Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: A steak dinner rides on an answer from you that will settle a bet I have with my wife.

I recall the 1954 hit song “This Ole House,” by Rosemary Clooney, and believe hers to be the original version. However, my wife claims that Clooney did not have this record out first.

Who's right? I've got my steak sauce ready to pour.
—Ron Enlow, Richland, Ind.

DEAR RON: You can pour, but you must also pay.

The composer of “This Ole House” is Stuart Hamblen, and his original recording (RCA Victor 5739) came out about two months before Rosemary Clooney's (Columbia 40266).

Rosie's made it to No. 1 in the pop field in mid-'54, but Stu's got up to No. 2 on the C&W charts.

Back when both versions were popular, Hamblen gave the following account of how the tune came about:

“A lot of people, upon hearing this latest song of mine called “This Ole House,” have asked me these questions. They say "Stuart, is there a story behind “This Ole House”? Is there a hidden meaning in “This Ole House”?"

“Yes, both, to both questions.”

“The story: a friend of mine and myself were [on horseback] up lion hunting in the high Sierras. We found a little old cabin that had almost been demolished by a wild storm. The only living thing around it was a starving old hound dog. And in the back room we found a little old prospector that had cashed in his blue chips.

“As I surveyed the wreckage of the storm, the friend of mine said "Stuart, why don't you write a song about this"?

“About this ole house?” I said. Then I got the idea. Yes, this ole house.

“Later on, riding down the canyon, with the old hound dog on the pommel of my saddle, taking him into shelter and to food, I got to thinking … this ole house, the ones made of wood and steel, shall all come down. And this ole house [body] of mine, made of clay, it's got to go too.

“But there's a big difference.

“Although the wooden house, the steel house, the brick house, may be scattered in the winds of a wild storm, and its debris scattered over the hillside, this clay house in which I live shall be scattered too.

“But, the soul inside shall, in God's own good time, be gathered with the saints.

“In other words, we're all getting' ready to meet the saints.”

Bon appétite steak lovers!

DEAR JERRY: Faithful reader of yours that I am, I noticed you recently answered a question about “The Old Oaken Bucket.” However, it seems to me that the song has been around a lot longer than the Tommy Sands version from 1960. Was it popular long before then?
—Bertha M. Keith, Puyallup, Wash.

DEAR BERTHA: Long, long before 1960. The earliest nationally popular recording of “The Old Oaken Bucket” came out in late 1893 (Manhansett Quartette). The Pearless Quartete revived the tune in 1911 and made the Top 10 with it. (Note the indecisiveness then on the spelling of a singing foursome. Neither used “quartet.”)

To have the Tommy Sands remake sound more contemporary, they modernized some of the lyrics, such as “She was the hippest of chicks, I was a square from the sticks.” Hardly the lingo of 100 years ago.

IZ ZAT SO? In 1952, Stuart Hamblen ran unsuccessfully for president, a candidate of the Prohibition Party.

Of course the victor was Dwight D. Eisenhower who, with California Sen. Richard M. Nixon as his running mate, defeated the Democratic candidate, Illinois Gov. Adlai E.Stevenson, in a landslide.

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