2/18/20 Four To Ten Thousand Years Around The Mountain Riding A Mule

My maternal grandmother was born in 1897, and I remember her quoting “I was born 10,000 years ago” when I was young. Everyone puts their own spin on these songs, so even if you see the same title, there will be different bits thrown in. Fresno State has a list of variants: http://www.fresnostate.edu/folklore/ballads/R410.html

“I Am A Highly Educated Man” from 1894: http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/songster/44-i-am-a-highly-educated-man.htm

Dock Walsh 1925 “Educated Man” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UA-kIFaRaXc&list=PLkY8-UOMZQ09ybhfLC4gKyutwRBDK2q7p&index=34

Kelly Harrell 1925 “I Was Born About 10,000 Years Ago” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lt9vckF1Om0&list=PLkY8-UOMZQ09ybhfLC4gKyutwRBDK2q7p&index=29

The tune sounds related to “She’ll Be Coming Around The Mountain,” so here’s Henry Whitter’s 1924 recording of “She’ll Be Coming Around The Mountain” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zGr5XLuvcY

It’s unclear exactly when Ramblin’ Tommy Scott’s version was recorded, but the upload includes a great amount of information about his career. He was huge on the medicine show circuit, was a part of Charlie Monroe’s band at one point, and even had a blackface comedy duo with Hee Haw/Grand Ole Opry star Stringbean called “Stringbean and Peanut” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ghd-xL5gAjc&list=PLkY8-UOMZQ09ybhfLC4gKyutwRBDK2q7p&index=30

Now, for something a bit different, here’s Funkadelic 1976 “Comin’ Round The Mountain” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mwWYeOF6Ww

The Seekers’ 1966 “I Was Born About 10,000 Years Ago” is particularly funny: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1mf9Oz4dpk&list=PLkY8-UOMZQ09ybhfLC4gKyutwRBDK2q7p&index=31

Elvis Presley released a cool album in 1971 called “Elvis Country (I’m 10,000 Years Old),” in which he included snippets of the song throughout the album, then released his full version of the song in 1972: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cTSVDKgG8Uw&list=PLkY8-UOMZQ09ybhfLC4gKyutwRBDK2q7p&index=32

Fiddlin’ John Carson 1924 “When Abraham And Isaac Rushed The Can” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydEwYKWj-Ag&list=PLkY8-UOMZQ09ybhfLC4gKyutwRBDK2q7p&index=34&t=0s

Uncle Dave Macon 1929 “Man That Rode The Mule Around The World” (see also the earlier versions by Charlie Poole, Vernon Dalhart,etc) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6vWDkWrSOU&list=PLkY8-UOMZQ09ybhfLC4gKyutwRBDK2q7p&index=35

Gentry Brothers 1927 “I Was Born 4,000 Years Ago” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inl_HHDQUbw

Bradley Kincaid 1929 “Four Thousand Years Ago” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpNM1Ree9_U

The Carter Family 1963 “I Was Born 4,000 Years Ago” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgeMuJDtrfg

2/15/20 Rockin' Country Roots

One of my biggest playlists is about the intersection of country and rock. I mostly focus on the rock and roll era, but I also give examples of the forms of rock music that developed in the 1960s-1970s.

Many of the biggest stars in the history of country music are represented on this list, often in the rockabilly style: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkY8-UOMZQ09ybhfLC4gKyutwRBDK2q7p

Check out the early-career efforts of such artists as Conway Twitty, George Jones, Buck Owens, and so many more. Charlie Daniels’ rockabilly number “Robot Romp” is a fun one to check out. I haven’t tried counting, but perhaps half of the members of the Country Music Hall Of Fame (excluding the non-performers like producers, songwriters, promoters,etc) are on my playlist.

