Monday, November 30, 2015


Lightnin’ Sam Hopkins • Meet You At The Chicken Shack • 1962

Lightning Hopkins, vocal/guitar; Spider Kilpatrick, drums. Houston, 23 January 1962

Lightnin’ wants to meet you at The Chicken Shack down on Arhoolie Avenue.


Whistlin’ Alex Moore had a long, if sporadic, recording career that began in the late twenties and continued up into the seventies. His first sessions for Columbia and Decca were made in 1929 and 1937; he had his “big hit” for Decca with “Blue Bloomer Blues” in 1937. Moore didn’t record again until he made an unissued private session in 1947; he picked up once again when he recorded an album’s worth of material for Chris Strachwitz and Paul Oliver in the summer of 1960 which was issued in the first batch of Arhoolie releases in the early sixties. In the late sixties Alex traveled to Europe and wowed audiences with his singing, playing, and whistling. In 1988 he recorded his final session for Rounder; he passed away the following year.

Alexander Moore • If I Lose You Woman • 1951

Alexander Moore, vocal/piano; Smokey Hogg, guitar; drums. Dallas, 1951

Get it: No More Doggin’ – The RPM Records Story Vol 1 1950-53

Sunday, November 29, 2015


In the HBTN entry for “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” co-author David Cantwell prefaces his fine blow-by-blow essay with a recounting of the 1954 Sun session that produced Elvis Presley’s version of Bill Monroe’s 1947 Columbia single. “In the original 1946 recording of the song, Monroe asks a blue moon to shine on a woman who has cheated on him. . . . It’s quite clear . . . that he feels hopeless. . . . The record is a waltz, but Monroe sounds like he’ll never dance again.

“Presley, on the other hand, sounds like he can barely stand still long enough to finish the song. In their version, Elvis, Scotty, Bill, and Sam add a giddy and unforgettable opening . . . ‘Blue moon, blue moon, blue moon / keep-a-shinin’ bright. . . .’

A few weeks after Elvis’ version came out, Bill Monroe went to the Stanley Brothers and reportedly told Carter Stanley, “You better do that number tomorrow if you want to sell some records.” “[T]he next day . . . the Stanley Brothers cut a marvelous 4/4 recording of ‘Blue Moon of Kentucky,’ one that retains Presley’s repeated ‘Blue moon, blue moon, blue moon’ at the top and spotlights the boogie-woogie picking of Charlie Cline, one of Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys.

“Next it was Monroe’s turn. . . . [Recorded the weekend following the Stanley Brothers version] Monroe began the song once again as a waltz, but it wasn’t the same. . . . [T]urning on a thrillingly thin dime, the song floors it to 4/4 . . . [and Monroe] fires off a solo that starts to cry . . . then changes its mind, dances a step or two, and shouts, ‘Look what I can do!’”

As Sam Phillips remarked after Elvis’ successful take, “Hell, that’s different. That’s a pop song now, nearly ’bout.”

41.  Blue Moon of Kentucky • Bill Monroe & His Blue Grass Boys • 1946

42.  Blue Moon of Kentucky • Elvis Presley – Scotty & Bill • 1954

Blue Moon of Kentucky • The Stanley Brothers • 1954

40.  Blue Moon of Kentucky • Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys • 1954

Get ’em: Monroe 1946 - The Essential Bill Monroe; Elvis - Elvis at Sun; Stanleys - The Stanley Brothers & The Clinch Mountain Boys, 1953–58 & 1959; Monroe 1954 - Anthology 

Bill Monroe publicity photo (1940s):


We’re playing this slightly surreal Jimmie Rodgers travelogue today for one line, which has been making the rounds of our fevered brain in the past few days, in the hope of exorcising it:

“And the beavers paddle on walkin’ canes. . . .”

