Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by alphanguy, Jan 29, 2016.
When you really analyze it, this is one helluva a violent song, isn't it?
"Tom Dooley" was based on a real event: the 1866 murder of a woman named Laura Foster, allegedly by a man named Tom Dula (whose last name was pronounced as if spelled "Dooley"). A local poet named Thomas Land wrote the poem that became the song. The first known recording was in 1929 for Victor; Frank Warner then recorded it for Elektra in 1952, which is where the Kingston Trio found it.
The success of "Tom Dooley " started a folk-music boom in the United States. The Kingstons themselves became one of America's most popular artists; their first five studio albums hit #1 on the chart, and during much of November and December 1959, they had four albums in the top 10 simultaneously, a feat unmatched in all the time since. Combined with Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole, the Kingston Trio helped Capitol Records become the #1 pop-music album label in the States.
Hundreds of folk groups formed around the country, including, among many others, the Chad Mitchell Trio and the Brothers Four. Early on, they did either traditional folk songs or more innocuous recent compositions, and they generally sold more albums than singles. That would change in 1962 with the advent of Peter, Paul and Mary, whose first hit single was a song co-written by Pete Seeger, "If I Had a Hammer." Seeger had been blacklisted during the Red Scare, and it was the first time one of his songs had been on the radio in a decade, since the Weavers had been unceremoniously dropped by Decca in 1952. (A year earlier, the Kingstons had recorded another Seeger co-composition, "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?") Solo folk singers, most notably Bob Dylan, emerged in 1962 as well; folk music became such a fad that ABC started a folk-music TV show called Hootenanny and song parodist Allan Sherman called his first album My Son, the Folk Singer.
And it pretty much all started with "Tom Dooley."
I am really enjoying this thread - these hits were all before my time (born '68), so I find the history fascinating. I am well familiar with almost all of these songs, this thread is just giving them "context".
Like Conway Twitty’s It’s Only Make Believe, The Kingston Trio’s Tom Dooley may not have enjoyed national popularity had it not been for a disc jockey, in this case actually two DJs (Paul Coburn and Bill Terry) at KLUB in Salt Lake City, Utah. They started playing Tom Dooley and two other cuts (Coplas and Three Jolly Coachmen [also the B-side to Scarlet Ribbons, the group’s first Capitol single release in May 1958]) from the trio’s first Capitol album which was released in early June 1958.
Listener response was tremendous as seen in this KLUB music survey from August 24, 1958 (before Tom Dooley was released as a single by Capitol):
The popularity of Tom Dooley on Salt Lake City radio prompted Capitol to consider releasing the song as a single, which the label eventually did in September 1958. The rest is history . . .
To supplement tim neely's excellent post, there’s a good discussion of the history of The Kingston Trio’s Tom Dooley and its importance to the modern folk movement here:
There’s also an interesting video about the history of the song including an interview with original trio member Bob Shane:
First phonograph recording of Tom Dooley by G.B. Grayson and Henry Whitter for the Victor label (recorded in Memphis, Tennessee in 1929):
I didn't grow up hearing The Kingston Trio (slightly before my time on earth), but I like this song today.
Tons of fascinating history with this song, much of which I was unaware of. And how amazing that it touched off a whole folk movement that would last for 7-8 years.
Part of the Grayson family history...
While G.B.'s family was poor, the Graysons were a fairly prominent family in the mountains along the northern Tennessee-North Carolina border. G.B.'s uncle, James Grayson (1833–1901), was a Union Army officer who helped organize an anti-Confederate uprising in Carter County, Tennessee at the outbreak of the American Civil War and later aided in the capture of legendary North Carolina fugitive Tom Dula.
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All within two to five counties from where this is typed.
Paying attention now, I see that the Grayson story is recounted in this page.
"Tom Dula" by Neil Young and Crazy Horse, from Americana
It merits attention here that in real time, the late 50s and early 60s, some musicians and critics considered the Kingston Trio commercial and inauthentic folk singers.
"Sing Out! editor Irwin Silber referred to 'the sallow slickness of the Kingston Trio' and in an article in the spring 1959 issue Ron Radosh said that the Trio brought 'good folk music to the level of the worst in Tin Pan Alley' and referred to them as 'prostitutes of the art who gain their status as folk artists because they use guitars and banjos.' Following the Trio's performance at the premier Newport Folk Festival in 1959, folk music critic Mark Morris wrote: 'What connection these frenetic tinselly showmen have with a folk festival eludes me... except that it is mainly folk songs that they choose to vulgarize.'"
