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September 22

Rare Find: Those Jimmie Rodgers and Carter Family’s Classics

As mentioned in the previous article, Jimmie Rodgers is the Father of Country.  He and the Carter family were among the first country singers whose songs were recorded in the 1920s.

It happened when New Yorker Ralph Peer arrived in the Tennessee-Virginia border to scout talents for the Victor Talking Machine Company. Several folks who sing hilly-billy auditioned. Fortunately, the aforementioned two were privileged to be picked. They’re America’s 1st country recording stars.

Both Rodgers and the Carters sang of common people and their experiences the root description of country music. But unlike the Carters whose music’s foci are sentiments relating to family, faith, hope, and love, Rodgers was a variety including life on the roughs. The distinctive yodels preceding the lines from his songs colored his music.

Done with the brief background, let us examine two of their masterpieces.

1. First stop is In the Jail House Now by Jimmie Rodgers.

Recorded on February 15, 1928, Jimmie copyrighted his version. He got his signature yodels.

It speaks of small-time crimes then getting locked up in prison.

Other successes:
Webb Pierce recorded a popular version of this song and became a #1 Country hit in 1955. Johnny Cash – no stranger to prison songs – included the song on his 1962 album The Sound of Johnny Cash and released it as a single that year, taking it to #8 on the Country chart. (songfacts.com)

2. Now let us have Wildwood Flower by the Carter Family.

Obviously a song about flowers, it was first recorded and popularized by the Carter Family in 1927.

Maud Irving and Joseph Philbrick Webster wrote the original wordings and titled the pome as “I’ll Twine ‘Mid the Ringlets.” The Carters modified the lyrics. Thereby making it their derivative work and had it copyrighted also.

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