Download “Put your sweet lips a little closer to the phone/Let’s pretend that we’re together, all alone”. Those are the clever and provocative lyrics that open this classic country tune. And then it’s “you can tell your friend there with you – he’ll have to go”. Well, crap!! Another man is right there with her and our hero is calling anyway! “Should I hang up or will you tell him – he’ll have to go?” Oh, wow! This has all the makings of a terrific country soap opera… and possible double homicide. And she thought she was getting away with something. Surprise!
This was a huge hit, and I do mean HUGE, for Jim Reeves in 1960. It didn’t hurt that Floyd Cramer was there for the piano track and the Anita Kerr Singers provided background vocals. It was written by one Joe Allison, who was inspired to write the song by his wife, Audrey. It seems that whenever Joe called Audrey, her voice was so soft he constantly had to remind her to put her mouth closer to the phone. Joe, you gullible son of a gun, if you believe that… well, never mind. My guess is she just didn’t want to wake up the other guy.
Here’s an interesting aside: Elvis recorded his version of “He’ll Have to Go” in October of 1976 at his last recording session. It’s said that it was the final song he ever recorded in a studio setting. Life is just full of ironies, isn’t it?