Has Eddy Arnold Made His Final Chart Bow?

Brad Paisley Has Top Song, Toby Keith's Hits Album Reigns for Second Week

Forget the top album and song for a moment. The big news this week is that RCA Records worked its promotional magic and charted the late Eddy Arnold’s final single, a feat that gives the recently departed superstar the singular distinction of having charted a record in Billboard every decade from the 1940s onward.

Arnold made his first chart appearance in June 1945 with “Each Minute Seems a Million Years” and went on to score 28 No. 1’s and 62 Top 10s. The new single, by the way, is titled “To Life,” and it raises its glass at No. 49 — the highest charting new entry of the week.

Arnold quit having regular hits in the early 1980s but managed to return to the singles charts in 1999 via his “Cattle Call” duet with LeAnn Rimes. That song made it all the way to No. 18.

Other than registering the late Country Music Hall of Famer’s achievement, the charts are pretty sedate this week. Brad Paisley’s “I’m Still a Guy” moves into the No. 1 song slot, while Toby Keith’s 35 Biggest Hits settles in for its second week at the top of the country albums chart.

There’s just one new album to note — Playlist: The Very Best of Roy Orbison — which arrives at No. 74. And there are two other first-time songs apart from Arnold’s — Ashton Shepherd’s “Sounds So Good” (No. 56) and Taylor Swift’s “Should’ve Said No” (No. 59).

Returning to the albums list are Rodney Carrington’s King of the Mountains (No. 71) and Diamond Rio’s 16 Biggest Hits (No. 75). Song-wise, Ashley Gearing’s “Out the Window” comes back on at No. 55, and Kid Rock’s “All Summer Long” reappears at No. 60.

Brooks & Dunn’s “Put a Girl in It,” which got some valuable exposure on Sunday’s (May 18) Academy of Country Music Awards telecast, has already been flexing a lot of radio muscle. This week the song leaps from No. 27 to No. 22.

Trooping directly behind Keith within the Top 5 albums are Swift’s self-titled CD (now in its 82nd week on the charts), Dierks Bentley’s Greatest Hits/Every Mile a Memory 2003-2008, Carrie Underwood’s Carnival Ride and James Otto’s Sunset Man.

The remaining Top 5 songs, also in descending order, are Phil Vassar’s “Love Is a Beautiful Thing,” Otto’s “Just Got Started Lovin’ You,” Rascal Flatts’ “Every Day” and Lady Antebellum’s “Love Don’t Live Here.”

While one supposes that Eddy Arnold’s “To Life” is his final single, it just might not be. His longtime label, RCA, has a history of resurrecting the dead for chart purposes. It kept Jim Reeves’ recordings on the charts for nine years after his death in 1964, scoring 34 more chart singles (five of which went No. 1).

The label even paired Reeves in a series of studio-simulated duets with Deborah Allen (who was only 10 when Reeves died) and charted three singles in the late ’70s and early ’80s.

The oddest hookup came, however, in 1981-82 when RCA and MCA Records electronically linked the late Reeves and the even later Patsy Cline in a series of duets — even though the two had never actually recorded together. It worked. This wizardry led to Reeves having two more singles on the charts.

Who knows, Mr. Arnold, your music may be chartworthy for the next couple of decades.

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to CMT.com.