Saturday, January 26, 2013

Jimmy Dean

Not to be confused with James Dean, the dead actor, Jimmy Dean was a country singer and TV host. He had 11 hits on the pop charts between 1957 and 1 more in 1976.

What I have here is Jimmy Dean’s Greatest Hits, which has 7 of those 11 Columbia hits, and 3 more songs besides.

Jimmy Dean:

Big Bad John – The enigmatic good guy / bad guy. A loner. If you spoke at all you just said “hi” to Big John. He killed a fellow in New Orleans over a girl, and he saved the lives of a few dozen miners, sacrificing his life in the process. Superman never had to die, neither did Batman. But Big John, to be the consummate hero, he had to die. I wonder. The song was number 1 in the fall of 1961. 
The Cajun Queen – She had a cameo role in Big John. Now here she is again. “He started breathin’…” They couldn’t leave the legend alone. From the winter of 1962.
Harvest Of Sunshine – A countrypolitan singalong. This is just south of what Dean Martin was doing a few years later.
Little Black Book – Proof that not all songs about romantic breakup are sad or angry. Big question: is the chirpiness real or put-on? I don’t know, but it sounds real enough to me. From the fall of ’62.
Steel Men – A major scale industrial tragedy set to music. Think The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald done by someone with Asperger’s Syndrome. Apparently a true story, from Vancouver, 1958. I don’t know if that was Vancouver, B.C. or Vancouver, Washington. From the summer of 1962. 
The First Thing Ev’ry Morning (And The Last Thing Ev’ry Night) – An I-miss-you song, and another Dean Martin knock-off, even down to the vocal inflection in this case. From the summer of 1965, this was the last hit Dean would put on the pop chart for 11 years.
Sam Hill – Some country dude meets his girl every night for a bit of cha cha, and everyone’s a-flutter, wonderin’ “what in Sam Hill’s goin’ on.” What an innocent age it must have been.
P. T. 109 – Historical pop, right out of the Johnny Horton stylebook. The song was about the wartime adventures of John Kennedy, who was president when this song was a hit (spring, 1962). I bet the radio stations never played it again after November, ’63. 
To A Sleeping Beauty – A father-to-daughter recitation, and an unbearably hokey one. This was the B-side of A Cajun Queen and a hit in its own right, in the winter of 1962. I have a version by Jackie Gleason, and it’s no better.
The Farmer And The Lord – Done in the same style as the sleeping beauty song – that is Jimmy reciting the lyrics, with an angelic male chorus in the background, barely discernable instrumentation.
I Won’t Go Huntin’ With You Jake (But I’ll Go Chasin’ Wimmin) – Awesome. This is the most country of anything on this collection, its obvious parody status notwithstanding. I mean… this is a parody… right?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Big Bad John" was an instant classic...Stan Ridgeway's (ex Wall of Voodoo) "Camouflage", another lyric tale of a strong, quiet hero, always reminded me of it.

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