“Heartaches by the Number” is a fundamental case of mismatch between the singer and the song. Earlier in the year, Ray Price had a hit with a honky-tonkish version of it on the country charts. Price masterfully balanced the ache in his voice from the trials he’d been put through with just enough dogged optimism to keep it from being another tear-in-my-beer wallow. Guy Mitchell’s pop version, on the other hand, cans the ambivalence that made Price’s version interesting. But instead of a maudlin slog that might be expected of a song titled “Heartaches by the Number,” Mitchell’s version is inexplicably peppy. His cover is an excuse for the pop singer to play dress-up in a cowboy hat and neckerchief, tacking on cheesy faux-C&W accoutrements such as a cheery lonesome whistle and a mild drawl (as in, he drops the g at the end of “coming”) . His crooning, closer to low-rent Bing Crosby than to Hank Williams, is so divorced from the lyrical content that he may as well be singing phoenetically. Mitchell was never one of the greats, but he was perfectly acceptable on easy shuffles like “Singing the Blues.” “Heartaches by the Number,” though, falls so far out of his element that he nearly tarnishes a sterling tune. 4
Hit #1 on December 14, 1959; total of 2 weeks at #1
22 of 963 #1’s reviewed; 2.28% through the Hot 100
2 responses to “22) Guy Mitchell – “Heartaches by the Number””
No offense to Guy Mitchell but I can’t stand his records. Marty Robbins sounded so much better on “Singing the Blues”.
No offense to Guy Mitchell, but I cannot stand any of his songs! Marty Robbins did a much better version of “Singing the Blues”