Archive for the ‘USA’ Category

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They yodel in the USA !: Jimmie Rodgers (V) (1928)

2 August 2009

A few months later, on October 20, 1928, Jimmie Rodgers recorded four songs but this time with the support of a band (Dean Bryan, guitar; C.L. Hutchison, cornet; John Westbrook, steel guitar; James Rikard, clarinet; George MacMillan, string bass). These songs are some of the best he made, with train whistle imitation in Waiting for a Train and a new Blue Yodel.

Between this time and the next session in 1929, he made a short movie and toured in vaudeville shows around the country, mostly in the Southwest because of his tuberculosis. Here’s one of the clips:

Blue Yodel No.4 (Rodgers)

My Carolina Sunshine Girl (Rodgers)

I’m Lonely and Blue (McWilliams – Rodgers)

Waiting for a Train (Rodgers)

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They yodel in the USA !: Jimmie Rodgers (IV) (1928)

5 July 2009

By the end of spring 1928, Jimmie Rodgers was beginning to be famous: his first big hit, Blue Yodel was heard all over the country on the radio and in the record shops. With the money he earned from this succes, he bought a new wardrobe and a blue Buick.

Having recorded all his repertoire in the first two sessions, he asked his sister-in-law Elsie McWilliams to help him compose new songs for the sessions of June 12, as he did for the previous one. She came to Washington and in one week, they had produced the nine songs that would be recorded on that date. No Blue Yodel here, but all these songs contain yodels. They are in the tradition of the vaudeville of the turn of the century, full of sentiments and melancholy. All are sung by Jimmie Rodgers who played his own guitar.

My little lady

Daddy and Home

Lullaby Yodel

You and My Old Guitar

Never No Mo’ Blues

Mississippi Moon

I’m Lonely and Blue

My Old Pal

My Little Old Home Down in New Orleans

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Can they cover Jimmie Rodgers ? Blue Yodel No.3

7 June 2009

Blue Yodel No.3 wasn’t covered a lot. Here are four versions:

The first one, Blue Yodel No.4, recorded by Bill Monroe in 1946, is in fact Blue Yodel No.3. I don’t know where the confusion comes from but it contains stratospheric yodeling ! In his repertoire, the blue yodels were recorded only as a pretext to yodel, so the numbers and lyrics were probably mixed up because of that.

Jack Guthrie, the cousin of Woody Guthrie, recorded Blue Yodel #3 in 1946. His version contains different lines but it still is an excellent song where you feel a certain western swing influence in the instrumentation. He made lots of covers of Jimmie Rodgers, it was his singing idol and he was known as “Oklahoma’s Yodeling Cowboy”. There certainly will be a full post about him, one day…

The Country Gentlemen made a bluegrass version in 1964 but it is a strange one. It contains great yodels and the last yodel of the song is more like the one in Muleskinner Blues (Blue Yodel No.8). It was recorded for their second disc for Mercury but because of contractual misunderstanding it was only released in 1990.

A very fresh and energetic version is the one by the Johnson Mountain Boys recorded live at the Birchmere (Virginia) in 1983, with really high notes in the yodel. This bluegrass group plays the classic music of Bill Monroe or the Stanley Brothers but with a modern feel, with their individuality, fast and furious at a time where most of the bluegrass group were playing a kind of fusion.

Bill Monroe – Blue Yodel No.4 (on different cd’s)

Jack Guthrie – Blue Yodel #3 (Evening sun yodel) (on this cd)

The Country Gentlemen – Blue Yodel #3 (She’s long, she’s tall) (on this cd)

The Johnson Mountain Boys – Blue Yodel #3 (on this cd)

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Yodel blues: Winston Holmes

17 May 2009

Winston Holmes is a bit of an enigma. He was probably born around 1898 in Kansas City (Missouri) and was a good looking and restless man. He started a record label, Merritt Records, and was a performer himself. His vocals were energetic, with bird calls, train whistles and yodels. He made some songs with Lottie Kimbrough, a blues singer who made a career in the twenties. You can hear them together on Lost Lover Blues and Wayward Girl Blues.

He also made a session with Charlie Turner playing twelve-string guitar and harmonica on Rounders Lament and The Kansas City Call, with bird calls on both songs and yodel on the second one. No more info about all this, but these yodels are very early examples, at a time where Jimmie Rodgers was popularizing them.

Lost Lover Blues and Wayward Girl Blues (1928 – with Lottie Kimbrough)

Rounders Lament and The Kansas City Call (1929 – with Charlie Turner)

(image from the Yazoo Record Times Ain’t Like They Used To Be, Vol. 1, info and music from the Document cd Kansas City Blues)

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Cattle Call: from Tex Owens to People Like Us

13 April 2009

In the previous post, I talked about Tex Owens, the author of the very famous Cattle Call. Here are different versions of the song, in chronological order. Sorry for the wait, it was quite a long post to write and lots of songs to get, even if I’m sure there are other versions out there, but I find the exercice very interesting ! I hope you do too. And on the personal side, I’m quite busy for the moment with other projects and the weather this Easter weekend was so nice, I enjoyed the sun instead of blogging.

This is also a good post to celebrate the one year anniversay of Mademoiselle Montana’s Yodel Heaven !

Tex Owens recorded it in 1934 and again in 1936. He recalls writing the tune while waiting for a radio broadcast. It was snowing and it reminded him of his earlier life as a cowboy. “Watching the snow, my sympathy went out to cattle everywhere, and I just wished I could call them all around me and break some corn over a wagon wheel and feed them. That’s when the words “cattle call” came to my mind. I picked up my guitar, and in thirty minutes I had wrote the music and four verses to the song.” (found in Cattle Call. Early Cowboy Music and its Roots, Rounder, and in Bart Plantenga’s book)

The song is inspired by cowboy life: the cowboys used cattle calls to let the cattle know where the herders where at night time.

Tex Ritter recorded it in 1947. No real yodel but his voice breaks many times. It is a very romantic version with the chorus that prefigures his biggest hit, High Noon.

Carolina Cotton made her version around 1951.

It was Eddy Arnold‘s performance from 1955 that made the song so popular. His version, accompanied by the Hugo Winterhalter Orchestra, is country but with hints towards pop styles. He recorded the song first in 1944, and then again in 1949 and yet again in 1961. It was used in the movie My own private Idaho.

One of the kings of yodel, Slim Whitman recorded the song in 1954. He had been influenced by Eddy Arnold but his falsetto range was a lot better. He made the song more flamboyant and increased the tempo to produce an exciting and wild sound. If I remember good, you can hear the song in Mars Attack, with Indian Love Call.

Sheb Wooley did his best in 1960 but his yodel isn’t so good…

Even Elvis Presley sang it: here‘s just the yodel from Cattle Call at a rehearsal for a documentary, That’s the way it is, and here, with full band and chorus where he shows his ability to yodel. (1970)

And what about a yodel with a Moog ? Gil Trythall recorded Cattle Call in 1971 with his synthesizer and it works very good !

Around 1986 Boxcar Willie made a version with a playful yodel.

Don Edwards recorded a version in 1992, noting in the liner notes of his album that the “original version was more authentic than the later versions that added a silly chorus (I suppose for the sake of records company executives and for radio play).

Emmylou Harris tells that the first song she remember hearing on the radio was Cattle Call by Eddie Arnold when she was four years old. She made a live version in 1992.

Cowboy singer Skip Gorman has a version on A greener prairie (1994).

The same year, Wylie Gustafson made a version with his Wild West group.

LeAnn Rimes was 14 when she recorded it in 1996, with Eddy Arnold. A very young voice but such a beautiful yodel !

The last version I found is from People Like Us, aka DJ and multimedia artist Vicki Bennett, from Abridged to Far (2004), that you can find for download on UbuWeb. Here’s what they say about this album: “On Abridged Too Far, People Like Us continues its pastiche of impressions of popular music from Europe and America from the 1920s thru to 1990s. Bennett’s work is an examination of the affect of hearing well known tunes and lyrics in fragments, then putting those elements to play– resonating, intermingling and recombining with the listeners own associations and shards of memories.

