zondag 29 december 2013

Prisoner's Song (1924) / Thrills That I Can't Forget (1925) / Blue Eyes (1927) / Great Speckle Bird (1936) / Wild Side of Life (1951) / Did God Make Honky Tonk Angels (1952) / It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels (1952)

"It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels"  is a 1952 #1 country hit song written by J. D. "Jay" Miller, recorded by Kitty Wells. Originally recorded by Al Montgomery as "Did God Make Honky Tonk Angels?"
It was an answer song to the Hank Thompson hit "The Wild Side of Life", which was originally recorded by Jimmie Heap.

"The Wild Side of Life" and "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" are set to an apparently traditional tune, that was already used in Rev. Guy Smith's "The Great Speckled Bird"—popularized in 1936 by Roy Acuff, and more familiarly in the Carter Family's "I'm Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes" recorded in February, 1929 (originally recorded by the North Carolinba Ramblers and Roy Harvey as "Blue Eyes").
The tune is also used in an even older song "Thrills That I Can't Forget" recorded by Welby Toomey and Edgar Boaz in 1925.
But then there is the striking resemblance with "The Prisoner's Song" recorded in 1924 by Vernon Dalhart.

"The Prisoner's Song", is a song copyrighted by Vernon Dalhart in 1924 in the name of Dalhart's cousin Guy Massey, who had sung it while staying at Dalhart's home and had in turn heard it from his brother Robert Massey, who may have heard it while serving time in prison.
The Prisoner's Song rates as a 1920s all-time best-seller with a staggering seven million-plus copies sold worldwide in the version by Vernon Dalhart. The Vernon Dalhart recording charted for 32 weeks, twelve at No. 1, during 1925 and 1926. The Vernon Dalhart version was recorded on Victor Records in October 1924 and marketed in the hillbilly music genre. It became one of the best-selling records of the early twentieth century, with at least two million copies sold (sales figures are uncertain; some place the sales at 7 million or more), as well as over a million copies of the sheet music to the tune.
Long-lasting controversy over the authorship of the song quickly arose. Dalhart copyrighted the song in Guy Massey's name, taking 95% of the author royalties for himself and giving Massey 5%. Shilkret protested, claiming that the song as Dalhart had brought it to him (Shilkret) was unusable, and that he rewrote the music. The Shilkret family fought unsuccessfully through the 1950s for author credit.
Guy Massey had heard the song from his brother Rob Massey, who had actually spent some time in prison and probably first heard the song there. Palmer cites a letter dated October 20, 1924 from Guy Massey to his brother Rob Massey and two of his sisters telling them that he agreed to a 5% stake in royalties because he thought there would not be any royalties. Guy also said that, even though the royalty contract did not mention Rob explicitly, he (Guy ) would split the 5% evenly with Rob. Although Dalhart changed his story frequently when he told it in public, he sometimes also claimed to have rewritten the original that he got from Guy. At times there were claims made that Guy had written it and there were claims that Rob had written it. Another story claims the lyrics were carved into the wall of a cell in the old Early County Jail in Blakely, Georgia by Robert F. Taylor, who was at one time held there.

And in addition there is a poem by Joseph Augustine Wade, which can be found as broadside NLScotland, L.C.Fol.70(83b) "Meet Me by Moonlight Alone," Poet's Box (Dundee), n.d.


The original song, by J. Augustine Wade, London, undated in Levy, was arranged for duet in an 1812 copy printed in Philadelphia and composed by Mrs. Seguin and Mr. Shrival.


Here are the recordings, beginning with "The Prisoner's Song"

(o) Vernon Dalhart (1924)  (as "Prisoner's Song")
Vernon Dalhart, v;
Acc. Lou Raderman, viola; Carson Robison, g;
Matrix 30633-2
Recorded in New York on August 13, 1924.

78 RPM - Vernon Dalhart - Wreck Of The Old 97 / The Prisoner's Song - Victor - USA - 19427

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Listen here:

Or here:

(c) Vernon Dalhart (1924) ("Prisoner's Song")
Recorded October 1924
Released on Perfect 12164

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(c) Vernon Dalhart (1925) ("Prisoner's Song")
Recorded March 1925
Released on Cameo 703

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(c) Welby Toomey and Edgar Boaz 1925 (as "Thrills That I Can't Forget")
Welby Toomey, v; acc. Edgar Boaz, g.
Recorded in Richmond, IN Friday, November 13, 1925
Matrix 12414-A
Released on Gennett 3228

Welby Toomey - Wild Bill Jones / Thrills That I Can't Forget (Shellac) at Discogs


and Challenge 159 (with alias-name John Ferguson)


Listen here:

