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April 27

Why today? An entire three-hour session was devoted to cutting this folk-country classic, 51 years ago today.

About the record: RCA Victor 47-7542, recorded April 27, 1959, at the label’s studio (not yet known as RCA Studio B) in Nashville. Released in June of that year, ultimately reaching No. 5 on Billboard‘s country chart and entering the Top 50 on the pop chart. Also appeared on the album Thereby Hangs A Tale, RCA Victor LSP/LPM-2036, released October 1959.

“Tennessee Stud” was the first song recorded for Eddy Arnold’s collection of folk tales, adding the former “Tennessee Plowboy” to the list of country and pop artists riding that wave in the late ’50s. The song’s composer was Arkansas teacher Jimmy Driftwood, who had also penned Johnny Horton’s crossover smash “Battle of New Orleans.”  I’m probably not the only one who remembers Doc Watson’s announcement “Jimmy Driftwood wrote this thing,” before launching into a wonderful version on the 1972 album Will The Circle Be Unbroken. I heard that one years before I heard Arnold’s, but both are among my favorites.

Three guitarists graced the session: Chet Atkins, Ray Edenton and John D. Loudermilk. If I had to guess, I’d say Edenton’s licks are the ones that stand out, with Chet and John D. providing rhythm. (My expert readers will correct me if I’m wrong!) Steel guitar legend Jerry Byrd played the bass, with Buddy Harman and Doug Kirkham on drums and “clip-clop.” (Don’t know which is which.)

Arnold is in fine voice, on a great arrangement of an evocative number. That’s as it should be. After all, there never was a … HOSS … like the Tennessee stud.

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