Saturday, January 22, 2011

Hank Locklin

Hank Locklin There are risks you take when you make a collection like this. I used the present tense, which is silly; people don’t make collections like this anymore. In the digital world, it is so easy to shuffle things around.

But this all (mostly, anyway) comes from the old analog world, where sequencing was paramount. So here is Hank Locklin, stuck in the summer of 1960, because until recently my collection consisted of only one track, that track being Please Help Me I’m Falling, a hit in the summer of 1960.

But Hank first hit the chart back in 1958, and it wasn’t so long ago that I expanded my Hank L collection with acquisition of RCA Country Legends, which actually includes all three of his pop chart entries, and so we are out of sync with what should have been a strict chronology. The casual reader may be forgiven for not noticing, and while it’s probably not news to anyone who reads this regularly that there is a methodology here, I doubt that anyone cares enough to think about what that might be.

So let me explain it… another time. For now, let’s just listen to some good old fashioned country:

Hank Locklin:

Why Baby Why – Honky tonk piano and old fashioned fiddle highlight George Jones’ tale of a highly dysfunctional relationship. “I caught you honky tonkin’ with my best friend,” he complains. Why baby why, indeed.
Geisha Girl – Definition of anomaly: a honky tonk song about a Japanese lover. From early 1958.
Livin’ Alone – Money, our hero tells us, can’t buy happiness. I’ve heard otherwise. For this tale of heartache, he has abandoned the honky tonk style (well, except for the piano) in favour of a chorus and strings.
Send Me The Pillow You Dream On – We’ve heard this before but here’s the guy that wrote it. The original was a hit in the spring of 1958; other versions by Johnny Tillotson, The Browns, Dean Martin all did better. I wonder if she ever sent the pillow…
It’s A Little Bit Like Heaven – A classic juxtaposition of hyperbole and understatement.
Blue Grass Skirt – A Hawaiian tale but no less country. In this tale, his baby was “stolen” by a rock and roller. Oh those bad rock and rollers…
Please Help Me I’m Falling – A joke, sort of. This song is about temptation, love in the wrong places, with the wrong person. Think Me And Mrs. Jones but country, or 99 Miles (On A Dead End Street), or Dark End Of The Street, or… For some reason, he’s stuck with his wife “forever.” Really? From the summer of 1960.
One Step Ahead Of My Past – Floyd Cramer (or a good soundalike) and a massive sounding male chorus underline this tale of a guy condemned by his biography. Maybe she’ll like you anyway Hank…
From Here To There To You – He’s writing her a letter, like Paul in P.S. I Love You. What strikes one about this is how sweetly romantic this would be if Hank’s voice weren’t so darn country. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing…
Happy Birthday To Me – A feeling sorry for myself song: his loves one has gone AWOL. She didn’t even send a card…
Happy Journey – A going away song, with accordion.
We’re Gonna Go Fishin’ – This isn’t a male bonding song. Nope. It’s romance like all the others, but heck, he says, leave behind your lipstick, makeup etc. We’re goin’ fishing. Can’t argue with the premise. There is even a sax on this track.
Followed Closely By My Teardrops – An I watched you get married song. Stand in line.
The Country Hall Of Fame – A tribute to country, plain and simple. Not all that different from Tex Ritter’s Hillbilly Heaven, except Hank’s stars are still alive. String on this, as you’d expect.
Danny Boy – Jackie Wilson, Johnny Cash, Jim Reeves, shall I go on. Give Hank credit; he doesn’t emote this like so many others.
Bonaparte’s Retreat – Another country standard. It’s not bad, but where did he get that organ?

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