The Tom Bearden

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Date: Tue, 18 Mar 2003 00:48:01 -0600

Hi Barney,

Yes, I knew Webb Pierce but not too well.  However, he did record a song I wrote, placing it in an album.  The song was "New Love Affair".  Webb had a great many hits at the time, and was one of the hottest recording artists going.  Red Sovine had recorded the song earlier, when he changed record labels and started on a new one. Webb really liked the song, and was going to put it on a single.  The bridge and chorus ran like this:

"If your heart keeps on yearning

For a love that's not returning,

If your dreams have all been shattered

And your heart's left cold and bare,

Just a little affection

From someone who cares…

That's just what started

My new love affair."

However, since Red was a very good friend of his, and Webb was really up there on top, he did not wish to "wrap up" Red's song, which was getting him started on the new label. So at the last minute, so to speak,  Webb changed his mind and decided to record the song later in an album, and that way it would not "cover up" Red's rendition.  I also gave Webb half the tune for recording it (a common practice in those days).

Ugh!  That Webb Pearce "single" that my song was to have been on the other side of, was a monstrous hit (some 3 million records before one could say good morning!).  Even if the disk jockeys had not played my tune at all, but just the other side, my royalties would have eventually run somewhere around $50,000.  As it was, the song made me about $3,000 or so over the years.  That "nearly a big one" passed so close I could feel its breath!

My song  that Jim Reeves recorded was a recitation, "Mother Went A'Walking".  A mournful thing set against the background of a choir singing "Shall We Gather At the River".  But one that sorta twists one's innards.  Jim was killed along with one of his musicians, while coming back to Nashville in his light plane (Jim was flying).  There was some weather, and he crashed in Brentwood where they later found the plane and the bodies.  The song is:


Mother Went A'Walking

© T. E. Bearden

(Mournful hymn, voices, "Shall we gather at the river…..that flows by the throne of God."

Then hum:…………..(hymn continues, hummed in background).

Recites: "The church doors opened one Sunday in a little country town,

The people all were silent in the rain that misted down.

And in the dim candlelight within, a casket lay so still

That soon would lie beneath the earth, up at the top of the hill.

An old gray-haired granddad, his shoulders stooped with pain,

Was holding fast a little boy, who kept crying in the rain.

The little boy kept asking, in a low and plaintive tone:

"What's wrong with Mommy, Grandpa?  Won't she be coming home?

It's awful lonesome, Grandpa, since daddy went away,

And mommy's all the reason why I'm happy every day.

Wouldn't she feel better, Grandpa, if I lay down by her side?"

The old man turned and faced him, and with these words replied.

"Mother went a'walking, son, up yonder in the sky;

Along the brook that winds among the stars up there on high.

And down the valley where the sun goes home at night to sleep,

Yes, mother went a'walking, son, she wouldn't want us to weep."

(Chorus swells, voices : "Yes, we'll gather at the river,

The beautiful, the beautiful river.

Gather with the Saints at the river,

That flows by the throne of God."

(Chorus hums, continues in background.).


The boy couldn't seem to understand just where his mom had gone;

He couldn't realize that now she wouldn’t be coming home.

He saw the rain on Grandpa's face --- he didn't know he cried,

And of course he couldn't hear the words that Grandpa said inside.

"Your mother went a'walkin', son, away up in the sky;

And all that we can do down here is bow our heads and cry.

She's gone to meet your daddy now, and take him by the hand;

Yes, mother went a'walkin' son, in God's great meadowland."

(Chorus swells, voices):  "Yes, we'll gather at the river!

The beautiful, the beautiful river!

Gather with the Saints at the river,

That flows by the throne of God.

Chorus continues, fading to out.


When Jim did it, it made cold chills up and down one's spine.  It's odd to see an audience of 3,000 and not a dry eye in the place.

Behind most songs -- certainly the Country and Western songs ---  there is a psychology and a meaning.

The hidden psychology of the song is that my mother was killed in a car wreck when I was two years old.  The "Grandfather" is a transposal of my beloved Grandmother, who raised me.  My father, who could not read and write, was a hardworking timber man who had to go where the job was, and worked away from home and in other states so that I only saw him every two or three months or so, etc.  Every person is like a "tree" with inner rings for each year; inside the adult, there is that younger self at 14 years old, one at 13, one at 12, and so on … and that little fellow at two years old, etc.  All of them are still there with one, forever.  What they saw, felt, and experienced is all still there, perfectly recorded.  So those "inner little fellows" inside me just had that sort of vast, empty feeling and hurt deep inside, for one's lost mother and for one's mostly absent, very hard working father.  Putting one's heart into a song and recitation as a young fellow of 22 or 23 was just one way of communicating the "inside person". That was the "little fellow" talking.

Now if any established artist is looking for a good Civil War song on the Battle of Gettysburg, with a gut-wrenching line or two……"


Tom B.