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Hank Thompson performs "The Wild Side of Life"

"The Wild Side of Life" is a song made famous by country music singer Hank Thompson. Originally released in 1952, the song became one of the most popular recordings in the genre's history, spending 15 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard country charts,solidified Thompson's status as a country music superstar and inspired the answer song, "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" by Kitty Wells.

 

"The Wild Side of Life" carries one of the most distinctive melodies of early country music, used in "Thrills That I Can't Forget" recorded by Welby Toomey and Edgar Boaz in 1925, "I'm Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes" by the Carter Family in 1929, and "Great Speckled Bird" by Roy Acuff in 1936. That, along with the song's story of a woman shedding her role as domestic provider to follow the night life, combined to become one of the most famous country songs of the early 1950s.

 

According to country music historian Bill Malone, "Wild Side" co-writer William Warren was inspired to create the song after his experiences with a young woman he met when he was younger—a honky tonk angel, as it were—who "found the glitter of the gay night life too hard to resist."Fellow historian Paul Kingsbury wrote that the song appealed to people who "thought the world was going to hell and that faithless women deserved a good deal of the blame."

Hank Thompson The Wild Side of Life Lyrics

 

You wouldn't read my letter if I wrote you 

You asked me not to call you on the phone 

But there's something I'm wanting to tell you 

So I wrote it in the words of this song

I didn't know God made honky tonk angels 

I might have known you'd never make a wife 

You gave up the only one that ever loved you 

And went back to the wild side of life

The glamor of the gay night life has lured you 

To the places where the wine and liquor flows 

Where you wait to be anybody's baby 

And forget the truest love you'll ever know

I didn't know God made honky tonk angels 

I might have known you'd never make a wife 

You gave up the only one that ever loved you 

And went back to the wild side of life


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