Ten Songs that Touched My Heart by Eddy Arnold

By Mark Halstead
I suggest ten songs recorded by Eddy Arnold that personally touched me by their lyric content, musical quality, and implications for my life

Since I was a child, one voice has resonated through my life. Eddy Arnold tended to sing very straightforward ballads and well known country and pop songs throughout his 60+ year career. He passed away in May 2008 and his passing left a hole in my soul. He lived his life as a gentleman, loving husband, and father and became one of the most respected men in Nashville. Some believed him to be one of the richest men in Nashville. He certainly accounted himself rich in spirit. He expressed that sentiment in a song called "Richest Man in the World". His life, his demeanor, and his way with songs had a profound effect on me. I'd like to give a little tour of ten of his best in no particular order. These are my picks, not all hits. Pardon me if I was  sentimental.

The first song I'd like you to know about was on the last album Eddy ever made. In 2005, after six years of retirement, he came back to record "After All These Years". There are a few gems on the album, but the most significant for me was called "Gonna Be Home With You". I was unaware of the album and was homeless at the time I discovered it. The woman I would later marry was also homeless and I played the song for her without having heard it yet. The song struck a chord with both of us and left us crying. I believe this was the event that sealed our fate. We were married less than a year later. The song is a very low key ballad about a man who promises to be home soon. In the mean time he says, "I just pray". I get teary just thinking about it

The second on my tour is called "Happy Everything" from the album "A Man For All Seasons". This song was released as a single but never charted. I insisted that this song be sung at our wedding because it expressed a sentiment I strongly felt. It is a very upbeat song about a man who wants to give his mate everything to make her happy. The imagery in the song is so stunning that the lady who sang it made us a wedding present that included all the elements mentioned in the song.

Third on my list is a famous hymn called "I Love To Tell The Story". From the album "Faithfully Yours" recorded in 1963, this song is indicative of the extraordinarily respectful way Eddy performed gospel music. There is no hint of personal style that often accompanied his other recordings. It is sung carefully with traditional background. Of considerable significance to me is that this is the only song I have sung solo in church. Twice, no less! It is a classic hymn sung by a classic talent.

Fourth is the song most often associated with Eddy, "Make The World Go Away". From the album "My World" in 1965, this #1 hit spawned a string of songs and albums with "World" in the title and launched what Arnold called "his second career". I still can't resist singing along when I hear it. No list of country songs is complete without this one.

My fifth choice is "Cowboy" from the album "Eddy" in 1976. I was only fifteen years old when this was released, but I was already an ardent Arnold fan. His career had fallen off at this point and this album marked his return to RCA after a few years with MGM. The song brought some new energy to his recording career and went to number thirteen on the charts. I was hungry for some new songs and I still remember the thrill I got when I recognized that voice on the radio. It's a classic country story-song about a kid who loves to pretend he's a cowboy. It features a nice arrangement and that trademark Arnold falsetto

At number six I have to pay homage to another song that failed to chart. In "Memories Of Us", Eddy found a wonderful sentimental song at a time in his life when he was starting to feel his age. The song is about an older couple traveling through the town where they grew up and fell in love. Everything in the town has changed, but the memories are still the same. It's both melancholy and reaffirming at the same time. This song is from an album called "Don't Give Up On Me" from 1982.

Number seven is a similar song from 1981's "A Man For All Seasons" (see number two above). This one is called "Bally-hoo Days" and is about an artist who was once famous but now sweeps cafes near theaters he once filled. This is very well produced and a poignant reminder that fame is fleeting. It charted at number thirty-two.

With number eight, there was no accompanying album. "I'm The South" was one of four songs released as two singles in 1978. This was a rare recitation by Arnold and took full advantage of his warm, soft southern drawl. It is basically a laundry list of familiar southern imagery that characterizes the old South. Set to a simple arrangement of a snare drum and harmonica, it's guaranteed to bring chill bumps to anyone who misses the genteel plantation era. Charted at number ninety-one.

In the ninth spot is "Portrait Of My Woman", a 1971 single from an album of the same name. This song was written by a Folsom Prison inmate named Glen Sherley. Sherley was discovered by Johnny Cash and gained some notoriety as a writer and performer due to "Portrait" and "Greystone Chapel" recorded by Cash. The lovely arrangement complements an ode to the women in our lives who are stronger than we are but don't give up on us. Glen Sherley died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in 1978 after

 a few years of freedom.

My tenth and last song is called "My Way Of Life" from the 1970 album "Standing Alone". This is Arnold's most underrated work. The songs were probably too progressive for the country audience, but the performances stand out as both daring and accomplished. The lyrics are a happy-go-lucky description of how a confirmed wander lives his day-to-day life. It is the antithesis of Arnold's life, but a theme he would revisit on his last album with another favorite of mine called "I've Been Down Some Roads". These songs appeal to me at a very basic level because of my own experience with homelessness.

There you have it. I encourage anyone who might think of Eddy Arnold as just another pop singer to give these songs a listen. His output of one hundred albums is a rare feat. Understandably, he made a lot of records that he knew would sell. Within that prodigious body of work, however, are many amazing pieces. Some of these have informed the way I live my life because of their strength. Arnold only wrote or co-wrote a few of his songs, but he had access to and chose a lot of great material. This list only scratches the surface of this amazing man's career

SourcesDon Cusic, "Eddy Arnold - I'll Hold You in My Heart", Rutledge Hill Press, Copyright 1997 by Don Cusic
Johnny Cash, "A Piece of Glen Sherley's Heart", From liner notes on RCA album "Portrait of My Woman"

"Glen Sherley", Wikipedia

On April 23, 2009, Mark  Halstead posted the above article on "Associate Content from YAHOO.

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