And after all this version of the same song, I’m sure you’ll be singing it all the time ! I can’t get it out of my head since weeks…

Tex Owens (I don’t know if it’s the 1934 or 1936 version, sorry !)

Tex Ritter – 1947

Carolina Cotton – 1951

Eddy Arnold – 1949, 1955 (with the Hugo Winterhalter Orchestra), 1961

Slim Whitman – 1954

Sheb Wooley – 1960

Elvis Presley – 1970

Gil Trythall – 1971

Boxcar Willie – 1986

Don Edwards – 1992

Emmylou Harris – 1992

Skip Gorman – 1994

Wylie Gustafson – 1994

LeAnn Rimes – 1996

People Like Us – 2004

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They yodel in the USA !: Tex Owens

15 March 2009

For this week, let’s listen to Tex Owens, an American cowboy yodeler who isn’t very known but his song, Cattle Call was a big hit for Eddy Arnold and dozens of others after him. I’ll write a special post about this song but I first want to present Tex Owens himself. He was born as Doye Hensley Owens in Texas in 1892 and died in 1962… and for the rest of his biography, there is a very good one on All Music Guide, so I won’t rewrite it here. He worked a lot for the radio and played in movies. His daughters became singers too, the oldest one, Laura Lee worked with Bob Wills.

But why did he yodel ? I have no idea, the information about him is really scarce on the internet. He worked as a real cowboy and at that time, almost all the singing cowboys yodeled… And his yodel is beautiful ! But if you have more info, write me.

The songs come from the Bear Family cd, Cattle Call:

recorded August 28, 1934, Chicago, Illinois – Tex Owens: vocal and guitar:

Pride of the prairie

Two sweethearts

Rocking alone in an old rocking chair, no yodel with a nice whistle !

previously unissued demo’s of unknown origin or date:

Cowboy call

While I’m nearly home

Don’t hide your tears my darling

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They yodel in the USA !: Wylie and the Wild West

8 March 2009

Heck, for me  a day without yodeling is like a day without sunshine.” (Wylie Gustafson, from the liner notes of Way out West)

Jon from Poetry is for Assholes told me he heard some songs of Wylie and the Wild West. So here’s a post about him. Wylie is in fact Wylie Gustafson, the man responsible for the Yahoo yodel. He is known for his repertoire of western swing, country, rockabilly and yodel.

He was born in 1961 in Montana (USA) and learned to yodel from his father, who himself learned it from the Austrians from the ski team at Montana State College. In the liner notes of his Total Yodel ! album, he says this: “My dad used to yodel up on the ski hill. Every time he’d get to the top of the hill, he’d shake the snow off his skis and let out a yodel. That was our signal to go down the hill. Off course, that led to us trying to mimic him. I remember when I was 10 or 12, I tried to yodel and I could do it better than my brothers.” Later, he would fine-tune his yodeling with the help of an Austrian yodeling lessons record.

Wylie formed his group, the Wild West Show in 1989 and since then, they have recorded 13 albums and toured around the world. At the same time, Wylie Gustafson is a real cowboy: he owns a ranch where he trains and sells horses. And if you want to learn yodel, buy his book: How to Yodel: Lessons to Tickle Your Tonsils.

His songs are sometimes nostalgic, inspired by the sounds of West Coast country music, like western swing or honky tonk, with some touches of rockabilly in some song. His inspiration comes from the life of the cowboys and many songs speak about cattle, fence building and tumbleweeds.

Here are some songs from different albums. He also made a full album of yodels (Total Yodel !), at popular demand, with Jimmie Rodgers songs and more European style yodels but this will be for another post.

Yodeling Fool (from Wylie & the Wild West Show)

Room to roam, a crooner ballad with langourous yodel (from Get Wild)

Give me a Pinto Pal, an Elton Britt song, with acrobatic yodels (from Way out West)

Yodeling cowhand, own composition in honor of the buckaroos or vaqueros (from Ridin’ the Hi-Line)

Yodel Boogie, boogie rhythms with yodels harmonies like Elton Britt, (from Paradise)

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