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Well I got a woman mean as she can be. Sometimes I think she's almost mean as me - Roy Orbison, Mean Woman Blues, written by Claude Demetrius

Author Topic: Jimmie Rodgers Lyrics  (Read 1834 times)

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Offline Johnm

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Jimmie Rodgers Lyrics
« on: February 16, 2006, 11:42:14 AM »
Hi all,
I don't know if any of you have ever heard this song/performance, "Away Out On The Mountain", as performed by Jimmie Rodgers, but they are both really outstanding.  Kelly Harrell was a millworker from Virginia who made a surprising number of records, considering the fact that he was a non-player and could not accompany himself, in the period 1925-1929.  He was an excellent plain singer, and like another non-player who recorded a lot of sides, Texas Alexander, a good deal of the interest in his recorded performances derives from hearing how his different accompanists handled their duties.  Harrell's entire recorded output can be found on Document CDs DOCD-8026 and DOCD-8027, both with excellent notes by Tony Russell.  His complete works were also released recently on a JSP set that also includes the complete recordings of Hillbilly bluesman Frank Hutchison.  Harrell's demise, as described by Tony Russell, seems even more pointless than most.
   "He returned to loom-fixing at the Marshall Field mill in Fieldale, but suffered from asthma, and one day, back at work after a spell in the hospital, chose to prove his fitness to his workmates by jumping out a window on to the path not far below.  He landed, took a few steps, and collapsed.  He died on the way to the hospital, on July 9, 1942, aged 52."

I have no idea how Kelly Harrell brought "Away Out On The Mountain" to Jimmie Rodgers's attention.  Perhaps they met when Jimmie was living back East and playing with the Teneva Ramblers.  I don't know of any other songs written by Kelly Harrell, but this one is a beauty.  The lyrics are so strange.  Jimmie's yodeling on this track is exceptional, even for him, and is beautifully varied.  In fact, everything about Jimmie's performance of this song would be tough to second-guess, because it's superb.  The don't write them like this any more, and apart from this song, I don't know if they ever did.


   I'll pack my grip for a farewell trip
   Kiss Suzy Jane goodbye at the fountain
   I'm going, says I, to the land of the sky
   Away out on the mountain

   Where the wild sheep grow and the buffalo low
   And the squirrels are so many you can't count them
   Then I'll make love to some turtle dove
   'Way out on the mountain

   CHORUS:  Oh-dee-oh-lay-ee-hee
   Ah-dee-oh-lay-ee-hee, oh-lay-ee-hee

   When the north winds blow and we're gonna have snow
   And the rain and the hail comes bouncing
   I'll wrap myself in a grizzly bear coat
   Away out on the mountain


   Where the snakes are vile and the zebras wild
   And the beavers paddle on walking canes
   The I'll send my boots with a buffalo hide
   Away out on the mountain


   Where the whippoorwills sing me to sleep at night
   And the eagle roosts on the rocks of [spontane?]
   I'll feast on the meat and the honey so sweet
   Away out on the mountain


All best,
« Last Edit: July 13, 2020, 05:42:57 PM by Johnm »


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What great lyrics....I'll track the tune down somehwere...I'm only really familiar wqith one Kelly Harrell tune, a wonderful piece called The Ballad Of John Jo Hanna...really sounds 'true', peopled with characters you can almost see...........I've also just recently started hearing Frank Hutchison..wonderful...a tune he did called 'The Last Scene On The Titanic', again late 20's, could be straight out of Bob Dylan, the rambling asides and scene changes...

The trouble with this great soulful old music is it's so tune or artist leads to another that leads to another....and so on.....

Offline Johnm

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"Frankie and Johnny"-Jimmie Rodgers
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2014, 05:38:58 PM »
Hi all,
Jimmie Rodgers recorded "Frankie and Johnny" in 1929, backing himself out of C position in standard tuning.  He sings the melody most commonly heard used for the song, and I suspect his version was very influential.  He was hugely popular and deservedly so, a wonderful singer with relaxed phrasing and a great rhythmic feel.  Here is Jimmie Rodgers' version:

Yodeled tag

Frankie and Johnny were sweethearts, oh Lord, how they could love
Swore to be true to each other, true as the stars above
He was her man, he wouldn't do her wrong

Frankie went down to the corner, just for a bucket of beer
She says, "Mister bartender, has my lovin' Johnny been here?
He's my man, he wouldn't do me wrong."

"I don't wanta cause you no trouble, I ain't gonna tell you no lie.
I saw your lover an hour ago, with a girl named Nellie Blye.
He was your man, but he's doin' you wrong."

Frankie looked over the transom, she saw, to her surprise
There on a cot sat Johnny, making love to Nellie Blye
"He is my man, and he's doin' me wrong."

Yodel tag

Frankie drew back her kimono, she took out her little .44
Rootie-toot-toot, three times she shot, right through that hardwood door
Shot her man, he was doin' her wrong

"Bring out your rubber-tired buggies, bring out the rubber-tired hacks.
I'm takin' my man to the graveyard, but I ain't gonna bring him back.
Lord, he was my man, then he done me wrong."

Guitar tag

"Bring out a thousand policemen, bring 'em around today,
To lock me down in the dungeon cell and throw that key away.
I shot my man, he was doin' me wrong."

Frankie said to the warden, "What are they going to do?"
The warden, he said to Frankie, "It's electric chair for you,
'Cause you shot your man, he was doin' you wrong."

This story has no moral, this story has no end
This story just goes to show that there ain' no good in men
He was her man, and he done her wrong

All best,

Offline nobocaster

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Re: Jimmie Rodgers Lyrics
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2014, 10:27:21 AM »
Thanks for posting these John.  Jimmie Rodgers was so good, and definitely influential.  He spawned a number of imitators, Gene Autry, and Ernest Tubb among them.  In his version of "Frankie and Johnny", it sounds to me like he's doing a more relaxed (and yodel-ly) rendition of basically the same song recorded by Frank Crumit in 1927.  Frank Crumit also recorded a very different version of "Frankie and Johnny" in 1921 with The Paul Biese Trio.  This earlier version perhaps being the inspiration for Charlie Poole's "Leaving Home".

  Last September we held a Jimmie Rodgers tribute concert on his birthday at the Green Frog in Bellingham.  It was an invitational sort of open mic featuring just Jimmie Rodgers' songs.  I'll let you know if it happens again this year.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Jimmie Rodgers Lyrics
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2014, 10:59:19 AM »
Hi Devin,
That Jimmie Rodgers open mic get-together sounds like fun.  I hope it does happen again.
All best,


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