83: The Most Beautiful Girl

83: The Most Beautiful Girl

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Country Music

The Most Beautiful Girl

Story by Norro Wilson

Written by Norro Wilson, Rory Bourke, and Billy Sherrill

Recorded by Charlie Rich

The world doesn’t know it now, but I was a recording artist for every label except CBS. What it taught me is that, although I thought I could sing, I wasn’t a stylist like a George Jones or a Willie Nelson. When you hear Willie Nelson, you never forget his voice. And you have to have a hit song, too.

I had recorded this song that Rory Bourke had written called “Sunset and Vine.” I always was a pretty good mimic. When I did nightclubs, I would do impressions and things like that all the time, and this song was my impression of The Beach Boys. I went up to Chicago to meet Rory, who was the national sales and promotions director of Smash Records, a subsidiary of Mercury. I went there to do a promotional tour and see the DJs, and so on.

After we did the radio tour, I was staying with Rory and his wife in their guest bedroom. In those years, I would take a drink now and then and, one morning, there was a knock at my door. I opened the door, and there was Rory and his wife. She was holding a cup of coffee and he was holding a little glass of orange juice. Rory had his guitar in his hand and he said, “Let’s write a song.” Now, I couldn’t think of anything else in the world that I wanted to do less than write a song at that moment. But I was on his turf, so I said, “Okay.”

He told me had an idea and he strummed, “I woke up this morning, realized what I had done / I stood alone in the cold grey dawn and knew I’d lost my morning sun. / I lost my head and I said some things, now comes the heartache that the morning brings.” That’s as far as he had gotten. And, I didn’t really even consider myself a writer at the time, but maybe I got lucky. I sat right up and said, “What if that guy wakes up in an apartment building and then walks outside and goes up to the first guy he sees and says, ‘Hey, Mister, did you happen to see the most beautiful girl in the world? And if you did, was she crying?’” And we went on to finish it. It’s a very short song if you look at the lyrics. It’s not too wordy or involved, but it had magic to it.

The song lay around for six or seven years. I tried to get Joe Stampley to cut it, but it was too pop for him. We had no problem with that. He wanted to be a country singer and it was a pop song, which has really been my background. I was always more pop than country.

Then Billy Sherrill heard it. He heard the intro, “Hey Mister, did you happen to see the most beautiful girl in the world?” and he said, “What kind of crap is that — ‘Hey Mister’? Why don’t you just say, ‘Hey, did you happen to see....’ It don’t matter who he’s talking to. People will get it.” Well, that was the answer! That was just what the song needed. That really kicked it in the butt.

Billy was producing Charlie Rich then, so he took it to him and they began working on it in the studio. They took a lot of the flavor of the piano work from Charlie’s first hit, “Behind Closed Doors” and they worked some of it into “Most Beautiful Girl,” which kind of became Charlie’s signature sound. When they went in to cut “Most Beautiful Girl,” they took several hours trying to get the piano intro just how Billy wanted it. But man, did it work.

The Most Beautiful Girl

Hey, did you happen to see the most beautiful girl in the world?

And if you did was she crying, cryin’?

Hey, if you happen to see the most beautiful girl, that walked out on me

Tell her I’m sorry, tell her I need my baby

Oh, won’t you tell her, that I love her.

I woke up this morning, and realized what I had done

I stood alone in the cold gray dawn

And I knew I’d lost my morning sun

I lost my head and I said some things

Now come the heartaches that the morning brings

I know I’m wrong and I couldn’t see

I let my world slip away from me.

Hey, did you happen to see the most beautiful girl in the world?

And if you did was she crying, cryin’?

Hey, if you happen to see the most beautiful girl, that walked out on me

Tell her I’m sorry, tell her I need my baby

Oh, won’t you tell her, that I love her.

Did you happen to see the most beautiful girl in the world?

And if you did was she crying, cryin’?

Hey, if you happen to see the most beautiful girl, that walked out on me

Tell her I’m sorry, tell her I need my baby

Oh, won’t you tell her, that I love her

Did you happen to see the most beautiful girl in the world?

And if you did was she crying, cryin’?

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