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May 17

Why today? I wanted to go back two days and 49 years in history to mark the release of the final No. 1 record by the Queen of Country Music.

About the record: Decca 31246, recorded July 13, 1960, at Bradley Film & Recording Studio in Nashville. Released May 15, 1961, eventually topping Billboard‘s country chart. First LP appearance was on Heartbreak U.S.A., Decca DL7/DL-4141, released in May 1961.

This gem finds Miss Kitty Wells firmly entrenched in the Nashville Sound — except for the steel guitar that kicks things off and remains somewhat prominent throughout. Before long, though, The Jordanaires bring their smoothness to bear, followed shortly by Kitty’s teetering-on-the-edge-of-control vibrato. It’s a great sound, all in service of a fine Harlan Howard lyric.

As a single, “Heartbreak U.S.A.” was a four-week No. 1; as an album cut, it was track one of 12 with “heart” as the theme. Check out this year-old review of the LP by a blogger who was then new to Kitty Wells. He has an interesting perspective.

If you think about it, this song offers great advice for the world traveler: Don’t forget your sweetheart (while you’re away), back home in Heartbreak U.S.A.

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