“True Love Ways”
Written by Buddy Holly and Norman Petty
#1 (1 week)
July 19, 1980
Mickey Gilley had reached the heights of country music superstardom in the seventies. Recording for Playboy Records, he scored a string of No. 1 singles in the middle of the decade, including enduring hits like “Room Full of Roses” and “Don’t the Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time.” He swept the ACM Awards in 1976, taking home Entertainer, Male Vocalist, Single, Song, and Album of the Year.
But toward the end of the decade, the hitmaking pace had slowed down. Playboy was bough out by Epic, and he transitioned to their roster. His first four singles for Epic all made the top twenty, with two going top ten. As the new decade began, he rode the Urban Cowboy sound and reimagined versions of early rock era hits to reach new career heights.
This run started with “True Love Ways,” a Buddy Holly cover that Holly’s widow told Gilley was the best version of the song ever recorded. It’s hard to disagree with her. His more mature vocal style fits the “we’re in this forever and ever” lyric differently, and it comes off as an enduring commitment to a relationship that has already gone much of the distance, rather than a starry eyed ballad of young love.
Mickey Gilley’s cosmopolitan approach to his recording style was a perfect fit for the crossover sound of radio at the time, and eight of his next nine singles would also go to No. 1. The next one got there so quickly that it joined “True Love Ways” in the top five. Because “True Love Ways” didn’t go to No. 1 on Radio & Records and his next single did, it’s the next entry in this series.
“True Love Ways” gets a B+.
Next: Mickey Gilley, “Stand By Me”