Thursday, March 12, 2009


Inspirational Songs with Tenessee Ernie

Ole Gran'pa H. M. Crittick was on the roamin' about again a while back. Drivin' up the old super highway, we found one of those "Friends of the Library" type of store that has a whole bunch of old used books, sheet music and records. All at your every day down to earth prices without the fancy shipping prices a lot of eBay sellers like to rip you off for.

We found some old sheet music. Then we started browsing their album sections. One got our attention - it was a six LP set by the Longines Symphonette Society featuring Tennessee Ernie Ford doing Inspirational Songs. And well, when we found out the price was less than a happy meal, we made sure it went home with us.

It was a 6-LP set of 60 songs. We went ahead and converted that to digital format so we can put together a CD or two to listen to it in the car and elsewhere, know what I mean?

Ole Gran'pa has vague memories of seeing the ole Pea Picker himself on the tv box at one time. He had a voice and personality that just got your attention.

When we made the CD, we picked many of the tunes we're familiar with. What struck ole Gran'pa was perhaps where today's artists got their inspirations to do their Gospel albums. We admit we are a fan of Charley Pride - our evidence is having every LP and CD.

Charley did a Gospel album in the early 1970s and included such songs as "Did You Think To Pray", "Whispering Hope" and "Church In the Wildwood". When we hear Ernie do these Gospel tunes, it led me to start comparing the way he did them to Charley's versions. The similarity is apparent to me.

In the booklet with the 6 LP set, it cites what Ernie's approach was to these tunes. "When he performed gospel songs on his weekly television show he shunned the ultra-sophisticated, flamboyahntly produced "numbers." "You go dressing up a simple message from the Bible, and you miss the point. The point is not how fancy you can make it. That's just showing off."

Listening to the CD I made, it makes you feel as if you are listening to Tennessee Ernie doing a concert in a church. The arrangements are sparce - a church organ, and not much else, the male and female church choirs, at times almost accapella in sound.

His voice is crystal clear and you feel the spirit and reverence he puts into the tunes and melodies.

Make no mistake about it - this guy knew how to use his voice.

Now to listen to that live album from the Indiana State Fair in the early 1960s. And we do remember stopping in to have a meal at his restaurant way back when when Mom drove us down to Nashville one summer weekend to see the Opry. We still have that EP.

PBS a while back broadcast a show featuring the Gospel tunes he always did at the end of his shows. If you get a chance - don't miss the rerun. We made sure we recorded that one.

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