Thereby Hangs a Tale is devoted to songs that tell a story, from Eddy Arnold's hit version of Jimmie Driftwood's "Tennessee Stud" to older songs like "Riders in the Sky" and "The Wreck of the Old '97." Johnny Horton's "The Battle of New Orleans" was a phenomenal hit in 1959, and its influence is felt on the historical songs Arnold tackles, from "The Battle of Little Big Horn" to "Boot Hill," the latter of which was released unsuccessfully on a single. Arnold's performances are far more subdued than Horton's and lack the martial snare drum beats, giving Thereby Hangs a Tale a folk flavor. A version of "Tom Dooley" reinforces the folksy tone, as does "The Red Headed Stranger," a contemporary song that Willie Nelson later revived. Arnold's thematic albums are often his most interesting, and Thereby Hangs a Tale is no exception.
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AllMusic Review by Greg Adams