Monday, June 1, 2009

Please help me I'm falling (off the charts)

How does a country song stay on the charts for 36 weeks?

It goes without saying that it has to be good to have staying power like that. But that's not always enough. When Garth Brooks was tearing it up in the early Nineties he never had a song that charted for more than 20 weeks. In fact, his greatest back-to-back No. 1 hits -- "The Dance'' and "Friends In Low Places'' -- only charted for a combined 37 weeks.

In 1956 Johnny Cash was on the Billboard chart for 43 weeks with "I Walk the Line'', but his next longest stay was 28 weeks for a song that isn't remembered as one of his best, "There You Go.''

The era and the competition obviously figure into the equation. Steady Eddie Arnold didn't have a lot of competition when he was dominating radio airplay in the Forties, which may help explain these unreal numbers: "Bouquet of Roses'' charted for 54 weeks in 1948-49, and "I'll Hold You in My Heart'' for 46 weeks a year earlier. "Bouquet'' is unquestionably one of country's great songs, but it's unfathomable to think that it -- or any other song -- could chart today for that length of time.

Yesterday, though, is what classic country is all about. Which brings us to a Florida Panhandle boy by the name of Lawrence Hankins Locklin, one of country music's legendary songwriters and troubadours. Locklin, who died earlier this year, was on the charts for 36 weeks in 1960 -- 14 of them at No. 1 -- with "Please Help Me, I'm Falling,'' written by Hal Blair and Don Robertson.

Three other Locklin hits charted for eight months or longer: "Let Me Be the One'' (32 weeks in '53-'54), "Geisha Girl'' (39 weeks in '57-'58) and "Send Me the Pillow You Dream On'' (35 weeks in '58). "Pillow'', the song for which Locklin is best remembered, never made it No. 1, peaking at No. 5. It has been covered by dozens of artists, including Dean Martin, Dolly Parton and Dwight Yoakam.

For my money I'll take "Please Help Me, I'm Falling'', which was sitting pretty at No. 1 on this day in 1960.

Please help me I'm falling in love with you
Close the door to temptation don't let me walk through
Turn away from me darling I'm begging you to
Please help me I'm falling in love with you

1 comment:

  1. My momma had a Hank Locklin album, and I swear I must have heard 'Send Me The Pillow That You Dream On' about a hunnerd-thousand times.
    And all that time I never knew he was a Panhandle boy, too, just like me.