Monday, January 10, 2011

“Blue Yodel #5"

A happy Monday to you.  The Monday Morning Blues is a trifle late this morning thanks to technical glitches, but as is so often the case, a combination of re-booting & dogged persistance have paid off.  I chalk much of this up to January, which always seems to be a cursed month!

Anyway, our month of Jimmie Rodgers covers continues with my take on “Blue Yodel #5.”  As Rodgers fans know, the Singing Brakeman composed & recorded 13 “Blue Yodels, starting with the song also known as “T for Texas,” which Rodgers recorded in 1927 & which became a huge hit upon its release.  The final song was titled, appropriately enough, “Jimmie Rodgers Last Blue Yodel”; this was recorded in May 1933 just over a week before his death & was released posthumously.

Rodgers was a great singer & songwriter, & his yodeling ability was top-notch.  Bob Dylan has described Rodgers’ yodeling as follows: “that famous blue yodel that defies the rational and conjecturing mind.”  Rodgers himself described his yodeling in more mundane terms as “curlicues I can make with my throat.”  Tho he used this ability in a great number of his songs, the “Blue Yodel” series is a remarkable set of songs & one that had profound effects on the development of country music & probably had influence into other music as well—just as Rodgers himself learned from the African-American stylings we call the blues, there’s every reason to believe that Rodgers’ songs had an impact on contemporary blues performers.  His songs were major hits, & it’s known that blues artists such as Muddy Waters & Howlin’ Wolf admired his work.  I’ve also seen conjecture that Rodgers may have influenced Tommy Johnson’s singing.

The yodeling is a stretch for me, but I had fun with it.  I’m playing my Gold Tone resonator tuned to an open D but capoed so that the actual key is E.  I originally intended to play this one slide style, but at the last minute I chose to go with straight fingerpicking.  Hope you enjoy it!


  1. I love how you challenge yourself with different musical styles. Great to hear you yodel!

  2. Hi Raquelle: Thanks so much! Next time I'm in your area--who knows when--I'll bring my guitar along!

  3. It may be late John, but I am willing to postpone Monday morning for music like this.

  4. Hi Alan: Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it.

  5. Thanks for blogging, I feel nice when I visit your blog and love this kind of music!


    Trade Waste

  6. That's a lovely tone on the resonator, John. And doesn't it record well? I'm seeing about getting a bridge pickup fitted to my Ozark resonator acoustic bass guitar. Have you got a pickup on your guitar? If so, any tips?

  7. Very nice. My father is from Georgia. And yes, he yodels. I kinda love it.

  8. Very nice. My father is from Georgia. And yes, he yodels. I kinda love it.

  9. Hi Arturo, Dick & Caroline

    Arturo: Thanks.

    Dick: Thanks! There's no pick-up--I always record "live" with two mics--a Shure 57 for the guitar (or banjo) & an AKG vocal mic for the voice. I experimented with a one mic set-up, using a Shure condensor for everything, but decided I didn't like it. It makes sense to me that a bridge pick-up would be a good way to go, but that's only speculation on my part. Do you play the bass resonator as part of the combo you perform in? If so, I would think a pick-up would be pretty important.

    Caroline: Thanks a lot! Really appreciate your support here.


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