Say ‘Hello, Darlin” to Conway Twitty. One of his signature songs joins The Ultimate Mississippi Playlist this week.
Voting was tight in Round 7. Hello Darlin’ captured 36 percent of the votes, with I’ll Take You There by the Staple Singers at 28 percent, Mississippi Goddam by Nina Simone at 26 percent and Kid Rock’s Jackson, Mississippi at 10 percent. The competition shows the variety of music genres that have connections to Mississippi — country, blues, soul, rock —and the breadth of their popularity.
The Coahoma County native often opened his concerts with the spoken words, “Hello darlin’, nice to see you,” then began singing the country classic.
Twitty’s tune joins Stand by Your Man by Tammy Wynette, Great Balls of Fire by Jerry Lee Lewis, Come Monday by Jimmy Buffett, Ode to Billie Joe by Bobbie Gentry, The Thrill is Gone by B.B. King and Cross Road Blues by Robert Johnson, which were selected in earlier rounds of voting. The Ultimate Mississippi Playlist salutes the significance of Mississippi music during our state’s bicentennial celebration.
Next up, four new nominees: Heartbreak Hotel by Elvis Presley, Hillbilly Rock by Marty Robbins, Miss the Mississippi and You by Emmylou Harris and How Do I Live by LeAnn Rimes.
You can listen to the new entries and vote for your favorite on mississippitoday.org. You also can vote on our Twitter account. Every two weeks through the fall, a fresh ballot of four new nominees will be published.
To be nominated, songs must be about Mississippi or performed by Mississippi artists. All of the contenders were selected by Mississippi music experts, Mississippi Today and The ‘Sip magazine.
Contenders in Round 8
- Heartbreak Hotel was released as Elvis Presley’s first single on the RCA Victor label Jan. 27, 1956. Inspired by a newspaper article about a suicide, where a man jumped from a hotel window, the song comprises an eight-bar blues progression with heavy reverberation to imitate Presley’s earlier Sun Studio recordings. Heartbreak Hotel topped Billboard‘s Top 100 chart for seven weeks, was No. 1 on the Country and Western chart for 17 weeks and reached No. 3 on the R&B chart, becoming Presley’s first million-seller and one of the best-selling singles of 1956. It went on to be certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1995. In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine named it one of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time,” the same year it was included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s “500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.”
- Hillbilly Rock epitomizes Marty Stuart’s blend of rockabilly, honky tonk and traditional country music. The single was released in 1990 by the Philadelphia, Miss., native and became Stuart’s first top 10 hit on the country music charts. Stuart started performing at age 12 with the bluegrass group The Sullivan Family. He later played in bands backing up legendary country artists Lester Scruggs and Johnny Cash. Hillbilly Rock was Stuart’s first studio album for MCA. The Hillbilly Rock single reached No. 8 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles and Trackschart. One other single from the album, Western Girls, broke the Top 20.
- How Do I Live, written by Diane Warren, was originally performed by then 15-year-old Jackson native LeAnn Rimes. The song also was recorded by country singer Trisha Yearwood, and both singers’ versions were released in 1997. While both renditions soared up the charts, Rimes’ version peaked at No. 2 for five non-consecutive weeks in late 1997 and early 1998. It set a record for staying on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 69 weeks and held the record for the most time in the Billboard Hot 100’s top 5 at 25 consecutive years until 2017. It ranks at No. 4 on Billboard’s All Time Top 100. Yearwood won a Grammy Award for her version in 1998. Rimes also was nominated for a Grammy in the same category for the same song.
- Miss the Mississippi and You, written by Bill Halley, was first released and performed in 1932 by Meridian native Jimmie Rodgers, one of country music’s first stars. Since then, the song has been covered and recorded by dozens of singers, including Jerry Lee Lewis, Merle Haggard and Arlo Guthrie. Alabama-born singer-songwriter and multiple Grammy Award-winner Emmylou Harris released her version in 1980 on her album Roses in the Snow, 48 years after the song was originally released.