Got a short email yesterday from a friend in Victoria, Canada. It read, “Did you hear that Slim passed on”. I hadn’t, but an hour later I read Slim Whitman’s obituary in one of the Sunday papers. I was delighted to discover that he lived to the ripe old age of 89, and I hope that he enjoyed every well-earned minute.
I don’t know how the album ‘Country Favourites’ turned up in our house in 1962, but it was one of a small bunch of vinyl albums that lay on the lid of the record player…. ‘The Student Prince’, featuring Mario Lanza being another. Slim had to fight for my attention back then. ‘Love Me Do’, ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’, etc were being played off the air by Luxembourg and Chris Montez and Fats Domino were still there for the jivers. The richness of what was about to emerge over the coming decades was stiff competition, but somehow Slim’s voice insisted that I stop and listen. I knew that there was something special about ‘Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain’, ‘Lovesick Blues’, ‘That Silver-haired Daddy Of Mine’ and a half dozen other tunes that featured on Country Favourites.
Obviously, the voice was unique, but there was something about the band and the simplicity of the music that held me in thrall. I was too young to grab the emotional messages but the power of the sound was enough. To paraphrase Declan Sinnott, “I loved the noise” that Slim made. I still love it, and years later heard Willie Nelson singing ‘Blue Eyes’ and loved it just as well.
Two wonderful voices gone in the last few months….George Jones and Slim Whitman. They both defied the odds and made it past 80. Well done guys and thanks.