10 Great Songs You Didn't Know Mel Tillis Wrote

From recordings by Kenny Rogers to George Strait, here are the best tunes penned by the prolific songwriter, who died Sunday at 85

Kenny Rogers, "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town" (1969)

Tillis took real-life inspiration from the murder-suicide of a World War II veteran and his wife to write the ominous story of post-war jealousy that became "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town." Tillis, a Korean War veteran, framed it around injuries sustained in a "crazy Asian war," but imagined his damaged Hemingway hero growing increasingly emasculated by his inability to keep his wife from dressing up and walking out the door. Johnny Darrell was the first to record it in 1967 and the Killers would cut a version in 2004, but it was Kenny Rogers and the First Edition who came up with the definitive version in 1969 – a combination of upbeat rhythm and heavenly backing vocals that conspired to make Rogers' soulful croon sound extra sinister when he caressed the line, "I'd take my gun and put her in the ground." Every bit as scary today as it was when it was released. J.F