As luck would have it, a shoe salesman bought recording equipment in 1896:
The first recording has imitations of chickens and the second is the imitation of train noises at a train wreck:
It’s also worth noting that a drum was used to imitate the train. American country music was slow to warm up to the idea of drums. Even though there were many early American songs about train wrecks, I can’t think of any that used drums that early.
On Saturday, the Grand Ole Opry featured Marty Stuart, Connie Smith, and Sierra Hull.
Marty covered some well-known older songs. He brought out Stuart Duncan to play Ervin T Rouse’s fiddle on Rouse’s famous song, “Orange Blossom Special.” He brought out Leroy Troy to cover Uncle Dave Macon’s “Keep My Skillet Good And Greasy,” complete with a bevy of banjo tricks. Old-time fiddle tune “Katy Hill” was part of the evening’s closing segment.
Let’s look at some early versions of these songs:
Allen Sisson and John Burckhardt, “Katy Hill” in 1925:
As a fun fact, piano player John Burckhardt recorded at least as far back as 1909.
Uncle Dave Macon, “Keep My Skillet Good And Greasy” in 1924 ( a bit of “non-PC language” in there that most covers don’t include):
The Rouse Brothers, “Orange Blossom Special” in 1939:
As a fun fact, although Ervin Rouse wrote and copyrighted the song in 1938, he didn’t record the song himself until 1939. Roy Hall did record a version in late 1938.
Advertisements have been a part of country music about as long as there has been country music. Take WSM radio and the Grand Ole Opry as early examples:
Here’s my playlist packed with product placements:
As a follow-up to my pre-1920, 1920-1922, and 1923 country/country roots playlists, I proudly present the 1924 country playlist:
I worked on this list a good while, to find some bits that one might not see on a whole lot of other “classic country” lists. I have over 200 entries for 1924, which is a lot more than the few dozen on the 1923 list.
Here’s some history of electrical recording, which significantly impacted the recording industry in 1925:
In some cases, artists who recorded acoustically in 1924 re-recorded their hits later on to make use of the improved technology.
There’s a ton of new stuff out today, including new albums from The Merles, Skip Ewing, Texas Hill, Justin Moore, Joe Stamm, Bella White, Granger Smith, Muscadine Bloodline, Lyman Ellerman, and Mike McClure. There’s also a “lost album” from Earl Thomas Conley, and Christmas albums from Carrie Underwood and Terri Clark.
Here’s my September new music list:
Country music comes from everywhere. Joop’s Musical Flowers published an article in 2017 about the connection between a tune recorded in Sweden in 1915, “Life In The Woods Of Finland,” and the 1950 American country song, “Mockingbird Hill.”
Here’s a nice version of “Livet I Finnskogarna” from 1926, recorded in the US:
Karl Jularbo, who first recorded the song in 1915, starred in a Swedish movie named after the song in 1947, “Life In The Finn Woods”
Many, many country artists recorded “Mockingbird Hill” in the 50s and 60s. Here’s Hank Snow & Anita Carter:
Several country classics sound rather similar, so I made a playlist:
Vernon Dalhart first recorded “Prisoner’s Song” in 1924, and recorded a few more versions in the next couple of years. This was a such a gigantic hit that the song was covered in other languages in 1926. The lyrics in the song inspired “I’ll Fly Away,” so there’s another bit of trivia.
Similar melodies have been recycled time and again, often with great results. “I’m Thinking Tonight Of My Blue Eyes” was the Carter Family one, and “The Great Speckled Bird” was one of Roy Acuff’s signature songs. Hank Thompson’s biggest hit was “The Wild Side Of Life,” and Kitty Wells’ biggest hit was the answer, “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels.”
Countless country stars have covered one or more of these songs over the years, but my playlist also includes some examples from artists better known for other styles of music.
Western movies are most familiar, but stars of the country side of country and western (or the “hillbilly” side of “hillbilly and cowboy”) also made some movies. Lulu Belle and Scotty were among the biggest stars of the Chicago Barn Dance and were in several movies. Here’s an article about them:
“Sing, Neighbor, Sing” featured such country stars as Roy Acuff, Lulu Belle and Scotty, Carolina Cotton, and the Milo Twins.
Assorted 1920s blues artists recorded boll weevil-themed songs in the 1920s. Here’s a hillbilly version in 1928 from W.A. Lindsey and Alvin Conder:
In 1939, Tex Ritter and Mantan Moreland sang a version of “Boll Weevil” in the movie “Riders of the Frontier”
In 1961, Brook Benton released the album “The Boll Weevil Song and 11 Other Great Hits.” Some of the songs are most often associated with country music, like “Frankie and Johnny” and “Intoxicated Rat.” This was the year before Ray Charles’ R&B/country hybrid. Anyway, Brook Benton’s version of “The Boll Weevil Song” has the distinction of being the very first number one on Billboard’s Easy Listening chart, later known as Adult Contemporary:
Later in 1961, two acts of interest to country fans hit number one on the new Easy Listening chart, Bob Moore with the instrumental “Mexico” and Jimmy Dean with “Big Bad John.”
Most of these are pretty obscure, so hopefully, it’s something new to most viewers.
In 1928, The Rangers appeared in “After The Round Up”
In 1929, Oklahoma Bob and His Rodeo Do Flappers:
In 1928, The Wild Westerner:
In 1928, Ray Mayer and Edith Evans in “The Cowboy and the Lady”