Long before Clint Eastwood achieved iconic status as a superstar film actor and Oscar-winning director, he enjoyed (though reportedly not much) his own teen idol tenure portraying lovable dimwit Rowdy Yates on the popular TV Western Rawhide. Like all TV idols worth their salt, Eastwood had his fling in the recording studio. 1963’s “Clint Eastwood Sings Cowboy Favorites” leans decidedly toward the W branch of C&W and offers a fascinating opportunity to eavesdrop as Dirty Harry drifts along with the tumbling tumbleweeds. (by Dennis Garvey)
With the rusty door-hinge of a voice he possesses today, it’s hard to imagine a time when Clint Eastwood could have been groomed as a singing star, but in the early ‘60s, when he came to fame as the rebellious Rowdy in the hit Western TV series Rawhide, it wasn’t such a crazy idea. In 1963, playing off the popularity of the show, Cameo-Parkway released an album featuring Eastwood’s versions of classic cowboy-style tunes. While Eastwood is admittedly not an exceptional vocalist, he’s not at all bad; this is by no means some Golden Throats-style celebrity train wreck. At the time, there were plenty of equally photogenic young men with no greater vocal ability than Eastwood being promoted as country singers, many with less of an actual musical background than the jazz-schooled actor. Eastwood’s soft, somewhat laconic croon might not possess the commanding quality that was de rigueur for the era’s country stars, but he never strays off-key, and his style is a kind of cross between legendary cowboy singer Roy Rogers and Dean Martin.
Most of the tunes he tackles here were already well-known in hit versions by other artists — the Sons of the Pioneers’ “Tumbling Tumbleweeds,” Bob Wills’ “San Antonio Rose,” Gene Autry’s “Mexicali Rose,” etc. The loping rhythms, lonesome harmonica, lazy guitar licks, and male backing-vocal choruses are all in keeping with the production conventions of the day for cowboy artists. A couple of non-LP singles sweeten the pot, including the written-to-order “Rowdy,” intended as a sort of theme song for Eastwood’s Rawhide character. While Cowboy Favorites didn’t make Eastwood a C&W star, it wasn’t his country music swan song — years later he would record with Merle Haggard and sing in the films Paint Your Wagon and Honky Tonk Man. (by James Allen)
As far as Clint Eastwood’s career as a Country crooner is concerned, the actor has released a couple of singles—one with Merle Haggard and another with TJ Sheppard—and starred as a failed Depression-era troubadour in 1982’s Honkytonk Man.
Clint has never done all that well in the vocal department. Back in 1963, when he recorded Cowboy Favorites, Eastwood was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I doubt it was his idea to cut the album—popular actors were frequently called upon to drop some vinyl into the market, to attract viewers to their series, pander to their public and make a little cash.
Since Clint had almost no range as a singer, his producer on that album seemed to bury the poor guy’s voice in harmonica, steel guitar and vocal backup. This album is more of a curiosity than an embarrassment; no one is ever likely to confuse it with the great gunfighter ballads sung by Marty Robbins or with Eddy Arnold’s Country-pop confections. (Henry Cabot Beck)
Clint Eastwood (vocals)
a bunch of unknown studio musicians
01. Bouquet Of Roses (Hilliard/Nelson) 2.42
02. Along The Sante Fe Trail (Dubin/Coolidge/Gross) 2.49
03. The Last Round Up (Hill) 2.54
04. Sierra Nevada (Hannah) 2.53
05. Mexicali Rose (Stone/Tenney) 3.00
06. Searching For Somewhere (Harlington/Bramlett) 2.56
07. I’ll Love You More (Ingles) 2.30
08. Tumbling Tumbleweeds (Nolan) 2.50
09. Twilight On The Trail (Alter/Mitchell) 2.56
10. San Antonio Rose (Wills) 2.29
11. Don’t Fence Me In (Porter) 2.38
12. Are You Satisfied (Escamella/Wooley) 2.21