Do Not Forsake Me and Other Jokes

While the Real Mr. Heartache often doesn’t like movies, he does like Westerns, and he does like country songs winning Oscars. Today marks the first time that happened back in 1953 when Tex Ritter walked away with one for his song “High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me).” He beat out such classics as “Thumbelina,” and “Zing A Little Zong!”


“Zing a Little Zong”

After filming “High Noon” director Fred Zinneman and producer Stanley Kramer felt that something was still missing. Someone suggested a narration in the form of a song to help pull the scenes together. Dimitri Tiomkin and Ted Washington teamed together and wrote the song and Tex Ritter was asked to sing it. Ritter’s star had been in decline since the end of the 1940s, and not much was initially thought of this little cowboy ballad. United Artists wanted Capitol to release it as a single, but not seeing the potential they declined. Frankie Laine, who would later go on to sing “Blazing Saddles,” covered it and it was only then that Capitol rushed out a single of Ritter’s version. That single version is the one most often heard on Ritter’s various compilations and that’s too bad since it doesn’t sound much like the version used in the film. There is a sparseness to the driving tom toms of the film version that captures the desperation and inner conflict of a man torn between his lovely young bride and sworn duty which still remains beautiful and haunting. It’s tough to find this version, but not impossible (see below). The song, as mentioned above, went on to be nominated for and win the Oscar for best song and Ritter was asked to perform it live on the Pantages stage. It was the first national telecast of the Oscars, but even so Ritter said it conflicted with a tour and declined. He finally was talked into it by Tiomkin and later said it was one of the highlights of his performing career. This song as afterthought went on to be one of the biggest hits of his career.

“High Noon”

Post Script ~ From time to time I’m asked if some of the songs I play on Walkin’ the Floor have a deeper meaning or specific message. I’ll say that largely the answer is no. That’s not to say that playing Merle Haggard’s “Working Man” isn’t a passive commentary on the Union busting efforts of a Wisconsin Governor, but for me the problem there is more social than political; Governor Walker just doesn’t like hard working people. That said the show is sometimes lightly salted with inside jokes aimed at specific people. “High Noon” is a song that gets pretty regular airplay on the big show, and also happens to be one of those jokes. Sometimes a boy lets a girl know he likes her by pulling her pigtails.


About Iaan Hughes

Iaan Hughes is a deejay on 91.3 KBCS in Seattle. He plays country & western music.
This entry was posted in Country, Folk, Honky Tonk, Music, Pop, Radio, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Do Not Forsake Me and Other Jokes

  1. Chris says:

    Coolest Tex Ritter fact: he died while bailing a friend out of jail.

    • iaanhughes says:

      Is that true? Totally crazy. I can only hope to go the same way!

      • Chris says:

        It could be apocryphal, but I’ve read it in several different places over the years. Tex had a heart attack while putting up the bond for one of his band members, who was in jail for non-support.

        If you haven’t heard, Ralph Mooney died yesterday.

  2. auntmama says:

    Okay I found it. Great story amd thanks for radio run down as well. auntmama

  3. Pingback: Whoopi-ti-yi-yay « The Real Mr. Heartache

  4. Pingback: Happy Trails « The Real Mr. Heartache

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