Classic Country Singles: Conway Twitty, “You’ve Never Been This Far Before”

You’ve Never Been This Far Before
Conway Twitty
1973

Written by Conway Twitty

Conway Twitty was a pop star first, as he scored a major hit in the late fifties with “It’s Only Make Believe.” The signature voice is there, though it’s heavily influenced by Elvis Presley. But even back then, a full decade before he successfully switched genres, Twitty was writing country songs.

Though most of his later hits were penned by others, Twitty wrote some of his biggest early country hits, like “Hello Darlin'” and “Linda on My Mind.” Whether he was grieving over a woman who left him or cheating on the one who slept by his side, there was always a deep concern for the feelings of the woman involved in the song.

This was especially apparent in his sultry hit from 1973, “You’ve Never Been This Far Before,” which was so sexually charged that some country stations were reluctant to play it. The song find him having relations with a woman he’s watched from afar, and the lyrics would be racy on today’s country radio scene. So you can imagine how listeners must’ve reacted hearing the mild-mannered country star sing, in a coarse almost-whisper, “I don’t know what I’m saying as my trembling fingers touch forbidden places.” I’ve often wondered if R&B group B2K stole the rhythm of their grinding hit “Bump Bump Bump,” from the “Bum Bum Bum” that Twitty escalates throughout the course of the record.

But there’s still a tenderness to the lyric, and part of the song’s controversy stemmed from misinterpretation of the lyrics. When he sings “I can tell you’ve never been this far before,” many assumed that he was with a woman much younger than him, and he was her first time. From that perspective, Twitty would sound nauseatingly lecherous.

But those listeners missed the key line, “I don’t know and I don’t care what made you tell him you don’t love him anymore.” There might be some adultery going on, but that’s about it, and her motivation seems to be looking for real love, not lust, and thinking she’s found it with the man she’s crossing the line with. What makes this a love song, rather than just a cheating song, is the final verse: “As I take the love you’re giving,” he sings, “I can feel the tension building in your mind. You’re wondering if tomorrow, I’ll still love you like I’m loving you tonight.”

He answers, “You have no way of knowing, but tonight will only make me love you more.” It’s a startlingly genuine display of emotion, and when the thoughts in his mind are paired with the action going on, what could have been a tawdry exercise becomes a pure expression of love.

“You’ve Never Been This Far Before” is the the latest in a series of articles showcasing Classic Country Singles. You can read previous entries at the Classic Country Singles page.

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8 Comments

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8 Responses to Classic Country Singles: Conway Twitty, “You’ve Never Been This Far Before”

  1. LJNo Gravatar

    I love me some Conway. This guy is so smooth and such an icon. Nothing like seeing him on the old “Nashville Now” singing a song like this while wearing tennis shorts and a trucker hat. Now THAT is country!

    We lost a legend when Conway passed much too soon.
    I still cringe to this day whenever I’m in Hendersonville and see what has happened to what was Twitty City.
    I can only imagine how amazing it must have been back in the day when Conway, Cash, and Roy Orbison literally had the place to themselves up there.

    Bom… Bom… Bom…. indeed.

  2. LeeannNo Gravatar

    I, too, love me some Conway! I love that gravel in his voice and how he put so much into those vocals of his.

  3. TomNo Gravatar

    if you ever wondered how a countryfied orgasm sounds – there you have it. this song is a musical masterpiece in its own right. it is about nothing else, but two people (of whom at least the female protagonist is in a cheating situation for the first time) having sex.

    in such situations everybody likes to believe that love is the driving force that got them there – usually, a couple of weeks later they are quite often a little wiser.

    your more romantic take on this song is one way to interpret it, however, it misses the point by a country-mile.

  4. Interesting reading of the lyric. Can’t say I had ever interpreted it that way, but it makes some sense. However, doesn’t “You have no way of knowing, but tonight will only make me love you more” also sound sort of like a line – something he’d say in the moment as a way of getting what he wants? I’m surprised that the romantic reading works as well as it does, but still not completely sold on it. Anyway, thanks for making me reconsider the song. I’m enjoying this series.

  5. CharlieNo Gravatar

    Relating Conway Twitty to B2K… I am quite certain that has never been done in the country blog-o-sphere before. Well done sir!

  6. LeeannNo Gravatar

    Tom,

    The only thing that makes me think that your reading is a little off is that he says that he’s been waiting so long for this to happen. If it was just a fling to him, I don’t think it would necessarily be something that he’s going to regret in a couple of weeks.

  7. LJNo Gravatar

    “countryfied orgasm”? = brilliant :-)

  8. TomNo Gravatar

    leeann,
    the ambiguity of this song is another element, why it’s a masterpiece.