DEAR JERRY: I would love to locate a popular record from about 30 or 40 years ago.
What stands out most in my mind is the song involved a sizable gathering of established entertainers paying tribute to Chet Atkins.
Whether Chet himself sings or plays on this recording I don't recall, but I do know each person takes a turn singing a line or two.
Also interesting is how, many years later, this same all-star concept became popular among groups raising funds for aid the hungry, homeless, sick, etc.
This track may have been where they got the idea.
Ellen Considine, Lexington, Ky.
DEAR ELLEN: Your recollection of the appropriately titled “Chet's Tune” is excellent, as is the suggestion this groundbreaking session inspired future multi-star recordings.
Penned in 1967 by Cy Coben, writer of songs recorded by such diverse talents as Al Jolson, Eddy Arnold, and the Beatles, “Chet's Tune” (RCA 47-9229) celebrates Atkins' 20th anniversary as an RCA Victor recording artist. They signed him in 1947.
An assemblage of 21 top RCA Nashville-based acts volunteered their voices and instruments to the project, and in April 1967 they created this stunning track.
For simplicity's sake, the artist credit is Some of Chet's Friends, and here is an alphabetical list of those friends:
Eddy Arnold: Bobby Bare; Don Bowman; Jim Ed Brown; Archie Campbell; Floyd Cramer; Skeeter Davis; Jimmy Dean; George Hamilton IV; Homer & Jethro; Waylon Jennings; Anita Kerr Singers; Hank Locklin; John D. Loudermilk; Willie Nelson; Norma Jean; Jerry Reed; Connie Smith; Hank Snow; Porter Wagoner; and Dottie West.
There is even a sequel, which may come as a surprise.
Five years later, Chet's 25th anniversary with RCA, Coben created new lyrics to go with the original music, the result being “Chet's Tune (Part 2).”
In this August 1972 session, 21 new RCA acts joined three returnees from the '67 group (Kerr, Wagoner, Reed), and this crew became Some More of Chet's Friends:
Bud Brewer; Johnny Bush; Scotti Carson; Jessi Colter; Pat Daisy; Danny Davis & Nashville Brass; Lester Flatt; Dallas Frazier; Anita Kerr Singers; Red Lane; Dickie Lee; Dolly Parton; Porter & Dolly (Wagoner & Parton); Kenny Price; Charley Pride; Jerry Reed; Johnny Russell; Nat Stuckey; Buck Trent; Charlie Walker; Billy Edd Wheeler; Norro Wilson; and Mac Wiseman.
Finding either record for about $10 should be possible, but the 1972 single is the better buy since it has Part 1 on the flip side.
Hearing both tunes online is easy. They are conveniently presented in one informative YouTube video, including timely identification of each guest star: Watch it here!
DEAR JERRY: Each year about this time, we hear Andy Williams, Bing Crosby, and others, sing “Happy Holiday.”
All of which has me wondering if anyone popularized a song simply titled “Season's Greetings”? It is, after all, about the most commonly used greeting for the season.
Jim Grimm, Brookfield, Wisc.
DEAR JIM: Though there is no denying the attractiveness of these two words to makers of greeting cards, those in the recording industry must find it a bit out of place as a title.
Only a dozen or so full-length recordings exist of this title, none of which attained any degree of popularity. One, however, is by a recognized performer with many other hit records to his credit: Narvel Felts.
In 2003, Narvel recorded a Christmas album bearing the title “Season's Greetings” (Cone 2003), the lead track being his own composition, “Season's Greetings.”
IZ ZAT SO? If your recognition of the famous guests in Some of Chet's Friends (Part 1) seems to be about twice as good as those in Some More of Chet's Friends (Part 2), the singles sales numbers support you.
The combined number of individual hits for the Part 1 group is about 1010, whereas that total for the folks on Part 2 is around 580.
The Part 1 team also dominates when it comes to Top 10 hits, having 370 total. Part 2 talent has just 172, with about 110 of those contributed by either Dolly Parton or Charley Pride.
Only two of the 41 RCA artists involved failed to have any of their records show up on any of the charts: Bud Brewer and Scotti Carson.