50 Years Ago: Conway Twitty Records Country’s Ultimate Creeper Song

Oh how people love to regard classic country music as coming from this pure and idyllic era, full of traditional American values and virtue, while regarding today’s country music as full of filth. That may be somewhat fair on the whole, but there are certainly some exceptions to that rule. And most of them come from the catalog of Conway Twitty.

You have to give the guy credit. It’s an art form, and one Conway was the master of during his Hall of Fame career. He knew how to walk up right to the line of decency in country music, but not cross it, yet give the audience the words and imagery where they could cross fully over the lines themselves, while everything still remained in compliance with the FCC and network censors.

Conway Twitty has such a vast selection of creeper country songs, it could constitute its own subgenre. “I See The Want To In Your Eyes” and “I’ve Already Loved You In My Mind” are a couple of choice examples. “Tight Fittin’ Jeans” and “I’d Love to Lay You Down” are a couple of the more sedate selections. Sure, there was never anything overt. But it wasn’t what Conway said, it’s what he didn’t need to say that aroused the otherwise repressed audience. Conway understood that the greatest erogenous zone in the human body is the mind.

Though there are scores of examples of this Conway Twitty smooth talk, arguably the biggest doozy of them all was the song he recorded 50 years ago today at Bradley’s Barn in Mt. Juliet Tennessee with producer Owen Bradly called “You’ve Never Been This Far Before.”

Though like always, Conway was careful not to use any dirty words explicitly—and instead allowed the imagination of the listener to take the story where he wanted it to go—the talk of the taking of innocence, and Conway stating, “…as my trembling fingers touch forbidden places” was too much for some radio programmers, and the song was banned at certain stations. Perhaps the creepiest part of “You’ve Never Been This Far Before” is the “bum bum bum” refrains from Conway.

But as is normal with such things, the risque nature of the song and making it forbidden fruit only made it more enticing to audiences, and despite the protestations of some moralists, the song still made it to #1. The complaints over the song also made it popular on the pop side of the dial. It ended up peaking at #22 on the Billboard’s all-genre Hot 100 in 1973, making for Conway’s best crossover showing on the pop chart in his country career.

Written by Conway Twitty himself, it was really the success of “You’ve Never Been This Far Before” that inspired Conway to try his hand at similar risque creeper songs in the future, which he found great success with. “I See The Want To In Your Eyes,” “I’ve Already Loved You In My Mind,” “Tight Fittin’ Jeans,” and “I’d Love to Lay You Down” all hit #1 too.

Of course Conway wrote and performed many other kinds of songs as well, and had an incredible career singing duets with Loretta Lynn, who often played the foil to Conway’s dalliances. But it was his creeper songs that became his signature. They went on to partially inspire Stuart Baker’s creepy classic country character Unknown Hinson. Animated comedy Family Guy regularly makes reference to Conway, and often in the context of his creeper songs.

Aside from George Strait, nobody has more #1 songs in country music than Conway Twitty. One of the reasons is the way Conway knew how to stimulate the libido in the audience like no other. Some of what Conway sang would be considered even more risque today as it was during its original time as a new version of prudish American values have taken over popular society. “You’ve Never Been This Far Before” probably qualifies in that category. But love it or find it incredibly creepy, it unquestionably left a lasting mark on country music.

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