50s Music

Jim Reeves – He’ll Have To Go – 1960

About the song

If you are a fan of country music, you probably know the song “He’ll Have To Go” by Jim Reeves. It’s a classic tune that tells the story of a man who is trying to win back his lover over the phone, while she is with another man. But do you know how this song came to be? In this blog post, we will explore the history of “He’ll Have To Go” and how it became one of the most successful songs of Jim Reeves’ career.

The song was written by Joe and Audrey Allison, a husband-and-wife team who also wrote hits for Elvis Presley, Patsy Cline, and Willie Nelson. The idea for the song came from a phone conversation they had, when Audrey had trouble hearing Joe because of the background noise. Joe asked her to put her lips closer to the phone, and that inspired the first line of the song: “Put your sweet lips a little closer to the phone”.

Jim Reeves recorded the song on October 15, 1959, at RCA Studio B in Nashville, Tennessee. He was accompanied by Floyd Cramer on piano, Marvin Hughes on vibraphone, Bob Moore on bass, Buddy Harman on drums, Hank Garland on guitar, and the Anita Kerr Singers on background vocals. Reeves lowered his voice to a deep and smooth tone that became his trademark style. He also added some improvisations to the lyrics, such as “I love you so” and “I’m so sorry for you”.

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The song was released in November 1959 as the B-side of “In a Mansion Stands My Love”, which was supposed to be the main hit. However, radio DJs preferred “He’ll Have To Go” and started playing it more often. The song soon became a huge crossover hit, reaching number 1 on the country chart for 14 weeks and number 2 on the pop chart for six weeks in 1960. It also charted in several other countries, such as Canada, Australia, and the UK.

“He’ll Have To Go” is considered one of the best examples of the Nashville Sound, a style of country music that blended traditional elements with pop influences. The song also showcased Jim Reeves’ distinctive vocal delivery, which earned him the nickname “Gentleman Jim”. The song has been covered by many artists over the years, such as Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Ry Cooder, and Bryan Ferry.

“He’ll Have To Go” is more than just a song. It’s a piece of musical history that reflects the emotions and challenges of love and romance. It’s a song that has touched millions of listeners around the world with its simple yet powerful message: “You can’t say we’re through until you talk to me”.


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