Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: After seeing how someone put together an album of all the different versions of “High School U.S.A.,” “Louie Louie,” and “Talkin' Baseball,” it amazes me that RCA Victor never made a long-play album of Jimmie Rodgers' “Blue Yodels.”

The theme itself would have made good sense, but considering there are only a dozen or so songs — perfect for an album — makes it seem like a no-brainer idea.

I know they are all included in some multi-disc CD boxed sets, along with numerous other Rodgers' tracks, but the point is they should all be on a single record or CD.

I'm tired of waiting, so if you'll provide a complete listing I'll create my own compilation. —Arnold Kim, Milwaukee

DEAR ARNOLD: I doubt a better idea for a concept album ever existed, one that inexplicably went unfulfilled.

As you suggest, the baker's dozen of Jimmie's “Blue Yodels” would perfectly fill an LP.

And unlike “High School U.S.A.,” where all 30 tracks are essentially the same song with only slight lyrical variations, each of the 13 “Blue Yodels” is a unique piece of music.

So here they are, complete with A and B-sides, sub-titles, alternative titles, year recorded, and original Victor-Bluebird 78 rpm numbers:

Victor 21142: “Blue Yodel” (“Blue Yodel No. 1”; “T For Texas”) (1928). Flip: “Away out on the Mountain.”
Victor 21291: “Blue Yodel No. 2” (“My Lovin' Gal Lucille”)” (1928). Flip: “The Brakeman's Blues.”
Victor 21531: “Blue Yodel No. 3” (“Evening Sun Yodel”; “She's Long, She's Tall”) (1928). Flip: “Never No Mo' Blues.”
Victor 40014: “Blue Yodel No. 4” (“California Blues”) (1929). Flip: “Waiting for a Train.”
Victor 22072: “Blue Yodel No. 5” (“It's Raining Here”). Flip: “I'm Sorry We Met.”
Victor 22271: “Blue Yodel No. 6” (“Midnight Turning Day Blues”) (1930). Flip: “Yodeling Cowboy.”
Victor 22488: “Blue Yodel No. 7” (“Anniversary Blue Yodel”) (1930). Flip: “Any Old Time.”
Victor 23503: “Blue Yodel No. 8” (“Mule Skinner Blues”) (1931). Flip: “Jimmie's Mean Mama Blues.”
Victor 23580: “Blue Yodel No. 9” (“Standing on a Corner”) (1931). Flip: Looking for a New Mama.”
Victor 23696: “Blue Yodel No. 10” (“Groundhog Rootin' In My Backyard”) (1932). Flip: “Mississippi Moon.”
Victor 23796: “Blue Yodel No. 11” (“I Got a Gal”) (1929). Flip: “Sweet Mama Hurry Home Or I'll Be Gone.”
Bluebird 5942: “Blue Yodel No. 11” (“I Got a Gal”) (1929). Flip: “My Good Gal's Gone Blues.”
Victor 24456: “Blue Yodel No. 12” (“Barefoot Blues”) (1933). Flip: “Cowhand's Last Ride.”
Bluebird 5281: “Jimmie Rodgers' Last Blue Yodel” (1933). Flip: “Fifteen Years Ago Today.”

For those whose only desire is having all 13 Blue Yodels on one CD, one self-titled 20-tune collection (“Jimmie Rodgers”) plays them in order, but also adds seven other tracks: “Brakeman's Blues (Yodeling The Blues Away)”; “Train Whistle Blues”; “In the Jailhouse Now No 2”; “I'm Lonely and Blue”; “Hobo Bill's Last Ride”; “Whippin' That Old TB”; and “Waiting for a Train.”

However, for the COMPLETE collection of Jimmie Rodgers music, you'll need “The Singing Brakeman,” a lavish 1994 six-CD boxed set from Germany's Bear Family Records.

IZ ZAT SO? The first of Jimmie Rodgers' “Blue Yodels” originally came out without mention of a number. Labels showed the title as “Blue Yodel,” making no reference to the song itself, “T for Texas.”

The recording became a huge hit, selling half-a-million and creating a national sensation.

With subsequent yodels being numbered, reissues of “T for Texas” identified the earlier track as “Blue Yodel No. 1.”

Rodgers eventually earned three completely different and equally appropriate nicknames: “The Blue Yodeler”; “The Singing Brakeman”; and “The Father of Country Music.”

Apart from his many Country-based accolades, Jimmie is also known as the most original American Blues protagonist in the first half of the 20th century — an inspiration to Gene Autry and Ernest Tubb; as well as Howlin' Wolf; Muddy Waters; and Louis Armstrong.

His twang and yodels may scream Country but his compositions and song constructions are pure Beale Street Blues.

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