A young Catholic wife’s lament

To say that “Padre” is a sentimental song like saying that Donald Trump may prove an unfortunate choice as American president. It is a 1950s pop weepie, sung here by the actor Erin O’Brien, but also a hit for Toni Arden and later performed by many another, including Marty Robbins and Elvis Presley.

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Erin O’Brien (image Bud Lewis, via Wikipedia)

The song is, as they say these days, heavily gendered, so the lyrics change depending on whether the artist is male or female. For Erin and Toni, it is a young Catholic wife’s lament. She is telling the Parish priest how her happy marriage is threatened by a gorgeous, possibly Protestant, hussy who has caught the eye of her to-date loyal and lovin’ man.

Then she came along
And sang him her song
And won him with honeyed lies
She of the golden eyes
Now it’s my heart that cries

I did warn that it was sentimental.

O’Brien had no need of method acting to be convincing. Born in Los Angeles in 1934, she was one of 14 children. She was first married at 17. Her brothers and sisters were (I’m not making this up) Sean, Denis, Tighe, Petrice, Mavourneen, Kevin, Eileen, Kathleen, Timarie, Vernon, Sheila, Tessy-Lou, and Michael. Guessing that she counted the odd rosary as a girl?

Erin O’Brien was a genuine star in her day, though more as an actor than a singer, but she does a nice job of tugging at heartstrings here.

  • Artist: Erin O’Brien
  • Single Title: Padre / Honey Boy
  • Track: Side A “Padre”
  • Format: 7”, 45 rpm
  • Label: Coral
  • Manufactured in: Australia
  • Catalogue number: CK-3619
  • Year: 1958

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