Kitty Wells, “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels”

Many country radio listeners (and artists) complain about the lack of airtime for women on the genre’s airwaves today. But women were once almost completely ignored by country radio’s male tastemakers. That was before Kitty Wells recorded the number one single “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels.” Entirely unintentionally, Wells broke down huge barriers in 1952 by becoming the first woman to rise to the top spot on the country music charts. “Honky Tonk Angels” was written by J.D. Miller (more about him later) in response to Hank Thompson’s 1952 hit “Wild Side of Life,” a song about a woman who would rather hang out in a bar than be a faithful companion. Thompson’s song clearly placed the onus on the woman for her totally unacceptable behavior. But in “Honky Tonk Angels,” Wells put part of the blame on men for alienating their women and for pushing them in the direction of the nearest bar, even referencing the title from Thompson’s song in the first verse of “Honky Tonk Angels”: As I sit here tonight, the jukebox playin'The tune about the wild side of lifeAs I listen to the words you are sayin'It brings memories of when I…

To view this content,

Join Today

or Sign In

The Benefits of Membership:

  • Subscription to the American Songwriter Print Magazine
  • Access to all Feature Magazine Content Online
  • Access to Print Edition Archives
  • Premium content in our Songwriter U section
  • Discounts on vinyl, Songwriter services, and other American Songwriter Partners
  • Exclusive access to members-only contests and giveaways
Click to Join

We've started an American Songwriter membership! Click here to learn more.