“Before the Next Teardrop Falls” is a country and pop song written by Vivian Keith and Ben Peters that Freddy Fender most famously recorded.
The song was written in 1967 and has been recorded several times. It had modest success in various versions by various performers; the original version by Duane Dee peaked at #44 on the Billboard country chart in early 1968, and Linda Martell’s version peaked at #33 in early 1970. Jerry Lee Lewis covered it on his 1969 album Another Place, Another Time.
Huey P. Meaux, a record producer, approached singer Freddy Fender about overdubbing vocals for an instrumental track in 1974. Fender agreed and sang the song bilingually, singing the first half in English and then repeating it in Spanish.
“The recording only took a few minutes,” Fender once told an interviewer. “I was glad to get it over with and I thought that would be the last of it.” 
However, when it was first played on country radio in January 1975, “Before the Next Teardrop Falls” became an instant hit. In March, the song climbed to the top of the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart, where it remained for two weeks. Following that, the song was equally popular on Top 40 radio stations, and it wasn’t long before Fender had a #1 Billboard Hot 100 hit as well. According to Billboard, it was the fourth most popular song in the United States in 1975.
The song is about a man’s unwavering determination to save his heart for the recently deceased object of his deep (but unrequited) love, and his sincere hope that if the woman’s new relationship fails, she will remember his love and return to him. It was initially written in the 32-bar form (Fender’s bilingual recording extends the piece to 48 bars).
“Before the Next Teardrop Falls” a showcase of Fender’s tenor and Meaux’s Tex-Mex musical styling, catapulted his career. (Fender’s career had come to a halt in 1960 due to his arrest on drug charges.) Fender recorded several bilingual standards that became major hits in the months and years that followed, most notably “Secret Love.”
Fender has also recorded a version entirely in Spanish, titled “Estaré contigo cuando triste estés” (literally “I will be with you when you are sad”). The English version’s Spanish-language second verse is the first verse of the fully Spanish version.
The Recording Industry Association of America certified “Before The Next Teardrop Falls” gold for sales of one million units. The song also earned him the Country Music Association’s Single of the Year award in 1975, and it helped him win Album of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year that year.
Tommy Lee Jones starred in and directed the film The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005), which featured the song.