Archive for June, 2009


Do they yodel in Croatia ?

28 June 2009

Croatia is one of the countries that was created after the explosion of Yugoslavia. It has a strange shape and a long coast with lots of islands and can be divided in different cultural areas. But do they yodel in Croatia ?

The Dinaric Alps stretch through different countries of Southern Europe, between Slovenia and Albania and it’s in these mountains of Croatia that you can find songs with yodel-like vocals, or at least vigourous shaking and trilling of the voice ! It’s a very old tradition of songs with a peculiar style of singing wich is of early Balkan origin and exists in the different countries around. These songs are mostly performed outdoors as a way to communicate with people who are far away – hence the yodels.

Pivaj, seko and Gospe Sinjska are two songs recorded in1995 in Kijevo near Knin in the eastern part of the Dinaric highlands, a region with scarce ressources and a cattle raising economy. These two short songs sung by a group of women show how archaic traditions survive even if the lyrics of the second song are related to the recent war. One singer starts with the leading part and the rest accompany her with the lower part.

From the same region come the male singers of Nema pisme nit pivanja and Pitaju me odakle si mali, recorded in 1993 in Zagreb. Wolf Dietrich already recorded examples of this style of singing in 1973 near Sinj in Dalmatia: Ojkanje songs. These songs, like the previous ones, are performed for the pleasure of singing on the syllabe “oj” and that’s where you can her the yodel-like vocalisations.

And for something quite different in style but inspired by the old traditions, a song by Darko Rundek & Cargo Orkestar, Kolo with yodeling.

Pivaj, seko and Gospe Sinjska (from Croatia, traditional music of today)

Nema pisme nit pivanja and Pitaju me odakle si mali (from Croatia, music of long ago)

Ojkanje song and Ojkanje song: crne oci (from Folk music of Yugoslavia)

Darko Rundek & Cargo Orkestar, Kolo (from Mhm a-ha oh yeah da-da)

If you want to learn more about Ojkanje songs, there’s a good article in PDF here.


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)