Portrait of an American Singer

Portrait of an American Singer

by Tennessee Ernie FordTennessee Ernie Ford

CD(German Import)

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Tennessee Ernie Ford was one of the brightest stars of the '50s, skillfully walking the line between country and pop, his resonant voice feeling equally at home with country boogie and big-band crooning. Over the years, his smoothness obscured his roots in Bristol, Tennessee, a city often pegged as one of the birthplaces of modern country music, but the "Tennessee" in Ernie Ford's stage name wasn't a mere affectation. He sounded country, particularly in the years after WWII and before rock & roll, and his gift was how he read country to a pop audience and pop to a country audience. It's what helped turn him into a screen star -- he had cameos on film and then, beginning in 1956, he hosted a television variety show that ran nearly a decade -- and also something of a pivotal figure. At a time when hillbilly phrasing wasn't much heard in pop, Ford could seem exotic to the mainstream. Certainly that was the case with two of his biggest hits, the career-making 1949 single "Mule Train" and "Sixteen Tons," the latter arriving in 1955, just before rock & roll exploded, and it caught the attention of plenty of early rockers, along with listeners who loved the elegance of his phrasing. As Portrait of an American Singer -- a 2015 Bear Family box set containing all the non-gospel recordings Ford made between 1949-1960; 154 tracks in all, only two of which are unreleased ("Slow Down," "Small World") but there is a host of rarities -- makes clear, Ford followed a softer path in the wake of "Sixteen Tons," gradually working his way toward the opulent strings that close this collection, but in the years prior to that smash he specialized in corking country boogie and Western swing, records that hopped so hard they suggested the rhythms of rock & roll. Even here, Ford's immaculate phrasing helped push him in the direction of Hollywood: although he never ran from his Southern roots, he possessed no twang in his voice, a conscious decision that meant he sounded at home in front of big bands or singing cowboy tunes. Some of that versatility now seems a bit antiquated. Over the course of this five-disc box, the lush productions where Ford stands out against depthless strings and sweetened backing voices now seem old-fashioned, but they're instructive in illustrating just how far this country boy from Bristol crossed over and they're surrounded by records that still sound dynamic because they either swing to their own hillbilly rhythm or because they hit a clever hybrid of backwoods boogie and Hollywood sophistication. These records may have been forgotten but their influence has certainly been felt -- Elvis Presley adopted elements of Tennessee's croon, as did Nick Lowe many decades later; the Everly Brothers and Johnny Cash both paid debt to Ford; plenty of baby boomers cite "Sixteen Tons" as a pivotal record -- and by putting this music back into circulation, the thorough Portrait of an American Singer helps restore Tennessee Ernie Ford's reputation as an American roots pop pioneer.

Product Details

Release Date: 07/14/2015
Label: Bear Family
UPC: 5397102173325
catalogNumber: 2887809
Rank: 90557


Disc 1

  1. Midgie
  2. I've Got the Milk 'Em in the Morning Blues
  3. Tennessee Border
  4. Philadelphia Lawyer
  5. Country Junction
  6. Smokey Mountain Boogie
  7. You'll Find Her Name Written There
  8. Put Your Arms Around Me
  9. Anticipation Blues
  10. Blues Stay Away From Me
  11. Philosophy
  12. Mule Train
  13. The Donkey Serenade
  14. The Cry of the Wild Goose
  15. My Hobby
  16. I've Got the Feed 'Em in the Mornin' (Change 'Em) Feed 'Em in the Eveni
  17. Slow Down
  18. I'll Never Be Free
  19. Ain't Nobody's Business But My Own
  20. The Lord's Lariat
  21. What This Country Needs (Is a Good Old Fashioned Talk With the Lord)
  22. Bright Lights and Blonde Haired Women
  23. I Ain't Gona Let It Happen No More
  24. The Shotgun Boogie
  25. The Blue Canadian Rockies
  26. It's The Talk of the Town
  27. Cincinnati Dancing Pig
  28. Leetle Juan Pedro
  29. Tailor Made Woman
  30. Stack-O-Lee
  31. I'm a Bad Man
  32. You Can Tell a Texan Everytime
  33. The Strange Little Girl
  34. Kentucky Waltz

