10 songs for Conway Twitty's birthday

No, he ain't.

No, he ain't.

On this day in country music history 1933, a boy named Harold Jenkins was born in a town called Friars Point, Mississippi. His uncle named him after his favorite silent film actor, Harold Jenkins. But Harold Jenkins didn't stay Harold Jenkins for long.


Young Harold Jenkins wanted to be a rock 'n roll star. By one account, Harold Jenkins didn't believe his name, named though he was after a big star, was marketable. Harold Jenkins, the later, wanted to make it big in rock 'n roll, and rock 'n roll, if anything, was the music of talkies, not silent film.

After heading to Memphis to work with Sam Phillips, Harold Jenkins, the later, decided "Harold" was no "Elvis" (note, Elvis is "The King's" real, not made-up name) and so Harold Jenkins changed his name. In 1957 he looked at a road map, found a town called Conway in Arkansas, found a town called Twitty in Texas, and found his new name. Conway Arkansas Twitty Texas, or Conway Twitty for short.

By another account, young Harold Jenkins was with his manager in a New York City restaurant when he met a man called Conway Twitty, the manager's old army buddy. The manager thought the name had a ring to it - Conway Twitty. Managers were so smart back in the 1950s. So he went with it.

And in a variation of the first story, there were rumors a young Harold Jenkins had lovers in both Conway, Arkansas and in Twitty, Texas, and changed his name as a testament to their love. This account also serves as testament to Conway's long-standing reputation as a ladies' man. Over a decade after his death, I dated a Conway Twitty fan - do I know how to pick 'em or what. He told me that Conway died before a concert, having suffered a heart attack at the age of 59 after making love to two young women on his tour bus. Were these young women from Conway, Arkansas and Twitty, Texas? Were they perhaps the daughters of his long lost loves from these burghs circa 1957?

I cannot prove the veracity of my ex-boyfriend's assertion, but I do know that Conway did die in his tour bus while parked in Branson, Missouri. What better way to go than in Branson while (possibly) banging two women who may or may not have been from Conway and/or Twitty? At any rate, it beats dying on the toilet of your second floor bathroom like that other guy. (Rest in peace, both of you.)

This much I do know: 59 years earlier, in Friars Point, Mississippi, Harold Jenkins was born on September 1, 1933, on this day in country music history. 40 years later, he released his Number One single "You've Never Been This Far Before," the B-side to which is entitled "You Make It Hard." Um, hmm. But today, let's not dwell on how creepy I think Conway Twitty is. Let's instead celebrate the long career that took Harold Jenkins to Conway, Arkansas, to Twitty, Texas, to Conway Twitty, and finally, to a bus in Branson. In honor of his birthday, ten of his good ('n creepy) songs.

You've Never Been This Far Before

The Games That Daddies Play

Slow Hand

I'd Love to Lay You Down

Tight Fittin' Jeans

I See the Want To in Your Eyes

Hello Darlin'

Don't Take It Away

How Much More Can She Stand

She's Got a Single Thing in Mind