Freddy Fender

Before the Next Teardrop Falls

Composed by Ben Peters / Venna Keith

Song Review by

This tender Tex-Mex ballad is the signature song of country-music legend Freddy Fender, but according to Doug Davis' newsletter Country Music Classics, Fender thought of himself as an R&B singer and was not originally interested in recording the country song. The record producer Huey Meaux approached Fender to overdub vocals for the 1974 recording, which was already finished instrumentally. To appease Meaux, Fender sang it -- quickly. "The recording only took a few minutes," noted Fender. "I was glad to get it over with and I thought that would be the last of it." But, as so often happens in such stories, the song took off, becoming a number one on the pop and country charts, while the record -- titled after the song -- soon went gold. The LP also includes the Meaux-penned classic "You'll Lose a Good Thing." "Before the Next Teardrop Falls" has also achieved the "Million-Airs" status for performance rights society BMI.

Though it is closely identified with Fender, the song -- written in 1967 by Ben Peters and Vivian Keith -- was apparently recorded over 30 times by the time of Fender's famous rendition. Ben Peters is a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, winning a Grammy for Charley Pride's recording of his song "Kiss an Angel Good Morning." Chances are, though, that you have never heard of Keith. According to Davis, she was a secretary at Peters' publishing company and approached him with the lyrics. His idea was to add "drop" to "tear" and they completed it in a couple of days. The first recording was by Duane Dee in 1967, which also charted, but just missed the Top 40.

"If he brings you happiness then I wish you both the best," begins the first verse. "It's your happiness that matters most of all/But if he ever breaks your heart if the teardrops ever start/I'll be there before the next teardrop falls." It is a heartbreaking and lovely image testifying to the singer's deep and true love, undaunted by his lover's decision to leave him. Sure, it is a tried and true sentiment, but the title image is a compelling twist and the melody is undeniable. Fender's soulful tenor is perfect for the song and he offers a Spanish translation for the second verse. There is just a little flutter in his voice, and he does indeed offer a soul/R&B singer's feel in his halting, behind-the-beat phrasing. The singer also provides his own harmony. Meaux provides a rich Tex-Mex backing, with accordion and Spanish-guitar figures.

