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Joe Hinton

Funny (How Time Slips Away)

Joe Hinton

Funny (How Time Slips Away)

Strong strains of country music often wafted through Southern soul; young R&B singers were exposed to C&W via the radio. When a gospel-rooted soul man applied his pipes to a great country song, fireworks could erupt. Such was the case with Joe Hinton's stunning interpretation of Willie Nelson's Funny (How Time Slips Away).

Born November 15, 1929 in Evansville, Indiana, Joseph Lee Hinton started out singing sanctified material with The Blair Gospel Singers before joining The Spirit of Memphis Quartet in 1956 and recording with them for Don Robey's Houston-based Peacock label. Robey induced Hinton to go secular in '58, his Ladder Of Prayer appearing on Peacock's Back Beat subsidiary. After several unsuccessful encores, Hinton cracked the R&B Top 20 in 1963 with his upbeat You Know It Ain't Right, and his Better To Give Than Receive kicked up a little pop chart dust. But Funny was his  unalloyed masterpiece. Duke/Peacock arranger Joe Scott—the trumpeter largely responsible for Bobby Bland's climb to fame—devised the brassy, dramatic backdrop, Hinton's startling falsetto climaxing the heartbreaking ballad in eye-popping fashion.

Funny had been one of the first hits to flow from the pen of Texas-born Willie Nelson, who arrived hungry in Nashville in 1960 and got to work writing smashes. Among his first were Faron Young's Hello Walls and Patsy Cline's Crazy. Nelson's Texas pal Billy Walker had the first country hit on Funny in October of '61 for Columbia, and Nashville native Jimmy Elledge's version for Chet Atkins at RCA Victor cracked the pop charts a month later, just missing the Top 20. But Hinton's #13 pop smash topped them. Joe cut a stack of fine Back Beat follow-ups, but only his revival of I Want A Little Girl managed to break into the R&B charts in 1965. His career was cut tragically short when he died August 13, 1968 in Boston of skin cancer at age 38.


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