Ray Stevens Covers a Fellow Country Music Hall of Famer With ‘Your Cheatin’ Heart’ [Exclusive Premiere]
Country Music Hall of Famer Ray Stevens covers a fellow Country Music Hall of Famer, Hank Williams, on his first of four forthcoming new albums. Stevens' cover of Williams' "Your Cheatin' Heart" is premiering exclusively on The Boot; press play below to listen.
Written by Williams while his country music career was soaring but his personal life was crashing down around him, "Your Cheatin' Heart" was inspired by a remark Williams made about his ex-wife Audrey to his then-girlfriend Billie Jean. The couple had recently divorced, and Williams was grappling with addictions to alcohol and prescribed painkillers, when he recorded the song in the fall of 1952.
"It’s a classic. I had some great ideas about a musical arrangement with saxes and string that I wanted to go in studio and record," Stevens tells The Boot. Indeed, he smooths out some of the twang in Williams' original, backing himself with piano and a chorus of backup singers in addition to saxophone and strings.
Williams' version of "Your Cheatin' Heart" wound up being a posthumous release, as he died on Jan. 1, 1953, and the song arrived as a B-side to "Kaw-Liga" later that month. The single sold more than one million copies and stayed at the top of the Billboard country chart for six weeks.
"Let’s face it," Stevens adds, "if country music was a house, then "Your Cheatin’ Heart" would be a cornerstone."
Stevens' version of "Your Cheatin' Heart" comes from Great Country Ballads, due out digitally on Friday (Feb. 26) via Curb Records. The artist will follow that record with Melancholy Fescue (High Class Bluegrass) on March 26, Slow Dance on April 23 and Nouveau Retro (What's Old Is New Again) on May 21. Each album finds Stevens reinterpreting classic songs through a variety of lenses.
"I've been working in my recording studio for the last few years, recording songs that I've heard all through my life," Stevens shares. "These new recordings are the ‘soundtrack of my life,' so to speak. I had a great time making these records, and I hope others will enjoy them too."
A 2019 Country Music Hall of Fame inductee, Stevens has been working in the music industry for more than 60 years, often releasing songs with a hint of comedy to them. He's earned a dozen Grammy Awards nominations and two Grammys trophies throughout his career, and is also a Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, Georgia Music Hall of Fame and Music City Walk of Fame inductee.
Listen to Ray Stevens' "Your Cheatin' Heart":
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