17 May 2006

The University of Illinois Press will publish my biography of Faron Young in the summer of 2007. The book’s new title is “Live Fast, Love Hard: The Faron Young Story.” Please forward this weekly newsletter to anyone who might be interested in reading it, and send an e-mail to altruria@verizon.net if you have questions/comments about Faron. Thanks to those who helped me find Penny DeHaven. I’m still looking for publication-quality photos to put in the book.

FARON YOUNG, FORTY-FIVE YEARS AGO: “Hello Walls” was the number one country song in the nation in May 1961. It stayed at the top of the Billboard chart for nine weeks and also charted number one with The Cash Box. Willie Nelson said in his autobiography that he and another songwriter were working in a sound studio–a converted garage with one window and no telephone. When his partner left to take a call, Willie sat alone with his guitar and started talking to the walls. He grabbed a piece of cardboard and wrote the words “Hello Walls” on it. Faron recorded two Willie Nelson songs in January 1961, with “Congratulations” released as the flip side of “Hello Walls.” Ken Nelson usually receives credit for the session, but while he produced all of Faron’s Capitol records to this point, studio pianist Marvin Hughes was the actual producer. According to Faron, the studio musicians liked “Congratulations” and made fun of “Hello Walls,” with comments such as.”Hello, guitar. Hello there, microphone. Hello, chair.”He said, “Everybody was just dyin’ laughin’ cuz they thought this song was so stupid…. I said that’s the reason that song’s gonna be a hit, because it sticks in your mind.” Recalling the arguments over which song would be the bigger hit, Faron later said, “And for once in my big mouth life I was right.”

FARON YOUNG, NINETEEN YEARS AGO: The last time I saw Faron and the Deputies in concert was at an outdoor show in Chesapeake, Virginia, on May 22, 1987. My photos include one of Faron saluting when he saw me standing in front of the stage, and another of George Owens singing “Diane, If You’re Going To Do Him Wrong Again.” The show must have been in conjunction with the Shine Circus, because one poster was pasted in front of Cal Sharp’s steel guitar and another on the other side of the stage. Ernie Reed, Richard Bass Barish, and Cootie Wayne Hunley rounded out the Deputies at that time. Faron invited me to ride along on the bus up the coast to their New Jersey show. I regretfully declined. My sister and family were flying in to Norfolk from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the next day. We were taking leave from our U.S. Navy jobs and driving to South Dakota for my little brother’s high school graduation.

INTERVIEW: I did a telephone interview with Johnny Western and then met him in 2002 when he came to the Santa Clarita Cowboy Poetry Festival while I lived in Los Angeles. He had lived in LA during the early 1960s when Faron often toured there. He told me Faron called him one day and said, “Guess what I did!”
“What’d you do?”
“I recorded your song.”
Faron had put “Paladin” on the album titled “Faron Young Aims at the West.” Johnny told me, “I was just tickled pink that they took my recording, which had the French horns, and duplicated that sound with guitars and fuzz tone…. It was always the high point of anybody else recording anything of mine. It holds up so well to this day. He was just singing great, and it’s something I’m very proud of.” Last summer I visited relatives in Kansas and was able to listen to Johnny playing great music on KFDI Radio in Wichita.

Charlotte Sutton sends this update on her husband, Leon: “His doctor has promised a new procedure that is said to be very good for the arthritis, we are going Thursday the 18th for his first treatment, please ask every one to keep him in prayer that this will work for him. it is a long treatment (2 hours) and very expensive but we also have been told that his insurance will cover 100 % of it. Thank God….He then has to go back in 2 weeks for another then 4 weeks later, after that if it works for him he goes every 8 weeks for more treatments. We now can see the light at the end of a long tunnel. Thanks to all who have called and prayed for us.”

WEB SITE: Thanks to Tom Lipscombe for providing the following link for Faron photos: http://images.google.ca/images?q=faron-young&svnum=10&hl=en&lr=&safe=off&filter=0. Tom also prepared a composite that he features on the ATL Forum @ URL: http://pub3.bravenet.com/forum/243824250/fetch/599767/.

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