The Cumberland Post

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

Friday, November 19, 2010


Blog bud Buck at Exile in Portales has a post up today that stirred up some old memories. His post featured an ad for used BMW's which included a photo of a provocative young blonde. The ad was in English but the young Fraulein had a distinctly German or Bavarian look. Which got me thinking. About "Fraulein." The song.

First a little history. You've all heard of the "Nashville Sound." To refresh your thinker (mine needs that quite a bit lately), here's Wikipedia:

With country's youth market and radio clout disappearing, Nashville began mixing pop music elements into country productions to attract the adult audience. The Nashville sound was pioneered by staff at RCA Records and Columbia Records in Nashville, Tennessee, including manager Steve Sholes, record producers Chet Atkins, Owen Bradley, and Bob Ferguson, and recording engineer Bill Porter. They invented the form by replacing elements of the popular honky tonk style (fiddles, steel guitar, nasal lead vocals) with "smooth" elements from 1950s pop music (string sections, background vocals, crooning lead vocals), and using "slick" production, and pop music structures. The producers relied on a small group of studio musicians known as the Nashville A-Team, whose quick adaptability and creative input made them vital to the hit-making process. In 1960, Time magazine reported that Nashville had "nosed out Hollywood as the nation's second biggest (after New York) record-producing center."
The Nashville Sound later morphed into what was called "Countrypolitan," which magnified the pop elements even more.

When I was in my early and mid teens I listened to country music on the radio (WSM of course) while working on model cars. (They were wooden models for the Fisher Body Craftsman's Guild contest, a future blog subject.)  One song in particular I remember from that time period was "Fraulein," sung by the great Bobby Helms. If you think you've never heard anything by him, think again. You hear him every Christmas singing "Jingle Bell Rock."

The song also has meaning to me because I associate it with my wife, Joyce. We were in a first year German class together when we met, and she was the only female in the class. When the old, one-armed Professor (educated at Heidelberg University), called on her, he simply said, "Fraulein."

I'm posting two versions of "Fraulein." The first one by Helms, his first single by the way, from 1957. With its fiddles, honky tonk-beer joint style, and Helms' nasal delivery, this record has the more traditional country music sound that emanated from Nashville in the early 50's.

The other version is by a Perry Como voiced singer named Roy Drusky and was recorded in 1970. Drusky was pretty well known in the 1960s and 1970s. Drusky's smooth baritone made him a natural in the Nashville Sound/Countrypolitan era.

I actually like both of these versions of the song.

First Bobby Helms sings "Fraulein" in that older, honky tonk style.

Roy Drusky's smoother, countrypolitan version.


  1. re: The Bobby Helms version. My Mom HATED that song and it wasn't allowed to heard in our house, period. She'd lunge for the radio and either turn it off (in the house) or change the station (in the car). I didn't get the connection until 40 or so years later when I came across some old pics of my father during his Army of Occupation days... several of which were of him and the same girl. Ka-CHING... the light went on.

    True story.

  2. (sigh) "...allowed to BE heard..."

  3. Buck, I suspect your Mom wasn't alone in hating the song for that reason. There's another country song you probably know, "Filipino Baby," sung by Ernest Tubb I believe, that describes a similar wartime romance in the Pacific Theater--although in this situation, the guy is apparently single and returns to marry his "Filipino Baby."

  4. Dan, I'm ashamed to say that I was not familiar with Roy Drusky. But that was beautiful. Reminds me of Eddie Arnold.

    I remember the Bobby Helms version well, though. KWKH - good memories.