I shudder to think what his opinion of the New Christy Minstrels would have been.
A lot of the critical hostility was politically based. The Kingston Trio aimed for mainstream success, and they didn't take controversial stands on the issues of the day. This, combined with their popularity, brought a lot of rancor.
I don't really know what the Kingston Trio were supposed to have done that was so inauthentic. They didn't employ drum solos or cutsey kiddie choruses. They didn't even go electric, which of course blew their minds a few years later with Mr. Dylan.
Or the The New Main Street Singers.
I Love 'Tom Dooley" !!
Next up is "To Know Him Is To Love Him" by the Teddy Bears.... #1 from December 1- December 21, 1958. Selling over 2 1/2 million copies.
As we all know, this is Phil Spector's first hit... (and biggest?) Annette Kleinbard's vocal was sweet, clear and beautiful.... and I can honestly say, IMO.... that this song boasts the most beautiful bridge in pop music history. I never get tired of hearing it. Peter and Gordon also had a version go to # 24 in 1965. Gordon said that he had a fight with Phil Spector at a Hollywood party before he even knew who he was, and this song was his way of getting back at him, to outdo his "wall of sound".
The title of the song comes from the epitaph on the gravestone of Phil Spector's father.
The song was a regular part of the Beatles' repertoire in the early years; they changed it to "To Know Her Is to Love Her."
It was also the biggest hit in the history of Dore Records, which was still releasing new singles into the 1980s.
Man, I miss songs like this. I know the younguns think these old tunes are corny and boring and I admit to feeling the same about my mom's love for The Four Aces and Patti Page (whom I now too love) back in the day. The difference is most current songs don't hold a candle to the melodies of yore and I'll wager will not be considered standards 50 years from now. I cherish these memories.
I think you're right about that and I think there's a reason, too -- the early rockers of the 50s and then through the 60s were brought up hearing music other than rock. There might have been 40s and earlier pop, classical, jazz, or blues playing in their homes. Those people grew up with a much wider variety of music in their ears IMO.
To Know Him, Is To Love Him was recorded in one or two takes (I have read conflicting accounts; group member Annette Kleinbard, aka Carol Connors, recalls it as one) at the famous Gold Star Studio in Hollywood by the great recording engineer Stan Ross with noted session musician Sandy Nelson on drums (he would play on another Billboard #1 hit later).
Billboard introduced The Teddy Bears to disc jockeys and radio program directors through this artist bio in the October 20, 1958 issue:
I'd say their career paths changed a bit after the success of To Know Him, Is To Love Him!
Annette Kleinbard later changed her name to Carol Connors and co-wrote a song that reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 almost 20 years later: Gonna Fly Now (Theme from “Rocky”). I’m mentioning this little bit of trivia now because I may not remember it, or may not be here, by the time this thread reaches 1977!
The late Marshall Leib went on to perform with several other groups including the Hollywood Argyles before getting involved in the business side of the record and movie industry.
As for Phil Spector . . . well . . . he, of course, became a world famous record producer . . . and, tragically, he did get to spend some time in court, but not as a reporter!
The Dore record label supplied To Know Him, Is To Love Him to radio stations across the country in early August 1958. The song picked up some local radio airplay in the group’s home city of Los Angeles, particularly on KDAY, because as Carol Connors recalls “probably everyone from our high school (Fairfax) was calling the station”. However, the song failed to catch on elsewhere until a disc jockey in Fargo, North Dakota and then another in Minneapolis, Minnesota started giving it airplay in September. Here’s a survey for station WLOL in Minneapolis-St. Paul from September 21, 1958 (one day before To Know Him, Is To Love Him entered the Billboard Hot 100):
Soon an order came in to the Dore offices from a Minneapolis distributor for 18,000 copies of the single. Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, Chuck Blore’s freshly reformatted Channel 98 Color Radio (KFWB) started to play To Know Him, Is To Love Him in heavy rotation. Dick Clark featured the song on American Bandstand on October 29, radio airplay and sales slowly picked up nationwide, and the song started its climb to the top of the Billboard charts. [Note: the Carol Connors quote is from the booklet notes in the Ace CD The Golden Age of American Rock ‘n’ Roll Volume 3 by Rob Finnis]
I totally agree with this assessment. Ecclecticism breeds creativity.
He committed suicide.
Separate names with a comma.