Greetings from Asheville. Today, we look back fifty years, remembering a somewhat forgotten release from Faron Young.
Louisiana native Faron Young was in his sixteenth year of hit-making in 1969. That spring, he released the album Now I’ve Got Precious Memories. Released in April, the album didn’t perform as well as other Young releases, only peaking at 38 in Billboard. His twelfth album since joining Mercury in 1963, it contained only one single, the title track.
The title track is also the opening track. It’s the typical country ballad of that era, about a man who falls to temptation, ruining the good life he had at home. Still, even with that oft-used theme, it comes off as a stellar performance. It’s Faron at his best, and no matter how many times he sang this type of song, it never became stale. Surprisingly, “Now I’ve Got Precious Memories” fell short of the top twenty in both Billboard (#25) and Cashbox (#24) that Spring.
“Cause I Do” may not be remarkable, but it is a good, solid track, perfectly suited for Faron Young.
You have to love the fiddle and steel guitar intro on “One Man World”. That is something sorely missing in today’s morass of crappy bro-country. And yes, the rest of the song isn’t bad, either. A Nice track of what we’d call in radio, medium-up tempo.
While the album only had one single, had they decided to release another, “When All I Need Is You” would have been a good choice, in my opinion. Heavy use of the fiddle (again, something sorely missing, today) on yet another nice medium-up tempo. Also, some of the album’s stronger lyrics, as well.
On “You Stayed Just Long Enough”, Faron Young reminds us how great he sang ballads. He sang them as well as anyone ever did. Here, Faron takes an otherwise okay song and turns it into something much more.
Hearing “You Bet Your Sweet Life”, you’ll be reminded a bit of “Your Time’s Comin’, Faron’s hit from later in ’69. Similar tempo and arrangement. This is another track that easily could have been a single.
The second side opens with a cover of “Drinking Champagne”. Cal Smith had charted with the song, the previous year, and then became a top 5 hit for George Strait in 1990. I like Faron’s version. A bit more mellow than the Smith and Strait versions. The song has always been a favorite, particularly Cal Smith’s version. And Cal’s version is one of the greatest “shoulda-been-hits”, ever. But there is something about how Faron Young performs it on this album. It’s a relaxed, almost Dean Martin-ish type of performance, and it works.
I’ve already noted two single-worthy tracks on this album, “That’s Where My Baby Feels at Home” is the third. This swinging track is one of the album’s strongest. The girl is more at home at the barroom, than her actual residence. A definite toe-tapper, these types of songs seem as though they were made with Faron Young in mind. He performed them better than anyone.
The album begins it’s winding down with a couple of nice ballads in “Handful of Dreams” and “Tall Down on My Knees”. The latter is a bit stronger, and again, we’re reminded of his mastery of ballads. Faron Young was one of Country Music’s greatest ballad singers.
The album wraps up with the bouncy “The Woman Who Is Waiting”. It’s another single-worthy song buried (unfortunately) as an album cut. There is a technical issue, as late in the song the volume inexplicably drops. Despite that, it’s still a highly enjoyable track with some of Faron Young’s best singing.
Faron recorded ten of the eleven tracks during three sessions in late 1968. He recorded the eleventh track, “The Woman Who Is Waiting”, in 1966. Jerry Kennedy was the producer.
Long out of print, Goldmine publication lists this album as having a near mint value of $25. I found used copies on both eBay and Amazon in the $10 to $15 range.
As noted earlier, Now I’ve Got Precious Memories did not perform as well as most of Faron’s other albums of that period. The album was no doubt hurt by the title track’s performance as a single. As noted earlier, it only reached the mid-twenties on the major charts. Plus, as this album was entering its peak sales period, “Wine Me Up” was taking off as a single and likely was getting most of the promotional push. Still, it’s a good album that’s consistent. There’s little drop-off from one track to another. While none of the songs are classics, they are all good, easily listenable tracks that give the album a nice flow. You’re unlikely the move the stylus and skip any, here.
If you see a copy of this album in your thrifting or crate digging, I recommend grabbing it, especially if Faron Young rates high on your list of favorites. You won’t be disappointed.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike the Country Musicologist is a lifelong music and radio fanatic, model railroader, 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 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.