Showing posts with label jimmy dean. Show all posts
Showing posts with label jimmy dean. Show all posts

Friday, October 12, 2018

A First-Grader's Music

(Who are these kids??)

I had two birthday parties in my life. Two. Not that I especially cared that much. Birthday parties weren't a "thing" then. Sometimes kids had them; mostly they didn't. We weren't exactly the center of the universe. 

I don't know why my mom decided I should have one when I turned five. I was too young to have actual friends. I had cousins and neighbors. I really only liked one of my cousins, and my neighbors I knew as much as one could know fellow school bus riders. In the country we didn't have "next door neighbors". We had neighbors whose houses we drove past on the country road on the way home. But I guess they were the same age as me, so voila! Another aspect of birthday parties was that we all (most of us) wore dresses. It wasn't a big deal -- we had to wear dresses to school, so it's not as if we dressed up in our birthday party finest. Half the kids at my party lived in town, so there was a lot of whining when we went outside to do things that involved "nature". Actual open air was "icky" to some...grass and mud (!) and non-paved walks. I wonder if these girls ever managed to maneuver through life. 

In addition to our school dresses, we had (apparently) little tiny party hats, like the kind a trick monkey would wear. Granted, there was no such thing as a party store; only the local confectionery, so my mom managed to find festive paper plates and candles and....excruciatingly puny hats. 

I was soon to enter first grade at haunted Lincoln School, which was seemingly erected in the Revolutionary War period, and was slated for demolition. I believe my class was the last to inhabit the building before it was mercifully "put down". It was an imposing and scary red brick building -- a long concrete staircase to clamber up to reach the Gothic barricades. I'm shocked there weren't clanky iron knockers affixed to the door's facade. Once inside, however, it was as cheery as a medieval asylum could be. My teacher, Mrs. Fisher, did her best to obscure the mammoth green chalkboard with kid-appropriate primary-colored placards and assure us that the creaking floor absolutely did not mean that the floor was about to give way beneath us.

I'd had my run of showing off in kindergarten, but had since absorbed the rules of polite society, so I now kept my head down and concentrated on being a good girl. "Good girl" was the new coat I wore. It served me well for a decade.

Musically, not much was shaking. I was still influenced mostly by my dad and by our wondrous TV. Any tune that was featured on a television show was a sure-fire hit because we had nothing else, really. I was still a couple years away from obtaining my very own pink transistor radio. So, I plopped on my belly in front of the big screen and absorbed anything anyone wanted to tell me, in black and white.

Like this:

And this movie that played out on our black-and-white. The movie was oh-so-melodramatic, and I didn't understand most of it. It did, however, star Jim Hutton (Timothy's dad) and a girl who called herself  "Tuesday" and an actress who went on to become a nun (!), and good old Paula Prentiss, who was omnipresent in every sixties movie.

This song, by a duo who called themselves Dick and Dee Dee, was a paean to falsetto, later memorialized by Lou Christie:

Another dude who had his own TV show, on ABC, was that old sausage-maker, Jimmy Dean. Jimmy's was a variety show that featured a dog (?) puppet named Rowlf, who turned out to be the patriarch of The Muppets, and who would'a thought?

Jimmy Dean could ostensibly sing, but he did a lot of narrative songs. That was apparently his niche. This one was huge (for some reason):

My older sisters thought this song was fab. Really fab. They played the 45 a lot. If I was to pinpoint a musical memory from 1961, I'd had to give the prize to this:

I liked this one and I'll tell you why -- when you're six years old, you latch onto stuff that makes sense, like lists. This was the ultimate "list" song:

There were actually two classic tracks released in 1961, but I'll just keep them a secret, because I didn't know they were classics when I was six. And frankly, they didn't even register with me then. I had other stuff to do, like watching TV and skipping through the (icky) woods behind my house. 

I will say that I learned how to not be a snob in 1961 by observing silly girls freak out over muck on the bottom of their shoes. And I conquered my fear of decrepit buildings. 

1961 was wondrous.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Blast From The Past - Top Country Songs Of 1961

I thought we might look back to the year 1961 tonight. I sort of grabbed that year at random; however, it occurred to me that there could well have been some classic country songs that were hits in 1961, so, in consulting my trusty Wikipedia, I found that I was right! There were a bunch of them!

