Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Johnny Horton

Johnny Horton He died young.

All of his 8 top 100 singles are on this collection, a double album on CBS Special Products.

Johnny Horton:

North To Alaska – The story of Sam McCord, and the goldrush of 1901. Something about this tale of discovery, of roughing on the frontier, of capitalist heroism appealed to the masses. The song went to number 4 in the winter of 1960 / 1961
When It’s Springtime In Alaska (It’s Forty Below) – Another one of those she’s-his-girl-but-he-didn’t-know-it tales is the backdrop for this climate report. I don’t think it’s really that cold there in the spring anyway. Here, though, it snows in May. A country hit from 1958.
Jim Bridger – Another history hero song. Bridger, apparently, was an expert on the “Indians,” advised Custer, who didn’t listen, and was wilder than Kit Carson. If not for Bridger, says Horton, we wouldn’t be here. He’s not clear on why that is.
Rock Island Line – A live version of the perennial tale of petty bribery. A hit for Lonnie Donegan, and recorded by Johnny Cash and Stan Freberg and Leadbelly way before any of them.
The Mansion You Stole – This song of a girl who married for money is heading into the 60s with the strings and chorus. A prescursor to the Eagles’ Lyin’ Eyes.
The Battle Of New Orleans – The most danceable war ever to hit the top 10. There just weren’t that many songs about stuff you read in history books. Remember Rasputin by Boney M? The song was done later by Harpers Bizarre and by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, but it was the original that went to number 1 in the summer of 1959.
Johnny Reb – Now it’s the civil war, and we’re on the side of the south. This was a hit 10 years before Robbie Robertson foisted The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down on the world, that was the fall of 1959.
All Grown Up – Pop music, and this song is far more pop than it is country, is rife with songs by guys who suddenly realize that the little girl next door is suddenly “a woman,” or, as here, “all grown up.” It strikes me that there’s just something a bit sick about it, though there’s nothing, you know, technically wrong. Maybe in this case it’s the pre-pubescent sounding chorus… A country hit in 1958.
I’m A One Woman Man – Well, what are we to expect otherwise? George Jones covered this. A country hit in 1956.
Sink The Bismark – Back to World War II, Horton’s hit from the spring of 1960 was a tale of unqualified heroism, just what the world needed as JFK was new in office.
Sal’s Got A Sugar Lip – I’m sure she does. A hit version of this was the B side of Johnny Reb, it hit in the fall of ’59. This is a live version; I don’t know if it’s the same as the single. Lonnie Donegan hit with this also.
I’ll Do It Every Time – There’s a tension between being agreeable, being understanding, being patient, and getting what you need and what you want. And that’s what this song is about. What does he do every time? Harass her, apparently. But he’s gentle, by his own admission.
Honky Tonk Man – He is singing about drinking, not about music, but maybe he’s singing about music too. This was his last hit, in the winter of 1962, by which time Johnny had been dead for over a year. It was originally released though, and was a country hit, in 1956.
Johnny Freedom – Patriotism run amok. No coincidence his name his Johnny. We heard about Johnny Reb, later we hear about Sleepy Eyed John. Surprising that we don’t hear Johnny One Time, or Johnny Get Angry. A country hit in 1960.
All For The Love Of A Girl – A ballad of longing, and a syrupy one at that.
I’m Coming Home – Always a cause for celebration, and we won’t think about The Cold Hard Facts Of Life by Porter Wagoner. There are many songs with this title but I haven’t heard this particular one by anyone else.
I Just Don’t Like This Kind Of Living – Hank Williams’ song about a relationship based on anger and resentment. “Why don’t you act a little bit older?” he asks. “Get that chip off of your shoulder?” Hank sings it with sadness but with his head held high; Johnny sounds like his head is hanging low.
Sleepy Eyed John – Let’s pick up the tempo and swing. Gotta love that harmonica. From the spring of 1961.

No comments:

Locations of visitors to this page