A TRIBUTE TO EDDY ARNOLD ON
HIS 84TH BIRTHDAY
By Ken MacLeod
I wanted to do something special for Eddy's
84th birthday (for some reason I was thinking that it was his 85th), so
I wrote the following poem which is preceded by a written tribute.
I hope that you like it and might be able to use it on your website. I have mailed a copy of the poem in my birthday card to Eddy. Do you know Frank Clement's son's address since I would like to mail him a copy as well.
I will be absent in Europe on a WW II veterans' trip from April 17 - April 30.
Incidentally, my nephew Tom died last May at the age of 33 after what looked like an amazing recovery. I did the funeral service and eulogy.
Thanks for the great work that you do on your website.
I remember when I heard my first Eddy Arnold
record. I was ten years old and in the fourth grade. I had just returned
from a Little League baseball practise. My mother had just purchased Eddy’s
10” LP, entitled, “All-Time Hits from the Hills.” My mother was not a country
music fan, but was invited along with my father to the house of some friends
who loved country music. My mother thought it fitting to bring along some
country music. A man from Ward’s Music, a large music outlet in Vancouver,
recommended something by Eddy Arnold.
That record never left our house. I remember kneeling down by our hi-fi console and listening to that record over and over. I was entranced by Eddy’s smooth-sounding voice and style. I was hooked for life. When I started earning a little money from part-time jobs at the age of twelve, I would search through record stores and spend a lot of that money on Eddy Arnold records.
I remember when our family purchased our first television set in the spring of 1955, it wasn’t long before we discovered the program “Eddy Arnold Time” and would eagerly wait with anticipation each week for Eddy to come on. He would just “wow” us with his songs. His friendly and sincere demeanor would leap out at us from the TV into our hearts where he remains to this day. I can remember it as if it were yesterday. We loved
this man from the start. My mother, who worked in the meat department of the large Eaton’s Department Store, would go on her lunch break to look for some of the songs that Eddy sang on his program such as “The Lovebug Itch,” “The Kentuckian Song,” and her favorite “Call Her Your Sweetheart” which she would play over and over.
I have not had the privilege of hearing Eddy in person, but never tire of listening to his music. Eddy has been a special part of our family since that day in 1954. My father died a week after my sixteenth birthday, so Eddy’s songs were a constant companion in those years and in the years following. Most people who know me, and I have a wide circle of friends and associates, know that Eddy Arnold is my artist.
I always say to someone when I find out that they like Eddy Arnold too, “Anyone who likes Eddy Arnold is a friend of mine!”
He was born in Chester County,
near Henderson, Tennessee—
A child of the soil and proud Southern ancestry.
His father was a tall and strong man who took ill when Eddy was seven
And passed from this earthly scene on the day Eddy turned eleven.
His mother through prayer, hard work, and determination bold
Held the family together, though the farm was auctioned and sold.
Eddy’s teachers were trials, poverty, hardships, the golden rule,
And those lessons that life taught him behind a plow and a mule.
His mother taught him some songs and how to play the guitar,
Not knowing that one day her son would travel far.
He practised in the evening on a Sears and Roebuck guitar
The tunes of Jimmie Rodgers and Gene Autry, hoping to be a star.
He also took to singing love songs, so the story is told;
And Bing Crosby’s crooning helped shape the Arnold mold.
Eddy with his friend Speedy McNatt took advantage of his chances
To play at parties, church socials, and endless country dances.
Eddy longed to leave the farm and so with nothing to lose,
He and Speedy found radio spots in Jackson, Memphis, and St. Louis.
But soon a bigger opportunity arose for Eddy’s guitar and voice
When he joined Pee Wee King and his Golden West Cowboys.
The Grand Ole Opry, WSM, and service tours featured his repertoires,
And Eddy gained renown in the company of country stars.
Twas at a soda fountain this country troubadour met his future wife,
And in November, 1941, Sally and Eddy became partners for life.
“You’re good enough to go solo!” Sally advised Ed,
“Playing in a band is hard to keep a family fed.”
So Eddy accepted Sally’s advice to venture out on his own,
Getting his own WSM radio show, thanks to Harry Stone.
His dream came true with RCA in 1943,
But a recording strike and shellac rations postponed his destiny.
Til under Fred Forester’s guiding hand, Eddy began his recording career
On the Bluebird label, singing “Mommy, please stay home with me!”
Record sales at first were good, but not yet quite a few
Then Eddy recorded “That’s How Much I Love You.”
Soon Eddy Arnold records were played in many a household;
It wasn’t long before thousands, then millions were sold.
The “Cattle Call” became Eddy’s long-time signature song
In 1944 about the time Eddy hooked up with Colonel Tom.
The sound of the fiddle and Roy Wiggins’ steel guitar
And his Tennessee Plowboys helped Eddy travel far.
On the Grand Ole Opry and radio WSM air waves,
Country’s golden crooner was getting lots of raves.
“I’ll Hold You in My Heart” topped the country charts week after week;
“Anytime,” “Bouquet of Roses,” “Just a Little Lovin,” kept Eddy at the peak.
