Flashback ... Sept. 2, 1944

Tubb's 'Last' Hits First

Ernest Tubb corralled his first No. 1 song, "Soldier's Last Letter," from an actual World War II soldier, budding songwriter Redd Stewart. Redd was a sergeant in the Army when he penned the touching song, detailing a soldier's letter to his mother from the battlefield. When his mother saw that the letter had not been signed, as the song goes, "she knew that her darling had died."

Ernest got hold of the tune and added a few touches. He began playing the song at his concerts, and the response from fans was overwhelming, simply because so many could relate to the message.

"I know this song was a true story to a lot of mothers," he once commented. "I met quite a number of them and autographed their 'last letters' for them."

The sad lament, which ends with the mother's plea - "Dear God, keep America free" - vaulted to No. 1 Sept. 2, 1944. Redd would go on to write "The Tennessee Waltz" and other hits, while Ernest enjoyed a Hall of Fame career that lasted through the 1970s.

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