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A Wolverton Mountain Vacation: Claude King and Clifton Clowers

claude king

As I work on some ‘new media’ of my own, I thought I’d highlight some of that good ol’ vinyl media for everyone to enjoy. Of course, we’re in the era of Web 2.0 [!], so I’ve got YouTube videos for all of it.

First, take a listen to Claude King’s “Wolverton Mountain,” the 1962 #1 hit that launched King’s career. The singer is smitten with a beautiful girl on Wolverton Mountain in Arkansas, but he’s been warned: that girl’s father – Clifton Clowers – is a mean one. That’s why “They say don’t go on Wolverton Mountain / If you’re looking for a wife.”

Clifton’s “mighty handy with a gun and a knife” and employs a cadre of spies ["the bears and the birds"] who inform him if strangers come onto the mountain.

Lured by true love, our hero decides to go anyway – “though Clifton Clowers / He might take my life.”

After all, ” her tender lips are sweeter than honey,” so who can blame him?

“But I don’t care about Clifton Clowers
I’m gonna climb up on his mountain
I’ma gonna take the girl I love
I don’t care about Clifton Clowers
I’ma gonna climb up on that mountain
And I’ll get the one I love
I don’t care about Clifton Clowers…

Here’s the original Claude King recording [click here if reading in RSS]:

Many a country musician has paid homage to both King and Clowers by referencing pieces of “Wolverton Mountain.” Hank Williams, Jr. comes to mind; in “If The South Woulda Won,” a candid take on Southern life and lore, he says:

I’d have all the fiddles made in Virginia
‘Cause they sure can make ‘em sound so fine
I’m goin’ up on Wolverton Mountain and see ol’ Clifton Clowers
And have a sip of his good ol’ Arkansas wine

But few know that Clifton Clowers of Woolverton Mountain, Arkansas, was a real person. [Y'all pointy-headed academics call that historicity.]

Born on October 30, 1891, Clifton T. Clowers lived nearly 103 years. He was a veteran of World War I and served as a deacon in the Mountain Baptist Church. He’s buried in Conway County’s Woolverton Mountain Cemetary.

Here’s Clifton on his 101st birthday [1992] sitting on his porch as Mike Redmond plays/sings “Wolverton Mountain” to him, Part I [click here if reading in RSS]:

And Part II, in which Mike plays Hank Williams, Sr.’s “Jambalaya” and “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” as well as Lefty Frizzell’s “Mom and Dad’s Waltz” [click here if reading in RSS].

Fascinating stuff, that local history. [Hat tip: Miss Profe for reminding me of that post and Tyler for appreciating this one]