Jimmie Rodgers • Away Out on the Mountain • 1927

Image: Jimmie Rodgers, from The Singing Brakeman (Bear Family, 1992)

Saturday, November 28, 2015

ODDS & ENDS Vol. 8

Sylvie Vartan • Madison twist • 1962

Image: internet, unknown source

As we Madison Twist our way out of this week, why not follow us into the next? We’ll be blue mooning with Bill Monroe, The Stanley Brothers, and Elvis Presley; heading down to the Chicken Shack with Lightning and Spider; and singing the “Worker’s Marseillaise.” The fun never stops. Angela Strehli, Maria Callas, Ry Cooder, and Dr. Clayton’s Buddy will be on hand to fill in the gaps.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Monday, November 23, 2015


Less than three weeks after its release date, the whole world probably knows about the newest entry in Columbia/Legacy’s Bob Dylan sweepstakes: The Cutting Edge, a collection in three configurations of Mr. Dylan’s 1965–1966 sessions that produced Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, and Blonde on Blonde, as well as several non-album singles. The collection is made up primarily of outtakes, false starts, and alternate versions of songs many of us have been listening to in released form for years. Depending on your level of interest in this period of Dylan’s work, there is a 2-CD set of highlights, a 6-CD deluxe box, and for the high-rollers, an 18-CD limited edition available only from Sony’s Bob Dylan store. Lots of fascinating material to be sure. Here is an early version of “Outlaw Blues,” a little bluesier and funkier than the version that made it onto Bringing It All Back Home and with the added bonus of John Sebastian on harmonica. 

Bob Dylan • Outlaw Blues (Take 2 remake) • 1965

Get it: The Bootleg Series Vol. 12: The Cutting Edge

Sunday, November 22, 2015


An Alternate 100*  
Hit Parade of Love • Jimmy Martin • 1956

*“If we determined we had nothing much worthwhile to add to the conversation about a single, then that record didn’t make the cut, no matter how good it was. . . . [T]hose singles were were bumped down to “Once More with Feeling: An Alternate 100.” That supplemental list gathers, for the curious, our runners up, but, just as importantly, it presents an alternate, compressed version of the arguments made throughout the book.” —David Cantwell, Bill Friskics-Warren, “How to Use the Book” in Heartaches by the Number

Saturday, November 21, 2015

ODDS & ENDS Vol. 8

The Tallest Man on Earth • Like the Wheel • 2010

Get it: Sometimes the Blues Is Just a Passing Bird

Image: internet, unknown source

Like a wheel we just keep rollin’. Roll with us and we’ll stop along the way for visits with Jimmy Martin, Whistling Alex Moore, Otis Rush, Mary Weiss, Wayne Raney, James “Jack of All Trades” McCain, Big Joe Williams, and . . . Sylvie Vartan.

Thursday, November 19, 2015


George Jones & Melba Montgomery

George Jones, vocal; Melba Montgomery, vocal; Bob Moore, bass; Hargus “Pig” Robbins, piano; other details unknown. Nashville, 8 Janaury 1963

Get it: Country & Western Hit Parade 1963

LP cover: Discogs

Monday, November 16, 2015


When this song came out on the LP pictured below in the late ’60s, it was credited to “Anonymous.” Though civil rights had officially been the law of the land for several years, when Mance Lipscomb recorded “Tom Moore’s Farm” in 1960, he was a 65-year old farmer and lived in east Texas in the same county that the powerful and infamous Tom Moore had his plantation, so “anonymous” seemed the prudent way to go. (When Lightning Hopkins made his version of the song in 1948, it was issued as “Tim Moore’s Farm” and after the record was released he was allegedly “told” by Moore himself not to sing the song publicly.) Mance made a number of recordings of the song over the years, and by the early ’70s, times changed somewhat, he even sang the song at the request of one of Mr. Moore’s sons at a house party, though Mance later told Arhoolie’s Chris Strachwitz he didn’t sing the least flattering verses.

Mance Lipscomb • Tom Moore’s Farm • 1960

Mance Lipscomb, vocal/guitar. Navasota, Texas, 30 June 1960

You can find plenty of Mance Lipscomb’s recordings here, both on CD and LP.

Sunday, November 15, 2015


Story songs in the fifties didn’t get any better than this: cradle to grave in under three minutes. And the Browns’ plaintive Arkansas harmonies put this little saga across with such gentle power that, though I’ve probably listened to this hundreds and hundreds of times since 1959, it turns my insides into a quivering mass of ecto-emotion every time I hear it.

