Forgotten Artists: Tompall & The Glaser Brothers/Tompall Glaser/Jim Glaser

Paul W. Dennis | April 2nd, 2009

It really is too bad the Glaser Brothers couldn’t get along with each other on a more sustained basis, as they truly were an amazing act to see live. The three Glaser brothers had voices that overlapped mostly on the margins, and with their near identical phrasing they could take a lyric that started at the lowest notes and work their way up and down the scales, taking over from each other in mid-word. It was wondrous to see and required an audience’s full attention to know who was singing at any given moment. Moreover, the Glasers were capable of vocal harmony equal to that of any other great brother group. I only saw Tompall and the Glaser Brothers live one time, and yet that one occasion (at the 1st International Festival of Country Music in Wembley, England, in 1969) remains as indelibly etched in my memory as if it occurred yesterday.

Tompall Glaser (b. 9/3/33) was the fourth oldest of six children born to Louis and Marie Glaser in the farming community of Spalding, Nebraska. As a child, he taught his younger brothers Chuck (b. 2/27/36–baritone) and Jim (b. 12/16/37–high tenor) to sing harmony to his lead vocals and developed the trio into an accomplished vocal act during the mid 1950s. As often occurred in those days, the act was just getting rolling when Tompall received his “invitation” to enter the army, where he served during 1956-57. During this interlude, brothers Jim and Chuck performed on radio in Hastings, Nebraska, and, assisted by their father Louis, performed on various local shows. Their big break occurred in late 1957 when the boys, with brother Tompall again available, earned an appearance on Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts, a national radio show on CBS. Their performance caught the ear of Marty Robbins, who signed the boys to his Robbins Records label and released the single “Five Penny Nickel.” When this record failed to make any waves, and with Robbins unable to devote much attention to promoting their career, he sold their contract to Decca Records (later MCA) in 1959.

By this time Tompall and the Glaser Brothers had made the move to Nashville, but again were sidelined by Uncle Sam who extended an invitation to brother Chuck to join his troup (1959-61). During this period, the Glaser Brothers found frequent studio work as background singers, the most notable example of this being Jim Glaser’s trio work on “El Paso” and other songs on Marty Robbins’ mega-hit album Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs. Tompall and Jim Glaser wrote one of the tracks on the album, “Running Gun.”

After Chuck was released from the US Army, the Glaser Brothers landed a spot on Johnny Cash’s road show, which brought as a side benefit an association with Cash’s longtime friend and business associate Jack Clement. In 1966, Clement got them a contract with MGM Records, which wasn’t a major player in Country Music but a label with a good pedigree (Hank Williams Sr. & Jr., Marvin Rainwater, Sheb Wooley/Ben Colder). One of the songs the group recorded was “Streets of Baltimore” which was co-written by Tompall Glaser and Harlan Howard. Unfortunately, the hit version of the song went to Bobby Bare. During this time Clement produced the group’s records and provided them with material. While with MGM the brothers (always billed as Tompall and the Glaser Brothers) had a number of moderately successful singles and recorded a number of terrific album tracks. Their biggest success on the label were “California Girl (And the Tennessee Square)” which made it to #11 (#93 pop) and, in 1971, “Rings,” a cover of a pop hit by Cymarron. “Rings” went to #7 on Billboard, #5 on Cashbox and #1 on Record World. The accompanying LP, Rings and Things, was first rate, with a heavy western swing feel to many of the songs, including “Back In Each Other’s Arms Again.” Unfortunately, “Rings” failed to generate further commercial success and the group disbanded in 1973, but not before establishing a publishing company, spurred on by Chuck Glaser’s discovery of John Hartford, and later, Dick Feller. Also, in 1968, Jim Glaser saw one of his compositions, “Woman, Woman,” become a major hit for the pop group Gary Puckett and the Union Gap.

