Thursday, November 6, 2008


About four posts ago (Nov 1st) I mentioned a few country crossovers in the vintage years. One glaring omission (mea culpa!) was Sonny James. How I could forget this is beyond me. Chalk it up to Boomer Brain or something, because I totally dig this song! Anyway, Sonny had a huge hit back in 1957 with “Young Love” He didn’t write it, however. It was penned in 1956 by Ric Cartey and Carol Joyner. I discovered in my research that Cartey actually recorded it first, but it didn’t really gain attention until Sonny recorded it on January 5, 1957. Then it became the first country song to ascend both the country and pop charts. He wasn’t the only one to have a big hit with this. The same song was a simultaneous (January 19, 1957) hit for teen movie heartthrob Tab Hunter – and actually charted higher than Sonny’s version. That’s how it was done back then. A song was often recorded by more than one artist at the same time, and they let them battle it out on the airwaves. I don’t mind Tab’s version, I guess. It’s hard to totally mess up such a great love song like this one, but it is kind of white bread. Not as white bread as Pat Boone’s covers of Little Richard tunes, mind you, but close. Sonny James, on the other hand, really puts his heart and soul into it. Sonny has had a long and full career, with plenty of well-deserved recognition. He continued to record until his retirement in 1983, and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2006. He never had another pop crossover hit like “Young Love” but that one gets played regularly on the oldie stations. And you can’t keep a good song down. It’s also been covered by The Crew-Cuts (also 1957), The Rolling Stones, Ray Stevens and Donny Osmond, and others. Here’s some great b/w footage of Sonny in country attire, sing about that young love. Sigh.

Video by YT member DKenUCLA
Photo from


Poetikat said...

That was great! His voice is certainly the purest of the bunch. I remember the Donny version and it was gaggable, really.
Don't you just love YouTube? It's amazing how with just a few clicks you can be taken back to eras we should never forget.


Anonymous said...

My mother was nuts about Sonny in the late 60s. She couldn't get enough of him. And while I was enjoying Motown, she was digging Mr. James. And since we battled for the radio, we each compomised and learned the songs together. So I am quite familiar with Sonny James's material which might be considered quite esoteric for country music fans (which I am not save for Johnny, Patsy, and Hank),