Big Bad John
June 14, 2010 by Post Team
From the links a little to your television variety shows his musical career, Dean is packaged as the quintessential Southern good boy, with the big smile and long, slow accent and all, but a piece of hay from between lower front teeth.
Your profile dropped somewhat as the years passed, but there was a time when no artist of the south side of Dolly Parton’s best-selling classic that image successfully.
As Parton, Dean was also the more astute than the suggested. He was a businessman who knew his abilities and his audience, and understands that a friendly, folksy face can sell food. See “Crocker, Betty,” or “Ben, the uncle.”
Hip? Not exactly. At a time when everything from television to the shoes are sold with a dark grin, Jimmy Dean was operating from a marketing playbook before the “Mad Men.”
The funny thing is it works. You can not get there by subway and bus posters in New York, but it moves a lot of product to Winn-Dixie.
Dean began his musical career in early 1950 with the country band that sings country things about the traditional music: lying, cheating, drinking.
After a while, however, he seemed to realize he could sell a little more difficult and potentially more lucrative: the warm, sentimental, global stories in-your-throat that a lot of people quietly happy.
His first pop recording in 1957, included “Little Sandy Sleighfoot”, a touching Christmas story about an elf who was 4 feet tall with feet that were 3 feet 3 inches long.
The elves others mocked him, of course, until he discovered he could ski without skis. So the night the barn burned, was able to run down the hill and save the reindeer.
It was a great success. It was a great template.
Four years after Dean moment finally came around: “Big Bad John“, a No. 1 hit for five weeks in late 1961.
Big Bad John, for those born too late to remember, was a mysterious mining “was 6 feet 6, weighed 245.” Nobody knew much about him until the day the mine shaft collapsed, trapping 21 men underground. Everyone else began to mourn. John “took a rope made of wood, came with a groan, and like a giant oak tree just stood there.” And then?
“Twenty men scrambled from a would-be grave now there’s only one left there to save – Big John.”
That unfortunately did not. But the survivors did put a marble stone in front of “the well no value” and said: “At the bottom of this mine lies a big, big – Big John.”
Admit it. There is a lump in my throat.
Dean also not stop there.
Its follow-up was “Dear Ivan,” a melodramatic recitation set to the tune of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” He asked his Russian counterpart to recognize how much the average person in the U.S. and truly shared the Soviet Union, despite the tensions of the Cold War.
A year later he recorded “PT 109″, an account of the romantic drama of the Second World War then President John F. Kennedy.
Then in 1976 he returned with “IOU,” a recitation thanking his mother, and mothers everywhere.
He never had a hit to match “Big Bad John.” He did not have to. That song rose quite high profile for the ABC to give him a variety show, which in turn allowed him to set up restaurants and sausage.
Nor can we accuse him anything like that. He made it look as easy as shelling of corn.
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