35 Years Ago: Ricky Skaggs Hits No. 1 With ‘Highway 40 Blues’
Thirty-five years ago today (July 9, 1983) was a memorable day for Ricky Skaggs: It was on that date that the singer soared to the top of the charts with his single "Highway 40 Blues," from his No. 1 Highways & Heartaches album.
"Highway 40 Blues" was written by veteran songwriter Larry Cordle, but Skaggs changed one line from "My eyes are filled with bitter tears / Lord, I could use could an ice-cold beer" to "My eyes are filled with bitter tears / Lord, I ain't been home in years" to accommodate his devoutly Christian parents. In his autobiography, Kentucky Traveler, Skaggs says that he never wanted to record a song he wouldn't have felt comfortable singing in front of them.
Highways & Heartaches became Skaggs' first platinum-selling album and spawned two other No. 1 singles, "Heartbroke" and "I Wouldn't Change You If I Could."
Skaggs once performed "Highway 40 Blues," along with "I Wouldn't Change You If I Could," on the syndicated TV show Hee Haw. He also included the song on both 2000's 16 Biggest Hits and his 2011 double disc, The Essential Ricky Skaggs; he then later re-recorded it for his Country Hits Bluegrass Style album.
"Highway 40 Blues" is available for download on iTunes.
This story was originally written by Gayle Thompson, and revised by Annie Zaleski.
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