Ernest Tubb is one of the most unique individuals in the history of country music. Starting out singing in a style like his hero, Jimmie Rodgers, his singing forever changed, following a tonsillectomy. The procedure left him with a singing style unlike anyone else (though Junior Brown might be kind of close). It was a style that featured clear, concise diction, but often off pitch, sometimes flat out missing a note.
Yet there was an appeal about Ernest that far exceeded his vocal abilities. Part of it was his incredible stage presence. Another part was the always stellar lineup of musicians who made up his Texas Troubadours. Ernest may not have had the singing skills of Eddy Arnold, Red Foley, or George Morgan, but he was one-of-a-kind sound that many of us still love to hear.
And with that, we look back at the first album Ernest Tubb recorded. The Daddy of ‘Em All , released by Decca Records in 1957, and is vintage ET.
You get classic Ernest on the opening track. “You’re Breaking My Heart”. The mid-tempo track features the prominent electric guitar in lead, common on much of Ernest’s work. The song will be familiar to fans of classic country, since it was a 1945 hit for Ted Daffan.
“I Dreamed of An Old Love Affair” is also classic Ernest at his best. Never a single, but could have been.
“Mississippi Gal” and “Hillbilly Baby” are decent numbers. But neither jump out at you as stand out selections. “Mississippi Gal” has a sound that will remind you of his later performances of “Walking the Floor Over You”.
On “I Know My Baby Loves Me in Her Own Peculiar Way”, Ernest takes a spin on the novelty song wagon and makes the ride worth it. This is a cleverly written tune, reminding you both melody and tempo-wise, of his earlier hit “You Nearly Lose Your Mind”. It also begins with a smoking guitar intro.
“When A Soldier Knocks And Finds Nobody Home” is Tubb at his best. Lonely and blue, full of heartbreak is what Tubb did best. I’m surprised that this song was never a single. It’s as good as Tubb’s other military-themed hits, “Rainbow at Midnight”, “Filipino Baby”, and “Soldiers Last Letter”. One of the best cuts on the album.
The legendary Floyd Tillman contributed “Daisy May”. The song is okay, but not to the same level as Tillman’s classics like “Slipping Around”. However, the performance by Tubb is outstanding, may be the best vocal effort on the album.
“I’ve Got the Blues for Mammy” is the album’s weakest track, but it’s not a terrible track. Nothing to complain about when it comes to Ernest Tubb’s performance. In fact, he makes the song worth listening to.
“This Troubled Mind O’ Mine” is another fine cut on the album. This lively number sounds like Ernest is ready to leave his gal behind to clear his head.
Another outstanding cut is “I Knew the Moment I Lost You”, written by Bob Wills and Tommy Duncan. Another candidate for the album’s best cut. The song and Tubb’s interpretation are superior.
Yet another track where Ernest Tubb shines is “You’re The Only Good Thing (That’s Happened To Me)”. A great ballad, performed in that classic Tubb style. Another track that should have been a single release. It later became a hit for George Morgan.
The album wraps up with yet another great example of classic Tubb honky-tonk. “There’s No Fool Like a Young Fool” is great song to end the album with and again, shows Tubb at his best.
Overall, this album is pure country music, the way it should sound. Certainly, one of the better albums from this period and one of Ernest’s best efforts, as well. He is in vintage form, meaning he’s missing almost as many notes as he’s hitting. With most singers, that style would make us shake our heads in disbelief. But this is Ernest Tubb, and it’s what endears him to our ears. It’s his unique style that if we didn’t hear it on his records, we’d be disappointed. This album rates a solid 4.5 out of 5.
About Thy Author
Mike the Country Musicologist is a lifelong music and radio fanatic, lover of vintage agriculture, and big sports fan, including the Colts, Reds, Hurricanes, Pacers, Purdue & Butler Universities. He has collected records since childhood, focusing on classic country and top 40 oldies music. He actually convinced Vincennes University to give him an Associate’s Degree in broadcasting. He’s worked for several stations in Indiana and North Carolina, including his current gig. He hosts the weekly World Famous Ultimate Twang Radio Show. You can listen Thursdays, 4-7p ET on WSFM-LPFM/AshevilleFM, at 103.3 FM in Asheville, North Carolina, and online at ashevillefm.org. Be sure to follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.