Eddy Arnold is cracking me up.
As a Cool Guy, I’ve never taken much interest in Eddy Arnold. He was an MOR easy listening Perry Como wannabe from the 40s and 50s. I mostly know him from tv album ads, which are less interesting entertainment than the Christy Lane ads.
That’s about the level of my associations with Eddy Arnold, but in fairness I must note that he was a big deal for a long time. He is sometimes claimed to be the biggest selling country artist in history. He had his own network show for awhile.
Theoretically, Eddy Arnold was a country singer, traveling early in his career as part of R.J. Reynolds’ Camel Caravan during WWII, a country USO type show for the troops. He was known in those days as “The Tennessee Plowboy.”
He was a crooner, though, not any kind of hillbilly singer really to start with. At the first taste of success, he was ready to ditch the hicks, and become a real, legitimate pop singer. Thus, mentioning Eddy Arnold to my cracker Dad naturally resulted in the invocation of the Flatt & Scruggs classic, as Eddy Arnold “got above his raisin’.”
Listening to his records, I can hear someone who thinks that he’s gone uptown. This is probably not really fair to the man, but there’s nothing much else there as interesting as that interpretation. He was a perfectly competent singer, but utterly bland to me.
Except that I never would listen to an Eddy Arnold record. Why would I? Hell, usually I’d rather listen to Iggy Pop singing the Rage Against the Machine songbook. So why would I listen to Eddy Arnold? Answer: Homer and Jethro, doggone their goat lovin’ hides.
In 1949, they recorded a three-way duet with June Carter, singing a comedic bluegrass version of “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” Songwriting is credited “With apologies to Frank Loesser.” They have an aptly titled best-of album called America’s Song Butchers.
They played it for comedy, being Homer and Jethro, and being Homer and Jethro, they picked the hell out the song, along with some seductive jazz guitar from Chet Atkins. It’s a classic seduction song, of course, which makes it the clear and unequivocal point of the song that Homer and Jethro are gearing up for a three-way with the 19 year old Carter girl. I am SO sure. This vision is maybe just the slightest bit hilarious- and it only gets funnier on repeated listenings.
They slightly customized the lyrics to make them “country.” Thus, the answer to Loesser’s classic, “Hey, what’s in this here drink?” is “That ain’t sassparill-y thar… Put some Eddy Arnold records on while I pour.”
I doubt they gave it much thought at the time, but this strikes me as the absolute perfect gesture of gently knocking the snooty pop singer down a peg. Arnold was “romantic” girly music, sort of a Barry White for the crackers. He’s all uptown now, and not rolling with the old down homeboys. He’s getting all them fancy strings and orchestras and stuff, none of that hayseed fiddle junk.
But really, he came up as cheesy make-out music for the crackers. The more I listen to the June Carter/Homer and Jethro recording, the funnier it gets.
It’s driven me to actually hunt down some Eddy Arnold records. Now listening to “Welcome to My World” conjures up images of Homer and Jethro double teaming June on the couch like the Roxbury guys on SNL. Imagine Jethro nibbling on young June’s ear with Arnold crooning “It’s Such a Pretty World Today” in the background. “Bouquet of Roses” just leaves me rolling in the aisles at this point.