Thursday, June 30, 2011

Forgotten Music -- Jimmie Rodgers

Since I did the pop Jimmie Rodgers last time, I thought it was only right to do The Singing Brakeman this time. This is another singer I discovered when I was a kid, though not many other people I knew cared for anybody this country. I guess he seemed old-fashioned even then, but not to me.

Rodgers, originally a brakeman on the New Orleans and Southeastern Railroad, had only a short recording career because he'd contracted TB. He died a couple of days after his last recording session, during which he'd had to lie on a cot between songs to recover. You can see a little of this being used in a Clint Eastwood movie called Honky Tonk Man.

Here's a song he wrote about his condition. Some nice photos in the video, too.

Before I discovered Rodgers, this song was a big hit for Webb Pierce. The Soggy Bottom Boys also have a version in Oh, Brother, Where Art Thou? Rodgers didn't write this one, but I like it anyway.

Rodgers influenced a lot of singers who came along later. Merle Haggard did a double album of Rodgers' songs in the late '60s. I have it, in fact, and listened to it many times long ago. Here's one of my favorites from the album, the cover of which is shown in the video.

This is the last song Rodgers recorded before he died. He was only 35 years old.


Gerard said...

The Blue Yodeler.

Jerry House said...

One of the true greats.

Anonymous said...

I've just discovered Jimmie Rogers, Doc Watson, Ralph Stanley, Earl Scruggs. Bluegrass is amazing, those fiddles goin' a million miles a minute! I've put the '60's rock and even Hank away while I listen to Doc & Dawg.

Brent McKee said...

When he was doing his own network TV show, Johnny Cash had Louis Armstrong on. The subject: Jimmy Rodgers's recording of Blue Yodel #9. Armstrong was there with Rodgers when the recording was made in 1930 - Louis played trumpet on that recording. Pops knew everybody, and everybody knew Pops.