(c) North Carolina Ramblers & Roy Harvey 1927  (as "Blue Eyes")
Posey Rorer, f; Bob Hoke, bj-md/v; Roy Harvey, g/v.
Recorded in Chicago, IL October 1927
Matrix 20089-2
Released on Paramount 3072 and Broadway 8158
Broadway 8158 as by Wilson Ramblers;

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(c) Carter Family 1929  (as "I'm Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes")
Carter Family (Sara Carter [vcl/autoharp], A.P. Carter [vcl], Maybelle Carter [vcl/gt])
Recorded February 14, 1929 Victor Studio, Trinity Baptist Church, 114N. 5th St., Camden, NJ
Matrix 49859-3
Released on Victor V-40089, Bluebird B-5122  and Montgomery Ward M-4230


Listen here:

(c) Roy Acuff and his Crazy Tennesseeans (1936)  (as "Great Speckle Bird")
20 October 1936 Furniture Mart Building, 666 Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL - Roy Acuff & His Crazy Tennesseans (Jess Easterday [gt], Clell Sumne [dobro], Red Jones [bass], Sam Hatcher [harmonica]. Producer: William Callaway)
Released in January 1937 on Melotone (#7-01-59) and Conqueror (#8740)

Re-released on Vocalion Okeh 04252 in August 1938

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Re-released on Columbia 37005 in 1946

Listen here:

Roy Acuff first recorded "Great Speckle Bird" in 1936 and continued to perform it regularly on the Grand Ole Opry. It quickly became one of the most famous songs in country music. It was based on a verse from the King James Bible (Jeremiah 12:9 Ð "Mine heritage is unto me as a speckled bird, the birds round about are against her;"). Interpreted as a description of the persecution experienced by the church, the verse, set to a traditional tune, soon gave rise to a Pentecostal anthem.
Acuff first heard the song sung in 1936 in Knoxville, Tennessee sung by a gospel group called the Black Shirts. After paying fifty cents to the leader of the Black Shirts, Charlie Swain, for a copy of the song, he immediately began to perform his own version of it and his radio performance landed him his first record contract.

Others say "Great Speckle Bird" was written about 1934 by a radio entertainer of Springfield, MO., known as "Uncle George", whose real name was Guy Smith.
One text was printed anonymously in the Aurora (Mo.) Advertiser, March 16, 1936.
Another version was copyrighted in 1937 by the M.M. Cole Publ. Co. of Chicago, with the words credited to Rev Guy Smith and the music to Roy Acuff.

(c) Jimmie Heap & The Melody Masters (1951)  (as "Wild Side Of Life")
Jimmie Heap [ld gt], Perk Williams [vcl-1/fiddle],Horace Barnett [rh gt], Butterball Haris[steel], Bill Glendening [bass], Arlie Carter [piano]
Recorded ca February 1951 Peterson's Studio, Austin, TX -
Matrix IF-258
Released on Imperial 8105

78 RPM - Jimmie Heap And The Melody Masters - Wild Side Of Life / When They Operated On Papa They Opened Mam's Male - Imperial - USA - 8105


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Jimmy Heap and His Melody Masters first recorded "Wild Side" in 1951, but never had a hit with the song.
Hank Thompson did, and his version spent three and one-half months atop the Billboard country chart in the spring and early summer of 1952.

(c) Hank Thompson and His Brazos Valley Boys (1952)  (as "The Wild Side Of Life")
Hank Thompson (Hank Thompson [vcl/gt], Billy Gray [gt/leader], Curly Chalker [steel], Billy Briggs Stewart [bass], William Wayne Foster [drums], Joe Herman „Big Red“ Hayes [fiddle], Kenneth Allen „Little Red“Hayes [fiddle], Gilbert „Gil“ Baca [piano]. Producer: Dee Kilpatrick)
Recorded December 11, 1951, Capitol Recording Studio, 5515 Melrose Ave., Hollywood, CA
Released January 1952 on Capitol #1942

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(c) Al Montgomery (1952)  (as "Did God Make Honky Tonk Angels")
Released on Feature Records 1036

Alice Al Montgomery - Did God Make Honky Tonk Angels (1952) | Canciones Del Ayer

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(c) Kitty Wells (1952)  (as "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels")
 (Kitty Wells [vcl], Joseph Zinkan [harm vcl], Eddie Hill [gt/harm vcl], Shot Jackson [steel], Johnny Wright [bass], Dorris Warren [fiddle]. Producer: Paul Cohen)
Recorded May 3, 1952 Castle Studio, The Tulane Hotel, 206 8th Ave. North, Nashville, TN –
Matrix 82830
Released June 1952 on Decca 28232

78 RPM - Kitty Wells - It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels / I Don't Want Your Money, I Want Your Time - Decca - USA - 28232

Listen here:

Burl Ives had a top 10 hit with "Wild Side Of Life" concurrent with Hank Thompson's No 1 hit.

