Thursday, February 19, 2009
The name Hank Fort conjures images of some lanky cowboy singer in full regalia, most likely standing in black and white, with a western swing orchestra behind him and a post war Cadillac or an old bullet-back bus. We find however that Ms. Fort was no such thing, as evidenced by the cover of this 1958 Epic LP.
Alma Louise Middleton Hankins Fort (b. June 19, 1914) was a Nashvillian who reflected not the hillbilly image of that fair city, but rather the cultured and somewhat antebellum aspects of "the Athens of the South". Her father was the painter Cornelius Hankins, her mother a writer of children's verse. With a background in theatre and music, Fort was very much a presence in the early days of broadcasting and recording in the the soon-to-be country music capital. In 1947 she composed the first radio jingle to be recorded in Music City, an ad for Shyer Jewelers that would run for the next twenty years.
Fort is best remembered, however, for the many novelty songs she composed and recorded. The most famous of these is undoubtedly "I Didn't Know The Gun Was Loaded", which has received decades of airplay via Dr. Demento. "Put Your Shoes On Lucy" was recorded by many artists and remains a standard piece of forties nostalgia. I first heard "You Can't Hurt Me Now Cause I'm Dead" on an old 78 (a different recording that the one featured here) and it stands out as one of the most bizarre songs I have ever heard.
Although the present album indicates no particular recording data, it was almost certainly recorded in Nashville. The Anita Kerr Singers can be clearly identified by listening, and I could be wrong, but the lead guitar sure sounds like Hank Garland to me (If not, Harold Bradley maybe?).
There is very little information about Hank Fort to be found online. There is no date of passing given in any of the brief bios, if in fact alive, Ms. Fort would be 90 years old. If anyone knows for sure, please comment.
1. Put Your Shoes On Lucy
2. Gray Flannel Shirt
3. I Didn't Know The Gun Was Loaded
4. In Arkansas
5. Honey Pie-Sugar Lamb
6. Save Your Confederate Money,Boys
7. Never Took A Lesson In My Life
8. You Can't Hurt Me Now Cause I'm Daid
9. Tall Tales Of Texas
10. Kissin' Kin
11. Florida Shore
12. Southern Cookin'
13. I Love Connecticut
14. My One Track Heart