Monday, August 17, 2020

Country Music Memory Lane – The Three Bells by Kaye Spencer #westernfictioneers #classiccountrymusic

Coming up sixty-one years ago on August 31, 1959, a musical family known as The Browns had a Number 1 single on Billboard magazine’s country music chart. The song was The Three Bells, also known as the Jimmy Brown Song, Little Jimmy Brown, and Jimmy Brown.

This song was based on a French song called Les trois cloches, which was a hit in 1946. The group Melody Maids had an English translation hit with it in 1948. The song tells Jimmy Brown’s life story in three parts: birth, marriage, and death.

I love coincidences, and this song has a fun one. The vocalist of The Browns was James Edward Brown aka Jimmy Brown. He is best known as Jim Ed Brown.

The Browns were a singing family of two sisters and a brother from Arkansas: Maxine, Bonnie, and Jim Ed. Jim Ed was the middle kid with Maxine the oldest.


Bonnie and Jim Ed in back – Maxine in front

The Browns disbanded mostly because Jim Ed pursued a solo career Over the years, they did get back together for occasional appearances and to record a gospel album. In March 2015, the Browns were honored with inclusion in the Country Music Hall of Fame. Jim Ed died in June 2015, Bonnie in June 2016, and Maxine in January 2019.

Here are a few of the many artists who recorded The Three Bells.

  • Floyd Cramer
  • Chet Atkins
  • Tommy Dorsey
  • Guy Lombardo
  • Ray Charles
  • Roy Orbison
  • Andy Williams
  • Leon Russell
  • Andrew Sisters (They change up the lyrics.)
  • Johnny Cash and the Carter family
  • Allison Krauss & Union Station
  • Sha Na Na (No joke. It’s on YouTube. It’s delightfully corny—guaranteed to give you a chuckle.)

Here are The Browns at the Grand Ole Opry singing The Three Bells on July 16, 1965.

Until next time,
Kaye Spencer


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>The Browns Image courtesy Wikipedia
>The Originals website
>The Three Bells – Wikipedia
>The Browns – Wikipedia


  1. I remember listening to this song when I was young. Harmonies caught my ear and loved the lyrics. Those who know me know music has always been a part of my life. I believe I even had a 45 of this one. Doris

    1. Doris, I still have many of my 45s. (This isn't one of them, sadly.) The Browns did have lovely harmony. You and I are of one musical heart in that music is important in our lives. ;-)

  2. I always appreciated that song, especially the chorus.

    1. David,

      Bom mom bom-bom... There is a village hidden deep in the valley... ;-)

      Thanks for stopping by.

  3. I've always loved this song and still remember most of the words. No other artist can come close to this trio singing this song. Thanks for the mini-bio, Kaye. There's nothing like the country oldies. I look forward to your next musical blog.

    1. Hello Elizabeth C aka unknown aka anonymous ;-) I agree with you that the Browns had a lovely harmony.

  4. Kaye, I'm truly not e-mail provider has merged with Google and it's obvious my profile didn't migrate. Elizabeth Clements

    1. Elizabeth, I had a glitch with the same situation. It's all good.

  5. Replies
    1. SUCCESS! Thanks for hanging in there and commenting. I know it can be a pain to get a comment posted. ;-)

  6. Kaye, I'm late to the party, but I had to comment. This song was one I grew up with. My mom didn't buy very many 45 records of her own, but this was one of them! Oh how she loved this song. My mom was an excellent vocalist--she had a beautiful, beautiful voice and sang a lot around the house while she worked. I remember this song well, and if you've ever tried to "sing along" with it, you know it's a very tough song to sing--The Browns did a great job with it --the harmonies, and melody--all pitch perfect. Thanks for this trip down memory lane!

    1. Cheryl,

      I'm a good enough singer to entertain myself when no one else is around or to sing to my grandkids, but that's it. lol The harmonies in this song are so good. Thanks for commenting.

  7. I saw Jim Ed at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. A wonderful entertainer and a wonderful song. :)