I must be getting old. I have trouble remembering what I did yesterday, but I have no trouble recalling things that occurred more than fifty years ago. For example, the song you are about to hear was on the flip side of “Rudolph the red nosed reindeer”.
That record was released in 1949. During that time frame, Gene Autry was at the height of his popularity. He was making movies, producing and performing on television and radio shows, and making live performances – singing and performing rodeo tricks – all across the country. His biography states that at one point in his career he was doing two shows a day, seven days a week; and he continued at that pace for 65 to 85 days at a stretch. Not bad for a poor cowboy from Oklahoma.
Another of his songs that was popular when I was a child, and has long ago disappeared – pushed aside by ‘Feliz Navidad’, ‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree’, “Blue Christmas’, and other more modern tunes – is “Up on the Housetop.”
Did you notice the tribute to Big Joe and his record collection? That reminded me of Muz. Muz’s real name was Dennis Smith. He was my fraternity brother at Edinboro and had an unbelievable record collection. He’d often act as disc jockey for dances for our fraternity and other groups. But that’s another story for another time.
Gene Autry made 640 records in his career and sold over 100 million copies of his songs – 300 of which were written or co-written by him. In his spare time, he starred in 93 feature films. He might have done more, but he took off a few years while serving in the Army Air Corps during World War II.
Most young people today might remember him as the owner of the California Angels… before they went through their identity crisis.
Not only do I remember him riding Champion off into the sunset after having saved the day, I remember his voice on the radio as he sang “Here Comes Santa Claus.”
I’m guessing that people of my age group remember two of Gene’s songs more than any other. Without any further ado, here they are:
By the way, do you remember who sang “Here Comes Peter Cottontail”?