Sermons in Our Songs
"Reverend Mr. Black"
by Tommy Towery
Continuing with the theme started last week, I thought of another song which was popular when we were in high school that would probably never even be heard on pop radio today. In it we learned a little about self-control which evades many of today's population.
"The Reverend Mr. Black" is a 1963 song by Billy Edd Wheeler, Mike Stoller, and Jerry Leiber. The chorus came from the 1931 folk song, "The Lonesome Valley," a version of which appears in the 2000 film, O Brother, Where Art Thou?. It was recorded by The Kingston Trio in 1963 and became a top-ten hit for them on the Billboard Hot 100. Johnny Cash covered the song in 1981.
This was one of those moral songs advocating forgiveness and tolerance as opposed to revenge and payback. This was pre-Vietnam so it was never considered an anti-war song like some of the other folk songs which followed such as "Where Have All the Flowers Gone." Unlike many popular ideas, this song gave a fresh approach to violence with these words.
He hit that Reverend like a kick of a mule
and to my way of thinkin' it took a pure fool
to turn the other cheek to that lumber jack,
but that's what he did, The Reverend Mr. Black.
He stood like a rock, a man among men
then he let that lumberjack hit him again,
and then with a voice as kind as could be,
he cut him down like a big oak tree when he said:
You got to walk that lonesome valley.
You got to walk it by yourself.
Oh nobody else can walk it for you.
You got to walk it by yourself.
The Kingston Trio is an American folk and pop music group that helped launch the folk revival of the late 1950s to late 1960s. The group started as a San Francisco Bay Area nightclub act with an original lineup of Dave Guard, Bob Shane, and Nick Reynolds. It rose to international popularity, fueled by unprecedented sales of 33⅓ rpm long-playing record albums (LPs), and helped to alter the direction of popular music in the U.S.
The Kingston Trio was one of the most prominent groups of the era's pop-folk boom that started in 1958 with the release of their first album and its hit recording of "Tom Dooley", which sold over three million copies as a single. The Trio released nineteen albums that made Billboard's Top 100, fourteen of which ranked in the top 10, and five of which hit the number 1 spot. Four of the group's LPs charted among the Top 10 selling albums for five weeks in November and December 1959, a record unmatched for more than 50 years, and the group still ranks after half a century in the all-time lists of many of Billboard's cumulative charts, including those for most weeks with a number 1 album, most total weeks charting an album, most number 1 albums, most consecutive number 1 albums, and most top ten albums.
Dave Guard resigned from the Kingston Trio in April 1961, though pledging to fulfill group commitments through November of that year. John Stewart replaced him in the group.
Though some of you may never have appreciated the Folk Song revival, I was thoroughly immersed in it and not just the Kingston Trio as a group, but all of the popular folk singers of the day. And my interest continued even into the Vietnam era when I may not have appreciated the underlying message as much as I did the tune and lyrics as they were presented.
I did not get the see the group in person until around 1990 but still thoroughly enjoyed hearing the old songs as they were originally recorded.
Memphis, TN - Back home from our trip to Iowa and it is nice to be home for a little while at least. I need to remind you once more the time is running out for you to register for the Class of '64's 50th Reunion. All are welcome to help celebrate this event. Check out the Upcoming Events link in the navigation pane at the top left of this page.
Marion Leo Ralston
Father of Dianne Ralston Lashbrooke
Paula Spencer Kephart Smith, LHS '65, wrote on Sunday, July 7th that Marion Leo Ralston--father of Dianne Ralston Lashbrooke, LHS, 1965, died tonight. Obituary might be in paper. No visitation in Huntsville; family graveside service in Murfreesboro, Tn. where he was from. Dianne, only living child. Wife deceased, too. Spoke to Roy Lashbrooke--Leo had been ill for several months and Dianne is not well either. That is all I know--just wanted to let you know--not even sure there will be an obit here.
Annie Lou Johnson White Campbell
Oct. 6, 1920 – July 6, 2014
Mother of Jennifer White Bannecke
Mrs. Annie Lou Johnson White Campbell, 93, entered into rest at Valley View Nursing Home, July 6, 2014. She was a member of Southside Baptist Church. She was preceded in death by her son, William Albert White, her husband of 54 years, John Albert White, and her husband of 15 years, James Lesley Campbell. Survivors include two daughters, Joyce Anne Smith (Richard Smith) and Jennifer Sue Bannecke (Craig Bannecke); one son, Brian Keith White (Penny White); eight grandchildren; ten great-grandchildren; and her best friends in this world, Ann Hornsby Gravlee and Gertrude Smith. The family will receive friends July 8, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. with a service following at Laughlin Service Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Maple Hill Cemetery.
TV Westerns of the 50s and 60s
"The Adventures of Rin-Tin-Tin"
Saturday morning shows for kids in the 1950s included "The Adventures of Rin-Tin-Tin" which ran on ABC from 1954 until 1959, producing 166 episodes. The male lead actor was a young lad about our own age, Rusty, who was orphaned in an Indian raid. He and his dog were adopted by the troops of B Company at Fort Apache in the Arizona territory. A cavalry unit, they helped to establish law and order in and around Mesa Grande.
B Company was led by Lt. Rip Masters and Sgt. Biff O'Hara, often on horseback, but the real star of the show was Rin-Tin-Tin, a German Shepherd who was smarter than any of the bad guys. Personally, I think the real reason the show went off the air in 1959 was because Rusty (like the rest of us) was going through puberty.
From Our Mailbox
Subject: "Bullet" Car Chase
Two questions: first, in the name of trivia, how many times did they race past that green beetle, Pontiacs seemed to be in there also. Second question, I am trying to get over my nausea, radial tires had not come into popular use in 1968. The only time you saw a radial was on a Volvo and it was a Michellin. So what tires were they racing on...glass belted, or just bias ply tires. Bias ply make for the best special effects since they are easy to peel off with and slid as well. Be interesting to know.
Class of ‘64
I can’t remember how I heard this story about Mickey Dolenz’s interview for the Monkee’s. He was told to go into the room for his interview. Upon entering he saw two men wearing those fake noses and glasses that we should all remember well. The men were facing each other and playing a game of checkers. They didn’t respond to Dolenz at all. Dolenz spied an empty soft drink bottle on a desk. He went over, picked up the bottle, placed it in the middle of the checker board and exclaimed “check mate”. It got him the part.