Friday, July 8, 2022

Insight: My Father’s Abominable 1960s Playlist

By Ed Pierce
Managing Editor

Growing up in the 1960s I was forced to endure what I considered to be some of the strangest and least appealing music of all time that came out of a lone dashboard speaker in my father’s 1962 Chevrolet Impala.

His eclectic musical taste ran the gamut from cowboy yodelers to finger-snappin’ crooners who warbled on about everything from lost love to being deeply indebted to the company you worked for. He seemed to take great delight in playing his appalling tunes for myself and my brother as he drove across town or went to see cousins who lived out in the country.

This musical persecution was further extended when we moved into a larger home that came equipped with a radio intercom system and with a simple flick of a switch, he could pipe all his favorites through the speakers in our bedrooms waking us up each morning for school with his loud “hillbilly” early 1960s country and western selections.

Through the years, I compiled a group of his favorites that we were subjected to and even though decades have passed, I truly continue to detest some of these songs, although I have mellowed somewhat over time to a few of them. When I hear them today, I realize they are classics and think of him whenever they air on the radio. Those include more mainstream popular songs he liked such as “Fever” by Peggy Lee, “Hit the Road Jack” by Ray Charles, “She’s Got You” by Patsy Cline, and “This Guys In Love With You” by Herb Alpert.

Without further ado, the list goes as follows and if this type of music is your cup of tea, it’s nothing personal when I say I find many of these songs sheer torture –

Dishonorable Mention: Tennessee Ernie Ford’s “Sixteen Tons,” Stonewall Jackson’s “Waterloo,” Ned Miller’s “From a Jack to a King,” and Jack Greene’s “There Goes My Everything.”

And the countdown goes like this –

#10. “Don’t Go Near the Eskimos” by Ben Colder. A novelty song gone terribly wrong. Ben Colder was actually the alter ego of actor/musician Sheb Wooley who also gave us the “Purple People Eater” song.

#9. “The Battle of New Orleans” by Johnny Horton. Was written originally by a school principal in Arkansas to promote student interest in history. Probably the only song about Andrew Jackson to ever be played on the radio.

#8. “On the Wings of a Dove” by Ferlin Husky. A religious homage to God sending doves to Earth as a symbol of his love for mankind. I never liked Husky’s twangy interpretation but did enjoy the song when it was sung by Robert Duvall in the film “Tender Mercies.”

#7. “Wolverton Mountain” by Claude King. Played constantly in the 1960s, this is about a mountain man who zealously guards his daughter from anyone who would try and court her affection. Shlock at its worst.

#6. “Mountain of Love” by David Houston. Dreadful drivel in my opinion and everything I came to loathe about 1960s country music. It’s about a man who buys an engagement ring but the girl he wants to marry isn’t ready to settle down. Not the same tune as Johnny Rivers’ “Mountain of Love” hit.

#5. “Peel Me A Nanner” by Roy Drusky. A hard-headed chauvinist ponders why his girlfriend ran off with another man. He claims to have tried to indulge her every whim but laments “it all added up to a big fat’ nothin.’ Last night you ran away with him.”

#4. “Hello Walls” by Faron Young. Perhaps the single most-played country song of all-time. Willie Nelson wrote this about a man who comes home to find his woman has left him and he is alone and singing to the walls. He also croons to the windows and the ceiling while postulating that she’ll never return.

#3. “Flowers on the Wall” by the Statler Brothers. Overplayed and overhyped as one of the greatest country tunes ever. This song was used in the film “Pulp Fiction” in the 1990s and actor Bruce Willis sings along to a line of it in the movie. Willis also used that same line (“smoking cigarettes and watching Captain Kangaroo) in the film “Die Hard with a Vengeance.”

#2. “Mule Skinner Blues” by The Fendermen. If you love yodeling, this one’s for you. It’s hideous caterwauling about a down-on-his-luck mule skinner and should be banished permanently to the annals of bad ideas and distasteful music.

#1. “May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose” by Little Jimmy Dickens. The passage of more than 60 years has not diminished my dislike for this one. It’s all about a cheapskate who sees a beggar on the street and only gives him a penny, then finds a $100 bill when his clothes come back from the laundry, and he tips the laundry clerk 10 cents. He takes a taxi and tells the driver he’s in a hurry and when the driver gets a speeding ticket, he’s ticked off about having to wait for his change for the fare.

The songs on this list should only be played when trying to make hostage takers surrender. <

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