Prior to George Strait, Conway Twitty held the record for the most No. 1 records in country music history.
In the beginning, it looked like baseball was where the Mississippi man was headed — until he was drafted during the Korean War. After discovering and following the rock and roll stars of the day, Twitty decided to give music a shot. Sun Records in Memphis was the first stop, but no hits prevailed.
After a switch to MGM Records, Twitty rocked the teenage jukebox with "It’s Only Make Believe" in 1958. That also led to appearances in teen-based movies. Twitty had such an impact that his story and name were parodied by the character Conrad Birdie in the Broadway musical Bye Bye Birdie.
When Twitty hit his 30s, he decided to change courses and pursue his love of country music. In 1966, the journey began, thanks to a loyal legion of fans who would follow him anywhere. From early country hits like "You’ve Never Been This Far Before" and "Linda on My Mind," to ‘80s classics including "Tight Fittin Jeans" and "I’d Just Love to Lay You Down," these are the Top 10 Conway Twitty songs.
"The Rose"From ‘Dream Maker’ (1982)
In 1980, Bette Midler hit No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary charts with "The Rose." Realizing the power of great love songs and how singing the song from a man’s point of view would appeal to the ladies, Conway Twitty put his signature sensual tones on a country version of the hit. Twitty also had success covering other pop songs like the Commodores’ "Three Times a Lady," the Pointer Sisters’ "Slow Hand" and the Eagles’ "Heartache Tonight." Out of all of the covers, we selected "The Rose" to begin our list of the Top 10 Conway Twitty Songs.
"You’ve Never Been This Far Before"From ‘You’ve Never Been This Far Before’ (1973)
Twitty penned "You’ve Never Been This Far Before" to tell the story of a person stepping outside of marriage for the first time. Banned by some radio stations at the time, it was misunderstood that the controversial single was about losing one’s virginity, when it was really about finding a new love after a breakup. To prove that this wasn’t just a "dirty" love song, Twitty always pointed to the lyrics, "I don’t know and I don’t care what made you tell him you don’t love him anymore." In the end, Twitty’s female fans pushed the song to No. 1.
"It’s Only Make Believe"From ‘Conway Twitty Sings’ (1958)
While you won’t find "It’s Only Make Believe" anywhere on the country charts, it’s an integral part of the Conway Twitty songs catalog. In 1958, MGM records released "It’s Only Make Believe" and turned Twitty into a rock and roll star. Teen-targeted hits including "Danny Boy" and "Mona Lisa" set the foundation for an amazing musical journey that would be destined for country in 1965. Twitty’s first hit is a must-have on our list of the Top 10 Conway Twitty songs.
"Don’t Call Him a Cowboy"From ‘Don’t Call Him a Cowboy’ (1985)
Songwriter Johnny MacRae had the idea for "Don’t Call Him a Cowboy" during the Urban Cowboy craze of the early ‘80s. After the John Travolta / Debra Winger movie became a hit, people from all walks of life were wearing cowboy hats and learning how to two-step. Twitty turned the idea into a No. 1 song in 1985. Although he would continue to record and tour until his death, Twitty's final Billboard chart-topper came a year later with "Desperado Love."
"Linda on My Mind"From ‘Linda on My Mind’ (1975)
Conway Twitty’s songs were often considered too risque for radio. "Linda on My Mind" was another example of a song he wrote that got people riled up because it spoke of a man who sleeps with one woman while dreaming of another. Twitty explained in Tom Roland’s Billboard Book of No. 1 Country Hits, “There are tons of songs like that. You can’t take sex out of country music. If you did, it wouldn’t be country music. But you can tell the story without being vulgar." Representing his catalog of hits from the ‘70s, "Linda on My Mind" eases into our list of the Top 10 Conway Twitty Songs.
"I Don’t Know a Thing About Love (The Moon Song)"From ‘By Heart’ (1984)
Harlan Howard is easily considered one of the greatest country songwriters in history. Howard classics include Charlie Walker’s "Pick Me Up on Your Way Down," Ray Charles and John Conlee’s "Busted," Ray Price’s "Heartaches by the Number" and Buck Owens’ "I’ve Got a Tiger by the Tail." The cute little story in "I Don’t Know a Thing About Love" finds a man looking to the moon and stars for advice about relationships. Twitty’s interpretation once again found him at No. 1, and helped remind everyone of the great timeless music penned by Harlan Howard.
"I’d Just Love to Lay You Down"From ‘Heart and Soul’ (1980)
Once again, Conway Twitty managed to find another hit song that offended people. Like other Twitty recordings, "I’d Love to Lay You Down" was considered too risque and was even banned from some radio station playlists. However, Twitty - who sang directly to his female fanbase - defended the song in Tom Roland’s Billboard Book of No. 1 Country Hits. “It’s not an off-color song. It’s a love song about a couple who have been married for several years," he explained. "I think the women who listen to the song recognize this fact. The men don’t, and that’s why some of the stations aren’t playing it - the men are making the decisions.”
"That’s My Job"From ‘Borderline’ (1987)
Later in his career, Conway Twitty started to record songs slightly different than what his audience was accustomed to hearing on the radio. In 1987, he took a gamble to tell a story song about a typical father-son relationship. The sparse production and deep story song touched the hearts of many people who were lucky to have a father so loving and caring that they would call parenthood their favorite job. "That’s My Job" is still one of the most-requested and downloaded Father’s Day songs on country radio, and its impact on the fans earns it a spot on our list of the Top 10 Conway Twitty Songs.
"Tight Fittin’ Jeans"From ‘Red Neckin’ Love Makin Night’ (1981)
Although most of his hits were written and sung with the ladies in mind, Conway Twitty recorded "Tight Fittin’ Jeans" for the guys. The song was born at Charley Pride’s publishing company, and in the end, Pride regretted that he didn’t have the chance to record the song first. Ironically, Twitty's wife was never a big fan of the song, but he insisted that every once in a while, he had to record something for the men! Penned by Mike Huffman, the song became a staple on country radio in the early ‘80s, peaking at No. 1 in September of 1981.
"Hello Darlin’"From ‘Hello Darlin’’ (1970)
Conway Twitty wrote "Hello Darlin'" while he was a rock and roll singer in the ‘50s, but chose not to record it until 1969, when he had made the switch to country music. Considering that the song has no chorus, and the title is only mentioned once in the very beginning of the song, the tune was considered a little risky. After hitting No. 1, "Hello Darlin'" made history after being played in space on the Apollo/Soyuz space mission. Twitty witnessed the U.S. and Soviet crews linked in space with the song playing in the background in Russian as "Privet Radost."