Friday, August 13, 2010

A train wreck waiting to happen

Johnny Cash generally took over the cover songs he recorded.  The first time we heard "The Wreck of the Old 97" off his 1969 album At San Quentin it was as good as his.  We had no idea at the time, and couldn't have cared less, that it had been recorded 45 years earlier by Vernon Dalhart.

Significance?  Dalhart, by some accounts, turned it into the first million-selling country music release (with help from the flip side.)  A bigger item of curiosity is why the artist ever went by the name Vernon Dalhart.  His given name was Marion Try Slaughter, and you might think by simply dropping the "Marion" he would be set for his career.

But no, Marion instead decided to name himself after two neighboring towns in Texas. And though folks from back in the day might remember Vernon Dalhart, the name didn't exactly stick.  He did finally make it into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1981 -- 33 years after his death.

This matters because we sit today on the anniversary of "The Wreck of the Old 97"/"The Prisoner's Song" becoming a million seller in 1925.  (It would go on to sell several million more copies.)  Impressive, but it's not like we're gonna name our next dog Vernon, or Dalhart for that matter. We will tip our cap to ol' V.D. though, every time we hear Johnny Cash singing that old train wreck song.

P.S. It's also Patrick Cudahy Bacon Lover's Day at the Wisconsin State Fair, giving fair goers a rare opportunity at the fabled 3-4-5 trifecta: Music by 3 Dog Night, 4 strips of bacon and 5 Miller Lites. Maybe that's why "Momma Told Me Not To Come" ...

1 comment:

  1. I wouldn't give my dog that name, but my next pet turtle's gonna be Vernon Dalhart. Definitely. And he better not have a hitch in his giddy-up.