Sunday, December 13, 2015


Of today’s musical pairing Bill Friskics-Warren writes in HBTN, “Country music and the blues have always been close kin.” He quotes Howlin’ Wolf via Peter Guralnick’s Feel Like Going Home as claiming that “the yodeling of Jimmie Rodgers was the source of his hair-raising wail. . . . Yet Wolf’s trademark howl also owes a debt to Tommy Johnson . . . [whose] lilting 1928 recording of ‘Cool Drink of Water Blues’ provided the blueprint for Wolf’s . . . ‘I Asked for Water (She Gave Me Gasoline),’ right down to its lupine moan.” Friskics-Warren goes on to describe some of the similarities and differences between Rodgers’ and Johnson’s take on the blues and who might have influenced who as “academic hairsplitting,” “. . . What’s truly uncanny, though, is the resemblance between Johnson’s crying, field holler-inspired falsetto and Rodgers’s blue yodel, singular devices that each man tacked onto the end of vocal lines to heighten their emotional impact.”

35.  Blue Yodel • Jimmie Rodgers • 1928

36.  Cool Drink of Water Blues • Tommy Johnson • 1928

Get it: The Essential Jimmie Rodgers; Find it: When the Sun Goes Down: Walk Right In

Photos: Wikipedia


  1. Two important recordings to be sure, Frank. For myself, it's 'Cool Drink of Water' that I'm listening to with the greatest pleasure. (It hasn't come up on shuffle in quite some time.) In pop music history, the question of who influenced whom is always a fascinating one to me. ;-)

    1. A couple of great ones, interesting to hear them one after the other. Once again, the authors of Heartaches by the Number have helped me listen in new ways. . . . Thanks for checking in Marie.