Country, Western & Gospel Music

A History And Encyclopedia Of Composers, Artists & Songs

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Only A Picture" to "Life Gits Tee-jus, Don't It?" Songs celebrating news events pop up overnight. For example, only three days after little Kathy Fiscus of San Marino, Calif., died in an abandoned well, the record companies were swamped with songs about her. And no Tin Pan Alley tunesmith can turn out songs faster than country-song writers—men like Fred Rose, Bob Miller, and Carson Robi-son.
But country music has spilled over into the more con­ventional popular field, and many numbers are being re­corded in both straight and country styles. Jo Stafford's raucous hayseed version of "Timtayshun" undoubtedly started something (Newsweek, July 7, 1947), and it would seem that all a singer needs is a hoedown fiddle, a steel guitar, a mandolin, and a new inflection in his voice—and he's set for the bonanza. Dinah Shore did just that and changed the schmaltzy European waltz "Forever and Ever" into a backwoods ditty.
Back in 1930 country singers started going highly com­mercial when Gene Autry pioneered the way. Following him came a long procession of names, led today by Hank Williams, George Morgan, Red Foley, Roy Acuff, Jimmy Wakely—and the kingpin of them all—Eddy Arnold.
BAREFOOT BOY: In New Orleans last February, Eddy Arnold guest-starred on the Spike Jones show. Laying aside his guitar, he did a skit in which he was murdered by a storekeeper. As Arnold sagged dying to the floor, Jones bawled to the other actor: "You just killed RCA Victor's biggest asset!"
He wasn't far wrong, for Eddy Arnold ranks with Perry Como and Vaughn Monroe among RCA's top popular names. Just another country boy five years ago, today he is the pace setter in the whole country-music field.
Arnold was born on his father's farm near Henderson, Tenn., 30 years ago. As a child, he picked cotton and husked corn on land that barely gave his family enough to eat. "I figured," he recalls, "there must be a better way of makin' a livin'."
When he was ten, his cousin gave him an old Sears, Roe­buck guitar, and Arnold started fooling around with it.

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III