"HOW MANY TEARS FROM NOW?"
ONCE AN ENIGMA - 61 YEARS ON - THE TRUTH
The song "How many tears from now?" is certainly an enigma. Its existence has been known to serious Reeves collectors for over 40 years, thanks to the vital research done at that time by German discographer/collector Kurt Rokitta in locating and publishing information on all Reeves copyrights registered with the American Library of Congress during and after his lifetime.
The above song (along with another song "Once upon a time") had been registered there by its writers on 17th December 1947 under the numbers EU-108-613 & EU108-614. (The EU prefix denotes an unpublished work.) The writers were detailed as AUGUSTA ALBATROS COURTNEY & JAMES TRAVIS REEVES. Courtney must have been quite a comical character, wanting to become the female half of this new East Texas song writing team, and further register his pseudonym with the Library of Congress. Little is known of Al `Rusty' Courtney at this time, other than he was a friend of Jim Reeves and a member of the De Berry music fraternity who enjoyed writing songs and went on to co-write the 4 Macy songs with Jim. "How many tears from now?" & "Once upon a time" might well have been their first two musical collaborations.
In the 3rd week of July 1947, Jim had joined Henderson Oilers baseball team, but in early August he sustained the injury which ended his season and the resultant leisure time perhaps turned his mind to song writing. By 31st July 1948 his baseball career was officially over and his radio career at KGRI, Henderson began. The first acetate demo of "How many tears from now?" would have been cut in the latter half of 1948. "Once upon a time" was eventually recorded by Jim on 17th October 1962 and registered with the Library of Congress on 20th January 1963 with James Travis Reeves listed as sole writer. The comedic name of Augusta Albatros Courtney had mysteriously disappeared! But "How many tears from now?" was never recorded commercially and seemed destined to remain unknown and forgotten forever. We can now understand the reason why it remained under wraps and left unpublished.
On 8th December 1966 "How many tears from now?" (with writer credits as solely Jim Reeves) was among a batch of 6 demos registered by Mary Reeves at the Library of Congress. The song was issued with the number EP-225-216. The EP prefix indicated the song (along with the other 5) were all published songs. The only one of the six ever used by RCA was "Crying in my sleep" which was overdubbed during Sept/Oct. 1971 and again in March 1974.
On 23rd January 1989 both composer credit variations of "How many tears from now?" went from Mary Reeves Davis to Tree Publishing Company (as of 15th January 1984). Again on 5th August 1994, the song title was renewed for copyright with Mary Reeves Davis as claimant. And so the story continues.... Tree became ATV/Tree and eventually Sony/ATV/Tree and one might assume that the song would reside under the BMI licensing banner.
But alas, the song "How many tears from now?" is not listed among the 81 items on the BMI Repertoire Website under songwriter/composer Jim Reeves. We are at this very moment trying to get some sense out of Sony/ATV/Tree Music in Nashville to try to locate the song and provide us with some information and a lead sheet.
Then, as if by magic, in the dispersal of the Reeves estate, around 2002/3, a poor substandard acetate appeared of Jim singing the song with the backing of a band. This was to be the first proof of the song's existence. And then to crown it all, a superb demo of the song tuned up with Jim singing with his own guitar accompaniment. The sheer quality of the recording indicated it had been done at a much later date than the aforementioned acetate. It was acquired by Larry Jordan, given a tasteful overdub, and released on the 2004 Voicemasters CD "There's someone who loves you". Writer credit listed as just Jim Reeves.
This overdubbed Voicemasters track was released in the U.K. in July 2009 as a "45th Anniversary CD Single" on H&H/Voicemasters HHCDS907. Writer credit this time listed as Jim Reeves & Al 'Rusty' Courtney.
This same overdubbed Voicemasters track has appeared again in the U.K. on the just released H&H/Voicemasters CD (HHCD317) "There's someone who loves you". Writer credit this time as just AI 'Rusty' Courtney.
So, all contingences covered and the writer credits still as confusing as ever on what is now a pukka published song. But just who owns the publishing? We'd love to know. Anyhow, we do have two names for the writers of the words to the song, but what of the melody? After 61 years we can now reveal the writer of the melody and reveal that the song "How many tears from now" is plagiaristic. (Plagiarism is appropriating words &/or music from another work or author).
Proof Game a couple of years ago when BACM Records in the U.K. issued a CD by Jenny Lou Carson called "The Chin-up Girl" on BACM CD D 200. Track 3 is a song called "Many tears ago", written by Jenny Lou Carson, recorded on 30th October 1944 and first appeared on a World Transcription 42024, Decca's way of getting around a 1944 Musicians Union strike. It was later released on Decca 78 75222.
Jenny Lou Carson has 3 writer/co-writer credits on Jim Reeves recordings and is credited with 163 BMI published songs. Throughout her distinguished career as a songwriter which began in the early forties, she contributed many songs to major country stars like Roy Acuff, Eddy Arnold, Ernest Tubb & Red Foley. She was also a noted recording artiste recording for Vocalion, Decca, Mercury & RCA Victor.
On listening to Track 3 on the aforementioned CD you will immediately realise that the melody is EXACTLY THE SAME as on "How many tears from now?" lt would appear that Reeves & Courtney had heard the Jenny Lou Carson song and decided they didn't like the words. They would improve on them by writing their own!! But the fact of the matter is that they retained the original Jenny Lou Carson melody and made no mention of that fact when registering the song with the Library of Congress in 1947. Jenny Lou Carson should have been named as a third party in the composer credits for her contribution of the melody to the song.
Now that the truth is out, the publisher of "How many tears from now?" (whoever they are) should rectify the situation and restore Jenny Lou Carson to her rightful place in the credits of this song. Jim's recording has long since been in the public domain, but under U.K. copyright law, the song writers' copyright lasts for 70 years and as such Jenny Lou Carson deserves to be part of it for at least 9 years!
All references in this article to information & detail from the American Library of Congress are courtesy of Kurt Rokitta. Grateful thanks to all those who have assisted in the preparation and research for this article.