Brenda Lee recorded the song during her comeback as a country singer in the 1970s. Though her version is drenched in strings and hokey backing vocals, her trademark soulful rasp cracks at all the right moments, evoking unspeakable heartbreak. She also provides an expert Spanish translation. It is likely that Dolly Parton used Lee's as well as Fender's version as starting points for her own recording of " Before the Next Teardrop Falls" on Treasures (1996), which features special guest David Hidalgo from Los Lobos on vocals for the Spanish verse, as well as accordion.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Before the Next Teardrop Falls 1974 DOT Records 2:32
Before the Next Teardrop Falls [MCA] 1975 Universal Special Products 2:34
The Best of Freddy Fender [MCA] 1977 MCA 2:32
No Image 1978
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution
Oldies But Goodies: Legendary Hits 1979
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 2:33
Country's Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 1986
Various Artists
Universal Special Products / MCA 2:36
Oldies But Goodies, Vol. 2 1987
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 2:33
Country Music Classics, Vol. 5 (1975-80) 1988
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:32
16 Top Country Hits, Vol. 1 1990
Various Artists
MCA 2:32
Before the Next Teardrop Falls [Huub] 1991 Huub
The Freddy Fender Collection 1991 Reprise 2:38
Contemporary Country: The Mid '70s 1992
Various Artists
Time/Life Music
Before the Next Teardrop Falls [Quicksilver] 1993 SRI Jazz
No Image 1994 Hollywood
The Ultimate Collection 1994 Universal Distribution 2:36
No Image 1995 Double Play Records 2:42
Live in Concert [Hacienda] 1995 Hacienda Records
Big Bad Country [Drive Archive] 1995
Various Artists
Drive Archive 2:34
Live in Concert 1995 St. Clair 2:41
Wasted Days & Wasted Nights [Prime Cuts] 1995 Prime Cuts 2:17
Country Classics [Drive Archive] 1995
Various Artists
Drive Archive
The 101 Greatest Country Hits [Box] 1995
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:31
Only Country 1975-1979 1995
Various Artists
JCI Associated Labels 2:33
From a Jack to a King 1996
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:31
Country Gold [Intercontinental] 1996
Various Artists
ITC Masters 2:17
Live in Las Vegas 1996 Hacienda Records 2:40
50 Number One Country Hits 1996
Various Artists
Good Music/MCA
Great Hits 1997 Public Music
The 101 Greatest Country Hits, Vol. 8: Country Romance 1997
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:31
20th Century Country, Vol. 2: Country Classics: From a Jack to a King 1997
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 3:26
70 Ounces of Gold: Country Gold 1997
Various Artists
Compose Records 2:31
In His Prime 1997 Edsel 2:34
Hot Country [Beacon] 1997
Various Artists
Beacon Records (Rock) / Beacon Records
Global Rock, Vol. 6: From London to L.A. 1997
Various Artists
Columbia River Entertainment Group
The Seventies Generation: 1975 1997
Various Artists
Retro Music 2:41
The Class of Country: 1975-1979 1997
Various Artists
Hip-O 2:34
Slums of Beverly Hills 1998
Original Soundtrack
RCA Victor / RCA 2:33
Country Number Ones 25 Chart-Toppers 1998
Various Artists
Country Stars 2:33
Greatest Hits [Intercontinental] 1998 Intercontinental Records 3:00
Live at Gilley's, Vol. 1-4 1999
Various Artists
Q Records 3:06
The Best of Freddy Fender [Cleopatra] 1999 Pegasus/Cleopatra / Cleopatra
Country Songs to Help You Through Heartache 1999
Various Artists
Q Records / Atlantic 3:06
Freddy Fender's Greatest Hits 1999 Classic World Productions, Inc. 2:33
Lone Star: The Best of Freddy Fender 1999 Music Club Records 2:34
Tell It Like It Is: Best of Crazy Cajun Recordings 1999 Edsel 2:35
Rock N' Roll Hits of the 70's:  #1 Hits of the 70's 1999
Various Artists
Madacy 2:34
Forever Gold 2000 St. Clair 2:43
Back to Back [Universal Special Products] 2000 Universal Special Products 2:34
Oldies But Goodies, Vol. 2 & 3 2000
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 2:33
Seventies Generation: 1974-1975 2000
Various Artists
Boxsets 2:41
Best of the 70's: Hits of 1975 2000
Various Artists
Direct Source 2:40
Rock N' Roll Hits of the 70's 2000
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 2:34
Classic Country 2000 Direct Source 2:39
The Best of the 70's, Vol. 1 2000
Various Artists