Tommy Quickly & The Remo Four (1964) (as Wild Side Of Life) (No. 33 UK Chart),

Freddy Fender reached No. 13 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart in early 1976.

A version by the British rock band Status Quo reached the UK top 10 in 1976.

In the same year Rod Stewart recorded a version for his album "A Night On The Town".

(c) Marianne Faithfull (1978)  (as "Honky Tonk Angels")


(c) David Allan Coe (1977)  (incorporated in "If That Ain't Country")

David Allan Coe mentions all the titles at the end of his If That Ain't Country.
An' I'm thinkin' tonight of my blue eyes,
And flyin' with the great speckled bird.
I didn't know God made honky-tonk angels
And went back to the wild side of life.

Listen here:

In 1981, "Wild Side" and "It Wasn't God ..." were combined into a duet by Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter on their album Leather and Lace; that version reached No. 10.

Kris Kristofferson also uses fragments of "Wild Side Of Life" in his "Blessing In Disguise" and "The Devil To Pay" (both '81)

More versions here:




woensdag 25 december 2013

Soldatenliebe (1824) / Treue Liebe (1830) / Steh' Ich In Finst'rer Mitternacht (1869) / Midnight On The Stormy Deep (1926)

"Midnight on the Stormy Deep" is a song recorded in July 1927 by Ernest V. Stoneman at the famous Bristol Sessions in Bristol, Tennessee. The Carter Family was also present at the Bristol sessions in 1927. They didn't record "Midnight on the Stormy Deep" in 1927, but 29 years later, in 1956 on the same location, they did.

What most people don't know is that "Midnight on the Stormy Deep" originated as a German poem by Wilhelm Hauff (1802-1827).

This German poem called "Soldatenliebe" (Soldier's Love) was anonymously published by Hauff in 1824, in the book "Kriegs- und Volkslieder".
In 1828, one year after the death of Wilhelm Hauff, this poem was published again in a collection of his poems: "Phantasien und Skizzen" (this time set to the music of an existing melody: "Ich hab ein kleines Hüttchen nur" (I only have a little cottage) (written in 1780)

Listen here to a midi of "Ich hab ein kleines Hüttchen nur"




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In 1830 "Soldatenliebe" was published (as "Treue Liebe") (True Love) in the collection "Auswahl Deutscher Lieder" (Leipzig 1830)

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Here's a MIDI of "Treue Liebe":



The song was also contained in "Wilhelm Hauff's saemmtliche Werke: Mit des Dichters Leben, Volume 1" by Gustav Schwab (published in Stuttgart in 1840).
Once again it was called "Soldatenliebe" (with an additional 6th verse)

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With yet another title ("Steh Ich In Finstrer Mitternacht") the song is also mentioned on page 126 of the following book: "Unsere Volkstümlichen Lieder" by Hoffman von Fallersleben (1869)

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As "Steh Ich In Finstrer Mitternacht" (I Stand In Gloomy Midnight) it was also contained in many German songbooks:


And here are the recordings of the song, beginning with the oldest German version:

(o) Erich Schrader 1907  (as "Steh' ich in finst'rer Mitternacht" )
German Tenor with Orchestra Accompaniment
Recorded in Berlin, Germany 
Matrix:XB 1850
Originally released on B-side of Jumbo 43160
Erich Schrader & Kapellmeister Dannenberg

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Listen to a sample here:


(c) Silcher-Quartett 1909
Recorded in Karlsruhe, Germany in December 1909.
Master 12789
Treue Liebe — Volkslied (anonymous: German, ca. 1780 / Wilhelm Hauff) (arr.: Friedrich Silcher)
Released on Beka-Grand 12789


(c) Nebe Quartett (1910).
Carl Nebe (bass). Deutsches Volkslieder-Quartett (male quartet: ten - ten - bar - CN).
Recorded in Berlin, Germany on March 1, 1910.
Treue Liebe — Volkslied (anonymous: German, ca. 1780 / Wilhelm Hauff) (arr.: Friedrich Silcher)
Steh' ich in finst'rer Mitternacht
Released on Veni Vidi Vici 813