An Alternate 100*
The Three Bells (Les Trois Cloches) • The Browns • 1959

*“If we determined we had nothing much worthwhile to add to the conversation about a single, then that record didn’t make the cut, no matter how good it was. . . . [T]hose singles were were bumped down to “Once More with Feeling: An Alternate 100.” That supplemental list gathers, for the curious, our runners up, but, just as importantly, it presents an alternate, compressed version of the arguments made throughout the book.” —David Cantwell, Bill Friskics-Warren, “How to Use the Book” in Heartaches by the Number

“Three Bells” sheet music: PDX Retro

Saturday, November 14, 2015


Jean Jullien. Peace for Paris

ODDS & ENDS Vol. 8

Wherein Mr. Bear and Champion Jack walk it up and talk it up and get it all figured out . . . 
er . . . up.

Jack Dupree & Mr. Bear • The Ups • 1956

Champion Jack Dupree, vocal/piano; Teddy McRae, vocal; Larry Dale, guitar; Al Lucas, bass; Gene Moore, drums. New York City, 17 September 1956

Image: internet, unknown source

Next week we got The Browns; Mance Lipscomb; Patti Smith; Shirley Gunter & The Flairs; George Jones & Melba Montgomery; Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup; and let’s not forget The Tallest Man on Earth. . . .

Monday, November 09, 2015


“Doctor” Ross • Industrial Boogie • 1958

Doctor Isaiah Ross, vocal/guitar/drums. Flint, Michigan, December 1958

Get it: Acoustic Blues: The Definitive Collection! Vol. 2

Sunday, November 08, 2015


“In ‘Farewell Party,’ [Gene Watson’s] wrenching signature song, Watson plays a lovelorn man who’s about to take his own life . . . his anguish aggravated by the realization that his wife will be only too glad to see him go. . . . Wailing the final three words ‘when I’m gone’ with the agony of someone who knows he’ll never awaken from his dark night of the soul, Watson gets off a parting shot that, he hopes, will ring in her ears for all eternity.” —Bill Friskics-Warren, Heartaches by the Number

Gene Watson • Farewell Party • 1979

Find it: Gene Watson – Reflections / Should I Come Home

Saturday, November 07, 2015

ODDS & ENDS Vol. 8

 The Midnighters • Open Up the Back Door • 1955

Get it: Nothing But Good 1952–1962

Image: internet, unknown source

Next week: country from Gene Watson, Jimmy Murphy, and Lone Justice; blues by Doctor Isaiah Ross, Memphis Minnie, and Champion Jack Dupree with his pal Mr. Bear; and apocalyptic jazz from Charles Mingus and cohorts.

Friday, November 06, 2015


Robert Lockwood • Take a Little Walk with Me • 1941

Robert Lockwood, vocal/guitar; Alfred Elkins, imitation bass. Chicago, 30 July 1941

LP cover: Discogs

Monday, November 02, 2015


Sam Collins • The Jail House Blues • 1927

Sam Collins, vocal/guitar. Richmond, Indiana or Chicago, 25 April 1927

Get it: 16 Classic Blues Songs from the 1920’s Vol. 5

Sunday, November 01, 2015


“‘That’ll Be the Day,’ Buddy Holly’s chart debut, came too late to make it on country radio. If 
this recording had come out even a few months earlier . . . Holly likely would’ve climbed the country charts as swiftly as Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Gene Vincent. 
By the summer of 1957, though, the Nashville Sound had been building momentum for a year already. . . . Consequently, rockabilly acts were in the process of being banished from country play lists. . . .” Writing in Heartaches by the Number, David Cantwell goes on to recount how influential Buddy Holly was anyway, both before and after his death at 22, influencing not only country (specifically the Bakersfield sound), but pop, rock’n’roll, rock, singer-songwriters, et al. 
He concludes his essay with “Buddy Holly’s music die? That’ll be the day.”

340.  That’ll Be the Day • The Crickets • 1957

Get it: The “Chirping” Crickets

45 label: Wikipedia