I first heard Ry Cooder’s great Norteño version of this song on his album Chicken Skin Music, but over the years have listened to many versions. Elvis Presley’s is pretty good, Johnny Cash’s is great, you can’t go wrong with the Mekons’ version, and Bryan Ferry’s is pretty slick. The song was first recorded by a country singer name Billy Brown, and it flopped. Then Jim Reeves recorded it and his label put it on the B-side, what were they thinking, but the DJs got it right and turned it into one of country music’s greatest hits.
Jeanne Black recorded an answer song that was also a hit, and was later covered by Skeeter Davis.
Here’re the original Jim Reeves and Jeanne Black recordings, in one clip!