After the group’s breakup, Tompall Glaser opened his recording studio, Hillbilly Central, which became one of the incubation chambers for the “outlaw” movement of the 1970s. It was at Hillbilly Central that Waylon Jennings recorded his landmark album Honky Tonk Heroes. Other free spirits such as Billy Joe Shaver and Richard “Kinky” Friedman also recorded albums there. In 1975, in a shrewd marketing ploy, RCA issued the landmark album Wanted! The Outlaws which coupled current tracks from Jessie Colter & Waylon, some old Willie Nelson tracks and a couple of leased tracks of Tompall Glaser. The resulting mishmash was the first Gold Album in country music history. Unfortunately, Tompall was unable to capitalize on the success of the album, and his often prickly personality (coupled with Waylon’s drug use) ultimately led to his split with Waylon. As a solo artist, Tompall had only one real hit single, the politically incorrect ditty “Put Another Log on the Fire (Male Chauvinist National Anthem).” This song peaked at #21, making it Tompall’s biggest solo hit. Albums for MGM and ABC failed to generate much attention.

During this same period, Jim Glaser plugged on, but failed to achieve any hits, while brother Chuck ran the publishing company, his singing career derailed by a stroke in 1975 that affected his vocal cords and left him temporarily unable to sing. Chuck had success as a producer, producing artists such as Hank Snow.

In 1978, the brothers achieved an uneasy reconciliation and reformed Tompall and the Glaser Brothers. One big hit followed, a cover of the Kristofferson song “Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I’ll Ever Do Again)” which went to #2 on the country charts for both Billboard and Cashbox. Unfortunately, this rapprochement was only temporary, as in 1983 Jim Glaser split to pursue a solo career. Jim was replaced by Shaun Neilson, an arrangement that continued only briefly.

After the group split, Tompall continued to produce records for a while but by the end of the 1980s he sold Hillbilly Central and has been largely retired since then. Chuck Glaser continued to work behind the scenes but has since largely retired, as well.

Jim Glaser saw some momentary success as a solo artist. In the early 1980s, Jim began recording as a solo artist for the newly-formed independent label Noble Vision Records. The first release, “When You’re Not A Lady,” stayed on the national charts for 34 weeks and in 1984 “You’re Gettin’ To Me Again” reached the top of the charts, the only Billboard #1 single achieved by any of the Glasers. That same year Jim Glaser was voted “Top New Male Vocalist of the Year” by the Academy of Country Music. Jim’s first solo album, The Man In The Mirror, ultimately had six top-twenty singles that were pulled from it. Shortly thereafter, Noble Vision Records was no more and with it vanished Jim Glaser’s solo career.

Discography

Vinyl
Most of the albums issued by Tompall and the Glaser Brothers were on MGM. The following are recommended but there are also some other albums on Decca and MGM that might be found:

Tompall and the Glaser Brothers (1967) contains the hit single “Gone On The Other Hand” (#24 Billboard/#20 Cashbox), a song that featured Big Joe Talbot on steel guitar, plus the group’s recordings of “The Last Thing On My Mind” and “Streets of Baltimore.”

Through The Eyes of Love (1967) features the title track (#27) plus “Moods of Mary” (#42) and the group’s take on “Woman, Woman.”

Wonderful World (1968) features minor hit singles in “One of These Days” (#36) and a nice recording of Jack Clement’s “Got Leavin’ On Her Mind,” a minor national/major southeast regional hit in 1968 for Mac Wiseman.

Now Country (1969) showcases “Wicked California” (#24) and “California Girl” (#11).

Award Winners (1971) is mostly covers with an excellent take of “Faded Love” released as the single (#22).

Rings and Things (1972) is the group’s masterpiece, with “Rings” (#5 Cashbox/#7 Billboard/#1 Record World) and “Sweet Love Me Good Woman” (#19 Cashbox/#23 Billboard) plus an eclectic mix of swing and vocal harmony efforts. My favorite of all the group’s tracks, “Back In Each Other’s Arms Again,” is on this album.

Charlie (1973) is ostensibly a group effort but in actuality a solo album by Tompall Glaser.

After the MGM years Tompall reunited with his brothers in 1981 for Loving Her Was Easier, followed by one last album in 1982, After All These Years, both on Electra.

I don’t know of any solo albums by Chuck Glaser.

