Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Blue Yodel

Jimmie Rodgers (1897-1933) was known as The Singing Brakeman and America's Blue Yodeler. I am not going to focus in details on his biography or career, as this subject mostly belongs in the field of early country and hillbilly music. I suggest you to have a view at the website dedicated to his legacy for further info on bio and career, to be reached clicking here

Some years ago I had a copy of the shown cd, Blue Yodelers 1928-1936 (Retrieval, RTR 79020), containing tracks featuring Jimmie Rodgers, Emmett Miller and Roy Evans with ccompaniment by various jazzmusicians of the period, reliving a mostly forgotten chapter of early jazz with great audio examples of recordings made by the mentioned artists. The Jimmie Rodgers recordings have a couple of examples of his most notable musical innovation, a series of songs he called Blue Yodels.

In his short career Rodgers recorded thirteen Blue Yodels. Blue Yodels were blues songs in style, sound, and lyrics. They generally told of serious trouble, sometimes of violence between men and women, and they rarely had nostalgic or happy endings. Yodeling came from various sources, perhaps from cowboy songs or from the songs of travelers in the Swiss Alps. Rodgers was not the first musician to sing “Yo de lay hee-ho” between verses of his songs, but he made it such a trademark that some people assume country music has always included yodeling.

In 1929 Columbia made a movie short,"The Singing Brakeman" featuring Jimmie Rodgers performing some of his songs. I insert a couple of fragments from this movie short uploaded at YouTube - the first, "T For Texas" also known as Blue Yodel No 1

Another fragment from the movie short, also including blue yodeling - "Waiting For A Train"

On July 16, 1930, Rodgers recorded “Blue Yodel No. 9” with a young jazz trumpeter named Louis Armstrong, whose wife, Lillian, played piano on the recording (- available on the shown cd above). I found a recreation of this famous recording in a TV-show featuring c&w star Johnny Cash and Louis Armstrong, recorded Oct., 28, 1970. Hope you to enjoy!


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