Wednesday, December 7, 2011

New Oldies - Tennessee Toddy by Marty Robbins

You know Marty Robbins, the multi-talented Country and Western singer who liked to do "story" songs like his big hit, El Paso, in 1960. He was born Martin David Robinson in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale in 1925. He had a rough childhood. His dad was an alcoholic who never held a steady job. His parents were divorced when he was only 12 years old, but not until they'd had ten kids. He joined the Navy when he was 17 and ended up in the Pacific during World War II. That's where he learned to play guitar and write songs. His Pacific travels also introduced him to Hawaiian music, which he would love for the rest of his life.

After the war, he returned to Phoenix where he hosted a Country music TV show. Little Jimmy Dickens made a guest appearance on his show, and then helped Marty get a recording contract with Columbia. He became a regular on the Grand Ole Opry shows in Nashville.

He married 18-year old Marizona Baldwin in 1948 and had two children, Ron and Janet, who had her own singing career. He wrote a song about Marizona called My Woman My Woman My Wife, which became one of his many hits, and won him a Grammy for the Best Country Song of 1970.

Marty also loved to drive race cars, and was a big fan of Dodge Chargers. In fact, he drove in 35 NASCAR races, including the Daytona 500 in 1973. He even drove the pace car in the 1967 Indy 500 race.

He even ventured into acting, playing himself in a racing movie, Hell On Wheels, in 1967, and then a musician in Honkytonk Man, the Clint Eastwood movie from 1982. He never got to watch himself in that film, however. He died of complications from heart surgery on December 8, 1982, exactly 29 years ago tomorrow. His widow passed away in 2001.

Let's dial the clock back a few years, though. Marty's first Country hit was a song called I'll Go It Alone from 1952, which went right to number one on the Country charts. His first pop hit, Singing The Blues, made it to #17 on the Billboard Hot 100. A year later, he'd have a #2 pop hit with the classic, A White Sport Coat.

This song, Tennessee Toddy, never made it on any of the charts. In fact, neither did the flip side, Mean Mama Blues. To put things in perspective, Elvis Presley had just been signed by RCA at this time, after recording his five singles on Sun Records in 1954 and 1955.

I think this is a great rockabilly song with some really clever lyrics. Give it a listen and you'll see what I mean. Here's Tennessee Toddy by Marty Robbins on Columbia 21477 from 1956.

I could keep posting great uncharted music like this for many years and never run out of material. You can hear them all on MusicMaster Oldies! Check it out sometime. I hope you like what you hear.

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