Sunday, May 10, 2009

On the Other Side of Wolverton Mountnain

Category: 50 Songs to Hear

SONG: A Little Bitty Heart
ARTIST: Claude King
ALBUM: Meet Claude King
YEAR/LABEL: 1962; Columbia

I grew up about as poor as you can be.
(Claude King)

A song about an Arkansas mountain man namd Clifton Clowers made Claude King an overnight success (after a decade or so working in country music) in 1961. His album Meet Claude King featured the hit "Wolverton Mountain" and two other hits, "Big River, Big Man" and "The Comancheros" (inspired by the John Wayne movie).

The best song on Meet Claude King is side two's ballad "A Little Bitty Heart." King penned this superb ballad about the dangers of falling in love, then delivered it with a quiet (think Bill Anderson) vocal that only enhanced the heartbreak. "The strangest thing in all the world is a heart so small," King begins. He continues through the song dealing with "the mystery of how a thing so tiny could control so much of me." In the second verse he addresses the woman who broke this fragile heart by singing, "I wish that I could find a way to get a heart that's new, I would lock it deep inside me, just out of reach of you." In many ways it is standard country hurt-by-love fare, but the fresh approach and King's lovely vocals raise the song to a new level.

King enjoyed a moderate career in the 1960s before fading from the limelight at the end of the decade. He still lives in his native Louisiana and performs occasionally. He gave country music a classic in "Wolverton Mountain;" fortunately, he also gave country music a gem in "A Little Bitty Heart."


The entire Meet Claude King album -- good covers of Jimmie Rodgers' "Pistol Packin' Papa" Karl & Harty's "I'm Just Here to Get My Baby Out of Jail" are featured along with the hits and songs ("Would You Care," "I Backed Out") that should have been hits.

The entire I Remember Johnny Horton album -- King and Horton were friends, and Horton's manager Tillman Franks was also King's manager. King paid homage to Horton in this superb album, featuring excellent versions of "Whispering Pines" and "All for the Love of a Girl."


Life Has Its Little Ups and Downs
Life is Too Short
I Want a Home in Dixie
I Lost Today
Down to the River to Pray
Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyeballs
A Death in the Family
Dark as a Dungeon
Bottomless Well

Long Way Home
Heart of Rome
Harriet Tubman's Gonna Carry Me Home
Entella Hotel
Desperados Under the Eaves
Crossing Muddy Waters
Cliffs of Dooneen
Bruised Orange (Chain of Sorrow)
Baby Mine

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