Jim Glaser issued three albums on Noble Vision: 1983′s Man In The Mirror, which has all four of Jim’s top twenty hits (“The Man in The Mirror,” “If I Could Only Dance With You,” “You’re Getting To Me Again,” and “Let Me Down Easy”), Past The Point of No Return (1985), and Everybody Knows I’m Yours (1986). This last album is on Noble Vision/MCA, the masters purchased after Noble Vision went under.

Virtually all of Tompall Glaser’s solo efforts are available on CD from Bear Family (see below).

CD
The only readily available CD of Tompall and the Glaser Brothers is Best of Tompall and the Glaser Brothers issued on Collector’s Choice Music. This CD has 18 hits from the group plus six solo recordings by Tompall Glaser. (This CD appears to have recently gone out of print.)

You may be able to find the twofer of the Electra years titled Lovin’ Her Was Easier/After All These Years. (Currently, the Ernest Tubb Record Shop has it available.)

Jim Glaser has a website which has a CD of recent recordings available. Amazon also has a download of The Man in the Mirror, but that is all that is available.

On the other hand, Tompall Glaser’s solo efforts are well covered by Bear Family in the form of four CDs: The Rogue, The Outlaw, My Notorious Youth (aka Hillbilly Central V1), and Another Log On The Fire (aka Hillbilly Central V2).

In late 2009, a group called The Brothers Glaser is scheduled to issue a tribute album to Tompall and the Glaser Brothers. This foursome consists of sons of an older Glaser brother who was not part of the Tompall and the Glaser Brothers. They have a website at www.thebrothersglaser.com–in looking at their photographs, there is no denying the family resemblance–no one could doubt that they are nephews of the Glaser Brothers.

Tompall and the Glaser Brothers
Tompall Glaser
Jim Glaser
  1. Brad Patton
    April 2, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    Really nice piece, Paul. Have a question for you (or anyone): Is the “Shaun Neilson” mentioned the same guy once known as Sherrill Nielsen who sang with Elvis in the 70s (most notably on “Softly As I Leave You”)? The listing for The Glaser Brothers on All Music indicates that it is. If so, I think his name is spelled “Shaun Nielsen”.

  2. Jon
    April 2, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    “Moreover, the Glasers were capable of vocal harmony equal to that of any other great brother group.”

    Hmm, that might be a trifle excessive.

  3. Jim Malec
    April 2, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    Or it might not. Care to explain how you think the Glasers stack up against other brother groups?

  4. Rick
    April 2, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    I think they stack up well against the Willis Brothers….

    Hey, on that album cover they kind of look like a countrified version of the Bee Gees! (lol)

  5. Jon
    April 2, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    Sure, Jim. I think the Osborne Brothers pretty much set the standard for trios. I can’t think of anything that Paul claims for Tompall and the Glaser Brothers that the Osbornes didn’t do first, didn’t do more often and didn’t do better. The McPeak Brothers had a really stout trio, too. In the non-brother category, listen to stuff like the trio on Bill Monroe’s “I Hear A Voice Calling” (or, for that matter, the Stanley Brothers’ trio on the same song, or the Haden Sisters’ version on the Rambling Boy, which follows the Stanley Brothers’ version pretty closely). Or the Flatt & Scruggs trio on “Don’t This Road Look Rough And Rocky.” Heck, I don’t see where they really outshine the Gatlin Brothers. Or Diamond Rio. There’s an awful lot of great harmony trios. Maybe a case can be made for the Glasers being as good as any of them, but asserting that it’s so isn’t really doing that.

  6. Paul W Dennis
    April 2, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    Obviously one can debate the merits of vocal harmony trios endlessly – I could throw in the Sons of the Pioneers, The Andrews Sisters, The Boswell Sisters, and great vocal quartets such as the Mills Brothers, the Statler Brothers, the Hayden Quartet, The American Quartet and the Ink Spots.

