Now there was song

By Doug Davis

This week in 1959: TV quiz show scandals prompted an FTC drive to bar misrepresentative ads, anti-American riots broke out over U.S. control of the Canal Zone, Triton—the largest nuclear sub—was commissioned by the U.S. Navy and a singer from Shreveport, Louisiana had both sides of a record on the charts!

Songs get recorded for several different reasons.

Many times, a song is pitched to a singer—who just happens to like the song and that’s that!

But in some cases—the artists name appears on the label as co-writer of the tune and in some cases—the artist had nothing at all to do with writing the song—but was simply given part of the song just to record it!

Bill Anderson commented just such a story in the case of two of his tunes: “Riverboat” and “Face To The Wall.”

According to Anderson: “I had recorded demo tape of the two songs down at Tree Music and someone had pitched both songs to Faron Young.  About that time, Faron and I were booked to appear together on The Ozark Jubilee in Springfield, Missouri. Faron called and invited me to ride to Springfield with him. During the trip—we naturally talked about songs. And he mentioned that he liked the two songs of mine—but if he recorded two songs by the same writer—the other songwriters would get mad at him and start giving all their good songs to Webb Pierce. Then later on—he said that perhaps he could record both my songs after all—if I gave him half of one of them.”

“I was never in favor of giving away part of my songs—but by that time—Faron had had 29 chart singles and here was Faron Young offering to record two of my songs. So I asked him which song he wanted half of—scared that he would say “Riverboat.” I was greatly relieved when he said “Face To The Wall.” I guess he could tell that I wasn’t real happy with the idea of giving up part of a song—so he told me that both songs needed some work and that he would re-write them before he recorded them. I think he finally changed one line.”

“Riverboat” and “Face To The Wall” both entered the country music charts on November 16th, 1959.

“Riverboat” peaked at number 4 and was on the charts for 21 weeks.

“Face To The Wall” made it to number ten and was charted for 18 weeks.

“Riverboat” also scored a number 83 on the pop music charts.

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