3 Songs You Didn’t Know Keith Whitley Wrote for Other Artists

Before his tragic death in 1989, Keith Whitley charted 12 singles on the Billboard country charts – along with seven more after his death. From “When You Say Nothing At All” to “Don’t Close Your Eyes,” the Country Music Hall of Famer’s songs have gone down as some of the most iconic in the country sphere.

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Though many of his top hits came from other writers (Don Schlitz and Bob McDill, respectively, for the songs above), Whitley wasn’t afraid to get behind the pen himself. Find three songs you didn’t know Whitley wrote for other artists, below.

1. “Hopelessly Yours” (Suzy Bogguss & Lee Greenwood)

Keith Whitley, Curly Putman, and Don Cook

“Hopelessly Yours” was co-written by Whitley, Curly Putman and Don Cook. Whitley recorded a demo version of the track, which was never officially released.

The first release was from George Jones on his 1986 album, Wine Colored Roses. A more popular version comes from John Conlee. Conlee’s version peaked at No. 67 and acted as the B-side to his 1989 single “Hit the Ground Runnin.'” When Lee Greenwood and Suzy Bogguss got their hands on it in 1991, it earned the duo a Grammy nomination for Best Country Vocal Collaboration.

2. “Great High Mountain” (Larry Sparks)

Written by Keith Whitley

Larry Sparks released this Whitley-penned track in 1980 for his album John Deere Tractor. The lyrics are religious in tone with Sparks singing, we must climb a great high mountain, to reach God’s gracious kingdom / but in his words we find the strength, if we will just believe him. Ralph Stanley, Emmylou Harris and Judy Marshall recorded a subsequent version of the track in 1993.

3. “I Want My Rib Back” (Gene Watson)

Written by Fred Koller and Keith Whitley

Though many artists have recorded “I Want My Rib Back,” including Whitley himself, the original version comes from Gene Watson. The Texas native recorded the song in 1985. Whitley’s version came in 1991.

Other artists that have covered the tune include Kenny Chesney, Charlie Sizemore Band and Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers.

(Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

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