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Dec. 2: Happy 59th birthday to John Wesley Ryles, the Louisiana native whose very first cut on Columbia Records in 1968 became his best-known song. “Kay,” written by the late Hank Mills, is packed with effective imagery, aided on this record by 18-year-old Ryles’ unpolished voice. Each time he sings the hook line — “Kay, I’m livin’ yet I’m dyin’, starin’ out at Music City from my cab” — I believe him more and more. I’ve always liked this record.

“Kay” cracked the Top 10 on Billboard‘s country chart — a feat matched only once more (“Once In A Lifetime Thing,” No. 5 in 1977) in his 20-year solo career. Since his last single was released in 1968, Ryles has largely been a session guitarist, background vocalist and demo singer. Find out more on his Allmusic.com bio.

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