154 cuts fill Tennessee Ernie Ford career-spanning box set

If ever there was a workingman’s anthem it’s this:

You load sixteen tons, what do you get?

Another day older and deeper in debt

Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go

I owe my soul to the company store

New box set of Tennessee Ernie Ford’s music

That’s the chorus of “Sixteen Tons,” which was Tennessee Ernie Ford’s biggest and signature hit, hitting the top of both the U.S. country and pop charts in 1955.

Now, “Sixteen Tons” is just one of the 154 cuts on a massive five-disc box set retrospective of this bass-baritone’s long and eclectic career being released on the 25th anniversary of his death.

In all, Ford, known as the Old Pea Picker, sold more than 90 million albums, charted 17 top 10 country singles and four top 10 pop singles during his 35-year recording career. Not bad for a guy who trained as a classical musician, spent time as a popular disc jockey and spent time as bombardier on a B-29 Superfortress flying missions over Japan in World War II.

Hits on the collection aside from Sixteen Tons are:

  • The Shotgun Boogie
  • Mule Train
  • Mister and Mississippi
  • John Henry
  • A Sleepin’ At the Foot of Bed
  • My Grandfather’s Clock
  • Cold, Cold Heart

In addition, this boxed set contains some unusual works by Ford, including:

  • Two never-before-released songs
  • Numerous Ford singles and album tracks not previously reissued on Ford’s 1955 recitations of Davy Crockett tales
  • His 1958 public service jingles to promote the U. S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots charitable program

The five discs are accompanied by a detailed 120-page book. The box set is available at Amazon for $162.89 Jan. 21.

Hear a recent radio report on Ford and his music.