Friday, April 4, 2008

Lonesome Town

OK, the whole idea of feeding my recently paid songs through my FriendFeed account was to allow me to easily comment on songs I like and not have to blog about them.

But sometimes I just can't help myself.

Notice the wonderful acoustics in the Nelson household, by the way.

And a hearty thanks to FriendFeed user j1m for letting me know about the duet of Ricky Nelson and Dean Martin in the movie "Rio Bravo."

But enough about Walter Brennan's harmonica skills - back to "Lonesome Town." See What You Hear links to the biography of Thomas Baker Knight, Jr.. The relevant excerpt:

With only $80 in his pockets of his jeans, Baker moved to Los Angeles to capitalize on an offer of movie role that didn't pan out. The lonely time he spent prowling Los Angeles, looking for a break, influenced the writing of his most famous song, "Lonesome Town," a commentary about being lost in a crowd all alone in a strange town like Hollywood.

By the time he had written the song, Knight was down to his last 36 cents. Fate intervened when a mutual friend introduced him to Ricky Nelson, Ozzie & Harriet's youngest boy who was carving out a career for himself as a pop star.

"I played a few songs for him," Knight recalled, "and much to my surprise, his manager called two days later and told me Ricky wanted to record two of the songs. They offered me a $2,000 advance, which was unexpected but most welcome at the time, considering I was flat broke."

Within six months, Nelson's version of "Lonesome Town cracked Billboard's Top 10, peaking at #6, while ts B-side, "I Got a Feeling," another song written by Knight, charted at #11. Nelson eventually recorded 21 original songs written by Knight.

The album release of the song was on the 1959 album Ricky Sings Again. More information on this album can be found at the official Rick Nelson website:

Considered by many to be one of the finest rock'n'roll albums ever released, RICKY SINGS AGAIN (#14 LP chart) contained three songs that not only reached the Top 10, but became Rick Nelson signature songs. "Lonesome Town," (#7) "Never Be Anyone Else But You" (#5) and "It's Late" (#6) all achieved gold record status and became rock'n'roll standards.

Meanwhile, the song "Lonesome Town" inspired an entire album:

Every so often...something funny happens. It could be the cover, the band name, the album title…but something makes you stop the machinery and rescue the poor little underdog of an album. Case in point, Threk Michaels. This guy has it all. The name is amazing. The cover is spectacular....The concept of the album is flawless too. Threk is apparently a huge Ricky Nelson fan (as one should be) and Lonely Always is a ten-song tribute to Nelson’s signature ballad “Lonesome Town.”

Hmm. All of this is better than my November 29, 2007 tweet, isn't it?

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