I have been planning on playing Tennessee Waltz as part of Fiddle Tune a Day from the beginning. I also received a number of requests for the song. And with good reason. It’s a beautiful melody, and a Country and Western classic.
I didn’t want to play it as just a fiddle tune, and since my daughter, Allie, sings it, I wanted her to have a chance to join me on fiddle tune a day. It just so happened that the stars aligned today to bring together much of the Wickam Family Band. Aaron joins me on guitar, and Adam joins in on the soprano Ukulele, with Allie carrying the vocal lead.
It’s good when family can get together and make music.
Tennessee Waltz according to Wikipedia
“Tennessee Waltz” is a popular/country music song with lyrics by Redd Stewart and music by Pee Wee King written in 1946 and first released in December 1947 as a single by Cowboy Copas that same year. The song became a multimillion seller via a 1950 recording – as “The Tennessee Waltz” – by Patti Page.
All versions of the lyrics narrate a situation in which the persona has introduced his or her sweetheart to a friend who then waltzes away with her or him. The lyrics are altered for pronoun gender on the basis of the sex of the singer.
The popularity of “Tennessee Waltz” also made it the fourth official song of the state of Tennessee in 1965. As of 1974, it was the biggest selling song ever in Japan.
Tennessee Waltz Lyrics
I was dancin’ with my darlin’
To the Tennessee Waltz
When an old friend I happened to see
I introduced her to my loved one
And while they were dancin’
My friend stole my sweetheart from me
I remember the night and the Tennessee Waltz
Now I know just how much I have lost
Yes, I lost my little darlin’
The night they were playing
The beautiful Tennessee Waltz
Pee Wee King, and most of his group,the Golden West Cowboys, were riding in a limousine in 1946 when he and vocalist Redd Stewart co-wrote the song. They were on their way to a Grand Ole Opry appearance in Nashville when they heard Bill Monroe’s new “Kentucky Waltz” on the radio. Stewart began writing the lyrics on a matchbox while King and the other musicians hummed King’s theme song, “No Name Waltz.” King and Stewart presented “Tennessee Waltz” to music publisher Fred Rose the next day, and Rose adjusted one line of Stewart’s lyric: “O the Tennessee waltz, O the Tennessee Waltz,” to “I remember the night and the Tennessee Waltz.” A considerable amount of time passed before Pee Wee King’s Golden West Cowboys were able to record “Tennessee Waltz,” their recording being made in a December 2, 1947 session at the RCA Victor Studio in Chicago. Cowboy Copas, who had formerly vocalized on the Golden West Cowboys’ recordings and who still performed with the group, recorded the song for King Records just after the Golden West Cowboys, with Copas’ version being released just prior to the Golden West Cowboys’: both singles became Top Ten C&W hits – the chart was then known as “Best Selling Folk Retail Records” – in the spring and summer of 1948 with respective peaks of #3 (Pee Wee King’s Golden West Cowboys) and #6 (Cowboy Copas).
Patti Page recorded the song – as “The Tennessee Waltz” – to serve as B-side to the seasonal single “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus” issued by Mercury Records as Catalog# 5534 at the end of 1950. It’s been asserted that Page herself chose to record “Tennessee Waltz,” the C&W version being a favorite song of her father’s, and also that Jerry Wexler, then a record reviewer for Billboard brought “Tennessee Waltz” to the attention of Page’s manager, Jack Rael, by playing him a new R&B rendition by Erskine Hawkins. Page cut “The Tennessee Waltz” in a November 1950 session in New York City with Rael conducting his orchestra: her vocal was cut multitracked with three voices, with two, and as a single voice with Page herself selecting the two-voice multitracked vocal featured on the single as released. “The Tennessee Waltz” entered the Pop Music chart of Billboard dated 10 November 1950 for a 30 week chart run with a #1 peak on the 30 December 1950 chart; the track would remain at #1 for a total of nine weeks. (After the initial pressings “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus” was replaced as the B-side by “Long Long Ago”.) A #2 C&W hit, “The Tennessee Waltz” became Page’s career record.  
The success of the Patti Page version led to covers by Les Paul with Mary Ford (Capitol 1316) and Jo Stafford (Columbia 39065) both of which reached the Top Ten – Stafford’s at #7 and Paul/Ford at #6 (the latter was a double sided hit with “Little Rock Getaway” reaching #18). The Fontane Sisters made their first solo recording cutting “Tennessee Waltz” in a November 1950 session at RCA Victor Studios in New York City; the track would reach the Top 20. In addition, the original version – credited to Pee Wee King – was re-released to reach #6 C&W.
Other recordings were made by Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians (Decca 27336), for the UK market by Petula Clark and for the Japanese market by Chiemi Eri.
