Thursday, August 27, 2009

Brothers Being Brothers

Category: 50 Songs to Hear

SONG: Not That I Care
ARTIST: Wilburn Brothers
SONGWRITER: Cindy Walker
ALBUM: Never Alone
YEAR/LABEL: 1964, Decca

One thing our daddy taught us was to never give up.
(Teddy Wilburn)

The Wilburn Brothers might not be the most deserving act to get into the Hall of Fame NOW, but they are certainly in the top five. Teddy and Doyle were comparable to the Louvin Brothers. The two brother acts even had dueling versions of "Knoxville Girl" on the charts in 1956 (the Wilburns won the chart position battle, but the Louvins won the length war: their version is nearly two minutes longer than the Wilburns, which caused Doyle to comment on their TV show that the song was so long "you could record it on one side of a long-playing record...and have 'Barbara Allen' on the other side!"). Their television show spotlighted a young girl singer named Loretta Lynn and shot her to national superstardom. They also owned their own publishing company, Sure-Fire. If there's one word that describes the Wilburns, it's "trailblazers."

While "behind the scenes" this may have hurt their chances for induction into the Hall of Fame during Teddy's lifetime (he died in 2003, twenty one years after his brother), the fans adored the Wilburns, and with good reason. While they were the "other" hot brother duet of the 50s (along with the Louvins), their harmonies lacked the punch of Ira's tenor, which admittedly is an acquired taste. Thanks to their TV show's success, in the 60s they left the disbanded Louvins in the dust in terms of popularity, although now the Louvins are the fondly remembered ones and the Wilburns are forgotten to the extent that only one CD, a meager twelve-song compilation of greatest hits, has been issued -- and that is out of print!

"Not That I Care" is a good example of just why these things are so wrong on so many levels. This Cindy Walker song is an excellent ballad that could have been at home as easily in the discography of Jim Reeves or Buck Owens
. The subject is a man running into a mutual friend of his old flame and asking questions. The probes are followed by the half-hearted claim, "I just wonder, not that I care." At the end the misty eyes of the protagonist is blamed on "too much smoke, what I need is some air." Cindy knew how to write 'em and the Wilburns knew how to deliver 'em.

Doyle Wilburn died of cancer in 1982; Teddy died from congestive heart failure in 2003 after years of poor health. The two brothers are not forgotten thanks to repeats of their popular show airing on RFD-TV. Hopefully one day soon their plaque will hang in the Hall of Fame.


The entire Never Alone album -- big hits ("Roll Muddy River") and interesting covers ("Sundown Mary") highlight a classic from the Wilburn Brothers' career.

"I've Got That Old Time Religion in My Heart" (from Take Up Thy Cross) -- there was always a Gospel song at the end of the Wilburns' TV show, and this was one of the best they ever recorded.

"Put It Off Until Tomorrow" (from Let's Go Country) -- a spectacular song by Bill Phillips given a good reading by Teddy and Doyle.

Nobody Eats at Linebaugh's Anymore
My Book of Memories
Lost to a Stranger
A Little Bitty Heart
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

Out to Sea
One More Song
New Delhi Freight Train
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

1 comment:

gooogle said...

i have many comments about the wilburns not being in hall of fame they will re main one of the purest cleanest acts of alway in country. these boys i watch there youtube music ,thanks to who ever puts that on here ,thank god for there clean act .