Ry Cooder – Talking Country Blues and Gospel & The Jas Obrecht Music Archive
December 24, 2010 11:24 AM   Subscribe

Originally published in Guitar Player magazine in 1990, here is Jas Obrect's interview: Ry Cooder – Talking Country Blues and Gospel -- I only wish it was online when I made my Dark was the Night post. Now is it is part of the Jas Obrect Music Archive, where you can also find ''Rollin’ and Tumblin' '': The Story of a Song (See also Hambone Wille Newbern - Roll and Tumble Blues for the first recording of those lyrics) -- not to mention Jerry Garcia: The Complete 1985 Interview and Bob Dylan’s ''Highway 61 Revisited'': Mike Bloomfield v. Johnny Winter and Blues Origins: Spanish Fandango and Sebastopol among many, many others. There is quite the cornucopia of interesting, informative music articles there. Check it out--you will dig it.
posted by y2karl (8 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Ah, here there is an mp3 of Cannon's Jug Stompers - Minglewood Blues -- it was mentioned in the Rollin' and Tumblin' article as being the first recording of the melody of that song.
posted by y2karl at 11:56 AM on December 24, 2010

And here, you will find an mp3 of Rollin` and Tumblin' pt. 1 by 'Baby Face' Leroy Foster and Muddy Waters -- probably the smokin'est version of the song evar recorded...
posted by y2karl at 12:03 PM on December 24, 2010

Ry Cooder's Dark Was the Night clip from Paris, Texas. Not to hijack the thread, but, god, what a great movie. I implore you to see it immediately (or maybe after the holidays; might be too much emotional overload right now). If you don't come away from it feeling changed, then I don't want to be your friend.
posted by jng at 12:46 PM on December 24, 2010

The article "Blues Origins: Spanish Fandango and Sebastopol" will blow your mind. It traces American guitar based blues back to two delightful parlor guitar pieces from the 1860s, that just happened to be reprinted in a "how-to-play-the-guitar" book that went out with the first wave of mail order guitars at the beginning of 1900s. Key quote: “That boom-chick, boom-chick bass of parlor music appeared in tons of sheet music from the 1850s straight up until the turn of the century. It was being taught by white middle-class guitar teachers to white middle-class women. How did that switch over into the black field? Nobody’s sure. But it does take away from that mystique that we want to put into black music, that it’s completely from black origins. Black church music was obviously greatly influenced by the white music, but it was sped up. Child ballads from England showed up in the repertoires of Blind Lemon Jefferson and Lead Belly. There was probably more interweaving of the cultures’ music than we realize. Nevertheless, the blacks played it much better." (Listen to the clips. Beautiful.)
posted by Faze at 1:05 PM on December 24, 2010

Dammit, it's not there. There was an interview with Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page in one of the guitar magazines (I could have sworn it was Guitar Player). Anyhoo, it was truly epic. They talked about jamming in Jeff's garage on a regular basis, often with a guy we often refer to as Keef. Talk about places that needed a tape recorder.

Also, the way they danced around the subject of Mr. Clapton was particularly telling. The praise given to EC was very genteel and restrained, while their praise for Mr. Richards was effusive.
posted by Ber at 1:57 PM on December 24, 2010

That Ry Cooder interview was extremely illuminating. It adds a ton of historical context to some stuff I've just ended up owning without really understanding. Thanks. Much to look at there.
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:05 PM on December 24, 2010

Wow, y2karl's still got the zip on his fastball. Great post, and I came here to point out the same article Faze did. Here's some more from it:
‘Sebastopol’ and ‘Spanish Fandango’ were both outstandingly popular solo pieces and their availability in print continued beyond the turn of the century. It seems clear that these pieces lent their names to the folk terms ‘Spanish,’ for open-G tuning, and ‘Vastopol’ for open D or open E. But the connections are not limited to the tunings, they go on in terms of harmonic content and even specific right-hand patterns.