    I could – but that wasn’t the point of the article

  7. Rick
    April 3, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    Paul, since you mentioned The Boswell Sisters, you might want to check out a group from Portland, Oregon named “The Stolen Sweets” who seek to recreate the Boswell Sisters sound and style. They also have a soft spot for musical stylings of Cab Calloway as well.
    Link: http://www.stolensweets.com/index.php

    When I recently attended a “Hot Club of Cowtown” concert I tried to share a copy of the Stolen Sweets album with the Hot Club’s bassist Jake Erwin, but he declined as he already had one! The Hot Club had recently been part of a music festival up in Spokane, Washington and they caught a performance by the Sweets and became instant fans! I’m always on the lookout for current acts that do a great job recreating some of the best tunes and styles from the 30′s and 40′s.

  8. Bobby
    April 5, 2009 at 10:39 am

    Chuck had a solo single too, but it only got to the 70s.

  9. Paul
    April 7, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    Hi Paul. Thanks so much for the article on The Glaser Brothers and we really appreciate the mention of The Brothers Glaser!

    We’re proud to be doing this tribute album in honor of our father, Robert. As the older brother he returned home to help their father run the family farm while the younger brothers developed their music career.

    Though he didn’t pursue his passion for music himself, he shared it with his family and encouraged my brothers and I to follow our dreams. After his passing in 2006 this project took on new meaning for us.

    The Brothers Glaser

  10. Shelley
    May 27, 2009 at 2:35 am

    I saw the Glaser Brothers at the International Club at Ramstein AFB in the early 70′s, and they were so terrific, they easily eclipsed any other group of Nashville singers I ever saw over there, and there were a lot of groups and bands that toured Germany in those days, including Anne Murray and Bobby Bare. For one thing, they didn’t arrive separate from their band instruments with a pickup band — they rolled up in a big Eagle bus with everything together and their own band. They were all class, and I stayed up all night following them all over to their next engagement and did the same thing the next night too. As a road musician over there in those days, I can tell you we’d never seen anything like them before or since. Their performances were truly unforgettable.

    Their seamless singing style, trading off parts in the middle of a phrase was just so impressive, it’s hard to describe. I love the Gatlins, but they don’t hold a candle to the Glasers in live performances. They had a lot of songs I loved, and I was sorry when they quit performing. “Put Another Log on the Fire” always brought down the house, but as a woman, that wasn’t my personal favorite — they did so many good songs.

  11. mick phelan
    December 24, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    i do love your music
    from michael phelan @rathdowney co leois
    all the verry best
    hope to here from you
    regards
    MICK PHELAN

  12. Jack Hanford
    February 24, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    I had the good fortune of seeing the Glaser Brothers live on the Grand Ole Opry during the summer of 1971, but largely lost track of them in later years. While producing a video documentary on Buck Lake Ranch, a historic country music park near Angola, Indiana, I ran across a great old recording of them on stage at Buck Lake (not commercially available). What great singers, harmonizers and entertainers they were. I really wish I had seen them live more than that one time.

  13. tom green
    April 10, 2010 at 10:39 pm

    Is Chuck still in Nashville? How is his health? Can anybody get word to him that I would like to see him again? Just email me
    Thanks
    Tom agreen

  14. Will Scott
    June 24, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    I enjoyed a lot the biography above. I, too, once saw them live on TV, a masterful performance–Ed Sullivan I think.

    I have tried and tried to learn something about one of their songs: I think the first big hit by them in popular music I remember was entitled something like “I’ve Got Her Love all over Me”…..beautiful song, was playing a lot on the popular music stations. I think it was just before “Lovin’ Her Was Easier…..”

    Then all of a sudden when it was still
    #1, it just disappeared–I never heard it again or heard anything about it. Never could figure out why unless maybe somebody influential thought it sounded obscene and it was black listed and pulled.

    Anyone remember it, or know anything about it? “I’ve Got Your Love all over Me”…..sorry, I can’t remember the year, early 80′s I suppose.

  15. Chris Tozer
    July 9, 2010 at 11:21 am

    At http://www.answers.com/topic/charleston-trio I read that Tompall & the Glaser Brothers recorded as The Charleston Trio and recorded at least one single on the Bravo label and an album entitled Let’s Go Folksy on Allegro. I really love that album and would love it on CD. I believe both Allegro and Bravo were part of the Pickwick company.

