The Number Twos: Bill Parsons – “The All American Boy”

11 Jan

“The All American Boy” by Bill Parsons (well, not really but we’ll get to that in a moment) hit #2 on February 2, 1959

Okay this is a strange one and I swear I’ll soon get to the point where I’ll stop going back to the first #2 here in comparison but indulge me one last time as we start hitting every archetype for the type of artists we’ll see here.

First, Bobby Day, a very famous mostly one-hit wonder. Second, Everly Brothers, a very famous duo with many hits. Third, Connie Francis, a very famous pre-Beatles singer who is largely forgotten. Fourth, Bill Parsons, a man without even a wikipedia entry. Huh?

Well, the thing is Bill Parsons didn’t actually sing or play on the song at all. The only reason he’s credited is due to a mix-up by the record label. Bobby Bare, who has a fair-sized wikipedia and a long track record in the ’60s and ’70s as a successful country musician, actually wrote and recorded the song. Parsons and Bare together recorded some music, with Parsons on one side of the record, and Bare on the other.

As Bare told Billboard magazine: “Bill had just gotten out of the Army. He had a thing he wanted to record. So, we went down to King Studio in Cincinnati, and I played bass on his thing. We had about fifteen minutes. I said ‘Let me put down this thing I’ve been working on.’ So, I did.” 

“That same day, they wanted to make a copy of it.,” Bare continued “The guy who was paying for it went to a company there to get an acetate made. It was Fraternity Records. When they heard the two records. They asked who was singing, and the guy told him Bill Parsons – which it was on the back side of that record. So, they put it out with his name on it. It scared him to death. He didn’t even know the song.”

It was Bare’s first success, but claimed by Parsons, who would lip-sync the song on television while Bare was in the army.

I can only imagine what would happen had this deception come more recently, though, I suppose we have the Milli Vanill situation for that in another 30 years.

Now, for the song itself. “All American Boy” is a spoken word story loosely based off the tale of Elvis Presley about a boy who learns to play guitar and rises to fame.

Bare begins by letting the audience know that, like him, they too can be an All American Boy (presumably the men, anyway) if they buy a guitar and follow these steps.

In fact, only a year ago, Bare explains he bought a guitar, learned to play, Johnny B. Goode, for example, only to irritate his dad, who told him that if he kept up with the racket, he’d have to leave. He moved to Memphis, played his tunes, and attracted the attention of a talent agent, who said he could make this All American Boy a star. He became that star, getting all the girls, driving a big car, only to be called to service by the army.

There’s a jazzy little ’50s early rock tune playing in the background but the song largely rises and falls on vocal performance, which at least juices the relative most out of a song that’s just okay. His enthusiasm seems sort of by-the-numbers though, there’s nothing approaching real passion or emotion.

Rating: 5 – It’s fine. There are plenty of spoken word tracks I adore. The story because the All American Boy mix up is a sight better than the song itself.

What was #1? The Platters – ‘Smoke Gets In Your Eyes”

Was the #2 better than #1? No.

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