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September 5

Jimmie Rodgers Narrates a Violator in “In the Jailhouse Now”

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Jimmie Rodgers Narrates a Violator in “In the Jailhouse Now” 1
CIRCA 1930: Country singer Jimmie Rodgers poses for a portrait with an acoustic guitar in circa 1930. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

“In the Jailhouse Now,” tells a story of an oxygen thief or a useless person. Yes, an oxygen thief due to his behavior of gambling, stealing and robbing. The lyrics mentioned a persona named Ramblin Bob. He keeps on doing his vices despite him being advised to quit what he’s doing.  Also, he has a firm conviction that he’ll never get caught. But he was wrong. He was captured and put behind bars. Funny thing is the person advising Ramblin Bob to quit met a girl. They had a crazy night and ended up in jail too.

The song is an example of a song with a portrayal of reality. A reality that is somehow, somewhat happening in the society. Let Jimmie Rodgers remind you that doing bad things have consequences.

In the Jailhouse Now…

The song is usually credited to Jimmie Rodgers. It is a novelty song that is being performed in the 20th century. On the other hand, Jimmie Rodgers recorded the song on February 15, 1928. He accompanied a style of yodeling all throughout the song. In 1930, he re-recorded “In the Jailhouse Now.”

Moreover, various artists have covered “In the Jailhouse Now” numerous times. They were Tommy Duncan, Webb Pierce, Pink Anderson, Jim Jackson, Leon Russell, Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Champions featuring Jerry Garcia, and Merle Haggard. Other artists include Doc Watson, Prism, Suzy Bogguss with Chet Atkins, and Tim Blake Nelson with The Soggy Bottom Boys.

Johnny Cash’s Cover…

Furthermore, several versions modified the lyrics. The version with great modification came from Johnny Cash’s rendition. He recorded his cover version in 1962. With this, he changed most of the lyrics that he learned from an African-American jug band musicians in Memphis.

Jimmie Rodgers Narrates a Violator in “In the Jailhouse Now” 2
Photo Credit: nashvillesongwritersfoundation.com

In the 20th century, Jimmie Rodgers started to introduce country music to the world. Since then, country music has been the most significant genre. Meanwhile, Jimmie Rodgers was one of the pioneers of country music. He has been cited as an inspiration to many artists now and then. With this, he earned his title “The Singing Brakeman,” “The Blue Yodeler,” and “The Father of Country Music.”

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in the jailhouse now, jimmie rodgers, Johnny Cash


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