(c) Carl Nebe-Quartett (1911).
Carl Nebe (bass). Nebe-Quartett (male quartet: ten - ten - bar - CN).
Recorded in Berlin, Germany around June 1911
Master xBo 4375
Treue Liebe — Volkslied (anonymous: German, ca. 1780 / Wilhelm Hauff)
Steh' ich in finst'rer Mitternacht (arr.: Peters)
Released on:
Jumbo/Odeon BL (Germany) A 47353
Odeon GN (Germany) 308626
Odeon BL (Germany) O-1220 (308626)


(o) Hermann Wehling 1911
Hermann Wehling (male voice). Friedrich Kark (MD). — (orchestra).
Recorded in Berlin around April 1911 at the Beka-Record Schallplattenfabrik, SO.36, Heidelberger Straße 75-76
Master 13570
Steh' ich in finst'rer Mitternacht (von hinten und von vorn) — Parodiecouplet (Curt Peter / Hermann Wehling) Hermann Wehling (male voice). Friedrich Kark (MD). — (orchestra).
Beka-Grand 13570


(c) Friedrich Kark 1911
Friedrich Kark (MD). — (orchestra). (male quartet).
Recorded in Berlin around September 1911 at the Beka-Record Schallplattenfabrik, SO.36, Heidelberger Straße 75-76
Master 13811
Treue Liebe — Volkslied (anonymous: German, ca. 1780 / Wilhelm Hauff) (arr.: Friedrich Silcher)
Steh' ich in finst'rer Mitternacht
Released on Beka RD (Germany) B 3671-I

(c) Carl Schlegel (1916) ("Steh' ich in finst'rer mitternacht")
Composer: Friedrich Silcher / Lyricist: Wilhelm Hauff


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(c) Eduard Mittelstadt 1921 ("Treue Liebe")
Recorded on 1921-07-11 in New York 
Released on Edison 73002

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(c) Richard Tauber (1926)   ("Treue Liebe (Steh Ich In Finstrer Mitternacht)"
Recorded October 1, 1926 in Berlin Released on Odeon O-4904 as part of the 78-album set "Das Deutche Volkslied"

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William Howitt (1792-1879) was most likely responsible for the English translation of Hauff's "Soldatenliebe", which is very similar to the original German lyrics.
This version as "The Night Guard" was contained in "War-Songs for Freemen" (1863)

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But already in 1841 William Howitt had translated the German song in the book "The Student-Life of Germany", where it was titled "True Love".



And in 1857 the most familiar version (as "Midnight on the Stormy Deep") was published by Miller & Beachham in Baltimore:

Here's the Sheetmusic:

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The first recording of "Midnight on the Stormy Deep" is possibly this one by Lester McFarland and Robert A. Gardner

Lester McFarland & Robert A. Gardner, v duet;
acc. Lester McFarland, md; Robert A. Gardner, g;
Recorded in New York, NY Saturday, October 16, 1926
E-3950W Midnight On The Stormy Deep Vo 5125

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(c) Ernest Stoneman & Miss Irma Frost 1927
Recorded July 25, 1927 during the famous Bristol Sessions
Ernest Stoneman & Miss Irma Frost:
Ernest Stoneman, Irma Frost, v duet; acc. Ernest Stoneman, h/g;
Bristol, TN Monday, July 25, 1927
Matrix 39703-3 Midnight On The Stormy Deep (Victor unissued)
Finally released in 1987 on the album "The Bristol Sessions" on CMF 011-L



Listen here:

(c) Ernest V. Stoneman & His Dixie Mountaineers 1928
Hattie Stoneman, f; Ernest Stoneman, h/g/v; Bolen Frost, g
Recorded on November 22, 1928 in New York, NY
Matrix N-582 Midnight On The Stormy Deep (Edison unissued)
Finally released in 1996 on the album "Edison Recordings" on County CD3510


Listen here:

(c) Blue Sky Boys 1936 (as "Midnight On The Stormy Sea")
Bill Bolick, tv/md; Earl Bolick, lv/g.
Recorded in Charlotte, NC Tuesday, June 16, 1936
102644-1 Midnight On The Stormy Sea
Released on Bluebird B-6480 and Montgomery Ward M-5033

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Listen to "Midnight on the Stormy Sea" by the Blue Sky Boys:

The Blue Sky Boys' "Midnight on the Stormy Deep" was released on the B-side of "Down on the Banks of the Ohio" (which is very similar in tune to "Midnight on the Stormy Deep")

Listen to "Down on the Banks of the Ohio" by the Blue Sky Boys:

(c) Carter Family 1956 (as"Midnight on the Stormy Deep")
Carter Family (A.P., Sara, Joe, Janette Carter)
Recorded April 20, 1956 in Bristol TN for the ACME-label (unissued at the time)
Released in 1960 on the album below

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Listen here

Also released in 2008 on: The Acme Sessions 1952/56 ( JSP 4201)


A.P. and Sara re-formed the Carter Family with their grown children in 1952, performing a concert in Maces Spring. Following the successful concert, the Kentucky-based Acme signed A.P., Sara, and their daughter Janette to a contract, and over the next four years they recorded nearly 100 songs that didn't gain much attention at the time.


