By Bill Winstead
One of the most interesting sidenotes to the long,
distinguished career of Eddy Arnold is
that no books were written about the legendary singer for over half a century. Amazingly
in 1997 three publications were released within a matter of months. Two biographies “I'll
hold You in My Heart” by Don Cusic and Michael Streissguth’s “Eddy Arnold: Pioneer of
the Nashville Sound,” were sandwiched around the meticulously detailed “Eddy Arnold
Discography: 1944-1996” by Mike Freda. Freda's effort is a testimony to the value of
patience and tenacity. The project to chronicle Eddy Arnold recordings covered 22 years
from inception to publication.
Freda, a 47 year old New Jersey native, grew up in
a family addicted to country music. He
can't remember exactly when he first heard Eddy Arnold, but he has fond memories of
hits like “Make The World Go Away” and “I Want To Go With You.”
In 1974 he attended his first Eddy Arnold concert.
He was so impressed with Eddy
Arnold's performance and stage presence that he has been an ardent fan ever since.
"Everything about Eddy Arnold on stage was fabulous.
He is so at ease. He captivates an
audience not just with his voice but with his charm. I was also impressed with the patience
he showed with his fans while signing autographs."
During the following year after that first Eddy Arnold
concert, Mike decided that he
would like to have every record that Eddy Arnold made. The only way to accomplish this
was to determine what the records were and this could only be done by reviewing
recording session sheets. This led to the compiling of an exhaustive list of every Eddy
Arnold visit to a recording studio. He soon found out it would be a tedious task, indeed
Freda discovered that some songs were recorded two, three, four, even five times since
the first session in 1944 and that there were over 100 songs that were recorded and never
released on record. At this point, the project included not only obtaining these classic
recordings but compiling a complete discography of Eddy Arnold worthy enough to be
presented to him. To make the work manageable, Freda decided to concentrate on only
commercially released recordings in the USA.
Contacting RCA in New York, Mike spent hour after hour
going over recording sheets.
He wanted every recording date to be listed in minute detail. While in Nashville, he did
valuable research at the Country Music Association library located in the Country Music
Hall of Fame building.
"The biggest obstacle" he revealed, " was making sure
that I did not miss any recordings."
Eddy Arnold had been making hit records for thirty years before Freda started his
research. The format of the book lists every recording session between 1944 and 1996, the
songs recorded, the versions, master and RCA catalog numbers and the formats they
appear on from 78 rpm single and album sets, through 45 rpm single, sets and extended
plays to 10" and 12" albums as well as CDs. Included are the location as well as the
starting and ending times of each session. A listing of each category with release dates
and appendixes for various collections, selected special products, recorded songs never
released and miscellaneous items comprise the format of the book.
Freda was elated when the Bear Family released
a five CD package of Eddy Arnold 's first
120 recordings. Aware that Eddy Arnold would rather be remembered for his later
recordings, Freda still believes those early songs are important, too.
"The early records show how Eddy Arnold matured as
an artist and just got better and
Mike Freda is also a fan of the legendary Al Jolson
who appeared in the first talking
picture in 1927.
"I saw the movie The Jolson Story several times, and I was hooked."
One of Freda’s prize possessions is a picture of Eddy
Arnold and Al Jolson taken in
Hollywood while Eddy was performing in one of his two movies, the photograph
appeared on the cover of the December, 1949 issue of Billboard magazine, three years
before Freda was born.
Incidentally, Eddy Arnold sang an Al Jolson composition,
" The Nearest Thing To
Heaven," a father's tribute to his baby boy in the movie "Feudin’ Rhythm."
Mike Freda's favorite Eddy Arnold songs include "You
Don't Know Me", "This Ain't
Tennessee" and "The Last of the Love Song Singers.”
"The Last of the Love Song Singers" is so beautiful
that it should have been released as a
Mike hopes that Eddy Arnold's upcoming album is properly promoted.
"I'm sure that the album will be a hit if it is promoted
so Eddy Arnold fans will know
Mike likes the just released "I Walk Alone," backed
by "Cattle Call" Eddy Arnold’s
signature song duet with LeAnn Rimes and shares the joy of all Eddy Arnold fans
celebrating the fact that this release has put Eddy on the charts for his sixth and seventh
Anyone who checks Mike Freda's book will learn that
Eddy Arnold's original recording of
"I Walk Alone" is Eddy's fourth version of the song that was originally recorded during
his second recording session on July 9, 1945. "Cattle Call" is the sixth version of the song
that was part of Eddy's very first recording session back on December 4, 1944, a mere 55
Section I list every recording date that Eddy Arnold had from 1944 through 1996. Included are the dates, locations and times of the sessions, the producer with musicians and vocalists, the title of songs recorded, author of the song, the master number, format that each song originally appeared on (78 rpm single, album, 45 rpm single, album, extended play, 10" and 12" long play and cd) plus all the formats that each song was commercially released on listing the record company, catalog number and format of each recording. If a song was recorded more than once, the version of each recording is also given. A note is also made of songs that were never released.
Sections II, III, IV and V contain the single releases, extended play releases, 10" long play releases and 12"long play releases respectively. Each section contains the number of releases in each section, the songs contained on the release, the catalog number, recording company, date of the recording session, version and date of release (for all sections except for the single releases).
The appendixes contain songs that were contained on various collections, selected special products and songs that were recorded and never released along with their recording dates.
The index includes all songs that were recorded (released and unreleased), in alphabetical order.