January 11

Blue Yodel No. 9: Jimmie Rodgers Yodels for a Tennessee Hustler

Jimmie Rodgers gave his listeners around the world with a quick picture of a hustler’s life during his time in his song “Blue Yodel #9”.

Rodgers, as most of us know, is dubbed as the first true country music “star”. His songs incorporated blues, country, jazz, and even Hawaiian guitar. He wrote 12 blues–country hybrid “Blue Yodels”.  Number 9 is listed as number 23 in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s “500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.”

The song is set in Memphis at the corner of Beale Street and Main Street, a block from the current location of B.B. King’s Blues Club. It tells a tale warning all the “rounders” in Memphis of the arrival of a “Tennessee hustler”.

World class trio in Fusion

Blue Yodel No. 9: Jimmie Rodgers Yodels for a Tennessee Hustler 1

“Blue Yodel #9”, also called “Standing on the Corner” from the opening line, was recorded on July 16, 1930, in Los Angeles. His co-artists that joined him in the recording made it more outstanding. With the help of the Armstrong couple, the whole song was made almost perfect. Louis Armstrong awesomely ruled the trumpet. Louis is considered as one of the most influential artists in jazz history, he is known for songs like “Star Dust,” “La Vie En Rose” and “What a Wonderful World.” To complete the ideal team, Lil Hardin Armstrong did the piano with the touch of her finest.

What more can you expect with this renowned trio?

Getting to know the hustler

The song welcomes us with a scene where the “rounders” or the police try to arrest a hustler while he was standing on the street. When asked about his name, his reply was:

I said, you’ll find my name on the tail of my shirt

I’m a Tennessee hustler and I don’t have to work

Further, the hustler brags about all the pennies, material gifts, and attention he receives from his women. The song’s story, however, is open-ended which gives the listeners the privilege to provide for their preferred finale.

What comes to your mind first when you think of a hustler?

Let us once again remember that money and riches were scarce during that time as an effect of the Depression. People must bring out the best of their strength and strategies to survive. Hustling had then become one of the sources of living during that time.

A very creative artist he was, Rodgers turned this appalling situation into an art thru his music.

May this song then remind us that we can always find a beauty that lies behind every situation however terrible it may appear to be.

In the end, it is all about positive perspective.


blue yodel #9, jimmy rodgers

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