Wednesday, February 22, 2012

An American Country Singer, Gospel Singer and TV Host


'Peace' in Lithuanian

Lithuanian children

and just where the heck is Lithuania?

Thanks to all my Lithuanian readers!

I had this blog all planned out about snow. I had photos and projects and patterns all ready.
I sat down at my computer, and started playing my Tennessee Ernie Ford album "Treasured Hymns" as background music.
I almost always have some kind of music playing when I am at the computer.

An hour later I have youtube addy's for his songs,
Wikipedia history and background....
I guess I am doing a blog on Tennessee Ernie Ford today!

"Dark as a Dungeon"

Merl Travis wrote it, Tennessee Ernie Ford made it a classic!

My parents both really loved his voice, and his music. As far as I can remember, we had his music in our home.
Remember back in the 1960's when gas stations were vying for your business? That was when they would give you records or coupons or little gifts for so many $$ of gas. I still have some of those records with Tennessee Ernie Ford, Julie Andrews and a couple others.  :0)

a photo for LIFE magazine, found at

The Snow Day Blog will have to wait.  I will still have opportunities to blog on a snowy day. When I was teaching school, we had a Snow Day in May!!! Our cars were buried under several feet of snow - and that was before you shoveled down to find your actual car!
and yes, teachers look forward to Snow Days too....

(for those of  you who aren't familiar with the term, when it is a Snow Day the schools all close and no one goes to school- including teachers - due to the hazards of travel in the snow.)

Here is a youtube link to
a Tennessee Ernie Ford's performance as a super-country bumpkin, one of his
3 performances on the I Love Lucy Show.
He became a household name after his I Love Lucy Show shows.

'Y'all Come' at the Chicken Masher

tee hee hee
makes me Ricky fall-on-the-floor funny or what?

Cousin Ernie in the roll-away bed, I Love Lucy Show 1954

He was known as "Cousin Ernie" and called Ricky Ricardo "Cousin Ricky Rickerdo"!
He intentionally spoofed as a hilarious 'country bumpkin'. 
There was a show where Lucy is trying to be
"The Wicked City Woman".
Lucy is swinging her hips, messing up Ernie's hair and rubbing his head, trying to be a Vamp to scare Cousin Ernie to move out of the city (and out of their home!).
His response?
"You got quite a hitch in your get-along", and
"Vamp me some more!"

"Vamp me some more!", I Love Lucy Show

Here's another VERY SHORT clip from the I Love Lucy show:

"Wabash Cannonball"

Tennessee Ernie Ford was born in Bristol, Tennessee as Ernest Jennings Ford in 1919.
After being a radio career announcer, he left and studied classical singing at the
Cincinnati Conservatory of Music in Ohio.

In World War II he was a navigator and  bombardier on a B-29 Superfortress,
flying missions over Japan.
This led to his later involvement with the Confederate Air Force
(now the Commemorative Air Force), a war plane preservation group in Texas.
He was a featured announcer and celebrity guest at the annual
CAF Airshow in Texas from 1976 - 1988.

Fun Fact:
He donated a once-top-secret Norden Bombsight to the B-29 bomber restoration project!
In the late 1970's he recorded the organization's theme song

"Ballad of the Ghost Squadron"

a press release photo, found at

Ford created his personality "Tennessee Ernie Ford", a wild, madcap exaggerated hillbilly,
to set himself apart when he was assigned to do the early morning country music disc jocky program "Bar Nothin' Ranch Time", in San Bernardino, CA.

In 1954 Tennessee Ernie Ford sang the title song to a 20th Century/Fox movie -

"River of No Return"

This was a Western starring Marilyn Monroe and Robert Mitchum.

Fun Fact:
Marilyn hated the part she played as Kay, the saloon girl. She thought it stereo-typed her.
She also regretted agreeing to do all her own stunts after she sprained her ankle.
She went on to do scenes of horse riding, gun fights and a narrow escape from drowning in a white river rafting scene. She had to strum a guitar and sing a couple of songs also, which she was very uncomfortable with.

Robert Mitchum and Marilyn Monroe in "River of No Return"

Here is a short-ish film/song clip from
"The Tennessee Ernie Ford Enterprises Memory Clip Ford Show Archives"
with Johnny Cash.

Tennessee Ernie Ford released almost 50 country singles in the early 1950's,
several made 'the charts'.

In 1955 Ford's recorded "Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier" hit #4 on the country chart.
In 1955 his rendition of Merle Travis' "Sixteen Tons" spent 10 weeks at #1 on the country charts
and 8 weeks at #1 on the pop charts,
making Tennessee Ernie Ford a crossover star.

"Sixteen Tons" became his 'signature song'.

You can easily find his recordings of this song on youtube.

Ernie Ford was offered his own prime-time variety show on NBC television, first air date 10/1956.

Fun Fact:
This show was sponsored by Ford automobiles. The  Ford Theatre had run in the same time slot before Mr. Ford's show so the name is actually NOT in reference to Ernie's name!

Fun Fact #2:
Mr. Ford insisted that at the end of each program, he would do a 'religious' song.
The network officials said no. They feared it might provoke controversy.
This was during an era where 'the network' always won.
They always had the last word, and held all creative power.

Tennessee Ernie Ford said "Yes, I will".
And he did.
It became the most popular segment of his show!
His TV show ran until 6/1961.

This song clip has almost 0 in the graphics department,
but a B+ for the recording; one of the many Mr. Ford did at the end of his TV programs:

"Blessed Assurance"

He released his first Gospel music album in 1956, which remained on Billboard's Top Album charts
for 227 consecutive weeks!!!

His album "Great Gospel Songs" won a Grammy Award in 1964.


His rendition moves me to tears, it is so powerful.

Also for you to explore:

"In the Garden" or "I Come to the Garden"

This next clip has several of his hymns, taken directly from his TV show.
They are beautiful, but unfortunately a couple end rather abruptly!
Still, worth the listen.

several songs including

"I'm a Poor Wayfaring Stranger"

"Then My Living Will Not Be In Vain"

"Well Done"

"Somebody Bigger Than You and I"

Tennessee Ernie Ford Show, 1962

Over the years Mr. Ford was awarded THREE stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame:

President Ronald Reagan gave Mr. Ford the
Presidential Medal of Freedom
in 1984.

He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1990.

This is a really fun clip from "A Christmas With Tennessee Ernie Ford" Special.
You gotta' love kids!

"Children Go Where I Send Thee"

Okay, Okay,
I know I am getting into 'book' length.
The spacing on blogspot also just got really really screwy.....

so, I'll end with one of my favorite hymns, sung by one of my favorite singers:

"Were You There"

Tennessee Ernie Ford originally recorded this in 1957,
but then re-recorded it 1962 for stereo sound.

Tennessee Ernie Ford died October, 1991 of lung cancer,

and recieved posthumous recognition for his gospel music contributions by adding him to 

the Gospel Music Association's Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1994.

I hope you have enjoyed this music-filled blog

I know I have!!!

'til next time,


So much thanks to Wikipedia for much of the info!
"Pickin' Time"

1 comment:

  1. I was hoping to find Hold to God's Unchanging Hand done by Tennessee Ernie, I looked all over the internet & couldn't find it, I just wanted to hear it again, it's one of the best songs of long ago. Sorry you also don't have the song either... Your page is great! You really did an excellent job... In my mind no singer ever can beat this man in singing, & plus, his music is very inspiring! The old fashioned singing he did really represented a godly man singing for the glory of God!!! God bless you!!!