  16. Kay Lorton
    July 18, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    My sisters and I saw the glaser brothers every time they came close to our home town of Gainesville, Ga. We were the “Farmer Sisters” singing group and we really recognized what great harmony they had. I could never get tired of hearing that beautiful harmony. You just can’t get that if you are not family.

    Is there any CD’s out there that I can buy? I would love to have one.

  17. dan wilson
    September 26, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    i would like to know how chuck is doing! i know jim is still sellin” cd”s but what a bout tompall??

  18. Stan Knowles
    January 11, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    Whatever anyone says…there is not a better sounding group than the Glazers!

    While in broadcasting..Larry Gatlin told me
    that the reason siblings, who can sing, sound
    so good…is because their vocal chords are made out of THE SAME WOOD!

    I’m convinced!

    Stan…

  19. Rick Fayman
    January 12, 2011 at 9:00 am

    I work at the Centre County Grange Fair and we are creating a wall of entertainers that have played there over the years. In 1974 The Farmer Sisters played there. Does anyone know where I can find a picture of them. You can contact me at rxf145@psu.edu. Thank you for any help you may could provide.

  20. Jack Daugherty
    January 19, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    The Best Group in my opinion that ever was and will never be again.As far as i can find out, I have every project they ever did.I’ve Searched years for a video, But NO LUCK! Tompall has recently did a solo Gospel CD, titled “From Outlaw To The Cross. VERY GOOD.jACK

  21. freshupfreddie711
    February 17, 2011 at 8:04 am

    their cuts with hank snow were excellent

  22. doris spears
    April 7, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    please, what are chuck ,tompall and jim doing wifes and children also where do they live they were the the best send me info please. thank you .Doris Spears.

  23. doris spears
    April 7, 2011 at 11:13 pm

    they were great,

  24. Ryan
    April 28, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    Early footage of the Glaser Brothers can be seen on a Marty Robbins “Town Hall Party” video, circa 1959, that has recently been released to DVD. They sing backup and also sing a few songs on their own during an interlude. You can also find some clips of them singing on youtube.com.

  25. Linda Selvidge
    June 25, 2011 at 10:22 am

    The greatest singer/singers I ever heard. I’ve been in love with Tompall since I was a little girl. Working on getting their music on CD’s. I’m playing Through the Eyes of Love right now.

  26. jim evers
    June 27, 2011 at 12:43 am

    Did Chusk Glaser hurt his left arm/hand? I notice on their “Last Opy Performance” that his left arm/hand seems to be favoured by him. Thanks. Jim Evers….The Worlds biggest Glaser Brothers fan.

  27. Ray Justice
    July 3, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    Best harmony and best phrasing of any group ever. I’ve seen and heard all the brother groups (even the Everly Brothers) and no duo or group has ever done better in harmony.

  28. Linda Selvidge
    July 6, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    How can we build this fan club up to do honor to our beloved Glaser brothers? They’re the best. Should be honored as they deserve to be.

  29. C.Nigel Barrow
    October 5, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Tompall & the Glaser Bros

    I first saw the bros at Wembley on the T.V. in the 70s and hoped to eventually see them live on stage, but before I could get my act together, they had split up. Would you believe it!. Just like Buddy Holly, something good comes along and before you can react its gone, anyway ‘79 came along and with it Tompall at Wembley. My brother, myself and our wives, went along that Easter to the festival and saw both shows, he did, one for the radio and the evening one in the arena, unfortunately by the later show he had lost his voice, and it was reduced to a whisper, but on both occasions we were treated to his fabulous band.
    I then heard that the Bros had got back together and in 1978 my wife and I went along to Southport, and I got my wish and my luck had changed.

    Unfortunately the Bros split up again! and I thought that was that, but there was another trick of fate ahead. Sometime in 1987 our local C.M. club advertised Tompall and his outlaw band, so I bought tickets for both the nights he was appearing there.