“What probably happened was this: When guitars began to be mass produced and widely distributed by mail order in the 1890s, they came complete with little tutor books. The most common ones were by a man called Septimus Winner, who almost invariably included versions of ‘Sebastopol’ and ‘Spanish Fandango.’ These fairly simple pieces then would have been the starting point for thousands of rural players around the turn of the century.

“Most authorities seem to agree on the various strands of Afro-American music that contributed to the makeup of what we recognize as the blues – the field calls and work songs, etc. – predominantly linear music characterized by what has become known as the ‘blues scale.’ What has never been satisfactorily explained is the origin of the basic harmonic format that distinguishes the blues from these other types.

“If you can imagine a field hand sitting down after work and trying to fit an arhoolie [field song] across the basic chords of ‘Spanish Fandango,’ then you would be close to the moment of transformation, in my opinion. In early recorded blues – i.e., Charley Patton and his school – the harmonic language (right down to specific chord shapes but with bluesy modification usually of one finger only) is straight from parlour music. The same is true for early blues in open D compared to ‘Sebastopol.’ It’s fascinating stuff and fairly controversial, but it fills in the missing gap between the steel-string guitar coming in to circulation and the highly developed styles that appeared on recordings in the 1920s.
Amazin', amazin' (to quote Casey Stengel). Thaks for this early Xmas present!
posted by languagehat at 6:26 PM on December 24, 2010

Well, I was wrong about an mp3 of 'it being available in a link above but here is a play-the-record-and-show-pictures YouTube Rollin' and Tumblin' Parts. 1 and 2 by Baby Face' Leroy & Muddy Waters. And from The Legendary Parkway Label is some exhaustive factage about that iconic recording:
The number is a two-sided recording, labeled Part 1 and Part 2. But unlike most such releases that are divided into parts, "Rollin’ and Tumblin’ was not one song, but rather two takes of the song, one with sung lyrics and the other with wordless moaning. The song exhibits a powerful drive built on Muddy Waters slide guitar playing. We’re going to quote the description of the song as it appeared in Tony Glover, Scott Dirks, and Ward Gaines’ Little Walter biography:
The tone is set by an insistent instrumental lead-in, guitar and harp together playing the sinuous, hypnotically droning riff. Foster sings with passion as Muddy moans wordlessly behind Foster’s vocals, and Foster even quotes the "Baby’s going to jump and shout, when the train come wheeling up, and I come walking out" verse that Muddy used in his hit "I Can’t Be Satisfied" a year and a half earlier. Walter plays with fire, sometimes echoing, sometimes answering Muddy’s biting lead lines. The take is so hot that they immediately continued on with another take, this one with wordless vocals, Foster and Waters moaning in unison lines, Foster taking the high end. Walter carries the lead melody on a few choruses, his harp tone fat and funky. The result is a compelling two-sided release, with an insistent groove that just won’t quit.
The original Parkway release listed the moaning take as Part 1 and the lyrics take as Part 2. However, the Little Walter authors are probably correct, as well as Delmark Records, which in its Blues World of Little Walter album reversed the Parkway designations. While the take with the lyrics show a cleanly developed lead in, the lead in on the moaning take is somewhat messy and unfocused, as though the musicians were interrupted and then allowed to resume what they had started.
This was interesting as well:
The "Rollin’ and Tumblin’" release on Parkway 501, which came out in March, was such a remarkable production that it even caught the attention of the Chicago Defender, which usually ignored all citified country blues artists—the most representative of these being Muddy Waters, Little Walter, and Baby Face Leroy. In his "About the Records" column for March 11, Edward Myers treated it as some exotic specimen, saying
"The first record I’d like to mention is ‘Rollin’ and Tumblin’’ on [the] Parkway label with Parts one and two. This record is unique in that it has the sound and beat of African chant. Must have been taken from one of our earliest American Negro folk songs. The second part takes on a vocal that is typical blues."
The next three records discussed in the column were by artists more typically covered by Myers—Mahalia Jackson, Sonny Stitt, and Bud Powell.
posted by y2karl at 11:14 AM on December 25, 2010

« Older Christmas with Jim Henson, John Denver, and The...   |   Following the Reindeer Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments