Like selections by most artists with multi-decade careers, Eddy Arnold songs trace the changes to love songs and trail ballads from the mid-’40s through the Nashville Sound’s prime years in the ’60s. From the cowboy-friendly image of the Tennessee Plowboy to his years as fellow “Welcome to My World” singer Jim Reeves’ clear-voiced accomplice, Arnold fit the molds of both a country singer and an American pop crooner–those easy on the eyes and ears entertainers capable of adding a touch of class to old standards, Christmas carols and new hits.
The following 10 selections capture the talents and staying power of one of the finest talents to ever emerge from the Volunteer State.
10. “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye”
The great vocalists in popular genres often make contemporary hits their own. An example of this is Arnold’s take on this ’60s standard, penned by John D. Loudermilk.
9. “I Really Don’t Want to Know”
The greats also shine when slowing galloping pop sounds down to a slow stroll. Here, he spills his soul for a potential lover with her own history of heartbreak.
8. “Just a Little Lovin (Will Go a Long Way)”
Like “Texarkana Baby,” his version of “Tennessee Waltz” and other earlier hits, this just sounds like classy pop music from the past that somehow got dismissed as being too “hillbilly.”
7. “I’ll Hold You in My Heart (Till I Can Hold You in My Arms)”
Arnold crooned love songs as a full-time job early on, as heard on this country & Western equivalent of his future pleas to “Take Me in Your Arms and Hold Me.”
6. “What’s He Doin’ in my World”
There’s an odd juxtaposition here, with Arnold singing as a jealous lover over a pretty chipper backing track. For other happy-sounding sad songs, check out “Lonely Again,” “Turn the World Around,” “The Last Word in Lonesome is Me,” “There Goes My Everything,” “You Don’t Know Me,” the later version of “Just Call Me Lonesome” and other Nashville Sound showpieces.
5. “Don’t Rob Another Man’s Castle”
This classic is a cheating song of sorts. Arnold’s character pleads for another man to stop from ruining the home life of another. It turns out that Arnold’s warnings come from someone who’s been on both sides of heartbreak.
4. “Bouquet of Roses”
Of course, heart-felt love songs suited a man with a debonair image and gorgeous singing voice. His second best love song debuted in March 1948 and spent an incredible 54 weeks on the country music charts.
3. “It’s a Sin”
Arnold’s lengthy career stretched back to the days of crackling 78s on labels like Bluebird. This Fred Rose co-write, for instance, was his second overall number one hit way back in 1947. For other sounds from way back when, listen to “I’m Throwing Rice (At the Girl I Love)” (1941), “What is Life Without Love” (1950), “Kentucky Waltz” (1951) and “I Wanna Play House With You” (1951).
2. “The Cattle Call”
A perfect blend of Arnold’s Tennessee Plowboy country singer persona and his crooner skills, this Western standard mixes his skills as a yodeler and a smooth-voiced pop performer. It’s Eddy’s song of choice from a Western-friendly catalog that also includes a great version of “Cool Water.”
1. “Make the World Go Away”
Arnold’s status as one of the definitive crooners of the Nashville Sound era gets exemplified by his timeless performance of this future standard. It was penned by Hank Cochran and originally recorded two years earlier by Ray Price.