Greetings from Asheville, where good music is always on the turntable. Today’s Classic 78 is a 1955 recording of a song you’ll remember, but the version you likely are familiar with is a later version.
Singer/songwriter/actor Eddie Dean recorded today’s featured record. Eddie was a longtime part of country, and yes, western music. His first taste of fame was with his brother Jimmie on the WLS National Barn Dance in the 1930’s. Later, Eddie branched out into movies, appearing in several westerns during the 1940’s. It was also during this time that Eddie wrote and recorded a song called “One Has My Name (The Other Has My Heart)”. While his 1948 version failed to catch on, that same year, Jimmy Wakely’s version became a huge #1 hit.
Eddie Dean had been recording since the mid 1930’s, but it wasn’t until 1955, when he finally broke into the top ten with our featured single.
“I Dreamed of a Hillbilly Heaven” is a song that Eddie wrote, saying he was inspired by a dream. Recorded in 1954, the single was released in October on the Sage and Sand label. It took until late January of 1955, though, before the single finally debuted on any charts. It first appeared on the January 22nd issue of Billboard, eventually appearing on all three of their country charts. The record peaked at 10 both on the Juke Box and Disc Jockey charts, and 15 on the best seller list. The record failed to chart in Cashbox.
In 1961, Tex Ritter released his version which became a big hit, peaking at 5 on Billboard, and 4 on Cashbox. Tex’s version also briefly appeared in the pop charts, as well, peaking at 17 in Billboard, but only 99 in Cashbox.
The two versions are very different. Whereas Ritter’s is lusher and dream-like, Eddie Dean’s version is harder edged, heavy in steel guitar.
“I Dreamed of a Hillbilly Heaven” is Eddie Dean’s biggest hit as a singer, yet today, is nearly forgotten, even in classic country music circles. As always, your thoughts and comments are welcomed.
Saving vinyl, one record at a time.
ABOUT THE 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, and focuses on classic country and top 40 oldies music. He convinced Vincennes University to give him an Associate’s Degree in broadcasting. He’s worked for several stations in Indiana and North Carolina. Be sure to follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.