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  • Writer's pictureMelanie Howard


Ricky Van Shelton / Harlan Howard

“Life Turned Her That Way” was the first of many #1 records I got to experience with Harlan Howard. It was in the latter part of 1987 and the song was brand new to me. At the time, I did not know that 20 years earlier, Mel Tillis also had a #1 hit on it.

Harlan and I were sitting in Bob Montgomery’s office at Tree Publishing when he mentioned he had just cut, “Life Turned Her That Way” on newcomer, Ricky Van Shelton. He played us the song. I was impressed with his country crooning. It sounded like a hit to me. I was a sponge in the early days soaking up the rich history of country music and the stories that went with creating that history.

Harlan told me the inspiration for this song was his second wife, Jan Howard. When they met, Jan was a single mom raising three boys in southern California. Harlan penned “Life Turned Her That Way” in 1964. Like country music, songs also have a history or story to tell. I’m often amazed when I research a Harlan Howard song title. I find gems I’ve never heard before. I’m a bit early but excited to welcome “Life Turned Her That Way” home on April 20, 2020!

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