2/14/20 New Music Friday

This is a much lighter release week, but I still found a few bits:

Porter Union released a video that works well for Valentine’s Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_Njxwzk1_k&list=PLkY8-UOMZQ0_fegAUAQ0SSPe6xLZaDjdg&index=10&t=0s

Luke Bryan released a song today. It’s rather repetitive and doesn’t break new ground, but there’s a solid bit of steel guitar. For as much hell as the guy catches for being “modern country,” this is closer to “country” than most of Sturgill’s and Isbell’s recent efforts. Yeah, I said it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6JveUAxqjD4&list=PLkY8-UOMZQ0_fegAUAQ0SSPe6xLZaDjdg&index=52&t=0s

I saw Rye Davis at CMA Fest last year & talked to him a bit after his set. Last Friday, he released a lyric video for “King Me.” I haven’t seen much coverage of this elsewhere, so here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPHsm03BJtQ&list=PLkY8-UOMZQ0_fegAUAQ0SSPe6xLZaDjdg&index=36

Cris Mantello’s album will be released officially February 22nd, but I found where he already posted the songs to YouTube. There’s a fun rockabilly vibe to this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwPL9JyBR_A&list=PLkY8-UOMZQ0_fegAUAQ0SSPe6xLZaDjdg&index=36&t=0s

Speaking of rockabilly, Tami Neilson released a new album, as well as this new video: https://youtu.be/RC7dyeLRZBo

Carly Pearce released an album today, but I haven’t had time to listen to much of it yet.

2/13/20 Country Number Ones, 1944-1949

Billboard released it’s first country chart in 1944, “Most Played Juke Box Folk Records,” which covered “Hillbillies, Spirituals, Cowboy Songs, etc.”

I created a playlist with every number one on this chart from 1944-1949, in chronological order, based on when each song first hit the top position. I mention that last bit, because some songs hit number one more than once.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkY8-UOMZQ08qx1ZxKOIrucVUCaedQkNj

You’ll hear a good bit of trumpet from such artists as Al Dexter, Jimmie Davis, and Merle Travis, and you can find more of their songs on my Country Trumpet playlist.

Also, note that some polka songs charted, and my Country Polka playlist is a fun listen. Lawrence Welk had a country number one in 1945. Frankie Yankovic didn’t hit the top spot, but did chart, as did Ernie Benedict and his Polkateers.

Eddy Arnold dominated the country chart in 1948, and it’s unusual to see any artist of any genre at any point in time have such a dominant year.

I found a 1944-1949 country music list by Muzikgirl67 (and she has many more good lists to enjoy) that has about 400 songs that charted during this time: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLRgLrYQQYdPqkIVjDwHoU9hS59S99rtv4

Ella Fitzgerald hit #2 in 1944 on the chart with “When My Baby Walks Down The Street.” I wouldn’t have guessed that one.

Perhaps a “countrier” example from her is “Cow Cow Boogie,” which has been covered by western swing bands and even country acts like The Judds. https://youtu.be/wPJnoUQH7Zk

Ted Daffan’s original version of “No Letter Today” charted in 1944, but the song is probably better known for later covers by Hank Snow & Anita Carter, Ray Charles (vol2 of Modern Sounds), and others. https://youtu.be/cMKAZ8zwTKg

2/12/20 Country In Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame

In the 1950s through the mid-1960s, the genre known as rock and roll had considerable country influence, especially in Memphis. When rock and roll became just rock, country influences waned.

2017 On The Records article, “When Rock & Roll Became ‘Rock'” https://ontherecords.net/2017/10/when-rock-roll-became-rock/

“At it’s breakthrough time in the mid 1950’s, Rock & Roll was mostly a feel good uptempo blues based sound.  Little Richard, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and more gave us some great songs…”

“The term Rock & Roll is still popular to use, because that started it all, but If you say “the Rock & Roll era”…it’s the mid-fifties to the early sixties.  Rock, on the other hand, doesn’t refer to a specific era, and includes a wide variety of musical styles.”

The thing in Cleveland, Ohio is called the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, but it appears to be more of an all-genre money grab than anything specific to rock and roll, as defined by the above article.

News5Cleveland 2018 article, “Hip-hop, blues and Gospel are in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but not country” https://www.news5cleveland.com/news/local-news/cleveland-metro/newer-generation-of-country-musicians-may-have-better-chance-of-rock-roll-hall-of-fame-induction

“There are 11 musicians who have been inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame.

They are: Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Williams, Chet Atkins, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, The Everly Brothers, Bill Monroe, Bob Wills, Brenda Lee, Floyd Cramer, and Sam Phillips.”

Let’s take a closer look at the 33 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Early Influences inductees: https://www.rockhall.com/inductees/categories/early-influences

There are some very familiar country names in this lot, such as Hank Williams, Jimmie Rodgers, Bill Monroe, Bob Wills, and Wanda Jackson, plus the folkies and blues artists. Louis Armstrong is on my Country Trumpet list for playing cornet on Jimmie Rodgers’ Blue Yodel No. 9.

What is likely less familiar to country fans is that Nat King Cole and Louis Jordan charted number one hits on the 1944 Billboard “Most Played Juke Box Folk Records” chart, considered the very first year of Billboard’s country chart. In fact, Louis Jordan had two number ones that year. As another fun fact, Bing Crosby & The Andrews Sisters also had a number one on the 1944 chart, and Red Foley & Lawrence Welk had a number one on the 1945 chart.

Since there are hundreds of R&R Hall Of Fame members, I’m not going to run through the whole lot, but many of them have at least some minor country connection.

2/11/20 Assorted Bits

My brother and I attended the Texas Music Scene television tapings last night for Eleven Hundred Springs and Reckless Kelly, two acts that are very well known in Texas. Eleven Hundred Springs released an album last month, and you can find songs from that album on my YouTube and Spotify 2020 lists. Reckless Kelly was the very first act on the first episode of Texas Music Scene. Here’s the Texas Music Scene TV YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/TXmusicTV

It appears that Reckless Kelly will kickoff the Larry Joe Taylor festival in April: http://larryjoetaylor.com/texas_music_festival/music_lineup.htm

I saw a clip of Parker McCollum singing a nice cover of “Like A Cowboy,” a 2010 Randy Montana song that was written by Chris Stapleton & Big Al Anderson. Here’s the Randy Montana version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X19AMh_XIes

I try to keep things positive and about the music here, but at least through my phone speaker on one listen, Isbell’s new song sounds like it was recorded on a potato, and it’s rock rather than country.

I realize and respect that country music and all music comes in many forms, and illustrate and celebrate that in great detail on my tremendous variety of playlists: https://countryopinionblog.wordpress.com/music-playlists/

I shuffled some songs around on my 2020 Country Plus Showcase, and I like the way the songs are fitting together. I decided to make this a January-February list, since I’m already up to nearly 50 artists (one song per artist). My January-February list from 2019 has over 2,700 views, while my January-February list has only 119 views. I know it doesn’t really matter, since I’m just doing this for fun, and I realize my numbers are insignificant by anyone else’s standards, but it’s always weird to me that some of my lists fare so much worse than others.

One of my pleasant surprises is that my Square Dance music list has over 650 views. This style was around a long time before the “honky tonk” fiddle-and-pedal steel material that some claim is the only “real” or “traditional” country music. I happen to like that stuff a lot and have playlists full of it, but the idea is absolutely absurd to suggest that the pedal steel material is somehow more “traditional” or “real” than the square dance stuff, heavily blues-influenced material, old-time string bands, jug bands, cowboy tunes, and many, many more styles. All of those styles were around decades before the pedal steel instrument was fully developed, and also deserve respect.

My “hip hop meets country list” cost me 3 of my 13 YouTube subscribers when I created it, but I’m happy to report that the list just hit 2,000 views. I packed a lot of music history in there. What people “think” of when describing this odd combination of styles is dreadful material like the new Blake Shelton-Pitbull collaboration. Everyone has heard such horrible examples that they assume that’s the only way these these styles could ever possibly intersect. The many varied forms of country music have always intersected with the “outside world,” though. If you doubt me, look at my “country disco” list and hear “traditional country heroes” following trends like everyone else. To me, it’s just another of over a hundred lists, each of which sounds a bit different from every other. There’s no good reason not to enjoy all of it, and the idea that “country music is dead” because the style that was especially popular in the 1950s-1960s became less dominant is ludicrous. After all, that style itself supplanted many other established styles. It’s all music.

