Heartaches By the Number

Harlan and Jan Howard, Hulton Archive

Harlan Howard had been a paratrooper in the U.S. Army and wrote songs in his downtime to amuse himself. Heartaches By the Number was born from doing everything, as a soldier would say, by the number.

The guy in the song is kind of a sap really in this piece of country heaven. A pre-ordained sap, at that. He’s had this happen to him so often he’s got it down cold, but still “with hopeful heart, he waits by the door.” The best line is the lie he tells himself when she never shows back up in the end: “she must have lost her way.” Man, what a sap.

Ray Price

Ray Price snatched the song up and today is the anniversary of when he recorded it back in 1959. He had a nice No. 2 hit with it, too. Later that year pop crooner Guy Mitchell also picked up on it and, I would imagine much to Price’s irritation, took it to No. 1.

Nothing will ever beat that fiddle kicking off Price’s version of the song, but I must admit to smiling every time I hear Mitchell whistle.

Heartaches By the Number, Ray Price

Heartaches By the Number, Guy Mitchell

Guy Mitchell

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About Iaan Hughes

Iaan Hughes is a deejay on 91.3 KBCS in Seattle. He plays country & western music.
This entry was posted in Country, Honky Tonk, Music, Pop, Radio, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Heartaches By the Number

  1. auntmama says:

    If more of us did that with our downtime, oh how much better the world will be.
    Thanks for all your insights into these great artists.
    auntmama

  2. Bruce says:

    Guy is in serious need of a Nudie suit.

    Thanks for the post, Great picture of Harlan and Jan.

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