On the Cash Box charts, “Tennessee Waltz” reached #1 on December 30, 1950 with the Patti Page, Jo Stafford, Guy Lombardo and LesPaul/Mary Ford versions being given a tandem ranking; as such “Tennessee Waltz” remained #1 inCash Box through the February 3, 1951 chart.
|US Billboard Best Sellers in Stores
(Patti Page version)
30 December 1950 – 24 February 1951
|US Cash Box Best Selling Singles
(Patti Page version)
30 December 1950 – 3 February 1951
“My Heart Cries for You”
“Tennessee Waltz” returned to the charts in the fall of 1959 with a rockabilly version recorded by both Bobby Comstock & the Counts and Jerry Fuller: on the Billboard Hot 100 the versions respectively reached #52 and #63 while Cash Box assigned both versions a joint ranking on its Top 100 Singles chart with a peak position of #42.
In 1964 “Tennessee Waltz” was recorded in a rock and roll ballad style by Alma Cogan; this version was #1 in Sweden for five weeks and also reached the Top 20 in Denmark while a German language rendering (with lyrics by Theo Hansen) reached #10 in Germany. The success of Cogan’s version has inspired remakes by Swedish singers Kikki Danielsson (Wizex (on the 1978 album Miss Decibel)) and Lotta Engberg (on the 2000 album Vilken härlig dag) and – with the German lyrics – by Heidi Brühl, Gitte, Renate Kern and Ireen Sheer.
Sam Cooke recorded a double-time version of “Tennessee Waltz” for his Ain’t That Good News album recorded 28 January 1964 at the RCA Studio in Hollywood. Released March 1, 1964, Ain’t That Good News would be the final album release of new material by Cooke, and “Tennessee Waltz,” coupled with another album track: “Good Times,” would be the final Sam Cooke single released during the singer’s lifetime, with “Tennessee Waltz,” the original B-side, becoming sufficiently popular to chart at #35. Cooke performed “Tennessee Waltz” – and also “Blowin’ in the Wind” – as a guest on the premiere of Shindig! broadcast 16 September 1964.
In 1966, Otis Redding recorded a version of “Tennessee Waltz” featuring Booker T & the MGs on his classic R&B album The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul.
Manfred Mann included a version of the song on their number-one EP in 1966.
Johnny Jones – a native of Atlanta who had briefly replaced Sam Cooke in the Soul Stirrers before Johnnie Taylor joined the group – reached #49 R&B in 1968 with his deep soul rendition of “Tennessee Waltz” cut for producer Bobby Robinson’s Fury Records.
In 1972, American Spring recorded a cover of “Tennessee Waltz” produced by Brian Wilson to open their debut album, Spring.
Lacy J. Dalton hit #18 on the C&W chart in Billboard with her gritty reworking of “Tennessee Waltz” in 1980.
In 1983 the song was featured on the James Brown album Bring It On (Churchill Records).
Norah Jones performed “Tennessee Waltz” as an encore during a live show at the House of Blues in New Orleans on August 24, 2002. It is featured as extra material on the following DVD-release of the show.
Leonard Cohen recorded “Tennessee Waltz” – one of the few covers he’s ever cut – for his 2004 album Dear Heather; this version featured an additional verse written by Cohen himself.
Belle and Sebastian used the melody from “Tennessee Waltz” in their song Slow Graffiti.
Other artists who have recorded “Tennessee Waltz” (with the parent album): LaVern Baker (Woke Up This Mornin’ 1993), Eva Cassidy (Imagine 2002), Holly Cole (Don’t Smoke in Bed 1993), Connie Francis, Emmylou Harris (Cimarron1981), Tom Jones backed by The Chieftains (Long Black Veil 1995), (1995), Pete Molinari (Today, Tomorrow and Forever 2009), Anne Murray (Let’s Keep It That Way 1978), Elvis Presley, Billie Jo Spears (Country Girl 1981) and Lenny Welch.
“My Boy Lollipop”
|Swedish hit parade
(Alma Cogan version)
23 June – 14 July, 28 July 1964
“Long Tall Sally (EP)”
#1@21 July & 4 August 1964
The August 3, 1966 broadcast of The Merv Griffin Show featured an impromptu performance of “Tennessee Waltz” by Monti Rock with go-go dancing accompaniment by Jayne Mansfield.
The marching bands of several state-funded universities in Tennessee perform the song at the end of every home football game. These include The University of Tennessee Pride of the Southland Band, and The Middle Tennessee State University Band of Blue. The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Marching Mocs perform the “Tennessee Waltz March” during pre-game of every home football game, as well as at other athletic events. Outside of Tennessee, Baylor University Golden Wave Band in Waco TX, and The Appalachian State University Marching Mountaineers in Boone NC, also play the song at home football games. East Tennessee State University dropped football in 2004, but “Tennessee Waltz” can be heard at the end of every Buccaneers sports radio broadcast.
The Patti Page version of the song is featured in the Channel Four drama Mo (based on the life of the British politician Mo Mowlam).