They Don’t Write Them Like That Anymore
Being a professional musician is something I could never be because I really lack, not only the talent, but also the dedication that it takes. When someone asks me if I can play any instruments I tell them that the only thing I can play is the radio.
Of course having the dedication without the talent doesn’t stop a lot of people from having a go at that brass ring of success. The world is littered with the remains of “One-Hit Wonders” who somehow managed to have a lightning bolt strike their careers and give them one song or album to rocket up the charts. I went to college with a gal who had one moderately big hit song in the early 1960s. There was never a follow-up hit and her career went nowhere after that. The upside of her story is that the money she made with her “hit” put her through college without having to take out any loans.
There are some “One Hit Wonders” whose rapid rise and just as rapid fall from the spotlight are perfectly understandable…and well deserved. I don’t say that out of any animosity or jealousy. I say it out of “There ain’t no other way to express it.”
A case in point.
I’m talking about the one and only Top 40 hit by Mr. Claude King. Does that name ring a bell? If it does I bow to your knowledge of popular music history.
I hadn’t thought about Claude King in years (along with everyone else) until a local disc jockey posted a Claude King record album cover on Facebook. There it was – the perfect memory jogger. Claude’s one hit was the title of the album … “Wolverton Mountain.” Do you remember this song? I do. It was a very successful song in 1962. It sat at the top of the Billboard Country Chart for nine weeks. It was a Crossover hit reaching number six on the Pop Chart and number three on the Easy Listening Chart. All of that is quite impressive. Two minutes and fifty-nine seconds of a sugary tale of a boy’s desire to climb Wolverton Mountain to woo and win the hand of the beautiful daughter of a dangerous man named “Clifton Clowers” who threatens to kill anyone who climbs the mountain seeking his daughter – who, according to the lyrics, has “Tender lips sweeter than honey.”
So it is a sappy love song set in the mountains of rural America. It sure ain’t about having a “New York State of Mind.”
Claude was a “One Hit Wonder” only in the rarified atmosphere of the Pop Music Charts. He did have some moderate success in Country Music but not even there did he have another hit like “Wolverton Mountain.”
The only reason I bring up this whole “mishigas” is because of that album cover that popped up on my Facebook page not long ago. If you look at it you will see what I think is the reason Claude’s Pop Music success may have eluded him.
The album cover trumpets that “Wolverton Mountain” is the reason to buy the album, but who was he reaching out to by adding that the album also contained his hopeful follow-up song:
“I’m Just Here To Get My Baby Out Of Jail.”
Almost everyone can identify with the lovesick longing of the boy willing to risk it all to win the love of the girl on that mountain. But, let’s be honest here – How many of us have sung a lament about our need to stage a jailbreak to bust our loved one out of stir? If I saw that song title on the album cover I think I might have moved on to the “Beer And Pinballs” record section.
But maybe that’s just me.
Ladies and Gentlemen: Mr. Claude King…