Discussion:
The Number Ones: The Browns’ “The Three Bells”
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Bob Roman
2018-11-16 21:56:55 UTC
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A writer named Tom Breihan has been reviewing, in order, every song to hit #1 in the Billboard Hot 100.

The Browns – “The Three Bells”
HIT #1: August 24, 1959
STAYED AT #1: 4 weeks

Nashville will always get you. It’s the oldest trick in the music business: You tell a trite, gloopy, sentimental slice-of-life story, but you do it with such a sense of empathy and theater that the thing ends up moving people deeply anyway. It’s always possible to resist this sort of thing, to sneer at a song like Lee Brice’s “I Drive Your Truck,” to see yourself as being somehow above that kind of manipulative heart-tugging. But why would you? Why deny yourself a good cry? There’s lots wrong with the Nashville pop-country machine, and there’s always been lots wrong with it. But at its best, that machine is capable of giving millions of people a good cry. That’s true today, and it was true 60 years ago, which brings us to “The Three Bells.”

“The Three Bells” didn’t start its life as a country song. The Swiss Jean Villard Gilles wrote the song in 1945. It was in French, and it was called “Les Trois Cloches.” Edith Piaf had a huge hit with it in 1953. But “Les Trois Cloches” was made to be a country song, and eventually, that’s what it became. The song, which was translated into English soon enough, told the story of a whole town gathering to pray for a young man at various stages of his life — at his birth, at his wedding, and at his death. We don’t really learn anything about the man, called Jimmy Brown in the English version. But by the time the song ends, we feel like we know him anyway, and we feel like we know the whole town that comes together whenever anyone hits one of those big milestones.

The Browns were a family band from Arkansas — brother Jim Ed Brown and sisters Bonnie and Maxine. They’d been singing folk and country for a few years when they got ahold of “The Three Bells” and gave it a simple, plainspoken reading. Jim Ed sings lead, while Bonnie and Maxine add creamy backing harmonies and, at the big moments, join Jim Ed for emphasis. The backing instrumentation is rudimentary but gorgeous, just a simple guitar line and a few dashes of piano, bass, and drums.

There’s so much grace and warmth in the way they describe this village — “hidden deep in the valley, among the pine trees, half-forlorn” — and the way they sing about the people who care so deeply about each other. The image of a small church full of people praying for a baby, or a newlywed, or a dead man is absolutely powerful on an almost primal level; hearing it, I can’t help but imagine my own wedding or funeral. And the Browns don’t do too much to adorn it. They just tell this near-universal story, giving it the calm dignity it deserves.

GRADE: 8/10
Dean F.
2018-11-17 01:53:41 UTC
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He gave that piece of shit an 8 out of 10? Clearly, his taste is all in his mouth!
RWC
2018-11-17 02:14:48 UTC
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... piece of shit ...


"This simple little song is better than all of the mainstream music released in
the last 10 years."

Clearly, a very divisive song, like The Donald :-)
SavoyBG
2018-11-17 02:27:50 UTC
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Post by RWC
... piece of shit ...
http://youtu.be/HTkbj56bnYs
"This simple little song is better than all of the mainstream music released in the last 10 years."
That's not saying much. Other than some of the dogshit pop acts most any 50s record is better than all of the mainstream music of the past 10 years.
Mark Dintenfass
2018-11-17 04:05:58 UTC
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Post by SavoyBG
Post by RWC
... piece of shit ...
http://youtu.be/HTkbj56bnYs
"This simple little song is better than all of the mainstream music
released in the last 10 years."
That's not saying much. Other than some of the dogshit pop acts most any 50s
record is better than all of the mainstream music of the past 10 years.
But he rated it higher than "Big Hunk of Love," which is better than
most of what Presley did at RCA in the 50s.
--
--md
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Roger Ford
2018-11-17 11:51:23 UTC
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On Fri, 16 Nov 2018 22:05:58 -0600, Mark Dintenfass
Post by Mark Dintenfass
Post by SavoyBG
Post by RWC
... piece of shit ...
http://youtu.be/HTkbj56bnYs
"This simple little song is better than all of the mainstream music
released in the last 10 years."
That's not saying much. Other than some of the dogshit pop acts most any 50s
record is better than all of the mainstream music of the past 10 years.
But he rated it higher than "Big Hunk of Love," which is better than
most of what Presley did at RCA in the 50s.
Tho The Browns did pretty well over here with "The Three Bells"
reaching #6 on the NME chart in October 1959 folk here still tended to
associate the song with the earlier recording by Les Compagnons De La
Chanson. And many still do.

This record was The Browns' sole moment in the sun here in the UK.
Unlike the USA none of their followup records ("Scarlet Ribbons","The
Old Lamplighter" etc) did a thing here.

ROGER FORD
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Dennis C
2018-11-17 12:58:21 UTC
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They were solid!! The songs have hung in there and resisted the pull of time,baby!
SavoyBG
2018-11-17 14:12:35 UTC
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Post by Dennis C
They were solid!! The songs have hung in there and resisted the pull of time,baby!
We know what you like to pull!
Bob Roman
2018-11-17 14:33:07 UTC
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Ray's version:


--
BR
Mark Dintenfass
2018-11-17 14:54:48 UTC
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Post by Bob Roman
http://youtu.be/0GihpUXxYFQ
Well, hard as he tries, Ray can't quite save it. It's best in French,
but even Piaf's version makes me itchy.
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Roger Ford
2018-11-24 17:06:36 UTC
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On Fri, 16 Nov 2018 13:56:55 -0800 (PST), Bob Roman
A writer named Tom Breihan has been reviewing, in order, every song to hit =
#1 in the Billboard Hot 100.
The Browns =E2=80=93 =E2=80=9CThe Three Bells=E2=80=9D
HIT #1: August 24, 1959
STAYED AT #1: 4 weeks
Here's how it did in the 1959 Singles Battle

R1 Browns 25
David Seville & Chipmunks - Ragtime Cowboy Joe 0

2 Larry Davis - Angels In Houston 10
Browns 13

3 Genies - Who's That Knocking 21
Browns 6

ROGER FORD
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"Spam Free Zone" - to combat unwanted automatic spamming I have added
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Please delete same before responding.Thank you!

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