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The Villages
Thursday, July 29, 2021

Elmo Tanner wound up in the Whistler’s Hall of Fame

Barry Evans
Barry Evans

I was thinking the other day that you seldom hear people whistling anymore.  This seems to be the case even when you are working – which must tick Disney off no end! I would assume that it may have to do with those who don’t like noise, even someone whistling a good tune, while they ply their trade.  Thus, those who can carry a tune gave up whistling.  However, the pandemic put many folks at working from home.  They may have decided that since there was no one else around they could whistle their little hearts away.  Now though folks are starting to return to work, some may have developed a habit that may be hard to break.  It could get really noisy in an office if there are several persons whistling their own tune.  One may be going at “You are my Sunshine” while another is running through a “Barber of Seville” tune. There could be bloodshed if the bosses aren’t careful.  Of course, if they are one of the ones whistling who knows what might happen. 

Back in the 40’s there was a whistler with the Ted Weems band named Elmo Tanner.  He could whistle up just about anything.  One of the reasons being he could whistle from the throat by controlling the muscles in his larynx.  I don’t know too many folks who can control the muscles in their larynx.   I thought about it as I like to whistle, but I couldn’t find my larynx no matter how I tried. As I implied above quite a few people consider whistling annoying which makes it difficult to earn an income by whistling.  Even Elmo had trouble as before he became famous, he was arrested and jailed in Albuquerque for whistling after 10 p.m.!  Can you imagine being jailed for that these days?

In any case, Elmo’s big tune was one called “Heartaches”.  Ted Weems’ record label had assigned the tune to him.  He didn’t like it and disliked the words even more so he had Elmo whistle it.  The record went nowhere.  About five years later they recorded it again with another label.  It still went nowhere, until a young disc jockey (named Billy, I think) from Charlotte played it.  People started calling in wanting to hear it – and a star was born. Elmo ended up in the Whistler’s Hall of Fame.  Bing Crosby is in that Hall too as he could also control his larynx muscles.  (Bet you didn’t know that!)

Despite any naysayers, I believe that whistling is a cheerful thing to do.  Of course, you need to be able to whistle.  In case you are wondering, the Blonde in the house raises her eyebrows in a funny way when I do anything musical.  However, when I whistle, she only raises one eyebrow. That obviously means that I am doing better in meeting my musical destiny.  Perhaps not a whole lot, but some! Still, I believe that whistling shows that you have good humor.  Good humor is much nicer than throwing dark, baleful glances at people and muttering depredations against the world in general. I bet even Congress would be better if there was some good-humored whistling going on.  OK, perhaps not as there would be bi-partisan arguments over which songs were proper to be whistled.  Even if the House agreed on tunes, the Senate would probably reject them – and vice-versa!  Then the President might have to issue an Executive Order to bring some closure – which would cause more dissension. 

It may be better in the scheme of things to do what I do.  My head bone is full of Elmo Tanner tunes undergoing my own renditions.  That keeps me nice and happy.  Hey, don’t knock it until you try it!

Barry Evans is a columnist for Villages-News.com

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