There is correspondence from Jim to Ray indicating he likes a couple of songs of Eddie's that were given to him, thinks one has possibilities and feels that Eddie has never sounded better. (McDuff also sang, and had hung around the Big D Jamboree in Dallas, where Winkler first approached him about taking an idea he and his partner, John Hathcock had, and turning it into a song). Winkler subsequently wrote a tribute to John claiming he was such a talented lyricist when the lyrics were actually from the Bible! Eddie polished the words but wrote the captivating melody.
Jim believed in the song so he re-recorded it at RCA's insistence. However, he had the last laugh because he was so ticked off at the label for a lot of things (such as their lack of promotion and the way they pressed his records too softly so listeners on radio had to turn up the volume to hear him), that he boycotted sessions for about five months and only re-signed his contract shortly before his death.
That's why he went into the studio in May 1964 to resume recording (some singles) and completed work on a new album on July 2nd. Had there not been an impasse between him and RCA, we likely would have had more material by Jim to enjoy.
His vocal performance of the alternate version is also lackluster in comparison to the one with the cascading strings.
BTW, Mary told me the first time I visited her in Nashville, and we were sitting in Jim's Cadillac in the RCA parking lot, overlooking the Nashville skyline (I will never forget this setting), that Jim had wanted to start a label (and of course had launched Shannon). She said she had dreams of carrying out his wishes but that it would take too much money to really compete with the major labels as they had so much clout with distributors in the marketplace. Fabor Robison ran up against that problem years earlier when he tried to get stores to carry his products, and it was only when he scored a breakthrough with Jim's "Mexican Joe" that major vendors started taking Abbott seriously.
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