Completely lacking in formal music training, J.B.F. Wright wrote solely from inspiration. Born in Tennesse in 1877. Times were very, very hard in those days for poor dirt farmers, and when Johnny was age two, his family moved to Limestone County Texas, to a little Community named “Box Church” where he attend the local school and grew up singing in the little local church.
When Johnny grew up he and his wife moved here and there, the word came in 1909 that mother had died, his Precious Mother. Five years later his father died as well. Johnny’s childhood had been full of singing as he grew up in his large family of twelve.
His mother was well known as a singer and his earliest memories were of singing together by her and his father of the songs of their youth. Though they didn’t always have enough food to eat, they always had songs to sing Somehow in the blessed sound of music, the poverty didn’t seem quite as bad. Now Johnny’s Mother and daddy were gone. He would never hear, or sing with them again.
Years after he buried his Mother, a baby boy was born to Johnny in his later years – becoming truly the ‘Apple of his eye!’ Little Evertt brought joy into their home. Ever so sadly, at age five, Evertt passed away from diphtheria.
In his sorrow, Johnny turned his thoughts back to his childhood and that of his dead son, and more and more toward his own mortality. Johnny spent his long, hard, waning years lost in his memories. Precious Memories they were. They were almost all he had.
Johnny’s sad song has brought love to the heart and a tear to the eye of all who listened carefully. Many contemporary artists have recorded this gospel classic, including Chet Atkins, Johnny Cash, Aretha Franklin, Dolly Parton and Elvis.
Precious Memories is a song I have heard frequently as far back as I can remember anything. I grew up in a rural church with those old gospel songs, so rich in their history. I feel the chorus reminds us of how precious memories can and should be to each of us. https://youtu.be/YnQIImqAvLM