    Next thing I know I’m driving his tour bus, ( long story ), that’s the way my luck goes, anyway I met four fabulous guys ( Bill Holmes, Richie Simpson, Tony Tolliver and Gerry Mckewan ) Richie became a good pal until his death and shortly before that Gerry was murdered in Nashville. Anyway I met and drove Tompall and his band around England & Wales for a Month, that November, the following July I worked with the Boss again but this time as a roady he was still the best voice for me, but the band although very good were different.
    When I next saw Tompall he was at Grantham, at a failed C.& W. show.
    As my brother and I walked into the grounds a taxi passed us, stopped, reversed and a voice said out of it’s window “is that really you Nigel” so we talked for a couple of minutes, and he said he would see me for a drink that night but it did not happen.
    Our last get together was at Buxton, I met him outside, just by chance,
    He seemed pleased to see me and took me into the sound check, where I listened to Bob McKinley do his check and then Tompall, later I went to the show and sat with Jane Glover who was his Fan club secretary.

    Great Voice and Great Memories

  30. C.Nigel Barrow
    October 5, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    Thank you for the chance to put in words my pleasure the Glaser Brothers gave me.

  31. Tiggy Keech
    December 19, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    C. Nigel Barrow – Thanks so much for sharing your story about The Glaser Brothers. I had the pleasure of seeing the guys at Wembley in 1985. I was facinated by your experiences and slightly envious that you managed to spend time with Tompall. All three of the guys were very special.

  32. Sharon Hollingsworth
    January 25, 2012 at 11:49 pm

    Love Tompall and the Glaser Brothers music and have loved reading the comments.I have a question why is it that I can watch them on youtube and enjoy watching as well as listening to them but I’m unable to buy a dvd to enjoy of them together and solo work they have done.Love Jim doing Woman.Woman on youtube he still has it

  33. Bill
    May 11, 2012 at 12:28 am

    Did anyone mention Jims “Lights of Albuquerque,” I love that song, dang and after all.. he still sounded great on the Reunion show, at 74 or 75 years old.

  34. Revell Thompson
    July 4, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    What is forgotten about them? There has never been a group that could ever come close to them. Their harmony is unmatched. Tompall is one of the greatest singers ever. He has a remarkable voice which I never tire of listening to. I have almost every thing he (and the Glaser Brothers) has out and listen to it daily, so for those of us who love them, there is nothing forgotten about them.

  35. Revell Thompson
    July 4, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    Otherwise, it was a wonderful article and I enjoyed it very much.

  36. Bob Faunce
    August 25, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    I too feel that the Glaser brothers were one of the finest groups ever. Their harmony was absolutely terrific. I have played many of their songs on youtube and one of them was Molly Darling by Tompall. It has since been taken off youtube and I need to find out if it is on a cd somewhere so that I can buy it. I have listened to the song by Eddie Arnold, Slim Whitman and many others but noone can sing it with the feeling of Tompall. I have a young friend marrying his sweetheart who is named Molly. I want to get this version of it by Tompall for him but have come to a standstill as to where to find it. Thank you out there if you can help me.

  37. Rick Fah
    December 8, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    Paul, The debate can go on and on as to who is the greatest trio and does the best harmonies. I’ll take the Glasers every time and I love all those others mentioned (Osborne’s, Everly’s, etc.) But I get chills everytime I watch the Glaser’s videos (thank God for youtube) and thank you for your great article!

  38. Ed McClendon
    April 25, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    Saw the brothers in Greeley CO on the occasion of Tompall’s 50th birthday. The show wasn’t well promoted and there were only a handful who paid to see the show. That was 30 years and a lot of concerts ago and this one still ranks in our top 5, in spite(or because)of Tompall’s imbibing. The word ‘seamless’ is perfect for the harmony we heard that Labor Day – still a big fan.

  39. Jack Hanford
    May 2, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    For those who are interested, there is a new 90-minute documentary video about Tompall & the Glaser Brothers on DVD (NTSC). It features comments from the brothers, as well as other family members, associates and music industry insiders. For information, visit the Newshound Productions page at http://www.mynorthwoodscall.com.

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Current Discussion

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  • joe morris: how come nobody mentions his fan club which started 1950 and was called the " the penny pushers " which …
  • jane: I'm reading this article in 2013 and I've yet to hear anything from the album played on the radio.....
  • Catwandy: I guess Matt C. is eating his well-deserved crow 'bout now. Critics....gotta love 'em , bless their little hearts.
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