Home / Eddy Arnold, the cracker Barry White

Eddy Arnold, the cracker Barry White

Please Share...Print this pageTweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook0Share on Google+0Pin on Pinterest0Share on Tumblr0Share on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

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.

Powered by

About Gadfly

  • The Duke

    Eddy had pipes.

    Not my cup o’ tea….

    But he had skills

    Don’t shit on the generation that loved him. Embrace it.

    Not your bag?

    Oh well, he’s not mine either… but 50 years from now everything you or I liked will be trashed by some other blogger or whatever exists at that time…

    Shit, it might even be a Chinese XxingtiaChaing site….


  • I’m not saying that Eddy Arnold wasn’t any good at what he did. I absolutely recognize that he had skillz, even if it’s not my bag.

    It’s just that gettin’ above his raisin’ thing. That made it a much funnier choice for Homer and Jethro than if they had been playing real hick music, say, Hank Williams or Bob Wills.

    The only thing that might have been funnier would have been Carter family records. Young June making out with Homer and Jethro while Mom and Uncle AP sang Jesus songs would have been highly funny.

  • The Duke

    Albeit a slam on Homer and Jethro too?

    Two crack studio hands, who dabbled in satire.

    The Jethro Burns body of work has been lovingly restored and brought to disc with the help of John Grissom.

    The music world is a better place because of it.

  • William C.Shoop

    I just have to reply to the comments made about Eddy Arnold by Al Barger.If you are going to talk about an artist get the facts!!I would never attempt in all fairness to review Iggy Pop.It wasnt my generation.But if I did I would do my research first.I would use noted musicologist Joel Whitburns book for a starter.THe Country Singles 1944 to 1994.Using Billboard magazine he ranks all country artists according to weeks at number one,top tens,etc.GUess what MR.?Eddy Arnold is the number country singles artist of all-time!!Garth has sold the most cds but Eddy will forever own the singles charts!!
    NO other artist in the entire music industry can lay claim to this:”Eddy holds the record for most career weeks at number one an astonishing 145 weeks!He charted in 5 different categorys in a career that spans over 7 decades!!THe only living vocalist to chart a record in 7 decades in a row!!!
    So hes not your cup of tea!!WEll brother that doesnt change history!!If you want more listen to this:
    He sold 90 million records,
    WAs the first country artist on network tv 1948 The Milton Berle Show,
    The First Country artist to host network tv specials from the country field,he hosted over 20 of them!!,
    Is listed in Worldbook encylopedia as the person most responsible for taking country music to a wider audience,
    BIllboard Magazine called him “The Country Artist Of THe Century!!,
    THe Songwriters Guild Of America honored him in 1987 with their Presidents Award.Calling him one of the threee or four most influential vocalists of all time.Saying he was a song stylist supreme a musical mood shaper!!,
    The first Country Music Association Entertainer of THe Year!!,
    He gave Homer And Jethro their break!!If getting ubove your raising means taking your music to the world I say bravo to Eddy Arnold.
    BY the way if he was a “Barry White to the crackers”Why did New Yorks upper crust come out in droves to see him at Carnegie Hall?You know the place the eats alive those who play their without talent?He had to do encore after encore before he left the stage!!!
    He was the best country singer not a theorectical one.His early career was pure country.His later one the same level as Perry Como.He also appearred together woth Dean Martin and Sinatra on network tv!!
    I am no defense attorney but I will now rest my case!!
    One last note:Next week at age 87 Eddy will release his final career cd.Elvis,Bing,Sinatra,nor Elvis were recording or alive at the age!!

  • No, no, Duke, absolutely NOT a slam on Homer and Jethro. They were great.

    Mr Shoop, are you having problems with reading comprehension? “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.”

    But what I really don’t understand is the argument that sales or chart figures prove that someone’s actual music is good. I’ve been getting the same argument repeatedly this week for Mariah Carey.

    Beyond that though, read closer what I said. I didn’t say that Eddy Arnold sucked, but just that he’s not my cup of tea.

    I’m not trying to harsh on the old dude. He may be a really fine fellow. I’m just saying that he was perceived as a bit snooty, seemingly looking down on the hicks once he got uptown credibility, and the Homer and Jethro was a mild but effective bit of teasing to bring him back down to earth a bit.

    But exactly the fact that the upper crust in NYC is digging Eddy at Carnegie Hall and his success with Perry Como are indicative that he was no longer much to do with COUNTRY music.

    You may be a bit confused by the Iggy reference, but that’s probably my fault. Regular readers would get that I don’t dig Iggy (or RATM), and sometimes use him as a textbook example of crappy music. An Eddy Arnold fan wandering into Blogcritics obviously couldn’t be expected to know that, though.

    I would in fact be FAR more inclined to listen to Eddy Arnold than Iggy. Arnold was very good at stuff that I don’t mostly care about, where Iggy’s mostly just crappy- even if it’s at a musical style that I’m mostly more attuned to.

    Thanks for dropping by and taking the effort to write. Please come back soon.

  • William C.Shoop

    In reply to Al Barger:
    You are right chart success and sales dont make anyone artist great.Its a combination of things.First the abilty to carry a tune and by that I dont mean carrying a music box on your shoulders.I have in my life seen lots of performers who sang off key and off pitch!!I saw Mr.Arnold with a full orchestra and it was magical .But more importantly he could sing alone and touch you with deep feelings.I believe it was Amusement Business that said “it would be a shame if he was never filmed live in concert.”He and Elvis were one of a kinds!!
    I question CMT when they do their “Greatest Country Singers.”They never say what their criteria is.Just raising cane doesnt make you great either.SAdly society thinks great means a performer who cant keep there pants on.Its more than that!!
    As far as bringing him back down to earth let me say this:Never have I met a more humble man.And love his fans!!THe backstage meet and greets he made you feel special.
    He rose from sheer poverty and never forgot it.
    As for my reading comprehension its excellent!!Eddy wasnt a braggart by any means my man!!He never claimed he was the greatest.You mustve confused him with somebody else!!THe history books tell the story.AS Did Ralph Emerys book that was dedicated to”Country Music First Superstar!!”
    He never looked down on the country artists but “DUDE “they were jealous of his success big time!!THe Homer and Jethro bit makes me laugh as I said before Eddy found them.He would laugh about that.
    CHarts might mot mean a lot but charting 7 decades in a row with consumers rapidly changing taste speaks volumes.So does charting in 5 musical genres!!

  • Fair enough, Mr Shoop. Meantime, I’m on my way out the door to pick up more Eddy from the library. I’ll be jamming on some Eddy within the hour.

    Really though, I don’t mean this column as particularly a review (good or bad) on Eddy. My point here was mostly how tickled I am with the Homer and Jethro.