Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: Glen Campbell had a hit single in the mid-'60s with Buffy Sainte-Marie's “The Universal Soldier,” a protest song of sorts. This was before he scored big with those Jimmy Webb tunes, and before he moved more toward country music.

I have tried hard but cannot find a vinyl copy of this song anywhere. It is not even on “Glen Campbell's Greatest Hits.”

Do you know of a reason for this? Is Glen Campbell somehow ashamed of this song? Regardless, “The Universal Soldier” was very relevant during the turbulent '60s.

Since I collect and prefer vinyl, do you have any idea where I can buy “Universal Soldier” in album form?
—Les Mahler, Livermore, Calif.

DEAR LES: As for why “The Universal Soldier” is not easily found, I doubt there is any reason beyond it not being as well known as so many of his other hits.

I know of one vinyl album — a various artists collection — containing “The Universal Soldier.” Titled “Rock of Ages — Sounds of Top 40 Radio: 1964-1967 (Good Vibrations)” (Capitol SQ-12461), it should be available in the $10 to $20 range.

Besides “The Universal Soldier,” this set includes other mid-'60s hits by folks like the Beach Boys; Cher; Classics IV; Jackie DeShannon; Jay & the Americans; Bob Lind; P.J. Proby; Johnny Rivers; Bobby Vee & the Strangers.

Another obvious way to get a vinyl copy of “The Universal Soldier,” a Top 50 hit in the summer of 1965, is to find the original single (Capitol 5504).

Glen's version came out just a couple of weeks before Donovan's, though both made their chart debut the same week (September 25). Both remained charted for seven weeks, and both peaked at similar positions — Campbell at No. 45 and Donovan at No. 53.

I realize digital is not your format of choice, but others seeking this tune should know it is currently available on CD.

DEAR JERRY: I have often wondered about the very first recording. Do you have any idea what that is, and who made it? Also, what year did this memorable event take place?
—Lene Preston, Lancaster, Pa.

DEAR LENE: Credit master inventor Thomas Edison, also the originator of the phonograph, for making the first record.

Accompanied by Harriet Atwood, who plays piano in the background, Edison recorded his own voice reciting “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” The date of this “session” is December 6, 1877.

Not until 1972 did anyone turn “Mary Had a Little Lamb” into a hit. Nearly a century after Edison's creation, Paul McCartney and Wings deposited this sheepish little tune in the Top 30.

There are reports, as of yet unconfirmed, that a Frenchman named Scott made some recordings circa-1860. If proven true, it would be a story of great significance.

DEAR JERRY: Over 40 years ago, I bought a 45 rpm of “Honky Tonk,” by Bill Doggett. After I got home I discovered it was actually a vocal version — not the hit instrumental.

In the last couple of years I got to thinking about this record. I asked a lot of people who supposedly know a lot about music, and they all tell me there never was a “Honky Tonk” vocal by Bill Doggett.

I checked with several record shops and music distributors and they not only ever heard of it, they couldn't find it listed anywhere. No one believes it exists!
—Robert Blackstone, Milwaukee

DEAR ROBERT: Since you have a copy, you know it exists. Many others have this record, including me. In fact, I am listening to it as I write this.

The million-selling instrumental, “Honky-Tonk” (Parts 1 and 2) is King 4950, an August 1956 issue. About three months later, “Honky Tonk (Vocal by Tommy Brown),” backed with “Peacock Alley,” came out as King 5001.

Since “Honky Tonk (Part 2)” is the side that sold the records, the vocal is set to that track, and not Part 1. From the words we learn the Honky Tonk to be the name of a dance.

IZ ZAT SO? Recalling “The Universal Soldier,” Buffy Sainte-Marie says: “I wrote that song in the basement of the Purple Onion coffee house, in Toronto, in the early '60s. “The Universal Soldier” is about individual responsibility for war and how the old feudal thinking kills us all.”

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