The Tennessee Waltz–an Evergreen Fiddle Tune
In the 1950’s I was a child growing up in a Tampa suburb. So many things seemed strange, the Studebaker with its front and back looking the same, a huge moving billboard as you crossed the bridge to downtown, two men on a see-saw over a barrel. But, one thing seemed homey and comfortable, the sound of radios playing music from neighbor houses as I walked down the street.
The Tennessee Waltz was a familiar sound for a long time in those days, the sign of a big hit. Patti Page recorded the song in 1950 and it became a monster hit for her. Later Les Paul and Mary Ford issued a record with Little Rock Getaway on the B side. Both tunes are popular with fiddlers. The latter being a staple of Texas Contest style fiddling.
Just to put the icing on the cake, Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians had a go at Tennessee Waltz, as did Petula Clark for her UK fans.
Touching on those halcyon days of the early fifties, my good friend and neighbor, Fred Heustis used to sing it, too. (♫ I was waltzing with my darling…)
And the song survives to this day, being a favorite waltz for fiddlers. We played it at the Wednesday morning sessions in Dunedin. Tim Kennett the president of the Bay Area Fiddlers sings it in the key of C. We fiddlers like D, so we start it in D, then bump it down to C. When Tim completes the vocals we lurch back up to D and play it again. I call it the Nashville arrangement.
Here are the words:
I was waltzing with my darlin’ to the Tennessee Waltz
when an old friend I happened to see.
I introduced him to my loved one,
and while they were waltzing
my friend stole my sweet-heart from me.
I remember the night and the Tennessee waltz.
Now I know just how much I have lost.
Yes I lost my little darlin’ the night
they were playing the beautiful Tennessee waltz.
And here are the chords, first in D, then in C.
Here is a pdf of the chord charts.
The tab chart, please.
Pdf download of the tab chart click here.