We Had It All

Album: Honky Tonk Heroes (1973)

Songfacts®:

  • This poignant song about two ex-lovers recalling happier times was written by Troy Seals and Donnie Fritts and was first recorded by Waylon Jennings. It was the only track on the Honky Tonk Heroes album not penned by Billy Joe Shaver. It reached #28 on the country chart.
  • Many artists covered this, including Dobie Gray, Rita Coolidge, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, and The Rolling Stones. In 2013, studio session musician Norbert Putnam added Elvis Presley to the list, though his version was never finished. Putnam, who played bass on 122 Elvis songs, remembers the singer falling in love with the track, but it proved too painful a reminder of his recent divorce from Priscilla Presley. What followed was an uncharacteristically tough session at Stax in 1973.

    "Now Elvis was a very quick study, he could hear vocals and arrangements once or twice, grab the lyric sheet, and just kill it', Putnam told Elvis Australia. "But on this particular night, we four, five six takes, and he wasn't getting it. I'd never seen him have problems like that before." Finally, the frustrated singer threw down his microphone and shouted, "You can put that one out after I've been dead 20 years!"

    "We thought at first it was a joke," Putnam recalled. "Then [producer] Felton Jarvis said he just couldn't get through the words because he was thinking about himself. Another futile stab at the song the next day yielded nothing usable."
  • The Rolling Stones covered this in the late '70s and released their cover featuring Keith Richards as lead singer for the Deluxe edition of Some Girls in 2011. Keith Richards explained: "It's a Dobie Gray song that we've always loved, and I actually had forgotten we had recorded it. I had also forgotten how good it was and how much I like it.... It's a perennial, you know what I mean? One of those songs you sort of warm up in the loins with, you know?" Mick Jagger added: "Keith sings this one. It's an old-time country song written by Donnie Fritts and Troy Seals. I know this because I was mixing it and I said to Don Was, Did Keith write this song? I didn't know 'cause I'm not on it. Don said, No, it's an old cover tune. Waylon Jennings did a version, which is where I think Keith got it from." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • Jennings' version was featured in the Peter Bogdanovich's 1981 romantic comedy They All Laughed, starring Audrey Hepburn and Ben Gazzara.

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