Monday, June 3, 2013

Crystal Gayle--Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue (1977)

     Crystal Gayle was born Brenda Gail Webb in November of 1951 in Paintsville, Kentucky, although was moved to Indiana when she was four, and it was here she was raised. She was the youngest of eight siblings. with Loretta Lynn being the second of that group (Lynn was 19 when Brenda was born). By the time Brenda was in high school, her older sister was starting to spend major time on the US country charts. This inspired the younger sister to take up the guitar and sing backup in her brother's folk band. During the summers Loretta would invite her to join her on tour for a couple of weeks.
     By the time graduation, she had devoted herself to music full time, and was soon signed by Decca Records. There was a bit of a question however about her name. Decca already had a popular artist by the name of Brenda Lee, the company didn't want confusion about the name, so they asked her if she would change her name. While on tour, Loretta was riding through a town and saw the name of the hamburger chain, Krystal's. She phoned Brenda and suggested she changed the spelling and call herself Crystal. So Brenda changed her first name, changed the spelling of her middle name to become her surname, and Crystal Gayle was born.
     Her first single came out in 1970, which reached the top 40 in country, but subsequent singles didn't do quite as well. Gayle felt frustrated feeling that the record company was marketing her more as Loretta Lynn's sister, and she wanted her own sound and style in 1973 she was let out of her contract. At this point she was signed by United Artists and was teamed up with producer Allan Reynolds. They began to work on changing her phrasing and vocal flair, while also pushing the music to a more crossover sound.
     There was almost an immediate change in her fortunes as the song, "Wrong Road Again" reached to number 6 on the country charts in late 1974. The next year brought the first of a string of top five hits, but Reynolds and Gayle both thought she could cross over to a wider audience. They turned to Richard Leigh who had already written to hits for her and found, "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue". It became a number four hit for her and her third number one on the country top 40. It also began a string of pop hits which lasted to the end of the decade. Her country success went strong into the late 80's, and today Crystal continues to tour and record.


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