Rev. Dr. Monte Canfield

Rev. Dr. Monte Canfield
Newcomerstown, Ohio, USA
December 28
Rev. Dr. Monte Canfield
Retired Protestant Pastor and Theologian, credentialed in the United Church of Christ; licensed by the Moravian Church . Education: BA, MA, M.Div, Thd. Public Service: NY State Office of Executive Development, Management Intern; Federal Exec. Branch: Executive Office of the President, Budget Examiner, Bureau of the Budget; Interior, Director of Energy and Minerals, Bureau of Land Management; Non Profit: Ford Foundation, Deputy Director, Energy Policy Project; Congressional: Director, Office of Special Projects; Director, Division of Energy and Materials, General Accounting Office. Private industry: Vice President, Grow Group, Inc.; Chief Executive Officer, US Paint; Owner, the Energy Center, St. Louis. Christian service: Pastor, First Congregational UCC, Ottawa, Illinois; Pastor, St. Paul's UCC, Port Washington, Ohio; Pastor, Moravian Church, Gnadenhutten, Ohio. Interim Pastor, the Baltic Parish UCC, Baltic, Ohio; starting 08 2014: Interim Pastor, St. John UCC, Strasburg, OH


Rev. Dr. Monte Canfield's Links

MARCH 15, 2010 4:17PM

Conway Twitty: Too Sexy for Country?

Rate: 20 Flag


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Note: The quality of the music reproduction on the Playlist is much better than the quality of the YouTube videos. And if you don't listen to the Playlist with earphones or earbuds I doubt you will be able to tell what is so very unique about his voice and music.

YouTube videos follow this introduction

 Harold Jenkins didn't sound to him like much of a name for a singer who intended to distinguish himself from the crowd so he became Conway Twitty, which was nothing if not unique. No one really knows if he, as rumor has it, conjured the name by glancing at a map and noticing Conway, Ark. and Twitty, Tx. but the name is certainly hard to forget.  

Before Sue and I got married we decided to take a drive from St. Louis down to Branson and I was introducing her to country music. I asked her to fumble around in the glove box for a Conway Twitty tape.

She looked at me and said, "What's that?"

I said, "That's the name of the  top country singer."

"You're kidding, right?"


Well, she found it, got a good laugh out of his name, played the tape -- and became another Conway Twitty fan.

Conway Twitty was a singer/song writer who had early success in rock and roll, R&B and pop. But it was in the singing of country ballads, many of which were sensuous, with thinly veiled sexual innuendos, that pushed him to the very top of the country charts for over 30 years. Much of his music was indeed suggestive and sensuous, but it never crossed the line into anything remotely vulgar.

On the contrary, it would be considered tame by today's much looser standards. Nevertheless he encountered substantial opposition to it throughout his career from the traditionalists in the genre.

Yet, until 2007 he held the record of 55 number one country singles. And, in addition to his solo career, in the early '70s he and Loretta Lynn won award after award as their duets topped the country charts time and again. His cross over covers of such songs as "The Rose" won appreciation far beyond the country genre.   

His initial success was in rock and roll. Writing and singing "Its Only Make Believe" he finally had his first #1 hit, on the pop charts, not only on Billboard but in 21 other countries. That was the beginning of a strong international fan base that was to remain with him even after he crossed from rock to country and which bolstered his record sales and made him an international singing star.

After modest success in rock, some R&B and pop, by the mid-60s Conway Twitty had his heart set on moving into country music. However, many country DJs did not want to play his music because he was a "rock and roll" singer.

But by 1968 with his first country #1 song he was firmly entrenched on the country scene, without much help from either the DJs or the country establishment. Nobody liked his music except the people. They loved it.

Nevertheless, he continued to have trouble getting some of his songs played by prudish disk jockeys. Today we would find it hard the believe that the sexual innuendo of the lyrics of his songs, coupled with the way he sang them, could possibly bother a disk jockey. But Conway Twitty was not one to change what made his music stand apart from the then current country scene.

 Twitty knew exactly what he was doing and became a country heart throb and sensation in the 70s and 80s, selling out every venue he played, complete with a following of swooning women, not unlike what happened to Sinatra and Elvis. County music had never seen anything like it, and hasn't again since.

While performing in Branson, Mo, in 1993 he became ill and died from an abdominal aortic aneurysm. He was only 59 years old.

Ironically, in country music circles Conway Twitty is not talked about much these days and his songs are seldom played, even on the Country Golden Oldies stations. If I had to guess why I would say that he is a victim of his own success.

