Friday, October 12, 2012

"A Lesson in Leavin'" by Dottie West

Song#:  0082
Date:  03/08/1980
Debut:  85
Peak:  73
Weeks:  5
Genre:  Country Crossover, Adult Contemporary

Pop Bits:  Along with Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn, West is considered one of the most influential female artists in country music. In the 60s and early 70s, she maintained a conservative persona (even rejecting recording "Help Me Make It Through the Night" because it was too sexy) and had a bunch of country chart songs including eight Top 10 country hits (five were solo hits - she was often a duet partner). But in the late 70s she changed up her image and her music. She went all glam wearing Bob Mackie designed outfits and moved her music into more of an Adult Contemporary crossover sound. The change was welcomed and by 1980 she topped the country chart for the first time solo with this song. This started a string of hits, several with Kenny Rogers with whom she recorded two duet albums. For all of her success on the country chart, she rarely had a pop entry. This was the third of four with her biggest pop single yet to come. (Odd note: this is the third post in a row where an artist has passed away. West died from injuries sustained in a car accident in 1991.)

ReduxReview:  I really like this song. I had never heard it before. I wish the arrangement were a bit more punchy as it sounds a bit too laid back. Jo Dee Messina recorded this in 1999 and took it to #2 on the country chart. Her version is heavier in sound, but lacks some of the subtly of West's vocal and the bluesy feeling is lost. I prefer West's version overall. This is a really good crossover country song.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  West adopted one of her songs "Country Girl" for a Coca-Cola commercial in 1970. It was a very successful ad campaign and in 1973 she wrote "Country Sunshine" for the company. The song was very popular and hit #2 on the country chart and was one of her rare pop chart entries peaking at #49. The commercial won a Clio for best commercial of the year and the song got her two Grammy nominations.


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