That ESPN promo you’re hearing this weekend for college football is a song originally recorded 59 years ago…by a guy who never took a snap or scored a touchdown in his life.
That new promo you’re hearing this week for college football in ESPN has an odd music background, and one that’s easily familiar to country music fans of more than a generation ago.
Because back in 1959, a young singer and his two sisters, Jim Ed, Maxine, and Bonnie Brown were about to give up the music business when a guitarist and young record producer named Chet Atkins asked them to lay down a sound track for a song entitled, The Three Bells.
‘The Browns’ had enjoyed some recording success previously, but because the sisters wanted a life more stable than traveling, and brother Jim wanted to go on performing on his own, they had decided to go their separate ways. Atkins prevailed and they recorded a song that many would later know as Little Jimmy Brown (no relationship to the singer himself).
It was an odd song, about a little boy born in a village community, his subsequent growing up, and then his death – the three stages of life, if you will. You can understand the oddity of this being selected by ESPN.
The song was an immediate hit, selling millions of records, and catapaulted the Browns, as a trio, into recording stardom. They canceled plans for a retirement.
Jim Ed Brown would have a great career, recording a string of popular hits over the years…and later teamed up with a soprano named Helen Cornelius to enjoy a separate, second performing career as a duet act. He recently died of lung cancer at the age of 81, and shortly before his death he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Why ESPN chose the song for its promo is a mystery that no one will ever figure out, because it’ll be gone by next weekend. But for the sake of a memory, and an old country tune that’s still popular…now you know the rest of the story, or at least some of it.