‘Stand by Your Man’ by Tammy Wynette: Story Behind the Iconic Country Song

by Joe Rutland

Tammy Wynette is a part of country music history in many ways, yet her song “Stand by Your Man” caused a lot of heartache for years.

Wynette scored a No. 1 hit in 1968 with the song, which topped Billboard’s Hot Country Singles chart for three weeks. It also crossed over and topped off at No. 19 on Billboard’s Hot Singles chart.

Yet this song, which was written in 15 minutes by Wynette and Billy Sherrill, became a haunting part of her career as well as her life.

“A woman should be equal to a man for anything she’s capable of doing, but I still feel there’s a lot of things she isn’t capable of doing,” Tammy Wynette told Melody Maker magazine. “Physically.  

“Personally, I’m not particularly fond of the thought of digging ditches or climbing telephone poles,” she said. “I’d rather stick with something a little more feminine. I wouldn’t want to lose the little courtesies that we’ve always been extended, like lighting cigarettes and opening doors, and pulling out chairs and things like that. I enjoy that.”

Tammy Wynette Uses Lyrics To Make Powerful Statement

Tammy Wynette was making a powerful statement in the song’s lyrics. But she received a lot of heat from the women’s liberation movement that saw the song as anti-feminist.

It didn’t help her case much that Wynette had a turbulent private life, too. She was married five times to five different men, with the most public one involving country music Hall of Fame singer-songwriter George Jones.

In the song, a woman pledges to stand by her man through good times and bad times.

That, in itself, was making a statement during a period of time in history where women’s liberation was a major issue.

Wynette Remembers Being In Studio To Record Song

Wynette and Sherill were in a Nashville recording studio. In addition, they were trying to find the final song for her fifth album.

Sherrill had a note in his pocket with the lyric, “I’ll Stand By You, You Please Stand By Me.” 

Because “Stand By Me” from Ben E. King was a recent hit, they wanted to change it up. According to accounts, a band member suggested the new song title and it ended up being “Stand by Your Man.”

For many years, Tammy Wynette suffered from different medical conditions. She died in her sleep on April 6, 1998.

The mark that she left on the country music world, though, will never be forgotten thanks to “Stand by Your Man.”

If you want to read more about Tammy Wynette, click here on Outsider.

H/T: Smooth Radio