In 1956, a tall dark and handsome man with a velvety baritone was gracing the airwaves on the nightly “Ford Show”. Tennessee Ernie Ford, a radio DJ turned country singer turned TV star, ended all his shows with a hymn. One year close to Christmas Ford chose the tune “Children Go Where I Send Thee”, an American Spiritual that has slow tempo verses and an upbeat chorus.
It’s obvious in the chorus that the little boy to Tennessee Ernie’s right is getting really into the song. As the song picks up tempo he starts slapping his hands and shaking his head in time to the music. The grin on his face makes it pretty apparent that he knows he’s doing something he shouldn’t be.
A little later, another child on the set quietly tries to motion for him to stop, but he keeps it up, and eventually he is the main focus of the camera. Tennessee Ernie gets the crowd’s attention back though, by never losing his cool, and showing comical irritation with the child, who happens to be his younger son, Brion.
Most parents have probably made that “my child is giving me a headache” gesture Tennessee Ernie makes in the video. The real achievement must have been not cracking up like the audience did. By the end of the song, however, it’s clear that it’s all in good fun, and little Brion gets a hug from his dad.