Faron Young and Marty Robbins newsletter — 26 August 2009


The biggest hit of Marty’s lifetime career, “Singing the Blues” would have been even bigger if not sabotaged by Columbia Records, his own record company. Mitch Miller, head of Artists and Repertory for Columbia in New York City, chose Guy Mitchell to record a cover version of the song. Instead of Marty’s hit crossing over to popular music stations, Mitchell’s cover captured most of that airplay and spent nine weeks at number one on the pop charts. With pop music always attracting a larger audience than country music did, Mitchell sold approximately two million copies to Marty’s half a million. No one can know how much of a smash “Singing the Blues” would have been if Columbia had marketed Marty to both audiences, instead of using the song to rejuvenate Mitchell’s faltering career. And then Columbia did it again. Marty’s recording of “Knee Deep In the Blues” was released in December 1956 while “Singing the Blues” held a lock on the number one spot. It climbed to number three in the spring of 1957, and Mitchell covered it for a number sixteen pop hit.

In response to a question in the last newsletter, Carolyn Babin writes, “My Mother said ‘it’s a great life if you don’t weaken’ as far back as I can remember and I STILL say it often.”

Barry Basden says, “I do think it was a WWII slogan. I remember my father saying it a lot from the time I was very young. He spent the war bussing military folks between Dallas and Houston and talked to them a lot. The only part I heard from him was ‘It’s a great life if you don’t weaken.’ He said it when he was frustrated about something, as I imagine soldiers might.”

Linda Elliott Clark checks in to say, “Nice newsletter, Diane. I enjoy reading the comments from your other addressees. I’m glad to see that there are still many fans out there from this great era in country music. Thanks, again, for all the hard work you put into this.”

A reader named Terry asks, “Do you know if Buffalo Gun is out on DVD and where I can get it?”
Response: No, I don’t know. I’m trying to find The Badge of Marshal Brennan, myself.

Kelly Henkins writes, “Wanted to let you know I found a Faron Young CD at Wal-Mart last night. It is called Faron Young – Country Stars and Stripes. It is released by a company out of Quebec called Direct Source.”

Randy Yerigan, an ol’ Navy buddy, says, “I will admit I’m more of a Led Zeppelin person, but the fans you have following your work is impressive. It’s really fun to read comments from your readers. They really love you/and the subjects, and are happy to belong.  Great job. You make a lot of people happy.”

Thanks to Everett Corbin for the box of magazines and memorabilia he sent me last week. I’m looking forward to reading it all.

Sherwin Linton reminisces: “I met Marty and visited briefly with him many times over the years and he was always very warm and friendly, always giving me the impression that he was as interested in me as much as I was in talking with him. In 1969 when I was recording for Hickory Records and writing for Acuff-Rose I was with an Acuff-Rose talent agent, Bob Sparrow, at a restaurant on Franklin Road in Nashville and as we were leaving there in the early evening a lovely lady with her son walked out with us. We exchanged some small talk and then she asked where I was from. I said South Dakota/Minnesota, and she asked what brought me to Nashville. I told her I was a musician and was doing a recording session. She said ‘Oh yes, well a lot of people come here for that, my husband is in the same business.’ I asked who he was and she said, ‘My husband’s name is Marty Robbins and my name is Marizona and this is our son Ronny.’ Believe me, I was flabbergasted, with the way she had addressed all of this, instead of just saying ‘I am Marty Robbins wife.’ We visited a little more and I consider it to be a serendipitous moment for me, as it was the only time I got to meet her.”

I’ve joined the Twitter crowd and am trying to figure out the system. Fellow twitterers can find me at http://twitter.com/faronmarty or @faronmarty. I haven’t done much exploring yet. Following people and reading and writing notes could become a full-time job. It’s addictive. I already don’t spend enough time on Facebook or MySpace or LinkedIn, and now I’ve added one more. So I’ve been reading what Brad Paisley and Kyle Petty are doing.

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