(c) The Lilly Bros & Don Stover 1961 (as "Midnight On The Stormy Sea")


Listen here:

(c) Doc Watson & Bill Monroe 1963 (as "Midnight on the Stormy Deep")
Bill Monroe & Doc Watson viz Bill Monroe
Recorded May 1963 [live] The Ash Grove, Los Angeles, CA -
Released on F.B.N. Music Club FBN-210

Listen here:

(c) Bill Monroe 1966

Recorded December 16, 1966 at Columbia Recording Studio, 804 16th Ave. South, Nashville 3, TN Bill Monroe
Peter Rowan (leadvocals and guitar), Philip Grier (banjo), James Monroe (bass), Richard Greene (fiddle).
Producer: Harry Silverstein)


Listen here:

(c) Peter Rowan 2001 (as "Midnight on the Stormy Deep")
Peter Rowan and Don Edwards (Nancy Blake [gt], Tony Rice [gt], Billy Bright [mandolin], Bryn Bright [bass])
Recorded August/December 2001 Western Jubilee Warehouse, Colorado Springs, CO –
Released on Shanachie CD-6058 Dualtone 80302-01175-2



Listen here:

woensdag 4 december 2013

Lift Every Voice and Sing (1923)

"Lift Every Voice and Sing" — sometimes referred to as "The Negro National Hymn" or "The African-American National Anthem"— is a song with lyrics by James Weldon Johnson (1871–1938) and set to music by his brother John Rosamond Johnson (1873–1954) in 1900.

"Lift Every Voice and Sing" was publicly performed as part of a celebration of Lincoln's Birthday on February 12, 1900, by 500 school children at the segregated Stanton School.
As the story goes, the brothers moved to New York City soon after and eventually forgot about the song. But, not the school children who continued to sing it and when they grew up, taught it to other school children. By the 1920s children and adults were singing the song all over the South as well as in other parts of the country.
More about the background of the song here:




And the lyrics are explained here:


Here are 2 early printed versions of the song:

New York: National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, [ca. 1920].


New York: Edward B. Marks Music Company, [ca. 1928].


(o) Manhattan Harmony Four 1923
"Lift Every Voice And Sing" was first recorded by the Manhattan Harmony Four.
Recorded April 1923 in New York and released on the Black Swan label: BS 2120
In 1924 it was re-released on the Paramount-label: Paramount 12106

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(c) Nazarene Congregational Church Choir 1926
Recorded November 26, 1926 in New York City
Released on Gennet 6003

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(c) Southern Sons 1942
Recorded October 22, 1942 in New York
Released on Bluebird 30-0806-B

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(c) Harmonizing Four 1952
Released on Gotham label # G757


Listen here:

(c) Kim Weston (1968)
Released in April 1968 on the MGM-label (#K13927)

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Re-released in 1970 on the Pride-label  (Hit R&B).

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Kim Weston also performed the song in the 1972 movie "Wattstax".

Listen here:

(c) Merry Clayton 1970 (on the soundtrack of "Brewster McCloud")

Listen here:

(c) Ray Charles 1972

Here Ray is singing it in the Dick Cavett Show in 1972

(c) Al Green & Deniece Williams 1985 (as a project for Black History Month)

The actual song begins at 6 min and 11 sec in the next YT


(c) Melba Moore (1990) (Top 10 R&B)


In 1990, singer Melba Moore released a modern rendition of the song, which she recorded along with others including R&B artists Anita Baker, Stephanie Mills, Dionne Warwick, Bobby Brown, Stevie Wonder, Jeffrey Osborne, and Howard Hewett; and gospel artists BeBe and CeCe Winans, Take 6 and The Clark Sisters. Partly because of the success of this recording, Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing was entered into the Congressional Record as the official African American National Hymn.

President Obama Singing "Lift Every Voice And Sing" with a few celebs at the White House aired on local PBS station WNIN at 7:00 PM Central, on Tuesday, August 27, 2013.

René Marie attracted controversy in 2008, when she was invited to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at a civic event in Denver, and substituted the song's lyrics with those from "Lift Every Voice and Sing".
This arrangement of the national anthem forms part of the titular suite of Marie's 2011 CD, The Voice of My Beautiful Country.

