There's a Honky Tonk Angel (Who'll Take Me Back In)

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"There's a Honky Tonk Angel (Who'll Take Me Back In)"
Single by Conway Twitty
from the album Honky Tonk Angel
B-side"Don't It Let Go To Your Heart"
ReleasedJanuary 1974
RecordedOctober 29, 1973
Bradley's Barn, Mt. Juliet, Tennessee
Songwriter(s)Troy Seals
Denny Rice
Producer(s)Owen Bradley
Conway Twitty singles chronology
"You've Never Been This Far Before"
"There's a Honky Tonk Angel (Who'll Take Me Back In)"
"I'm Not Through Loving You Yet"

"There's a Honky Tonk Angel (Who'll Take Me Back In)" is a song written by Troy Seals and Denny Rice, and recorded by American country music artist Conway Twitty. It was released in January 1974 as the first single from the album Honky Tonk Angel. The single was Twitty's 10th number one on the U.S. country singles chart as a solo artist and 13th overall. It stayed at number one for one week and spent 12 weeks on the chart in all.[1]


Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1974) Peak
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[3] 1
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 1

Cliff Richard version[edit]

"Honky Tonk Angel"
Single by Cliff Richard
A-side"Honky Tonk Angel"
B-side"(Wouldn't You Know It) Got Myself a Girl"
ReleasedSeptember 1975
Format7-inch single
Songwriter(s)Troy Seals
Denny Rice
Producer(s)Bruce Welch
Hank Marvin
Cliff Richard singles chronology
"It's Only Me You Left Behind"
"Honky Tonk Angel"
"Miss You Nights"

In 1975, Cliff Richard released the song as a single, but was withdrawn when the singer discovered that 'honky-tonk angel' is an American slang term for a prostitute.[4] One of Cliff Richard's producers, Bruce Welch, heard the song and considered that it would make a good 'comeback' single after disappointing chart performances in 1973 and 1974.[4] A version was then arranged for Cliff Richard by John Farrar, with a string arrangement by Nick Ingman.

While recording the song, Cliff Richard incorrectly assumed that the song's lyrics were about a piano player, unaware that the phrase 'honky-tonk angel' was used in America as a synonym for 'prostitute'.[5] Some of his fans and friends, aware of the true meaning of the song's title, expressed surprise that he had chosen to cover the song, given his Christian beliefs. When the singer himself learnt the meaning of the slang term, he decided to make a television announcement about the withdrawal of the record and refused to promote it, even though the single was expected to perform well. Richard's longtime label EMI eventually agreed to withdraw the single at his request.[4]

The single was originally released in September 1975 with the B-side "(Wouldn't You Know It) Got Myself a Girl". Since its withdrawal, "Honky Tonk Angel" has appeared as a bonus track on the CD release of I'm Nearly Famous (2001) and on two official compilations: The Singles Collection (EMI, 2002) and Lost & Found (From the Archives) (EMI, 2009).

Other cover versions[edit]


  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book Of Top 40 Country Hits: 1944-2006, Second edition. Record Research. p. 361.
  2. ^ The Conway Twitty Collection (Media notes). Conway Twitty. Universal City, California: MCA Records. MCAD4-11095.CS1 maint: others (link)
  3. ^ "Conway Twitty Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard.
  4. ^ a b c Ewbank, Tim; Hildred, Stafford (2008). Cliff: An Intimate Portrait of a Living Legend. Random House. pp. 229–230.
  5. ^ Sandall, Robert (21 March 1993). "The straight man". The Sunday Times.
  6. ^ Elvis Presley Billboard Chart Positions at AllMusic. Retrieved 07/14/2014.