Disc 2

  1. She's My Baby
  2. Mister and Mississippi
  3. Christmas Dinner
  4. A Rootin' Tootin' Santa Claus
  5. Oceans of Tears
  6. You're My Sugar
  7. Rock City Boogie
  8. Streamlined Cannonball
  9. Kissin' Bug Boogie
  10. Woman Is a Five Letter Word
  11. Hey, Good Lookin'
  12. Cool, Cool Kisses
  13. Hambone
  14. The Gandy Dancer's Ball
  15. Everybody's Got a Girl But Me
  16. Fatback, Louisiana, USA
  17. Snow Shoe Thompson
  18. I'm Hog Tied Over You
  19. False Hearted Girl
  20. Tennessee Local
  21. Blackberry Boogie
  22. I Don't Know
  23. Sweet Temptation
  24. Don't Courtin' in a Hot Rod
  25. We're a' Growin' Up
  26. Hey! Mr Cotton Picker
  27. Three Things (A Man Should Do)
  28. Celebratin'
  29. Kiss Me Big

Disc 3

  1. Catfish Boogie
  2. This Must Be the Place!
  3. The Honeymoon's Over
  4. There Is Beauty in Everything
  5. Somebody Bigger Than You and I
  6. Have You Seen Her
  7. Give Me Your Word
  8. River of No Return
  9. Eins, Zwei, Drei
  10. Losing You
  11. The Ballad of Davy Crockett
  12. Farewell
  13. The Death Hug/The Ballad of Davy Crockett/A Sensible Varmint
  14. Crockett's Opinion of a Thunderstorm/Farewell
  15. I Am a Pilgrim
  16. His Hands
  17. Sixteen Tons
  18. You Don't Have to Be a Baby to Cry
  19. Nine Pound Hammer
  20. Trouble in Mind
  21. That's All
  22. John Henry
  23. Chicken Road
  24. Dark as a Dungeon
  25. I Gave My Love a Cherry
  26. Gaily The Troubadour
  27. The Rovin' Gambler
  28. The Last Letter
  29. Who Will Shoe Your Pretty Little Feet

Disc 4

  1. In the Pines
  2. The Rock, Roll Boogie
  3. Call Me Darlin', Call Me Sweetheart, Call Me Dear
  4. First Born
  5. One Suit
  6. The Watermelon Song
  7. The Lonely Man
  8. Shotgun Boogie
  9. Ain't Nobody's Business Taylor But My Own
  10. I Ain't Gonna Let It Happen No More
  11. In The Middle of an Island
  12. Ivy League
  13. Down Deep
  14. Bless Your Pea Pickin' Heart
  15. A-Sleepin' at the Foot of the Bed
  16. Love Makes the World Go Round
  17. Sunday Barbecue
  18. Glad Rags
  19. Toys for Tots
  20. Toys for Tots

Disc 5

  1. Browns Ferry Blues
  2. Black Is the Color of My True Love's Hair
  3. My Grandfather's Clock
  4. Code of the Mountains
  5. Small World
  6. Left My Gal in the Mountains
  7. Blackeyed Susie
  8. Pretty Little Pink
  9. Look Down (That Lonesome Road)
  10. Love Is the Only Thing
  11. Darby's Ram
  12. Freight Train Blues
  13. Barbara Allen
  14. Twenty One Years
  15. Old Blue
  16. The Night Herding Song
  17. Sunny Side of Heaven
  18. Little Klinker
  19. Jingle - The Brownie
  20. Jealous Heart
  21. I Forgot More Than You'll Ever Know
  22. I Really Don't Want To Know
  23. Molly Darling
  24. Don't Rob Another Man's Castle
  25. I Can't Help It
  26. Take Me in Your Arms and Hold Me
  27. I Gotta Have My Baby Back
  28. Bouquet of Roses
  29. Cold, Cold Heart
  30. I Love You So Much It Hurts
  31. Half as Much

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