2/10/20 One String Music

Although instruments with a single string have been around for a very long time, but I don’t know of many professional recordings that prominently feature such instruments in country music. You’re more likely to see instruments like washtub bass, diddley bow, canjo, and cigar box guitar at old-time music and arts festivals.

This list also includes music played on just one string of multi-string instruments. Here are some examples of well-known songs that can be played on one string of a typical guitar: https://nationalguitaracademy.com/one-string-guitar-songs/

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkY8-UOMZQ0_IdkypmLZT6VwweMWZlTnq

I have a separate list for mouth bow, which includes some country recordings with that one-stringed instrument: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkY8-UOMZQ09-Q-NuUrIOnB72gPDU7NDz

The tea chest bass often filled the role in British skiffle bands that the washtub bass filled in American jug/washboard bands. Many of the biggest acts in the history of rock and roll started out in skiffle bands in the UK. BBC 2018 article, “Skiffle: The musical revolution that time forgot” https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/14m685MfWqvtz9LNr4W9BVp/skiffle-the-musical-revolution-that-time-forgot

Going back much earlier,George Chirgwin (1854-1922) was an English comedian/musician who used one-string fiddle: https://benmcmanussite.wordpress.com/george-h-chirgwin-the-white-eyed-kaffir/

2/9/20 The Country Disco Playlist

For good or ill, country disco had a bit of a run in the late 70s-early 80s. Some of these are clear examples, while others are marginal. Whisperin’ Bill Anderson sounds hilariously creepy in this style, and I state that as someone who appreciates his overall career. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkY8-UOMZQ08BY1YOVVdxPeeQQlQWvw0G

List of lists: https://countryopinionblog.wordpress.com/music-playlists/

2/8/20 Ameripolitan Nominees

As luck would have it, the Ameripolitan Awards are in Memphis February 20-24, and I’m already planning to drive through Memphis on the way to Nashville for Robby Turner’s benefit February 26th. So, my schedule works out to make a week of it.

I found a Spotify sampler of 2020 Ameripolitan nominees: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/0K4NKBFTdKyzW0PrzR0wVq?si=7fLpm3bMQfyBCHrasYJFgw

It’s worth noting that Ameripolitan appears to have dropped the “outlaw” category this year. That’s fine by me. Honky-Tonk, rockabilly, and western swing categories are all much easier to define.

2/7/20 One Fine Day

My brother got out of the hospital yesterday, and is doing much better now.

I was able to get a ticket to Robby Turner’s fundraiser in Nashville February 26th just now, so I need to figure out travel plans. In addition to the fact that it’s a good cause, it is an unbelievably good lineup for a venue that small.

Today turned out to be very busy for new releases, and it will take a while to listen to even a fraction.

There are some new additions to the 2020 Country Plus Showcase: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkY8-UOMZQ0_fegAUAQ0SSPe6xLZaDjdg

I included several songs from the new Steeldrivers album on my 2020 bluegrass Spotify list (hear also the new ones from Barefoot Movement): https://open.spotify.com/playlist/6TCsrUUUUHJrVEjCjQVOPV?si=jzTwLSOeQUKrtXcpmgNIyA

John Moreland’s new album includes a tribute to the Chris Porter. I saw Chris Porter at Kentuck Arts Festival in Northport, Alabama in 2016, just days before his passing.

James Steinle’s new album includes a duet with Juliet McConkey, who lives here in San Marcos.

Lena Paige’s new album includes a guest spot from Tanya Tucker, so if you’re looking for young artists with traditional leanings, check this album out.

Hannah Jackson released an EP a few days ago, and she’s another good young artist with a traditional-leaning sound.

I know there’s plenty more to check out, but this is a good lot to get the ball rolling.