A song from the deepest early memories

I had an unexpected bit of pleasure this morning. In a desperate bid to get away from the ETV Radio pledge drive, I accidentally pressed button 3 on my radio, forgetting that the format had changed a while back to country.

And I heard “Singin’ the Blues,” which struck deep chords of early-childhood memory for me. I couldn’t have told you the words, and I mistakenly assumed it was a Hank Williams song — it seemed to have that sort of universal appeal. But the tune was as familiar, as wired into every cell in my brain, as if it had been sung to me as a lullaby.

All I knew about the song was that I really, really liked it. As though I was MADE to like it; it was part of my early formation.

Unfortunately, the radio didn’t tell me who was singing it (which should be a violation of FCC regulations). Fortunately, there’s Google and Wikipedia.

I quickly learned that the song was written by one Melvin Endsley, and first recorded successfully by Guy Mitchell. But I’m pretty sure that what I heard this morning was the Marty Robbins version.

Whichever, I loved hearing it. Next thing you know, I’ll hear “Volare” on the radio one morning (to cite another song that made a deep impression on me before I was old enough to worry about what was cool and what wasn’t, and able to just respond to music on its own terms)…

17 thoughts on “A song from the deepest early memories

  1. Brad

    Aw, come on — surely someone else can think of songs that have had a similar effect on them.

    I would put up a Top Five list of songs like this, but I can’t: I don’t even know these songs are in my memory until they come up, and I suddenly realize I’m hearing part of the soundtrack of my early childhood.

  2. Brad

    Of course, there are songs that I specifically remember being into when I was 3 or 4 or 5. Such as some of Elvis’ earliest: “Hound Dog,” “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Hard-Headed Woman.”

    But they don’t fit into this category, because I’m too CONSCIOUS of them…

  3. Steven Davis II

    I got nothin’.

    As a child I seem to recall liking the song Happy Birthday if that counts.

  4. `Kathryn Fenner

    Last night, we watched the closing credits from the Irish film The Guard (excellent, in the Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels vein) which featured a tenor like J. Denver singing Leaving on a Jet Plane…I would have been in my early teens when Denver sang it–you’re talking much older–for childhood memories, that would probably be the Pacific jazz my dad played on the hi-fi…..

  5. Scout

    My Dad used to play and sing Bad Bad Leroy Brown on the piano when I was little. The line about the junkyard dog made me laugh. I don’t know any other lyrics besides the first line. There probably are others I don’t even know the names of.

    Paul McCartney did a pretty good cover of Singing The Blues in the late 80s or early 90s. That is the version I first ever heare.

  6. Silence

    That’s a very young Marty Robbins. I remember him from much, much later.

    I used to watch Hee-Haw on TV every week. Among my earliest musical memories are watching Roy Clark and Buck Owens. I still want a Buck Owens All-American guitar – the red white and blue one.

  7. Burl Burlingame

    I used to watch the Porter Waggoner Show because they had this girl background singer and every once in a while they’d let her sing one of her own compositions, and they’d act like they were doing her a big favor, and they’d laugh at her, but the songs were always gems.

    Yep, Dolly Parton.

  8. Silence

    @ Burl, Dolly is my best friend’s third cousin. Back when she opened Dollywood (bought out Silver Dollar City in Pigeon Forge, TN) he would get to go every year on family day, when She’d invite all her family to come enjoy the park.

    In middle school this made us all very jealous.

    Have you seen Dolly Parton’s new shoes?

  9. Silence

    Brad – Buck’s guitar was awesome. I liked Roy too but I don’t remember him on the “Beverly Hillbillies.” I also liked Grandpa Jones and Archie Campbell a lot. And Minnie Pearl of course. She inspired a whole generation of urban youths to leave the tags on their hats.

    “Where oh where, are you tonight? Why did you leave me here all alone? I searched the world over and thought I found true love. You met another and PHTTTH you were gone.”

  10. Brad

    Back to Buck Owens… I always thought his guitar was sort of tacky and garish and plastic-looking. As y’all know, I’m a patriotic guy and all, but that guitar never seemed right to me. Anyway, it doesn’t suggest the U.S. flag to me as much as it does the French.

    Nothing against Buck, but I was more of a Roy Clark fan. Anybody remember his guest appearance on “The Beverly Hillbillies,” pre-“Hee-Haw”?

  11. `Kathryn Fenner

    When you left, you took all the clothes that I bought you,
    The dresses, the hats, the shoes on your feet.
    If you hadn’t taken the clothes that I bought you,
    You sure would look funny out there on the street.

    Where, O where…

  12. Silence Hulka

    Stringbean, much like Minnie Pearl was also an urban youth trendsetter. He started the sagging pants craze!

    Sadly, poor Stringbean’s life came to an untimely and tragic end.

  13. Doug T

    When Earl Scruggs died it made me think of Don Gibson, who also was from the Shelby, NC area. Not to list his songs here, but all the young folks were born too late to enjoy a lot of great music.

    …and Buck Owens was never the same after his sidekick was killed in a motorcycle accident.

    …and I liked better Porter Wagonner’s first female singer….Norma Jean.

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