1948 was the year of one of Eddy’s greatest and unmatched feats;
When he topped the country charts for a record of fifty weeks.
Eddy and Sally also had a family: Jo Ann and Dickie too,
And bought a Brentwood farm with as many animals as a zoo.
Eddy and his Tennessee Plowboys appeared throughout the USA,
And reluctantly Eddy made the choice to leave the Opry one day.
In every city and town Eddy was a household name,
Then along came television to add to his fame.
Thanks to Uncle Miltie, Eddy was the first country star to appear on TV;
And filling in for Perry Como and Dinah Shore added to his popularity.
Along with fame and stardom came a chance for Hollywood roles,
And an endless string of country hits produced by Steve Sholes.
Eddy was smashing down barriers to the pop music sphere,
His smooth, velvet-like voice appealed to every ear.
He was a pioneer of sorts in the country music industry
Outselling all the other country artists in the 1940’s.
Whatever Eddy sang, it was heaven to the ear,
A pop artist’s hit or a song from yesteryear.
Reflect back once again to those songs of years ago
“The Prisoner’s Song,” “Molly Darling,” I Really Don’t Want to Know.”
Country fans soon regarded Eddy Arnold as no other—
A man who sang songs from love ballads to songs of Mother.
He sang hymns so softly that would often make you sigh
And songs of home and soil that would bring a tear to your eye.
I think that is the reason why his fans value Eddy so much;
He can reach down into your soul and give your heart a touch.
No other artist can sing with so much sincerity:
Folk, pop, or country songs—oh what versatility!
When you hear a heartfelt story in an Eddy Arnold song,
Your heart fills with emotion as you softly hum along,
Or the lovesick song of a heart spurned by a love,
Or an old-fashioned hymn of inspiration from above.
Eddy scored another country first on network TV
With his own “Eddy Arnold Time” on CBS and ABC.
But soon Eddy parted ways with his manager Colonel Parker,
As Eddy looked for other ways to sing a country marker.
With the strings of Hugo Winterhalter instead of a fiddle,
Eddy’s country-style began to venture to the middle.
From good ole country to a mellow, baritone sound,
Eddy Arnold and his guitar—a new style was found!
Then came the days of rock and roll, Elvis and the Platters,
And suddenly industry survival was the only thing that mattered.
So Eddy turned to ballads, theme albums, doing country fairs,
Recording twelve inch LPs of past and present wares.
Eddy could now spend more time with his family on the farm,
Enjoying his growing children and guiding them from harm.
Good fortune smiled on Eddy when Jerry Purcell he found
And slipped on a tux and tie to establish the Nashville Sound.
Eddy, Jim Reeves, and Chet Atkins were RCA’s big three,
Country music, thanks to Eddy, had made a big recovery.
Soon Eddy’s world was as large as ever with record-breaking crowds;
His mellow love songs brought to his fans sunshine through the clouds.
When he entered the Country Hall of Fame in ‘66, his fans gave a cheer,
And again in ‘67 when chosen country’s first “Entertainer of the Year.”
Can’t you still hear Eddy sing “I Love How You Love Me,”
“Make the World Go Away,” and “The Last Word in Lonesome Is Me.”
Ah, my friend, those songs and memories will never die
As long as there is life and breath in you and I.
Soon Governor Frank Clement suggested to his friend Eddy,
“You could be the next Governor of the state of Tennessee!”
But Eddy wasn’t ready for politics despite his popularity,
His first love was his music and performing for people like you and me.
In 1971 fate dealt Eddy and Sally a cruel blow
when their beloved son Dick by an accident was laid low.
Eddy and Sally by his bed watched and prayed both night and day,
When thanks to God, Dick awoke and rallied back quite a way.
When trials come our way and dark clouds on the horizon appear;
It’s such a prettier world today when Eddy’s songs we hear.
When your heart is “as lonely as a heart can be lonely,”
Listening to Eddy’s voice is a comforting place to be.
If you could question Eddy’s fans, each and every one;
They’d say that he’s their nightingale from dawn to setting sun.
Eddy sang for six decades and charted hits in every one,
No other country artist had so many songs climb to number one.
His recording career might best be highlighted by “The Cattle Call” at times,
Beginning in ‘44, then ‘49 and ‘55, to his duet with LeAnn Rimes.
He sold more than 85 million records, albums, and CDs,
And ended up as the second-leading singer in country music history.
And then in Las Vegas in the spring of 1999,
Eddy Arnold hung up his guitar after performing for the last time.
Now there are other important things about Eddy to say:
He is a man who is devoted to his staff and family;
He is a man whose life reflects more than fortune and fame;
Wholesome values and caring are also part of this man’s name.
He is a man who truly lives by Life’s golden rules,
"Who treats those around him as precious rare jewels."
He is a man who keeps his word, like Roy Wiggins said for sure,
“Eddy’s word is worth more than someone else’s signature.”
So here’s to you Eddy, as you celebrate number 84,
“May the Good Lord Bless and Keep You” for many, many more!
We are so proud of you and value your special touch;
Thank you for all the memories—thank you very much!