|Single by Ray Price|
|B-side||"You Done Me Wrong"|
|Released||May 1956 (U.S.)|
|Recorded||March 1, 1956|
|Label||Columbia Records 21510|
|Writer(s)||Ralph Mooney and Charles Seals|
|Ray Price singles chronology|
"Crazy Arms" is an American country song recorded by Ray Price. The song, released in May 1956, went on to become a hit that year and a honky-tonk standard. It was Price's first #1 hit. The song was written by Ralph Mooney and Charles Seals. Mooney, a pedal steel player on many recordings and for Waylon Jennings and Wynn Stewart for over 20 years, said he got the idea for the song after his wife left him because of his drinking problem.
"Crazy Arms," in many ways, was country music's answer to the growing influence of rock and roll music in the genre. Country music historian Bill Malone noted that the genre's producers and promoters were frantically searching for a style to reach America's youth.
The up-and-coming Price, who already had several successful recordings by 1956, used "Crazy Arms" to not only establish himself as a star but to introduce fans to his Texas shuffle sound: fiddle, pedal steel guitar, walking electric bass and swinging 4/4 rhythm. Those hallmarks became part of many of Price's biggest hits throughout the mid-to-late 1950s and early 1960s, before Price began experimenting with strings and more pop-oriented styles. But "Crazy Arms" was not in fact anything close to an attempt to nab the youth market. If anything it was a gesture of defiance, an unabashedly traditional country ballad that made no apologies. Even when Jerry Lee Lewis recorded the song for Sun Records, his rendition made no attempt to add any rockabilly overtones.
The first known recording of "Crazy Arms" was by Wynn Stewart in 1954. The extremely rare '78 acetate record was discovered in March 2012 on eBay. It has a Jimmy Jones recording studio label from Pasadena, CA. The label was handwritten. It also mentions Bert Keifer, manager.
"Crazy Arms" reached #1 on each of the Billboard magazine country music charts (jukebox, best sellers and radio airplay) in June 1956 and has been credited with spending 20 weeks atop the chart; only three other songs spent longer at #1. In addition, Billboard named the song its #1 country single of 1956 in its year-end issue.
The song's run at No. 1 (which came two years prior to the introduction of the all-encompassing Hot Country Songs chart in October 1958) would not be matched until July 27, 2013, when "Cruise" by Florida Georgia Line matched its run at No. 1 with 20 weeks. Only two songs since 1956 – "Walk On By" by Leroy Van Dyke (19 weeks, 1961-1962) and "Love's Gonna Live Here" by Buck Owens (16 weeks, 1963-1964) – had come reasonably close to matching the run of "Crazy Arms" before Florida Georgia Line.
"Crazy Arms" has been covered many times by performers both in country music and other genres. Some of the more notable names include Bing Crosby, Chuck Berry, The Andrews Sisters, Gram Parsons, Patsy Cline, Trini Lopez, Mickey Gilley, Great Speckled Bird, Willie Nelson, Patty Loveless, Jerry Lee Lewis, and the Jerry Garcia Band. In addition, Price had a cameo role on a version recorded by Barbara Mandrell, on her 1990 album Morning Sun. Karen Chandler and Jimmy Wakely directly covered the Price version in 1956. In 2000 Van Morrison and Linda Gail Lewis performed the song on their album You Win Again. Linda Ronstadt recorded a cover for her 1971 album, Linda Ronstadt. Marty Stuart recorded an instrumental version with Mooney on his 2010 album Ghost Train: The Studio B Sessions. Also recently recording "Crazy Arms" was Chris Isaak on his CD 2 of "Beyond the Sun" collection.
- Whitburn, Joel, "Top Country Songs 1944-2005 - 6th Edition." 2006.
- Whitburn, Joel, "Top Pop Singles: 1955-2006," 2007.
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