(Editor’s note: I moved from an apartment into a house starting January 1st, 2020, and I had to toss all my CDs into a big garbage bag during the move. The idea for this feature is I write a review about each CD as I unpack that bag, one CD at a time, and rank them.)
The sixth CD out of the bag
1. North to Alaska; 2. Whispering Pines; 3. Johnny Reb; 4. The Manson You Stole; 5. I’m Ready, If You’re Willing; 6. When It’s Springtime in Alaska (It’s Forty Below); 7. Honky-Tonk Man; 8. The Battle of New Orleans; 9. All For the Love of a Girl; 10. Sink the Bismarck; 11. Comanche (The Brave Horse); 12. Jim Bridger; 13. Johnny Freedom (“Freedomland”)
Johnny Horton is an American country original whose promising career was cut short in a traffic accident at the age of 35. This greatest hits CD is filled with inspirational folk ballad material transformed into classic country songs by Horton’s unique style. Frankly, Horton sang about subjects that nobody in mainstream country music today has the cojones to touch (pardon my Spanish). Horton painted portraits of American history, singing about 19th-century mountain man Jim Bridger, the Johnny Rebs of the Civil War, the Battle of New Orleans, and the pursuit of the German battleship Bismarck during World War II. Only Marty Robbins delivered story songs better. Highlights for me include the gold rush tale “North to Alaska”; the heartbreaker about a gold-digging woman, “The Mansion You Stole”; the dramatic saloon incident of “When It’s Springtime in Alaska”; and the jukebox gem “Honky-Tonk Man.”
My favorite song
My favorite song is “Whispering Pines.” From the first three words (“The snowflakes fall”), Horton sets the scene for one of the most beautiful sad songs I’ve ever heard. It’s about a man who’s lost his love and implores the pine trees to “send my baby back to me.” Horton describes the man’s profound loneliness through sounds and scenes of nature similar to the way Hank Williams invokes “that lonesome whippoorwill” in “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” Just gorgeous.
My favorite lines of my favorite song
“My heart is sad like a mourning dove that’s lost its mate in flight.
Hear the cooing of his lonely heart through the stillness of the night.”
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