Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: My fiancé would like an knowledgeable, independent third party — that would be you — to resolve a little dispute. The song sparking the debate is Van Morrison's early '70s hit, “Tupelo Honey.”

My theory is that when Morrison sings “sweet as Tupelo, honey,” he is telling his lady she is as sweet as the city Tupelo.

I realize that Tupelo, Mississippi is best known as the birthplace of Elvis Presley, which may or may not figure into the meaning.

Mr. Know-It-All says I'm all wet, and that the song has nothing whatsoever to do with the city Tupelo per se, but with a type of honey made there.

I'll enjoy rubbing it in if I'm right, though I'll marry him regardless.
—Dee Morgan, Madison, Wisc.

DEAR DEE: I'm not positive that the best use for Tupelo Honey is rubbing it in, but please let me know how that works out for you.

Sorry to say, Mr. Know-It-All knows more the birds and the bees — especially the bees — than you.

In singing “sweet as Tupelo Honey” (no comma, thus a different interpretation), Van is saying she is as sweet as the most revered of honeys — but it's not really from Tupelo. That's just the name of the tree essential to the process.

Tupelo Honey is produced from the tupelo gum tree, found abundantly along the Chipola and Apalachicola rivers of northwest Florida. In those swamplands, the honey is produced in a most unique fashion.

Each spring, the bees are placed on elevated platforms along the river's edge, and they scatter about in the surrounding swamps. After visiting many a Tupelo blossom, they return with their precious elixir.

That river valley is the only place in the world where Tupelo Honey is produced commercially.

Interestingly, the film “Ulee's Gold,” starring Peter Fonda as a beekeeper, is about Tupelo Honey and was filmed on location in this exact area.

For more information on this sweet topic, click here.

Now seems like a good time for another recently received Van Morrison question.

DEAR JERRY: I can't find out anything about the song “I'll Be Your Lover, Too,” by Van Morrison.

I heard it during the movie “Proof of Life,” and then saw it listed in the credits. Of course they don't say what album it is on, or anything else.
—Jordan S., New Port Richey, Fla.

DEAR JORDAN: I can pick up where the credits left off regarding “I'll Be Your Lover, Too.”

Among Van Morrison's three dozen or so albums, I find only one with this track — his 1970 release titled “Van Morrison: His Band and the Street Choir” (Warner Bros. 1884).

But then, one is all you need.

DEAR JERRY: Over the years, I have heard many versions of “Crying in the Chapel,” but one you never, never hear is the original recording.

Who sang it first? I think it might have been Rex Allen. Did it become a hit for that person, or only others that followed? —Terry Millen, Fort Worth, Texas

DEAR TERRY: Here is the “Crying in the Chapel” chronology — just for 1953!

Artie Glenn wrote the song in early-to-mid 1953.

The first recording came out in July, by Artie's son, Darrell Glenn (Valley 105).

One week later, June Valli's cover version (RCA 5368) charted. This one, which made the Top 5, would become the biggest pop recording of the song that year.

Another cover that week, by Sonny Til & the Orioles (Jubilee 5122), began what would be a climb to No. 1 on the R&B charts.

Two weeks later, cowboy actor-singer Rex Allen's cover (Decca 28758) joined Glenn's original on the C&W charts. Both eventually landed in the Top 5.

In August, two more renditions hit the charts — one by Ella Fitzgerald (Decca 28762) and the other by Art Lund (Coral 61018).

Overall, the most frequently heard “Crying in the Chapel” is the million-selling 1965 issue by Elvis Presley & the Jordanaires. IZ ZAT SO? Surprisingly, the studio vocal group on both the Ella Fitzgerald and the Art Lund recordings of “Crying in the Chapel” is the Ray Charles Singers. This is essentially the same bunch that, in 1964, waxed the Top 3 hit, “Love Me with All Your Heart.”

Return to "Mr. Music" Home Page