only four more times from 1957 on. Today’s Classic 45, “Why, Why” was one of those.
“Why, Why” came from the pens of Wayne Walker and Mel Tillis. Carl got the song and in a late evening session on July 12th, 1957, Carl recorded the song, along with the flip-side, “Emotions”. Don Law, Columbia’s top Nashville producer, produced the session. The musicians included guitar standouts Hank Garland and Grady Martin, while the Jordanaires handled the backing vocals. The name of the featured female vocalist has apparently been lost.
Columbia released the song in early August. It took about a month and a half for it to appear on the Billboard charts, debuting in the September 16th chart. It didn’t appear in Cashbox, until the September 29th edition.
Once charting, the song raced up the charts, eventually peaking at 2 on Billboard’s Disc Jockey chart, 7 on their best-seller lists, and 6 on the Cashbox charts. In Billboard, it was his 29th of his 35 top 10 hits.
The song is about the most pop sounding record that Carl ever recorded, apart from “Your Name Is Beautiful” in 1958. It’s a lively, bouncy track that Carl performs quite well. The Jordanaires and the unknown female voice are also prominently noticeable. Some records are beautiful, some provoke deep thought, some are just fun. This one falls into the fun category.
Great sounds from a great artist. As always, we’re saving vinyl, one record at a time.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike the Country Musicologist is a lifelong music and radio fanatic, model railroader, lover of vintage agriculture, and big sports fan, including the Colts, Reds, Hurricanes, Pacers, Purdue & Butler Universities. He has collected records since childhood, focusing on classic country and top 40 oldies music. He convinced Vincennes University to give him an Associate’s Degree in broadcasting. He’s worked for several stations in Indiana and North Carolina. Be sure to follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.