Direct Source 2:40
Best of the 70's [Direct Source 6 CD Box] 2000
Various Artists
Direct Source 2:40
Good Old Country: Country Number Ones 2000
Various Artists
St. Clair 2:33
Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes 2000
Various Artists
Intercontinental Records 2:43
Best of Country [St. Clair] 2000
Various Artists
St. Clair 2:33
Country Favorites [Madacy 2000] 2000
Various Artists
Madacy 2:32
Country Favorites: 70's 2000
Various Artists
KSW2 2:32
Country Stars & Stripes 2001 Direct Source 2:42
Country Love Songs: Forever Gold [St. Clair 1CD] 2001
Various Artists
St. Clair 2:17
20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Freddy Fender 2001 MCA Nashville 2:33
Classic Country: 1975-1979 2001
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:35
Best of Country [Madacy 2001] 2001
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 2:32
Best of Freddy Fender: Wasted Days & Wasted Nights 2001 Aim Records 2:15
Number One Hits of the 50s, 60s and 70's 2001
Various Artists
Goldies
That's Country [Golden Stars] 2001
Various Artists
Golden Stars 2:33
Greatest Hits of the 70s [Platinum 2001 3 CD] 2001
Various Artists
Platinum Disc 2:31
La Musica de Baldemar Huerta 2002 Back Porch Music / Narada 2:35
Best of Country [Columbia River] 2002
Various Artists
Applause International 2:43
The Number 1 Country Collection 2002
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:33
Kings of Country, Vol. 1 2002
Various Artists
Columbia River Entertainment Group 2:42
Secret Love: Live 2002 Park South Records / Orpheus Records 2:40
Country's Most Wanted [2002 Columbia River] 2002
Various Artists
Hho Multimedia 2:13
Golden Treasure: Country Legends 2002
Various Artists
Park South Records / Orpheus Records 2:40
Greatest Hits [Columbia River] 2002 Mastersound 2:40
Elite: Country 2002
Various Artists
Rajon Entertainment Pty Ltd.
No Image 2002
Various Artists
Sony BMG 2:32
Best of Country [Madacy 2002] 2002
Various Artists
Madacy 2:40
The Ultimate Classic Country Collection 2002
Various Artists
WEA International 2:32
Nothing but Number 1's of the Seventies & Eightes 2002
Various Artists
Dominion Entertainment / K-Tel 2:31
Go West Country 2003
Various Artists
Direct Source 2:40
Super Hits 2003 Discos Ranchito 2:40
Back to Back [K-Tel] 2003 K-Tel Distribution 2:33
Latin Oldies, Vol. 5 2003
Various Artists
Thump Records 2:30
Country Love [K-Tel] 2003
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:33
Classic American Voices 2003 Direct Source 2:46
#1 Country Hits [2003 Madacy] 2003
Various Artists
Madacy 2:18
Before the Next Teardrop Falls [Country Stars] 2003 Country Stars
On the Border 2003 Fabulous 2:14
101 Country and Western Greats 2003
Various Artists
Fabulous 2:14
Number 1 Country Hits [Red] 2003
Various Artists
Madacy 2:18
Seventies [Goldies Box Set] 2004
Various Artists
Goldies 2:34
Hits & More [Sweden] 2004 Golden Stars 2:35
Gold Collection: Rock 'N' Roll Era 2004
Various Artists
St. Clair 2:46
Country Favorites [Madacy 2 CD] 2004
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 2:41
Great Country Love Songs [Rajon] 2004
Various Artists
Rajon Entertainment Pty Ltd. 2:33
Encore Series: Live 2004 St. Clair Vision
Straight from the Heart [Box Set] 2004
Various Artists
Universal Special Products 2:35
The Platinum Collection 2004 Direct Source 2:40
Live! Special Edition [DVD] 2004 St. Clair
25 More Country Number 1's 2004
Various Artists
Prism Leisure
The Best of Freddy Fender [St. Clair] 2004 Essential Records 2:40
Country Collection: Freddy & Buck 2004 Performax
Rancho Grande 2004 Mojo Music (Independent) 2:42
Classic Country: Love Songs 2005
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:35
Tex Mex Legend 2005 Direct Source 2:38
Tears in My Beer 2005
Various Artists
Prism Entertainment
Freddy Fender Live [Legacy] 2005 Legacy 2:46
Country No.1's 2005
Various Artists
Pegasus (Pinnacle) 2:34
Country Wedding [Direct Source] 2005
Various Artists
Direct Source 2:46
Freddie Fender Live [Platinum Disc] 2005 Platinum Disc 2:41
Country Men [St. Clair] 2005
Various Artists
St. Clair 2:41
Country Collection Number One Hits 2005
Various Artists
Performax 2:43
King of Tex Mex [Prism Platinum] 2005 Prism Leisure Corporation (UK) / Prism Platinum
Legends: Country Legends 2005
Various Artists
Direct Source 2:37
World of Country and Western 2005
Various Artists
