The Cumberland Post

The Cumberland Post
My Backyard, Six Miles from the Cumberland River

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Tennessee Waltz Sunday

Because of its long association with music, both the front porch kind and commercial, it's only natural that Tennessee should have seven (7) state songs. "The Tennessee Waltz" is one of those seven and was officially adopted in 1965.

I enjoy listening to waltzes and I'm glad that one of our state songs is a waltz, a waltz that's become an American Standard. I've collected several recorded versions of the song from You Tube to illustrate its popularity and how a single tune can be interpreted in such wildly divergent ways.

Writing credit for "The Tennessee Waltz" is usually given to co-writers Pee Wee King and Redd Stewart who supposedly crafted the song in 1947 after hearing Bill Monroe's "Kentucky Waltz." ("Kentucky Waltz" is another of my favorites and I'll post about it later.) King and Stewart sold the song to Roy Acuff who released it in 1948. It eventually reached #12 on the country charts.

The singer that most Americans of a certain age associate with the song is Patti Page, who recorded it as a "B" side to "Boogie Woogie Santa Claus," back in December of 1950. She said she recorded "The Tennessee Waltz" because the country version (I assume Acuff's) was her Dad's favorite song. Instead of playing the seasonal "A" side, disc jockeys played the "B" side. The record went to #1 on Billboard's chart on December 30, 1950, and stayed number 1 until February 24. Page's version is one of the first songs that I remember taking note of. I was ten years old at the time and a lot more interested in baseball and cowboys and indians than music but "The Tennessee Waltz" was everywhere; it seemed to be on the radio or the jukebox all the time. All told, it was on the charts for 30 weeks and became Patti Page's career song.

Les Paul and Mary Ford covered the song in the early 50's as well as Jo Stafford. Both of these versions made the charts as well. In 1959 Bobby Comstock and the Counts rockabilly version reached number 59, but I don't much like it. You can check it out on You Tube if you're interested. I do like Sam Cooke's singing however. He recorded an upbeat version in 1964 on his last album, the last one before he checked into that big motel in the sky. Again, originally a "B" side for Cooke, "The Tennessee Waltz" surprised the record producers and became the main side. It reached #35. Here's Sam Cooke...

Many, many other artists have recorded the tune as well, and at this point I'm going to abandon the chronological order I was following and just move to the versions that move me. Anne Murray's version is "pretty good" as we say in the South and the person who prepared this video used some really good pictures and paintings as visuals.

If you've never listened to Slim Whitman, this is your chance to check him out. Whitman was a country singer with a most unusual voice which enabled him to slide from one octave to another effortlessly. He's not exactly a male version of Yma Sumac, but he's pretty close. Slim Whitman...

 Since we're talking Tennessee here, we must, of necessity, include the Killer, Jerry Lee Lewis. Here's his rockin' version which I like very much, thank you...

Did I save the best for last? Tell me what you think. Here's the amazing Leonard Cohen...

1 comment:

  1. MY TWO CENTS - Emmylou Harris and Guy Lombardo & the Royal Canadians, yeah, Guy Lombardo, you gotta problem wit dat?
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