The Last Letter
|"The Last Letter"|
|Single by Rex Griffin|
|B-side||"Over the River"|
|Format||10" single (Decca-5383)|
|Recorded||May 13, 1937|
"The Last Letter" is a song written by country music singer Rex Griffin. Griffin wrote the song in 1937, after he was left by his wife. The song tells through a suicidal letter the feelings of an older man who is left by his young wife. The song, released on Decca Records became a hit for Griffin
A standard of country music, the tune was covered by diverse acts. Jimmie Davis' 1939 version became a hit, while it was covered by diverse country acts.
Writing and original recording
In 1937, singer-songwriter Rex Griffin wrote "The Last Letter" while he was living in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was inspired to write the song after he was left by his wife. The lyrics told the story of a suicide letter written by a common man directed to a woman seeking a rich husband and the finer things in life. It described his bitterness, and pain for the end of their romance. The song probably inspired Hank Williams's similar "Mansion On The Hill."
Griffin recorded "The Last Letter" during a New York session on May 13, 1937. The single, backed with "Over the River" on the flipside was released the same year on Decca Records. Despite that "The Last Letter" turned into a hit, the poor sales of Griffin caused his dismissal by the label. The song became later considered a standard of Country music. Griffin wrote and recorded a sequel called "Answer To The Last Letter" in 1939.
In 1963, Ernest Tubb recorded a cover version for his Rex Griffin tribute album Just Call Me Lonesome. The song was recorded at Bradley's Barn Studio on April 19, 1962, produced by Owen Bradley Tubb, who was influenced by Griffin, had originally learned the song and others by Griffin that he would often perform. Both singers toured together, remaining friend until Griffin's death in 1958. The same year, Willie Nelson recorded the song. Capitol Records released the song as the flipside of the single "Half a Man".
The following year, Jack Greene released his version of the song on the album Ernest Tubb Presents the Texas Troubadours, becoming after its success a solo act. "The Last Letter" was also covered by Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard and Glen Campbell.
- Pugh, Ronnie 1988, p. 74.
- Wolff, Kurt 2000, p. 118.
- Tosches, Nick 2009, p. 63.
- Erlewine, Stephen Thomas; Bogdanov, Vladimir; Woodstra Chris 2003, p. 297.
- Sachs, Bill 1958, p. 6.
- Larkin, Collin 1998, p. 177.
- Pugh, Ronnie 1998, p. 275, 404–405.
- Pugh, Ronnie 1998, p. 74–75.
- Billboard staff 1963, p. 24.
- Pugh, Ronnie 1998, p. 275.
- Billboard staff (1963). "Singles Review". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 75 (3). ISSN 0006-2510.
- Erlewine, Stephen Thomas; Bogdanov, Vladimir; Woodstra Chris (2003). All Music Guide to Country: The Definitive Guide to Country Music. ISBN 978-0-87930-760-8.
- Escott, Colin; Merritt, George; MacEwen, William (1994). Hank Williams: The Biography. Hachette Digital, Inc. p. 307. ISBN 0-316-24986-6.
- Larkin, Collin (1998). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Country Music. Indiana University. ISBN 978-0-7535-0236-5.
- Pugh, Ronnie (1988). "Rex Griffin: Passing on the Rodgers Legacy". Mid-America Folklore. Ozark States Folklore Society and the English Department, Southwest Missouri State University. 16–17.
- Tosches, Nick (2009). "Country: The Twisted Roots of Rock 'n' Roll". Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0-7867-5098-6.
- Pugh, Ronnie (1998). Ernest Tubb: The Texas Troubadour. Duke University Press. ISBN 978-0-8223-2190-3.
- Sachs, Bill (1958). "Folk Talent & Tunes". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 70 (48). ISSN 0006-2510.
- Wolff, Kurt (2000). Country Music: The Rough Guide. Rough Guides. ISBN 978-1-85828-534-4.