Listen here:

vrijdag 29 november 2013

Old Chisholm Trail (1928) / Western Cowboy (1933) / When I Was a Cowboy / Out on the Western Plain / Sporting Cowboy (1927)

In July, 1933, Alan Lomax and his father John Lomax visited the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. John Lomax, as a representative of the Library of Congress in Washington, was searching for folksongs, but there seemed to be little in the way of singing at Angola, that is until a warder brought Leadbelly to their attention. Playing a heavy 12-string guitar and singing in a deep, rumbling manner, Leadbelly began with a version of the old cowboy song The Old Chisholm Trail, which he called Western Cowboy (AAFS # 119-B-1)
Leadbelly's version of "Western Cowboy" was recorded by the Lomaxes on July 16, 1933. It's not a typical cowboy song, but it shows how an imaginative blues singer can take a fragment of a song and build it into a powerful story.
Leadbelly recorded this song at least five times and each version varied in content as well as title. It shows Leadbelly's love of Western Music.

Listen here to the 36 seconds version of  Leadbelly's first ever recorded song from 1933 as part of a medley:

As I just said Leadbelly's song " Western Cowboy" was derived from "The Old Chisholm Trail".
Especially the "Come a ti-yi-yippee, yipee yay, yippee yay" part.

"The Old Chisholm Trail(named after the famous Chisholm cattle trail ) is a cowboy song that dates back to the 1870s, when it was among the most popular songs sung by cowboys during that era. Based on an English lyrical song that dates back to 1640, "The Old Chisholm Trail" was modified by the cowboy idiom. It has been recorded by the world's most popular Western singers, including Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, cisco Houston, Peter LaFarge, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Bing Crosby, Randy Travis, and Michael Martin Murphey.

And Roger McGuinn (see next link)


The oldest version seems to be recorded on March 22, 1928 by Harry "Mac" McClintock (1928)


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Leadbelly's song "Western Cowboy" is also partly derived from "The Sporting Cowboy" , which starts with the line "When I Was a Cowboy"

Watts and Wilson's "The Sporting Cowboy"
Watts and Wilson (Wilmer Watts and Frank Wilson), c. April, 1927, Chicago, IL.
Released on Paramount 3006

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And on Broadway 8112 (as by Weaver and Wiggins)

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As I said above Leadbelly recorded "Western Cowboy" at least five times

In 1934 Leadbelly recorded another version of "Western Cowboy".
Recorded ca. July 1, 1934 in Louisiana State Penitentiary, Angola, Louisiana for the Library of Congress (#122-B)

Listen here:

In 1943 Leadbelly recorded another version: "Cow Cow Yicky Yicky Yea / Out on the Western Plains"
Recorded ca. October 1943 in New York City.
Released on Disc 3002 (as part of the 3-disc album "Negro Folksongs sung by Lead Belly".

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And in 1944 Leadbelly recorded another version : "When the Boys Were On the Western Plain" (later retitled as "Western Plain (When I Was a Cowboy)")
Recorded February 17, 1944 in New York City

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Listen here:

Leadbelly's "When I Was a Cowboy" was also contained in John A. Lomax's book "American Ballads and Folk Songs" (1934)



"The Old Chizzum Trail" was also contained in Lomax's "American Ballads and Folk Songs" (1934), where it was right behind Leadbelly's "When I was a Cowboy"


But already in 1910 "The Old Chisholm Trail" was contained in John Lomax's book "Cowboy Songs and other Frontier Ballads"





Woody Guthrie used Leadbelly's arrangement for his song "Jesse James".
Recorded April 25, 1944
Moses Asch planned to release this Woody Guthrie song on an anthology of cowboy songs, but it was not released at the time. It was finally released in 1991


And in 1997



Listen here:

(NOT to be confused with this song http://jopiepopie.blogspot.nl/2013/11/jesse-james-1920-jesus-christ-1940.html

In 1944 Woody Guthrie also recorded a version of "The Old Chisholm Trail" 
Recorded April 19, 1944
First released in 1964 on the album "Hard Travelin" (Disc D-110)

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Listen here:

Leadbelly's version was also covered by:

(c) Ian & Sylvia 1966 (as "When I Was a Cowboy")



Listen here:

(c) John Denver 1966 (as "When I Was a Cowboy")


Listen here:


(c) Jim Kweskin Jug Band  (1967)  (as "When I Was a Cowboy")          

Maria Moldonado (better known as Maria Muldaur) sings a beautiful version on Jim Kweskins album Garden of Joy (Reprise label RS6266)


Listen here:

(c) The Sllednats (= Standells) 1967  (as "When I Was a Cowboy")


Listen here:

(c) Harpers Bizarre 1968  (as "When I Was a Cowboy")



Listen here:

