Our Daily Sykes #145 – "The Old Master Painter"


Seven pop, jazz, and/or swing performers covered “The Old Master Painter” in 1950.  In the order of their versions as rated on Your Hit Parade, they were:  Richard Hayes, Dick Haymes, Peggly Lee & Mel Torme, Phil Harris, Snooky Lanson and Frank Sinatra.  It is surprising that Sinatra was the last of these.  Now if you Google the song it is Sinatra that dominates.   I think it was the Hayes version, the most popular at the time, that excited me sufficiently that I was able to persuade my dad, a Lutheran preacher, to drive me downtown to the record store – next to the Spokane Chronicle building – and buy me a copy.  A generous man, he was not, however, enthused with the song’s pantheistic sentimentality.  Still he was happy to help his spoiled youngest son of four  feed his enthusiasm.  Bless you my father.

The lyrics go  . . .


That old master painter from the faraway hills

painted the violets and the daff-o-dills

He put the purple in the twilight haze

then did a rainbow for the rainy days

Dreamed up the murals on the blue summer skies

painted the devil in my darlin’s eyes

Captured the dreamer with a thousand thrills

The old master painter from the faraway hills

Then came his masterpiece and when he was through

He smiled down from heaven and he gave me you

What a beautiful job on that wonderful day

That old master painter from the hills far away.

That song and the Haynes happy singing of it is something that still bubbles up for me, and perhaps too often.  It is one of my dependable interruptions.  An obsessive parody.  And it is Sykes slides like these two – the one from the Palouse, most likely, and the other from Utah or perhaps southeast California – that trigger the Old Master in me.  (Google Richard Hayes and Old Master Painter and you can hear a fragment of his version.  But be kind, I was 12 at the time.)

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