Every No. 1 Country Single of the Eighties: T.G. Sheppard, “Do You Wanna Go to Heaven”

“Do You Wanna Go to Heaven”

T.G. Sheppard

Written by Bucky Jones and Curly Putman

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

September 26, 1980

Billboard

#1 (1 week)

October 4, 1980

T.G. Sheppard followed up his repulsive No. 1 hit “I’ll Be Coming Back For More” with “Smooth Sailin’,” the title track from his 1980 album.  It’s a song about enduring love, so of course it only went top ten.  He went right back to the gutter with the second single from that album, and it returned him to the top of the singles charts.

In my research for this feature, I’ve been revisiting The Billboard Book of Number One Country Hits, where Tom Roland writes a bit about every song that went to the top from 1968 through 1989.  In the entry for “I’d Love to Lay You Down,” he shares Conway Twitty’s indignance about that hit being used as example of the “country porn” trend by a frustrated radio programmer.  Twitty was right.  His song doesn’t fit that description.

But oh boy, does this one.  I almost admire the sheer audacity of “Do You Wanna Go to Heaven,” in which Sheppard compares getting laid as an adult to the euphoria of getting baptized as a child:

I’ll never forget, I remember it yet, the taste of that clear, pure waterAnd that preacher’s words still fill my head and I hear them now and then
He said, “Do you want to go Heaven?”I said, “Yeah, just lead me on”“Take my hand, can you feel that feeling?”I said, “Yeah, just lead me on”

Yes, dear readers, the preacher’s words still fill his head and he hears them now and then.

First, when he loses his virginity after a high school dance:

I was old enough for the taste of love when boys turn into menI’ll never forget, I remember it yet, the taste of that clear, pure waterBut the preachers words I’ve barely heard, as sweet Bonnie Lou gave in

Then again, when he picks up a lonely woman at the bar:

She was sitting at the end of the bar when I saw herWith the little wine and a little time, she would be a prize to winI’ll never forget, I remember it yet, the taste of that clear, pure waterBut that preacher’s words could not be heardAs she whispered, “Come on in”

I don’t know what possessed these songwriters to take the words said by a preacher to a ten year old boy being baptized, and then have them said again by both the girl who takes that grown boy’s V-card and the woman he plied with alcohol until he looked good enough to take home.  But they sure picked the right artist to record it, as Sheppard was apparently determined to be country music’s King of Sleaze.

This kicks off a string of seven consecutive No. 1 hits for Sheppard, who has a way of making heaven feel like hell.

“Do You Wanna Go to Heaven” gets an F.

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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4 Comments

  1. Another dead-on review. “With the little wine and a little time, she would be a prize to win” is probably in the top-5 cringiest lines in music history.

    And speaking of “I’d Love To Lay You Down”…

    I mentioned Johnny Duncan and “Thinking’ of a Rendezvous” in the comments to the review of “I’ll Be Coming Back For More.” Well, before Conway Twitty recorded “I’d Love To Lay You Down,” it was pitched to Johnny Duncan…who turned it down…on just the title all by itself. I’m glad he did, because I have no doubt his recording of it would’ve been awful, but just the same, I was thinking, “really?”

    Also, it’s kinda difficult to believe this dreck came from the pen of the great Curly Putman. My observation is borne out once again — every songwriter, no matter how good they are, is going to have at least one stinker.

  2. Those songs have to sell if those songwriters want to keep writing. When the stinkers reach the top, it becomes a negative feed-back loop in so far as as the patterned response from Nashville is to seek out more stinkers.

    Given Sheppard’s recent platform on Sirius XM’s “Prime Country,” I wonder if T.G. is aware that he has received back to back-to-back failing marks for his songs detailing predatorial and creepy country conquests. I would love to her his perspective and take on them from the perspective of a hitmaker in his commercial prime and the cultural context of a Nashville circa 1980. How comfortably would he wear the crown of King Sleaze in 2022?

  3. Gulp….I like this song :/ I also like “War is Hell (On the Homefront Too)”. Lol i guess we all have guilty pleasures

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