(c) Hearts and Flowers (1968)  (as "When I was a Cowboy")
On album "Of Horses, Kids, and Forgotten Women"




Listen here:


(c) Rory Gallagher 1975 (as "Out On The Western Plain")


Listen here:

(c) Peter Rowan 1978 (as "When I Was a Cowboy")



Listen to a sample here:


(c) Odetta (2001) (as "When I Was a Cowboy")


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(c) Van Morrison  (as "Western Plain")
Recorded in the Caledonia Studio in Fairfax, California in 1975
Released in 1998 on the album "The Philosopher's Stone"


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(c) Alvin Youngblood Hart 1996 (as ("When I Was a Cowboy (Westen Plains)"
Released on album "Big Mama's Door")



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zaterdag 23 november 2013

Beautiful Star of Bethlehem (1940)

"Beautiful Star of Bethlehem" was written in 1938 by a Tennessee dairy farmer, R. Fisher Boyce and was first published in 1940 by the Vaughan Company. The song was printed in the company's song-book, "Beautiful Praise".

One year later "Beautiful Star of Bethlehem" was printed as song #1 in the 1941 book "Singing Star", also published by James D. Vaughan.

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Look inside this book:




As we can see on the sheet above, Adger M. Pace is also mentioned as co-composer of the song.
My guess is, Pace was responsible for the arrangement of the song before it got published.


In the 1960's on several gospelalbums "Beautiful Star of Bethlehem" was credited to A.L. Phipps.
Most likely Arthur Leroy Phipps made a new arrangement of  "Beautiful Star of Bethlehem", which was probably introduced on a radio-show in the early 1960's. The Phipps Family recorded a version in 1966 on the album "Christmas with the Phipps Family" (SEE FURTHER ON)

Beautiful Star of Bethlehem

Few people today realize the popular Christmas song "Beautiful Star of Bethlehem" was written by the late R. Fisher Boyce in a Middle Tennessee milk barn in the early part of the 20th century. It would go on to become a seasonal standard performed by a variety of artists, and it would eventually be sung in the White House by The Judds during a nationally televised Bob Hope Christmas special.

Boyce was born in the tiny community of Link, located in southern Rutherford County, in November 1887. The third of six children, Boyce loved music and was singing solo and in quartets by the early 1900s. In the spring of 1910, he married Cora Carlton from the Rockvale community. They would become the parents of 11 children, five of whom lived to be adults. Only one daughter, Willie Ruth Eads, remains alive. Eads remembers singing as a great source of entertainment for their family.

"The neighbors would come in, and we'd all gather around our family piano," Boyce's daughter said. "My sister Nanny Lou (Taylor) would play, and we would sing way into the night."

In 1911, the young couple celebrated their first wedding anniversary and saw Boyce's song "Safe in His Love" published by the A.J. Showalter Company, one of the early publishers of shape note hymnals. As did many others from across the Southeast, Boyce later traveled to Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, to attend one of the annual music normal schools conducted by the James D. Vaughan Publishing Company, which was founded around 1900. Vaughan was another major publisher of shape note hymnals.

After completing his studies, Boyce went on to teach shape note "singing schools" through-out the area. Rather than using standard music notation, this system assigned a tone on the musical scale to each of the distinctive geometrically shaped note heads. (See Darlyne Kent's article Old-Time Music Square Music in November's Old-Time Times.)

In 1940, the Vaughan Company published Boyce's song "Beautiful Star of Bethlehem." The song was printed in the company's song-book, "Beautiful Praise". Later, the song would be republished in Vaughan's Favorite Radio Songs.
Dr. Charles Wolfe, a Middle Tennessee State University English professor and nationally recognized authority on the origins of traditional country and gospel music, said, Vaughan,s Favorite Radio Songs would be like a collection of greatest hits today. By the 1940s, radio was an important part of the American landscape and reached a vast audience. Vaughan salesmen would pitch the songs in this book to radio stations and quartets who performed on the stations in an effort to broaden their exposure.

Boyce wrote Beautiful Star of Bethlehem while the family was living on a dairy farm in the Plainview community, about two or three miles from what is now the Interstate 24 Buchanan Road Exit. The songwriter's son, the late Franklin Boyce, recalled in a 1996 interview that his dad said he couldn't concentrate in the house because of noise made by the children. He walked across the road to the barn to find the solitude he needed to write.

My father said the song was inspired by the Lord. Otherwise, how could he, a simple country man, ever write a song about such a glorious event in world history, Franklin Boyce asked.

When searching through some old papers, the family found a yellowed article clipped from The Daily News Journal, a newspaper in Murfreesboro. It had been written in the early 1960s. A story by Marie Chapman recounts the elder Boyce's recollection of how the song came to be written.

