Mule Train

Album: The Frankie Laine Collection: The Mercury Years (1949)
Charted: 1
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Songfacts®:

  • This song was composed by Fred Glickman, Hy Heath and John Lange and produced by Mitch Miller. It's sung from the perspective of a mule train driver delivering a variety of goods to folks in the Old West. Frankie Laine's innovative version that incorporated studio effects set the standard for the covers that followed. He took the song to #1 in October 1949. That same month, Bing Crosby released a Top 10 entry that was included on the popular radio program Lassie in December, and Tennessee Ernie Ford brought his own version to #10 on the pop chart and #1 on the country chart.
  • Because of its whip-cracking accompaniment, this song is important in the history of popular music as it was one of the first produced records that couldn't be replicated by a solo artist on the piano using sheet music.
  • In the book Hound Dog: The Leiber & Stoller Autobiography, Jerry Leiber recounts working in Norty's record store in L.A. circa 1950 while he was still in high school. He specifically mentions the store sold Frankie Laine records, as well as the Mickey Katz cover of "Mule Train."
  • Vaughn Monroe, who hit #10 with a version in 1949, sang this in the 1950 Western Singing Guns. The song earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song, but it lost to "Mona Lisa" from Captain Carey, U.S.A. Gene Autry also sang the tune in the 1950 Western Mule Train.
  • Ford's version featured a cameo by country singer Merle Travis, who provided the whip sound effect by blowing air through his pursed lips and filtering the noise through an echo chamber. (Ford also went on to have a huge hit with a cover of Travis' "Sixteen Tons.")

Comments: 3

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn October 19th 1949, Mercury Records released "Mule Train" by Frankie Laine...
    And just twenty-four days later on November 12th, 1949 it peaked at #1 {for 2 weeks} on Billboard's Best Selling Pops Singles chart...
    He knocked himself out of the top spot, the week before his version of "That Lucky Old Sun" was the #1 record...
    He first made the charts in 1944; and his last record to make the national charts was "Dammit Isn't God's Last Name", it peaked at #86 on Billboard’s Top 100 chart in 1969...
    R.I.P. Mr. Laine, born Francesco Paolo LoVecchio, {1913 - 2007}.
  • Chomper03 from Chambersburg, Pa"Spike Jones and his City Slickers" (known for their comical and humorous singing, sound impersonation, and band playing in the 1930s and 1940s), also did their version of Mule Train. In their version, the singer impersonates a Chinese man, traveling on a train full of mules, somewhere in China.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyThis song was nominated for Best Song at the 1950 Academy Awards {It was from the movie "Singing Guns"; the song that won was "Mona Lisa"}
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