Right or Wrong (song)

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"Right or Wrong"
Sheet music cover
Written 1921
Genre Jazz
Writer(s) Composer:Arthur Sizemore, Paul Biese
Lyricist: Haven Gillespie

"Right or Wrong" is a jazz ballad from 1921. Composed by Arthur Sizemore and Paul Biese, with words by Haven Gillespie, it is described by the original sheet music as "a beautiful fox-trot ballad."[1]

The lyrics tell of the loss of a paramour. The title comes from a refrain in the chorus:

Right or wrong, I'll always love you
Tho' you're gone, I can't forget
Right or wrong, I'll keep on dreaming
Tho' I wake with that same old regret

All along I knew I'd lose you
Still I pray'd that you'd be true
In your heart, please just remember
Right or wrong, I'm still in love with you


"Right or Wrong" was recorded by many early jazz and swing orchestras, including Mike Markel and His Orchestra (OKeh 4478, 1921), Original Dixie Jazz Band (Oriole 445, 1925), Peggy English (Brunswick 3949, 1928), Tampa Red (Bluebird 6832, 1936), and Mildred Bailey and Her Orchestra (Vocalion 3758, 1937). The recording with the longest lasting influence was performed by the black-faced Emmett Miller and the Georgia Crackers (OKeh 41280, 1929).

Miller's version was picked up by an early Bob Wills and became a standard Western swing dance tune.[2] Both Wills (Vocalion 03451, 1936) and Milton Brown (Decca 5342, 1936) made early recordings. Western swing versions generally do not include any of the verses, only repetitions of the chorus. The song also appears on Leon Redbone's 1990 album Sugar.

Wanda Jackson's hit "Right or Wrong" in 1961 is not this song, but one written by herself.

George Strait version[edit]

"Right or Wrong"
Single by George Strait
from the album Right or Wrong
B-side "Fifteen Years Going Up (And One Night Coming Down)"
Released January 25, 1984
Format 7-inch single
Recorded July 20, 1983
Genre Country
Length 2:05
Label MCA
Writer(s) Composer:Arthur Sizemore, Paul Biese
Lyricist: Haven Gillespie
Producer(s) Ray Baker
George Strait singles chronology
"You Look So Good in Love"
"Right or Wrong"
"Let's Fall to Pieces Together"

The biggest hit for "Right or Wrong" came on April 28, 1984, when George Strait recorded the old Bob Wills song for his best-selling album of the same name (See Right or Wrong).[3] The single from that album (MCA 52337) reached #1, staying on the charts for 12 weeks.[4]

George Strait's success led to the songwriter, Haven Gillespie, receiving an ASCAP award in 1985 for writing the song.[5]

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1984) Peak
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[6] 1
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 1
Preceded by
"The Yellow Rose"
by Johnny Lee with Lane Brody
Billboard Hot Country Singles
number-one single

April 28, 1984
Succeeded by
"I Guess It Never Hurts to Hurt Sometimes"
by The Oak Ridge Boys
Preceded by
"I've Been Wrong Before"
by Deborah Allen
RPM Country Tracks
number-one single

April 28, 1984
Succeeded by
"The Yellow Rose"
by Johnny Lee with Lane Brody


  1. ^ Gillespie, "Right or Wrong", p. 6.
  2. ^ Stambler, Country Music, p. 311: "A notebook kept by Bob Wills in 1931, when he was doing a radio program in an early phase of his career in Texas with Herman Arnspringer, listed songs drawn from [Emmett] Miller's repertoire: 'Right or wrong,' 'Big Bad Bill, 'Blues Singer from Alabam,' 'I Ain't got Nobody,' and 'Lovin' Sam'. "
  3. ^ Whitburn, The Billboard Book of Top 40 Country Hits, p. 331: "George Strait performed the Bob Wills classic 'Right or Wrong' in concert, and at the urging of his produce recorded the song to complete his 1984 album, named for the song. 'Right or Wrong' was one of three #1 hits from the chart-topping album."
  4. ^ Whitburn, The Billboard Book of Top 40 Country Hits, p. 336.
  5. ^ King, "Gillespie, James Haven Lamont", p. 375: "Gillespie received a Freedoms Foundation award in 1950 for 'God's Country' (1950) and an ASCAP award for country music in 1985 for 'Right or Wrong' (1921)."
  6. ^ "George Strait – Chart history" Billboard Hot Country Songs for George Strait.


  • Gillespie, Haven (w.); Arthur Sizemore and Paul Biese (m.) "Right or Wrong". Triangle Music, 1921. From Indiana University Sheet Music Collections.
  • King, Charles D. "Gillespie, James Haven Lamont" from The Kentucky Encyclopedia, pp. 374–375, edited by John E. Kleber, Thomas D. Clark, Lowell H. Harrison and James C. Klotter.
  • Stambler, Irwin; Grelun Landon. Country Music: The Encyclopedia. St. Martin's Griffin, 2000. ISBN 0-312-26487-9
  • Whitburn, Joel. The Billboard Book of Top 40 Country Hits. Billboard Books, 2006. ISBN 0-8230-8291-1