Somewhat like the lines “something old, something new”, Snapshot is a collection of songs that I grew up loving, and songs that I wrote over a period of years, collectively a minor look at what brought me to this point and a sample of my own compositions. There are lots of other artists who’ve influenced me, so this is little set is just a tease in a sense, for a larger collection which is planned soon.
As a kid in West Texas, we had one of the early television stations in Midland, (actually it was out at the airport between Midland and Odessa) one of few in that part of the country. Back in those days (early to middle ‘50’s), way before video tape or even good commercial tape recorders, almost everything was broadcast live, either from studios in New York or LA or the local station’s own premises.
On Saturday afternoons, there was a Country & Western show, featuring local acts and whoever happened to be passing through that week on tour, and the man from nearby Wink, Texas was on there too. As I recall it, he had one of the typical rhinestone suits on, but nobody but nobody else sounded like Roy Orbison. He left an indelible impression on me and doubtless many others, and not too long after, packed up and went off to be famous.
A few years later, “Only the Lonely” was a big hit, so even though NOBODY can really do it justice like Roy, here’s my take on it, just because I really love the song and the impact it made on me as a boy, and still does every time I hear it, even now.
Even though our family watched all the country programs on tv, such as the Grand Old Opry, Jimmy Dean, Tennesee Ernie Ford, etc., and had listened to the Louisiana Hayride on the radio, I’d had no strong impression of Hank Williams like I’d had of Roy Orbison, but somehow, he was just there in the woodwork of my mind. One day in the ‘70’s I wound up singing “Lovesick Blues” to a girlfriend, and my love affair with old Hank was a done deal.
“Lone Gone Lonesome Blues” has a little different flavor, and is not heard so often, so I chose it as my homage to Hank for this album. It’s an interesting song structurally in that it does not have the usual verse-chorus, repeated two or three times, but rather, two verses and then a chorus twice. Like many of his songs, this one connects on some kind of subliminal level where he knows, and expresses, the kind of pain and anguish that many of us have felt too.
Nearly every country diva has done “Crazy” since Patsy Cline made it famous, but why should the ladies have all the fun? Probably Willie Nelson’s most famous song is hardly ever done by a man, so naturally, I had to give it a whirl. Going back to Willie’s music I discovered that his key worked much better for me, but even more amusing, I found that Patsy had actually changed a note on him! See if you can figure out where.
The other outside composition is “Too Deep”, which was really never supposed to see the light of day, since it was done as a sort of lab exercise in songwriting given by Tree writer Sam Hogin at a NSAI (Nashville Songwriters Association International) seminar in 1991. Sam, Liz Axford and I, along with about 10 others picked a title, wrote a chorus, a bridge and a second verse in little more than an hour.
We students were all supposed to go home and write the first verse to set things up; this version is my own idea, so there may be others. Liz and I both thought it was much too good a song to just throw away, so here it is. Incidentally, if those other ten people ever do show up (and can prove they were there), I will be happy to give them proper credit also.
That’s not how I usually write songs, although it was certainly a very instructive way to go at it for me. I’m more of a hermit writer, writing alone, over a period of time, but usually starting with a fragment of a chorus, a line or two of melody or the like, then building up the rest of the song to frame it. The original impetus for the fragment was some sort of broken heart situation back in my past, and the writing of the song was a very real cathartic, healing experience for me. While they are basically true stories every one, they shall remain unattributed. A gentleman never tells!
Last, but not least, “Blessed Assurance” is included as a reminder to pay attention to spiritual matters. Like Tennessee Ernie Ford, who always ended his show with a gospel number (like many other Country artists), I likewise wanted to not only give proper credit to the influence that “church music” has had on me, but to pass along a great song with a great message. As it turned out, it was also the impetus for a whole gospel series, and is included there on Volume I of the Gospel Favorites (Ernie Wylie Harkins and the Virtual Family Choir, Volumes I through V).
This CD is mostly a reissue of my original cassette from 1992, but as technology goes through shifts, (and things fall apart) we were unable to recapture some of the original tracks from the old 16 track analog system onto the new digital machines. Those were recreated in 2001, using the same musicians as on the original tracks. One other song was redone, as a side effect of doing the upteenth rewrite, “Now Sometimes (I Feel a Little Lonely) so the new improved version is also included.
Two significant additions were made to the musicians (originally Art Greenhaw and Tim Cooper with Jerl Welch): Jr. Knight, steel player extraordinaire, and ace fiddle player Andrea Schmitz. Both added an essential spice to the tracks that was always needed.
Full credit here has to go to Tim Cooper, at whose Cooper Sound studios all the hard work was done, both on the original tracks and on the recent remakes and remix. Without Tim, none of this would have been possible (well, at least not as well done). Thanks Tim!
Ernie Wylie Harkins – December, 2001
This list was compiled by Ernie Wylie Harkins (we provide the traditional title and the familiar or first line)
“Standing on the Promises” after II Corinthians, 1:20, by R.Kelso Carter, 1886
“Heavenly Sunlight” (Walking in Sunlight) after John 8:12, words by Henry J. Zelley, George H. Cook, 1899
“Wonderful Words of Life” (Sing Them Over Again To Me) after John 6:63, by Philip P. Bliss, 1874
““Trust and Obey” (When We Walk With The Lord) after John 8:31, by John H. Sammis (words), Daniel B. Towner, (tune) 1887
“Hallelujah Thine the Glory” (We Praise Thee O God) after Psalm 85:6, by W.P. Mackay (words) 1863, J.J. Husband (tune) c.1820
“How Great Thou Art” (O Lord My God) after Acts 4:24, Words by Carl Boberg 1886, translated by Stuart K. Hine, 1949, Swedish Folk Melody, Manna Music, ASCAP
“Amazing Grace” after II Corinthians 9:8, by John Newton (words) 1779, tune AMAZING GRACE, Virginia Harmony 1831
“Holy, Holy, Holy” after Isaiah 6:3, by Reginald Heber (words) 1826, tune NICEA, John B. Dykes, 1861
“Softly and Tenderly” after II Corinthians 6:2, by Will L.Thompson, 1880
“Why Did My Savior Come to Earth?” after John 10:17,18, by James G. Dailey, 1892
“Blest Be the Tie That Binds” after I John 1:7, by John Fawcett (words) 1792, tune DENNIS, Johann Georg Nageli; arr. Lowell Mason, 1845
;Sweet Hour of Prayer” after Psalm 65:2, by W.W. Walford (words) 1845, William B. Bradbury, (tune) 1861
“Our God, He Is Alive” (There Is, Beyond the Azure Blue) after Jeremiah 10:10, by A.W. Dicuss, 1966 (Sacred Selections, Kendallville, Ind. 46755)
“Blessed Assurance” after Hebrews 7:25, by Fanny J. Crosby (words), Phoebe P. Knapp (tune), 1873
“Song Data from: Great Songs of the Church” ACU Press, 1986, Songs of the Church, Howard Publishing, 1977, Family Songbook of Faith and Joy, Reader’s Digest Association, 1975