ZYX Music 2:15
Classic Country Gold 2005
Various Artists
Hip-O 2:35
1970's Top 10 Hits 2005
Various Artists
Direct Source 3:00
Rancho Grande 2005 Direct Source Special 2:38
No Image 2005 Direct Source
The Best of Country Greats: The Gentlemen 2005
Various Artists
St. Clair 2:41
Tex-Mex Tornado 2005 American Legends 2:40
Ultimate 16: Country Legends 2005
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 2:33
Country Jukebox Hits [Deuce] 2005
Various Artists
St. Clair 2:41
K-Tel Presents Country Love 2005
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution / Brentwood Records 2:35
Oldies Forever 2005
Various Artists
Thump Records 2:30
Superstars of Country: Hello Darlin' 2005
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:35
That's Country: Legends 2006
Various Artists
KRB Music 2:31
Golden Legends: Freddy Fender Live 2006 Madacy 2:41
K-Tel Presents: #1 Hits of the 70's 2006
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:39
The Golden Era of Country and Western Music 2006
Various Artists
Remember Records
Country Legends: 60 Country Hits 2006
Various Artists
Diamond Recordings 2:41
#1 Country Hits of the 70s [Madacy] 2006
Various Artists
Madacy 2:33
This Is Country [Cleopatra/Goldenlane] 2006
Various Artists
Goldenlane / Cleopatra
Best of Country [Madacy 2006] 2006
Various Artists
Madacy 2:40
Hits of the 70s [2006] 2006
Various Artists
Ground Floor 2:41
Billboard #1s: Classic Country 2006
Various Artists
Rhino 2:34
K-Tel Presents: Country Story Songs 2006
Various Artists
B.C.I. 2:35
Classic Country: The Best of the 70s 2006
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:35
King of Tex-Mex Live 2006 Immortal
Country Hit Parade 2006 Direct Source 2:33
Country Favorites [Madacy 4-CD] 2006
Various Artists
Madacy 2:42
Greatest Hits Live 2006 Intersound 2:11
Wasted Days, Wasted Nights 2006 Alpha Centauri Entertainment / Forever DVD
No. 1 Country Hits 2006
Various Artists
Madacy 2:41
30 #1 Country Love Songs 2006
Various Artists
Direct Source 2:33
#1 Country Hits [2006 Madacy] 2006
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 2:33
The Greatest Country Hits of All Time 2006
Various Artists
Universal Special Products 2:33
Country Legends 2007 Country Legends 2:33
Live in Concert: The Platinum Artist Series 2007 St. Clair 2:40
Country #1 Hits: 18 Greatest 2007
Various Artists
Direct Source 2:33
Greatest Hits [KRB] 2007 KRB Music 2:39
Music for Moms: Smooth and Easy Country Hits 2007
Various Artists
St. Clair 2:41
Live in Concert: #1 Country Hits 2007
Various Artists
BCI Music (Brentwood Communication) 2:34
Freddy Fender [#2] 2007 Kings Road
Forever Gold: Country Hits [St. Clair #2] 2007
Various Artists
St. Clair 2:40
Superstars of Country [Time Life] 2007
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:35
Best of Country [Madacy 2007] 2007
Various Artists
Madacy 2:41
Pure 2007 Direct Source 2:33
Ultimate Collection: Country Love 2007
Various Artists
Direct Source 2:33
No Image 2007
Various Artists
Goldenlane 2:42
Love Country 2008
Various Artists
St. Clair 2:40
25 Best: Country Classics 2008
Various Artists
Madacy 2:41
Country [Madacy] 2008
Various Artists
Madacy 2:41
70's Number One Hits 2008
Various Artists
TGG Direct 2:33
The Best of 1975: 20th Century Masters 2008
Various Artists
Strategic Marketing 2:34
K-Tel Presents: Music Explosion 2009
Various Artists
Micro Werks / Micro Werks/K-Tel 2:38
The Only Classic Country Collection You'll Ever Need 2010
Various Artists
Shout! Factory 2:35
Greatest Hits 2010 Fuel 2000 2:34
Happy Trails: Country Hits 2010
Various Artists
Columbia River Entertainment Group / Columbia River Group 2:40
No Image
Various Artists
K-Tel 2:31
Before the Next Teardrop Falls [Import] Lt
No Image
Various Artists
K-Tel 2:31
Country's Most Wanted, Vol. 1 [HHO]
Various Artists
Hho Multimedia 2:13
Evergreens [Universal]
Various Artists
TVCD
Global Rock, Vol. 4-6: From London to L.A.
Various Artists
Columbia River Entertainment Group
Golden Oldies Collection
Various Artists
No Image
Various Artists
K-Tel 2:31
Summer Memories, Vol. 2
Various Artists
Neon Records
No Image
Various Artists
K-Tel 2:31
Super Hits of the '70s: Have a Nice Day, Vol. 17
Various Artists
Rhino 2:36
The  Ultimate Collection 100 Hits: Country
Various Artists
Ultimate Collection / The Ultimate Music Collection
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