“Tight Fittin’ Jeans”
Written by Michael Huffman
#1 (1 week)
September 26, 1981
Conway Twitty’s hitmaking career stretches all the way back to the fifties, with his country success starting in earnest toward the end of the sixties.
So it’s interesting that in the digital and streaming age, the majority of his gold singles are from the eighties, including “Tight Fittin’ Jeans,” which is one of best ever singles.
The storyline is a bit far fetched. A millionaire’s wife meets a good old boy in a honky tonk as she plays out a fantasy of just being “a good old boy’s girl.” She cautions him that “there’s a tiger in these tight fittin’ jeans,” but true to form, Twitty centers the emotional intimacy that they share in their one night together.
He’s far too respectful to make a salacious record, and indeed, the best line in the song fills in the blanks of what happened after they left the bar: “In my mind, she’s still a lady. That’s all I’m gonna say.”
And the song ends on a wistful note, as he realizes just how lucky he was to have her in his life for just one evening:
Well now she’s back in her world and I’m still stuck in mine
But I know she’ll always remember the time
A cowboy once had a millionaire’s dream
And Lord I love that lady wearing tight fitting jeans
It’s sophisticated and adult, and portrays both characters with complexity and empathy. T.G. Sheppard could never.
“Tight Fittin’ Jeans” gets an A.
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One of Conway’s gifts was his ability to not confuse romantic love with sex.
Listen to his different approach to a song like “Crazy in Love” as opposed to his take on “Tight Fittin’ Jeans.”
Both the narrator and the woman know why they are at the bar. I certainly get the sense the guy regularly pursued these opportunities. He is mature enough, however, to understand this opportunity and the circumstances surrounding this particular lady wearing tight fittin’ jeans, far fetched as they may seem.
The song is sexy because it is all about speculation and suggestion. It’s seductive and inviting. Hungry and hopeful. This song plays so well to imagination and many sexual fantasies, male and female. It’s about cowgirls and tigers being barely constrained behind some eye-catching, curve hugging denim. It’s all innuendo and patience. Slow hands and listening. Cold beer and heat. Feeling safe while letting go. It’s mysterious urgency coming alive.
Respect keeps this from lapsing into “Honkytonk Bodonkadonk” because it involves two people who feel real. There is a begrudging willingness to accept Conway will never actually let us into the bedroom with this hook-up, despite sharing having been “broken.” Is that bronc riding analogy really as sweaty and dirty as it sounds?
Respect, gratitude and admiration for both a real woman and a gentlemanly lover are as much a part of the evening as libidinous desire.
The heat of the song more than suggests a wild night of animalistic screwing. But a closer listen does allow for the possibility the couple never actually left the barroom; all the passion and emotional intensity could have been shared on the dance floor.
Put that in the unlikely column.
Tight fitting jean contests in bars and at radio stations across the country would follow this hit.
All this said, Conway’s wife famously hated this song.
I obviously love it and might need a cold shower.
It is interesting that the 80s is the era Conway is more known for nowadays – possibly his work with Loretta has an earlier tail, but there was a lot of interesting creativity in that era. I love this song, the story of it, the wistful thinking, and as far fetched as it is I think of it as a bit of a fairy tale in song form so I am willing to go along with it and listen. “In my mind, she’s still a lady. That’s all I’m gonna say.” just says it all, in my mind too. Amazing song, one of his very best.
I really love that one of his gold singles is “That’s My Job,” which underperformed at radio by his standards (top ten), but was one of the best things he ever recorded.
I’ll check that one out on Youtube!
Conway has so many gems in his output that spans all of his decades of chart relevance. This is such an expertly written song and Conway delivers it convincingly. I echo the gratitude of “That’s My Job” and its legacy despite not being a major hit.