At this late stage of the game, I have discovered country music great, velvet baritone “Gentleman” Jim Reeves (1923-1964).
How a diehard fan of Patsy Cline, George Jones, Webb Pierce, and Bill Monroe; how a gal who hitch-hiked, multiple times, to Nashville in her youth to hang out at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge and attend the Grand Ole Opry when it was still at the Ryman Auditorium, could have missed out on this extraordinary voice is a mystery. But the other day I grabbed a pile of CDs from ex-husband Tim to listen to in my rental car, among them a double disc entitled “The Very Best of Jim Reeves,” and I am now hooked.
“He’ll Have to Go,” “Making Believe,” “I Guess I’m Crazy,” “I Won’t Come In While He’s There”: I defy any warm-blooded human being to hear such tunes and not feel an uncontrollable urge to run to the nearest sleazy roadhouse, grab a long-necked Bud, wrap your arms around the nearest convicted, badly-tattooed felon and take to the dance floor.
I’m just on the blue side of lonesome
Right next to the Heartbreak Hotel
In a tavern that’s known as Three Teardrops
on a barstool not doing so well.
Reeves died in a single-engine plane crash, of the Beechwood Debonair aircraft he was piloting, on July 31, 1964. The inscription on his memorial reads, “If I, a lowly singer, dry one tear, or soothe one humble human heart in pain, then my homely verse to God is dear, and not one stanza has been sung in vain.”