My Music Videos

This Ole House Background

"This Ole House" was written in 1954 by Stuart Hamblen, one of the early singing cowboys on radio in the 1920s, who swore off booze and tobacco and wrote many gospel songs after being saved by Billy Graham. Hamblen is quoted here in Dorothy Horstman's book, "Sing Your Heart Out, Country Boy":

"This song was written one cold wintry day in the High Sierra mountain range when I was on a hunting trip. With a hunting companion, I had gone hack into a remote section of the country. We were at least twenty miles from the nearest road when we came upon an old prospector's cabin. Although there was snow on the ground, there was no smoke coming from the chimney but I knew the master was at home because a large hound dog was lying on the front porch. Upon entering, we found an old man dead in a back room. I can't say how long he had been dead, for he looked like he was just asleep, but because of the severe weather it might have been some time, and the old hound was nearly starved. 'This Ole House' was the old prospector's epitaph."

I'm a big fan of Stuart Hamblen, first heard of him through his "Is He Satisfied?" and "Known Only to Him," which I discovered while leafing through an old songbook. He was a country and gospel singer, songwriter, bandleader, and radio-movie personality from Texas.

According to the biography at the Hamblen Music web site, 'In 1945, Stuart became the first man to fly a horse when he flew his race horse, EL LOBO, from Los Angeles, California, to Bay Meadows on the Flying Tiger Airlines. EL LOBO won the Burlingame Handicap ... and they flew home the same day. The history of the race horse was forever changed. The Bay Meadows racing form, "War Horse" was called "The Flying Horse" the day after the race.'

According to Texas State Historical Association, 'In 1926 Hamblen reportedly became radio broadcasting's first real "singing cowboy" after landing a spot on KFYO in Abilene.... In 1930 Hamblen briefly joined the Beverly Hillbillies, an early radio country-and-western singing group then broadcasting over KMPC in Los Angeles.... As the pressures of his public career mounted Hamblen began gambling and became increasingly addicted to alcohol. His drinking binges occasionally landed him in jail for brawling and shooting out streetlights.... Hamblen's wild, boozing lifestyle might have gone indefinitely had his wife not introduced him to the young evangelist Billy Graham.... The next day Hamblen gave his testimony over the radio and declared that he was "hitting the sawdust trail." ... True to his word, Hamblen swore off alcohol and tobacco, sold his racehorses, and dedicated his life to Christ. Many of his later songs, such as "It Is No Secret (What God Can Do)" ... reflected his new-found faith ... In 1954, while on a hunting trip in the Sierras, Hamblen and his party came upon the body of an old, dead prospector in his remote tumbledown shack. That experience resulted in Hamblen's most famous gospel music tune, "This Ole House," which was subsequently popularized by Rosemary Clooney and named the 1954 Song of the Year. Jo Stafford, Red Foley, Elvis Presley, and Jimmy Dean also made top hits out of Hamblen's songs.'

— Dave Butler

My 2023 Recordings, including This Ole House





This page was last modified September 27 2023 15:06:47


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