His voice was unique, gravelly, ranging from a deep baritone to tenor, and he sometimes whispered the words as much as sang them. He sounded, well, the only word is "sexy." And when that voice was combined with suggestive lyrics he created an image that was just a bit too "bad boy" for some of the country music crowd.

I also think that artists that start out in rock and roll and end up in country music never are quite considered to be "really" country by the powers that be in country music. This is in spite of the fact that he was a member of the Grand Ole Opry and inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, posthumously, in 1999.

I liked Conway Twitty from the first time I heard him singing early rock and R&B and I still like his music today. All of it. And that is why I have posted this tribute.

More on Conway Twitty can be found here:


Lay You Down

Don't Take It Away

Hello, Darlin'

Slow Hand

Easy Lovin' w/ Loretta Lynn

I'm Not Through Loving You Yet

Almost Persuaded

Don't Call Him a Cowboy

A Bridge That Just Won't Burn

 707 page views 2010 05 28


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Wow . . . who knew? Thanks, Monte, for introducing an artist who shouldn't need an introduction!
I must admit, due to my age, I never thought of Conway Twitty as sexy (he was of course older than I during his popular years). I love the title of "bad boy" - he could be an alter server compared to the thugs in music today, eh? He definitely has a distinctive sound to his voice. I like the "gravelly" type. :-) Thanks, Monte!
Harold Jenkins? I never knew that. Makes me wonder if OS's Kilogore Trout, ronnierayjenkins gets his musical genes from the same source.

An interesting background post. I always liked him, but was never what might be called a real fan.
Hi Monty - thanks for posting this. I didn't know anything about Conway Twitty although of course I've heard of him. I had no idea he sang anything but country.
I've got Conway on my iPod... love him! Great story.
Now this is how you present a favorite artist.
Ohh that picture. Thanks Monte. I'll have to wait til I get home to listen to the music. I wasn't listening to him in the 60's I was listenting to the Rolling Stones, et al. I BET I'm gonna love him now. Thanks for this.
Lord, I love Conway Twitty. There. I said it. Especially his duets with Loretta. "I've Already Loved You In My Mind" may be the best justification I've ever heard for low-down dirty honkey-tonk one-night stands. I've heard. Ahem. :-)

Thanks, Monte. He really was special.

The morning he died I was out garage saling in a small Missouri town. We literally got a Conway update at each garage. Taken ill...not doing so good...not so good at all...gone.

He was country's Elvis.
I loved rockabilly. Well, hell, I still do. Used to listen to it secretly at night on a big old console radio in the bedroom I shared with my younger brother. Drove him nuts.

Twitty was one of the originals, along with Dale Hawkins and his more famous cousin, Rompin' Ronnie Hawkins, who's still alive and performing.

Great tribute to one of the greats.
I always loved his name. It was great to hear that duet with Loretta. As for the country vs any other musical genre, there are still people who don't think k.d. lang is a country singer. As I like to say, you can take the girl out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the girl. Twitty and lang are as country as they come.
Thanks, everybody. I will not be replying individually to your comments on this tribute, unless, of course, someone has a question (which I probably can't answer! ;-). But, every comment is important and I read them all and appreciate them all.

Those of you who really don't know Conway Twitty should be able to get a good idea of his music from this tribute, and those of you who know his work and haven't listened to him in a while will have lots of memories. So, its all good.

I can't emphasize enough the difference between listening on computer speakers, unless they are very good, and especially listening on laptop speakers, and listening on a good set of headphones or earbuds. I listen on my laptop speakers when I just want to have the music in the background. But to really hear what his music sounded like nothing tops good direct earphones and earbuds.

Thanks all, very much.

You go Monty - marvelous post. I remember him well. I think the world was truly sad when he passed on. Nothing wrong with what he did - a man to be admired just like Johnny Cash. My country roots go back a little further tho - records my dad used to play on Sundays while cooking dinner. How about Jim Reeves and "Four Walls" Ah, life was much simpler back then. Thanks for the great post - your friend Jali.
I love his music, too.