"I got up one Sunday morning to write it down, Boyce recalled. When his train of thought was interrupted by a member of the family who entered the room singing, he moved his pencil and pad to the barn, and there "Beautiful Star of Bethlehem" was put on paper.

The words and melody got on my mind," Boyce told Chapman, "till I could hardly sleep at night." The humble farmer said he looked upon both the words and tune as gifts from God.

Dean Boyce, Franklin's wife, remembers how her late sister-in-law, Nanny Lou, talked about helping her father put down the music for the song. "I believe, she said, they worked all morning on the music at the piano, and it rained hard all the time they were working on it.

Nell McKee, a retired educator who lives in the Buchanan area, attended Mt. Carmel Baptist Church where Boyce was a deacon and song leader when the song was written. Now in her 90s, McKee still attends the same church and recalls that Boyce would sing the lead part and his wife would sing the harmony in her clear alto voice.

"Fisher and Cora would sometimes sing the song at church," McKee remembers. "Cora would weep every time they sang together. She was very proud of her husband for writing that song."

Ironically, the family has never received royalties from the song. As was commonplace during that time in history, the legal copyright became the property of the company that published the material. As a rule, the song-writers were paid a one-time fee. To make a living, Boyce taught private voice lessons and worked at a variety of jobs including dairy farming and insurance and nursery sales

During his later years, Boyce and his wife moved into town where he and a nephew, M. B. Carlton, were partners in the Ideal Fruit Market on West College Street. There, Boyce sold single copies of the song for a small amount of money.
Although he is often overlooked, Boyce is an important part of Tennessee's musical history. Wolfe said, With the exception of Uncle Dave Macon's music, Boyce's song is the most important musical composition to come out of Rutherford County.

Wolfe added that he thinks the earliest professional recording of the piece was performed by the John Daniel Quartet on their private Daniel label.


(Thanks to Roel Vos for the picture and the soundfile below)
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Initially, the John Daniel Quartet had been one of the Vaughan Company's traveling quartets. The job of these traveling musical groups was to perform, for free, the Vaughan songbook compositions in churches through-out the Southeast and beyond so that congregations, once given a sampling of the music, would want to order songbooks.

In Daniel's case, the group became so popular that they soon struck out on their own and, in the 1940s, became one of the hit acts of the Grand Ole Opry. Interestingly, one of the early members of this foursome was West Tennessee native Gordon Stoker, who would go on to become a member of the Jordanaires, made famous for their work with Elvis.

The exposure the tune received from appearing in songbooks, combined with its performance on the Opry, propelled Boyce's song to new heights. Bluegrass great Ralph Stanley recorded the song. Later, Emmylou Harris, Ricky Skaggs, the Judds, The Bishops, and others also cut it.
(from: http://www.nashvilleoldtime.org/Newsletters/December2004Newsletter.htm)

As you can read in the text below the first recording seems to be made around 1953/1954 in Nashville by the John Daniel Quartet on their own Daniel-label with John "Whit" Curtis as arranger and sole accompanist.

Click on the text above and you can scroll through it.

Here's another early version, sung by Mr. J. W. Breazeal, Springfield, Missouri on April 27, 1958:


(c) The LeFevres 1961 on the album: Christmas With The Gospel Singing Caravan
Released on (Sing Records/LP-556):

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(c) Jimmie Davis 1963 on the album Highway To Heaven
Released on (Decca RecordsDL74432):

"Beautiful Star of Bethlehem" was credited to A.L. Phipps on this album:



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(c) Stanley Brothers 1964 on the album Hymns of the Cross
Released on King Records (KS 918)

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(c) Phipps Family (1966) (on the abum: "Christmas with the Phipps Family")
Released on the Pine Mountain label (#128) (owned by the Phipps Family themselves)

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Listen here at 19 min and 46 sec in the next YT:

(c) Mother Mabel Carter sang "Beautiful Star of Bethlehem" on Johnny Cash's "Holy Land Concert", which was broadcasted on December 26, 1968 on the BBC.

It begins at 40 min and 40 seconds in the next YT:

(c) Ralph Stanley & The Clinch Mountain Boys 1977
Released on the album "Clinch Mountain Gospel" (Rebel SLP-1571)


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(c) Emmylou Harris 1980 (on the album "Light of the Stable")


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(c) Judds 1987


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(c) Patty Loveless (2002)  (on album "Bluegrass & White Snow")


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(c) Oak Ridge Boys (2002)  (on album "An Inconvenient Christmas"
Released on (Spring Hill Records CMD1034):


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NOT to be confused with Neil Young's "Star of Bethlehem".