Oddly, my old friend, Wikipedia, does not seem to want to tell me which song was the TOP hit of 1961, but I could take an educated guess. More on that later.

Let's start with this one, shall we?


What can I say about Marty Robbins that I haven't already said in a previous post? But, without even reading that, this video speaks for itself. It captures the essence of Marty in concert; his personality, and above all, his wonderful voice.

Merle Haggard cites Marty Robbins as one of his influences. You can hear a bit of Marty in Merle's singing. Merle always did have excellent taste.


Sorry about the buzzing in this video. This was the only one I could find. Old Willie is still counting his money from Patsy's recording of this song - the money he's hidden from the IRS, of course.

Patsy also had another number one hit in 1961 - I Fall To Pieces. There is, unfortunately, no video available of that one.

You'll notice that Patsy is wearing some kind of weird headband in this performance. That's because she was injured in a car crash shortly before this song became a hit. You remember the scene in Coal Miner's Daughter - Beverly D'Angelo lying in her hospital bed, drinking beer from a straw. Ahh, if we didn't have movies, how would we learn about history?


Talk about a blast from the past! Here's Leroy in all his long sideburned glory and his patchwork sweater and Elvis bouffant, hiding behind some sliding panels, to sing his big hit song from 1961.

Have you ever seen a more disinterested audience? One girl actually looked away, trying to get the barmaid's attention, because, alas, no one had any drinks on their tables. What kind of b***sh** bar is this?? And the main act doesn't even work from a stage. He has to sneak out from the coat closet to sing his song.

And that one helmet-haired woman right next to him will barely make eye contact. She really doesn't approve of the subject matter of the song. She gives him some tepid applause at the end, but she's steaming. "Where'd he meet this hussy, she's wondering. Probably at some sleazy bar. Oh wait, I'M at some sleazy bar."


Sorry, but this was the only video I could find. He starts out with that old chestnut, "Bill Bailey", but eventually, if you stick with it, he does get to "Big Bad John".

Whatever happened to Jimmy Dean? I mean, yea, he's got his sausages and his breakfast bowls, but what about the man himself? Remember when he had a variety show on ABC? He even had one of the earliest Muppets as a regular on his show. Okay, yes, I'm dating myself, but is Jimmy still around? Still out doing grocery conventions, hawking his wares? He does have good sausage, I'll grant you that. But, you know, he did music, too. Or at least, "talk-music".


Here's Elvis, with the Leroy Van Dyke sideburns and bouffant -- oh wait, that's the ELVIS sideburns and bouffant.

I could have used the clip of the bloated, drug-addled Elvis doing this song, but that seems kind of disrespectful. Let's remember Elvis in his more youthful days.

And yes, this was a hit on the COUNTRY charts.


Yes, this is a later version, but I always like to include the Buckaroos, featuring Don Rich, whenever possible.

I wonder, in watching this, if Dwight Yoakam is imitating Buck, or is he actually imitating Don Rich, in his singing style? Listen to some of the phrasing and compare.

This song and performance is a prime example of simplicity in songwriting. Nothing much to it, really, but it made a big impact. We really don't need to over-think these things.


At one time, Wanda Jackson was considered the "Female Elvis". Long before Tanya Tucker.

This clip proves that the voice is still as strong as ever. Yes, she now sings the song in a lower key, but give me a break! We all get older. Geez!

I'm not crazy about the spangled plus-sized blouse, but you know, it's not easy losing weight when you get to a certain age. Believe me. I'm fighting valiantly against that. I've lost 26.4 pounds in the last 4 months, but it's hard work! But kudos to Wanda Jackson! She still sounds great.

Here's a couple of top hits from 1961 for which I cannot find performances by the original artists, but I didn't want to exclude these songs, because they're really good. So, I'll label these with the artists performing in the video, but I'll also list the original artist in parentheses.



I really hate to leave out Don Gibson (Sea Of Heartbreak and Sweet Dreams) and Roger Miller (When Two Worlds Collide), because they are both classic, CLASSIC songwriters. But I couldn't find any videos of these songs.

Which leads me, finally, to what I THINK was the top song from 1961. I don't know this for a fact, but I'm willing (willie) to bet money on it:


It just doesn't get much better than that. One of my favorite singers; one of the world's best songwriters.

I guess 1961 was a red-letter year for country music.