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Dec. 4: Sixty-five years ago today, the microphones at WSM Radio’s studios captured history when Eddy Arnold cut this, the last of four songs that kicked off his long career with RCA Victor. When the final notes stopped ringing, it brought to a close the first modern major label recording session in Nashville. As the world knows, it wouldn’t be the last.

Richard Edward Arnold had come to fame as a singer in Pee Wee King’s Golden West Cowboys. He struck out on his own in late 1942 as Eddy Arnold, the Tennessee Plowboy. The Dec. 4, 1944, session was the first under his contract signed earlier that year with RCA. “Each Minute Seems A Million Years,” the A-side of Arnold’s second single, was his first Top 10 hit. It would be nine years before one of his records failed to reach that level.

Listeners who know only the countrypolitan Eddy Arnold of the 1960s and beyond might not recognize the style he exhibits here. This is wonderful hillbilly music, albeit with vocals smoother than most, featuring Little Roy Wiggins and his “ting-a-ling” steel guitar, Butterball Paige on electric lead and Arnold’s own stellar rhythm and runs on acoustic guitar. It’s the sound that made him a big country star, but he had something different in mind. His early 1950s material suggested the coming Nashville Sound era, and by the middle of the next decade he was recording full-blown traditional pop music as lush as could be.

That style, of course, was his ticket to super-duper-stardom. But as good as it is, Mr. Arnold’s memory will have to forgive me for saying I much prefer the ting-a-ling of the Tennessee Plowboy to those tuxedo-clad ’60s and ’70s sounds.

Learn more about Eddy Arnold and his Hall of Fame career here. His amazing performance on the Billboard charts is detailed here. And The Tennessean‘s Peter Cooper wrote this piece for Mix Magazine that gives a good overview of the history of recording in Nashville that really began with that four-song session 65 years ago today.

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