Monday, January 3, 2011

“T.B. Blues”

Monday is upon us once again, & after the holiday weekend, there may indeed be a few of you with the Monday Morning Blues—so I’m hear to put a musical spin on things.

I was really pleased with how the Dylan songs went last month, & was gratified by the response.  As a result, I thought I’d continue along these lines with cover versions of a new feature artist this month.  After a fair amount of deliberation, I decided to turn my attention to Jimmie Rodgers, “the Singing Brakeman,” also called “the Father of Country Music.”

Jimmie Rodgers was a phenomenon, a hit maker in his day & someone with an enduring legacy—a member of both the Country Music & Rock & Roll halls of fame—a musician who was comfortable in diverse settings & with diverse material.  Rodgers recorded with jazz greats like Louis Armstrong & Lil Hardin, yet he also laid a lot of the musical foundation for the “country sound.”  His admirers have included Merle Haggard, Gene Autry, Bob Dylan & both Howlin’ Wolf & Muddy Waters.  It may seem odd to think of hardcore bluesmen admiring Rodgers, but one thing I’d like to underline in my versions—Rodgers' blues roots ran deep.  While he ventured into sentimental material & pop stylings, Rodgers wrote a lot of songs based on good old-fashioned 12-bar blues, complete with “floating lyrics” taken from the blues tradition.

“T.B. Blues” was an autobiographical song for Jimmie Rodgers—he contracted tuberculosis at age 27 in 1924.  For a few years, he went back & forth between railroad work & entertaining—he really was a brakeman—but in 1927 his illness had progressed to a point that he could no longer work on the railroad & he became a full-time musician.  From then until his death in 1933, he made 110 recordings in the course of a brief but successful career.

Hope you enjoy my take on “T.B. Blues.”  It’s recorded slide style on my Gold Tone dobro—tuned as always to open D.   


  1. What a thoroughly enjoyable start to a new week, and a New Year. Have a great 2011 John.

  2. Nice cover! Although I notice you didn't try to emulate Jimmie's yodel. Heh, heh!

    It's interesting that Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family were both discovered by Ralph Peer and recorded the at the same time in Bristol, TN in 1927. Between the two acts, they pretty much created modern country music.

  3. Hi Alan & Roy

    Alan: Thanks! Glad to help get your week off to a good start.

    Roy: Thanks--no, I can't yodel anything remotely like Jimmie Rodgers! & right on with the history about the Bristol, TN recording sessions.


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