By P.J. Gossett
HAMILTON — Can you imagine not knowing your name? What about never recalling your parents’ names? There is something that makes me think about this.
I have enjoyed my time doing genealogy and historical work in this corner of Alabama. Thanks to my Mitchell and Frederick line of Hackleburg, I am related to Sonny James, the legendary country music star born in Hackleburg. Besides genealogy, my other hobby includes collecting and listening to music, whether on records, reels, 8 tracks, cassettes, CDs or digital downloads. This Sonny James connection makes a nice crossover with genealogy.
Years ago when I was collecting his albums, I came across a certain song, and I really liked it. It grabbed my attention right away. This was one of the album cuts not released as a single and therefore was never a hit.
The song is called “Three Days Out of Omaha” from the 1965 album I’ll Keep Holding On (Just To Your Love). The song was written by Teddy Delano Riedel and originally copyrighted by him in 1963.
The story in the song is descriptive in letting the listener know the main character has lived a life of crime. There is another side to the story however. The listener can also empathize with the person since his parents were killed when he was three years old. The family was traveling west most likely when they were ambushed, and the boy grew up not knowing his name or even where exactly he and his parents came from or where they were going. The only thing he can recall is, “When the rifles started firing, we were three days out of Omaha.” It goes on to say, “If you’re looking for a place to bury me, take me three days out of Omaha.”
Does anyone remember this song, or why Sonny James decided to record it? Curious minds want to know.
Sonny James recorded other songs written by Riedel, including “Don’t Cut Timber On a Windy Day,” “I’m Having a Hard Time (Getting Over You),” “Downfall Of Me” and “Mean Ole Mississippi.”
Riedel was born and lived in Arkansas and studied classical music. By profession, he was a piano tuner, while many weekends were spent playing country music on a piano at a local Arkansas VFW dance hall. Other than penning a few of Sonny James’ songs, his biggest claim to fame was a 1968 recording of his song “Judy” by Elvis Presley. Riedel passed away in 2014.
See complete story in the Journal Record.