Sunday, August 14, 2011

GREATEST HITS - Johnny Horton

YEAR: 1961
LABEL: Columbia
TRACK LISTING: North To Alaska, Whispering Pines, Johnny Reb, The Mansion You Stole, I'm Ready (If You're Willing), When It's Springtime In Alaska (It's Forty Below), Honky Tonk Man, The Battle of New Orleans, All For the Love of a Girl, Sink the Bismarck, Comanche (The Brave Horse), Jim Bridger, Johnny Freedom (Freedomland)
IMPRESSIONS: As a kid, I kept a huge stack of old 45s and a portable record player from the 1950s (which had been my mother's) at my grandparents' huge old Victorian house in Pennsauken for my usual weekend visits. Among the 45s was Johnny Horton's "Whispering Pines" single and I always loved that song. Fast forward many years later to the mid-1980s. It was my birthday and my best friend Cheeks decided to go all out by buying me presents and balloons and a score of other things to celebrate. This was actually the first time in my entire life when a non-family member had done anything like this for me and I was truthfully very moved. At some point earlier in our friendship, I must've mentioned Johnny Horton's "Whispering Pines" because among the gifts Cheeks had gotten me a cassette of "Johnny Horton's Greatest Hits". Of all the gifts, that one meant the most to me since I hadn't heard the song in years and the thoughtfulness of my friend truly touched me. I still have that cassette -- even though I've long since replaced the album on cd. As much as I loved "Whispering Pines" already, this has added an entire new dimension to the song and it's now one of my all-time favourites.
MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: North To Alaska, Whispering Pines, The Mansion You Stole, When It's Springtime In Alaska (It's Forty Below), Honky Tonk Man, The Battle of New Orleans, Sink the Bismarck, Comanche (The Brave Horse)
FACT SHEET: Johnny Horton was a popular country singer in the late 1950's who specialized in "story songs" which often had an historical focus. His biggest hit was the #1 chart topper "The Battle of New Orleans". After having premonitions that he would be killed by a drunk, Horton tried to back out of touring dates, invited his mother to visit for a week and asked his sister to look after his wife and children. Unable to back out of a date playing the Skyline Club in Austin, Texas, Horton at first remained in his dressing room saying that a drunk would kill him if he went near the bar. After the gig, Horton was driving near Milano Texas around 2 am when a 19-year old drunk truck driver collided with Horton's cadillac while they were crossing a bridge. Horton died on the way to the hospital.

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