Wolverton Mountain

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"Wolverton Mountain"
Single by Claude King
from the album Meet Claude King
B-side "Little Bitty Heart"
Released March 1962
Genre Country
Label Columbia
Writer(s) Merle Kilgore
Claude King
Producer(s) Don Law
Frank Jones
Claude King singles chronology
"The Comancheros"
(1961)
"Wolverton Mountain"
(1962)
"The Burning of Atlanta"
(1962)

"Wolverton Mountain" was a hit that established Claude King's career as an American country singer/songwriter in 1962. The song was a rewrite of the original version by Merle Kilgore, which was based on a real character named Clifton Clowers who lived on the mountain (the mountain's actual name being spelled Woolverton.[1]), north of Morrilton, Arkansas. The song spent nine weeks at the top of the Billboard country chart in the US in 1962.[2] It was also a giant crossover hit, reaching number six on the pop chart [3] and number three on the easy listening chart.

Premise[edit]

The song's storyline deals with the narrator's desire for Clowers' daughter and his intention to climb the titular mountain and marry her. It opens with the recounting of a legendary warning to the listener not to "go on Wolverton Mountain", as its inhabitant Clifton Clowers, who is "handy with a gun and a knife", poses a lethal threat to anyone who tries to approach his beautiful daughter, whose "tender lips are sweeter than honey". If a stranger attempts to enter, Clowers is alerted by "the bears and the birds". The narrator has decided to defy Clowers and climb the mountain despite the acknowledged danger. What will eventually happen to him is not revealed in the lyric, but the positive tone suggests optimism.

Clifton Clowers[edit]

Clifton T. Clowers was born on 30 October 1891, at Center Ridge, Arkansas, son of Thomas Jefferson and Mary Prince Clowers. In July 1919 he married Esther Bell. He was a veteran of World War I and a deacon in the Mountain View Baptist Church. He was immortalized by the success of "Wolverton Mountain", originally written by his nephew Merle Kilgore.[4][5] He lived most of his life on a farm located on the northern edge of Woolverton Mountain.

On his 100th birthday Clowers was visited by both writers of the song, King and Kilgore.[6] He died at the age of 102 on 15 August 1994 at his home in Clinton, Arkansas, and was buried at the Woolverton Mountain Cemetery.

Cover and answer versions[edit]

Country singer Dickey Lee, who was still emerging on the music scene at the time, covered the song just months after it was released.

Nat King Cole covered the song for his 1962 album Ramblin' Rose.

Bing Crosby covered the song for his 1965 album Bing Crosby Sings the Great Country Hits. Jerry Lee Lewis also recorded a version of the song that year.

In 1962, Australian country and western singer Kevin Shegog recorded the song and it was a popular hit in Australia.

An answer song, I'm The Girl from Wolverton Mountain, was recorded by Jo Ann Campbell, released in August 1962 ("Yes, I'm the girl from Wolverton Mountain / I wish someone would make me their wife"), and also achieved popularity in Australia in a version by Dorothy Baker.[7]

Great Plains covered the song in 1997. Writer Merle Kilgore praised Great Plains' cover, saying that it was the first time since King's original that the "magic" had been recaptured.[8]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1962) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Hot C&W Sides 1
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 6
U.S. Billboard Easy Listening 3

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.mountainzone.com/mountains/detail.asp?fid=7019756
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book Of Top 40 Country Hits: 1944-2006, Second edition. Record Research. p. 190. 
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits: Eighth Edition. Record Research. p. 346. 
  4. ^ Obituary, Van Buren County Democrat
  5. ^ Formosa Community News section of the Morrilton Democrat
  6. ^ http://www.hillbilly-music.com/images/story/1/11211g.jpg
  7. ^ Video on YouTube
  8. ^ http://books.google.com/books?id=IA8EAAAAMBAJ&printsec=frontcover&lr=&rview=1#v=onepage&q=%22everything%20i%20love%22&f=false

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"She Thinks I Still Care"
by George Jones
Billboard Hot C&W Sides
number-one single

June 30-August 25, 1962
Succeeded by
"Devil Woman"
by Marty Robbins
Preceded by
"I Fall to Pieces"
by Patsy Cline
Billboard Hot Country Singles
number-one single of the year

1962
Succeeded by
"Still"
by Bill Anderson