Posts Tagged ‘experimental’

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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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Do they yodel in Switzerland ?: Christine Lauterburg

12 October 2008

I haven’t written a lot of posts about yodel in Switzerland, the country where it all began. And this post won’t be about classic yodel or folkloric yodel but about modern and quite experimental yodels. Some singers have decided to push yodel to its frontiers, to innovate, to provoke even: Erika Stucky, Hubert von Goisern, Stimmhorn… and Christine Lauterburg. She caused quite a stir in the nineties with her album Echo der Zeit mixing ambient sounds, electronic beats and yodels. When you listen to it now, it sounds a bit dated, but it was a time of groups like Deep Forrest or Enigma who were mixing world music with synth programming. And Lauterburg’s album is a milestone in Swiss pop music !

Christine Lauterburg was born in 1956 in the region of Bern, Switzerland. As a child, she soon wanted to become a singer. But she first became an actress and played in theater and film in the 1980’s. Once she was 30 years old, she decided to reorientate her career and followed song lessons, where she learned to yodel. She didn’t want to do it in the traditional way but wanted to touch a different public, a younger one. Echo der Zeit was her first album and it went number 9 in the Swiss charts in 1994. The album was produced by Cyrill Schläpfer (the director of the Ur Musig documentary) and by Pascal de Sapio (who is more in a hip hop thing). She looks a bit like of a Nina Hagen from the mountains, a postindustrial Heidi but her music is more techno than punk. Since then, she made other albums, always a bit experimental but less techno, as you can hear on her site.

Following are some songs from Echo der Zeit, hits and some others, randomly picked, because almost all the songs of the album contain yodels:

Tanz Tanz ! (here is a other version on youtube)

Anneli

Macao

Rot uf Grau (remix)

And here is the more traditional side, with songs in duo with Res Margot playing Büchel, a short trumpet-shaped Alphorn in the first one and Schwyzerörgeli in the second one.

Gruss aus Adelboden

Mannebärg-Jodel

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Do they yodel in the USA ?: Faun Fables

3 August 2008

It’s not only in country music that you can find yodel. Other styles like rock, jazz, bues or soul include sometimes yodels in the songs. So what about the Faun Fables ? Singer Dawn McCarthy has the ability to yodel but she also experiences a lot with her voice, trying strange things, sometimes beyond reason or feasibility. Here is what her site says about her: “Dawn McCarthy is a writer, singer and theater artist whose work is a sea of gorgeous elemental nitty gritty; haunting melodies, breath, stomping, and natural theatricality led by the voice, rooted in the physical body. It is a crossroads where ancient ballad, art song, physical theater and rock music meet. Her lyrics speak to people of all ages about things like rugged housekeeping, street kids, growing old, sleepwalking and exiled travelers returning home.

And here is what she says about yodeling in an interview by Bart Plantenga: “My first inspiration was a woman ‘Liisa,’ from the old record ‘Liisa Yodels.’ … Certainly all the yodellers that’ve inspired me are of the swiss style – fast, melodic and doll-like, somehow. Can I also put in a vote here for pygmy yodelling? Which is quite a different character – almost entirely spiritual and waif sounding. Regarding other music, I am influenced by things that sound remote – growing out of some tree in a wood. Well, OK, that’s figuratively speaking – but I do love a variety of what seems to be obscure music. The melodies used in Norwegian folk music really rang true in me – they have no “scales” per se as traditional western music favors. I am biased toward any good vocal music; over the top singers, wild screamers, exacting polished singers that sound like a reed instrument…anything that guts or charms me… Brigitte Fontaine, Iva Bittova, Dimi Mint Abba, Demis Roussos, Eva Demarczek, Robin Williamson, a flamenco singer named Lole…

In Ode to rejection, the yodel sounds melancholic, eerie, mysterious but is also really melodious at the same time. Bliss is a traditional Swiss yodel song, but a strange one. Wait for a post about Erika Stucky and you’ll hear other things in the style. Mouse song is quite funny, with spoken word at the beginning and is also based on a traditional Swiss song. Honey baby blues is a traditional song that was played by Clarence Ashley or Doc Watson. It is in Appalachian old time style, with no yodel but falsetto.

Faun Fables:

Ode to rejection

Bliss

Honey baby blues (all from Early Song, recorded in 1999)

Mouse song (from Family Album, recorded in 2003)

Link 1: myspace

Link 2: Drag City