Music Friday: Conway Twitty Reveals Wedding Ring Fantasy in ‘It’s Only Make Believe’

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great tunes with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today, country music legend Conway Twitty is the victim of a one-sided love affair in his 1958 classic, “It’s Only Make Believe.”

In this song about unrequited love, Twitty pours out his heart in a soaring vocal performance. He’s ready to make the ultimate commitment — symbolized in the song by a wedding ring — but the object of his affection is not in love with him.

He sings, “My hopes, my dreams come true / My life, I’d give for you / My heart, a wedding ring / My all, my everything / My heart, I can’t control / You rule my very soul / My plans, my hopes, my schemes / Girl, you are my every dream / But it’s only make believe.

“It’s Only Make Believe” was a huge success for Twitty as it topped the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1958 and was a hit in 22 countries. The song was covered by numerous artists, including Connie Francis, The Hollies, Glen Campbell, Roy Orbison, Bon Jovi and Fiona Apple, among others.

Twitty re-released the song as a duet with Loretta Lynn in 1970 and added his voice in the last verse of a cover by Ronnie McDowell in 1988.

There are a number of conflicting stories about the song’s origin. Some music historians believe it was written by Twitty in only seven minutes during a concert intermission. Others have said Twitty knocked it out while sitting on a fire escape outside his sweltering hotel room in Hamilton, Ontario.

It’s also rumored that when the song was first released by Twitty in 1958, Elvis Presley fans were certain the lead vocals were performed by The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, singing under a pseudonym.

Speaking of names, the story behind Twitty’s is noteworthy.

Born Harold Lloyd Jenkins in Friars Point, Miss., in 1933, the artist developed his singing style while serving in the United States Army. When he returned from the Far East, Jenkins went to Memphis to pursue a music career. The one thing he lacked was a memorable name. According to an account by Fred Bronson in the Billboard Book of Number One Hits, the singer was looking at a road map when he spotted Conway, Ark., and Twitty, Texas. He merged the two and got Conway Twitty.

The new name seemed to change his fortune. He soon had a string of Top-40 hits, and performed award-winning duets with Loretta Lynn. Twitty was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. He passed away in 1993, just a few months short of his 60th birthday.

We hope you enjoy the audio track of Twitty’s 1976 rendition of “It’s Only Make Believe.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“It’s Only Make Believe”
Written by Conway Twitty and Jack Nance. Performed by Conway Twitty.

People see us everywhere
They think you really care
But myself I can’t deceive
I know it’s only make believe

My one and only prayer
Is that some day you’ll care
My hopes, my dreams come true
My one and only you

No one will ever know
How much I love you so
My only prayer will be
Someday you’ll care for me
But it’s only make believe

My hopes, my dreams come true
My life, I’d give for you
My heart, a wedding ring
My all, my everything

My heart, I can’t control
You rule my very soul
My plans, my hopes, my schemes
Girl, you are my every dream
But it’s only make believe

My one and only prayer
Girl, is that some day you’ll care
My hopes, my dreams come true
You’re my one and only you

And no one will ever know
Just how much I love you so
And my only prayer will be
That someday you’ll care for me
But it’s only make believe
It’s make believe

Credit: Photo by United Talent Inc. (management)/MCA Records [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

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