And --just a thought --if Conrad Twitty were alive today he'd be a spokesperson for Twitter, I'd bet. :)
oh yes yes yes! LOVE Conway Twitty! I even bought the Box Set a few years ago & consistently play it because I just love his voice, his low growl. I'm pretty sure that in reality he was a happily married man, but in so many of his songs he was the guy that takes you over the edge & shows you how good love can REALLY feel. That charmer in the bar with the big hair. "That's My Job" makes me cry, and "Never Been This Far Before" speaks to my Peach-Pantsuit-in-a-cowboy bar 23-year-old self. Ditto "I See The Want To In Your Eyes." And "I'd Love To Lay You Down" is this great song about married LUST & always makes me smile. NOBODY sounds like Conway, he owns every song he sings. And he always seemed like such a good guy, I wish he'd lived to "old." I'm so glad to find another Conway fan!
SMILES!! Thank you for this Monte.. I grew up listening to Conway Twitty. It was one of the ones that was played just about everyday in our home. I lot of the bars I worked at had bands, and a lot of them played his songs. So I have basically heard him and his songs most of my life.
I knew he had a bad time getting played, but I didn't know all the history of it all. Him and Tanya Tucker, changed Country music, the "bad boy" and the "bad girl" of country music. But both of their songs were so true, so honest about life, love and relationships.

I have been sitting here listening to every single song on the play list. They bring back some really great memories while growing up.
I had to giggle a few times, and have a huge smile on my face the whole time. I used to pick on my dad and tell him he looks like Conway Twitty, he would get so mad at me, then the wrestling and boxing match was on. My dad and I would sing them all together, acting goofy, my mom would even join in. Some great memories of my mom while listening to these songs. Conway used to be her favorite country singer, until she left my dad. Then we never heard Conway again within her home.
It has been a long time since I have heard these song within the walls of my home. I have enjoyed them all with giggles, laughs, and tears. All good memories. Thank you very much for this, I needed it. {{HUGS}} Beautiful post..
Even though I'm not a big country music fan, I've "of course" heard of Conway Twitty. I must admit that I do like the sound of his voice!
Well... I've heard the name Conway Twitty before, but that was all I knew about him. Been working a slightly different music scene, I guess. =o) But that's a great and sexy voice and a great smile, but unlike a lot of the big names now, he sounds like somebody I could actually imagine developing a crush on. And he expresses all this without a single curse word, or implying that he despises women.

Thanks for posting this, Monte! Always good to make discoveries.
Thanks for the additional comments, people. Much appreciated. It seems that while it is small, there continues to be an interest here on OS in country music. I'm glad to see that. I love all kinds of music but country is numero uno with me. Like Twitty, I am a refuge from early pop folk, then rock, and then rockin' country, etc.

Harold Jenkins was supposed to be the next Elvis, but turns out he was the first Conway Twitty.
Padraig, No. But I have heard the rumor that some of the lyrics of the songs he sung had "gay themes," whatever that means, ergo, he must be gay. Really? He had three wives and four kids. Wonder what they think about that idea?

And, if he was, it is fine with me.

Are you sure you aren't just "stirring the pot?" ;-)

Unless he had Biblical knowledge of him..................its just gossip.

Hope things are well with you and yours. And a happy holiday tomorrow, if you celebrate it over there. Do you?

Ahem, that should be "today." I was busy reading and didn't realize it was already 5 am the 17th here. Time flies when you are old and sleep little.

Oh, Monte, I love this post. I have always been a die-hard Conway Twitty fan. Thanks for this. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to iTunes to make a playlist for my iPhone. Perfect for my road trip this weekend!
Sooooo rated!
You're a music officionado as well?!?
Had no idea he did "The Rose!" A fave of mine!
It is odd how one person can say something one way and have it mean something entirely different. There are so many of the hip-hop songs I have heard that my daughter listens to, it is dis paring at best to connect the jive of the song, with the intended meaning. Some of it has much to be desired. What is the huge attraction to sexually explict music except the sense of urgency that seems to offer cheap thrills. Our kids are really asked not only to grow up too fast, but are also asked to cheapen their standards, act any way that want. I know there are songs that I like the beat to, but the messages are way out there, there is one song that comes to mind, it is called "Meet Me At The Hotel Room", the messages are practically elicit, today it is just a waste, by the time you would put restrictions kids can go to a friends house and download stuff there. Parents are not in charge of todays beasts of burden. I wonder what the generation will do for the next thrill, it scares me to think.
Thanks for the further comments, everybody.

I do think that if one listens carefully to some of Twitty's lyrics everything is done by inuenedo and nothing is explicit. Today it would be considered quaint. I have no clue where the current generation is going. They said my generation was going straight to hell. Maybe some of us did, but we turned out OK in general. And maybe that is what will happen to this generation. I have hope still, although often I am clueless what they will think is "off limits." Certainly nothing that we thought were the lines drawn in the sand.