ONLINE & OFF – ROCKABILLY ROOTS

One of my favourite ideas for other people is Powerpoint TV – little essays pulling in YouTube and other resources to make fillers for late-night tv. I here resolve to learn enough to try it,

One starting subject might be the singer and performer Jack Rhodes, whose story has half a dozen interesting byways in it.

My interest was caught by the following note on his probably most-covered hit, Satisfied Mind, co-written with Red Hayes …

Jack Rhodes is probably most known for writing or co-writing a number of highly esteemed ’50s rockabilly tracks, particularly some songs recorded by Gene Vincent. Woman Love, the B-side of Vincent’s first single (the classic smash Be-Bop-a-Lula), was his, and he also co-wrote some other fine early Vincent tracks, including Red Blue Jeans and a Pony Tail, Five Days, Five Days, and B-I-Bickey-Bi, Bo-Bo Go. Rhodes was also responsible for Action Packed, turned into a rockabilly stormer by Ronnie Dawson, 1958, and co-penned Elroy Dietzel’s cult rockabilly favorite Rock-n-Bones, later covered by both Dawson and the Cramps. Yet Rhodes was more than a generation older than the rockabilly singers he was writing for in the 1950s, and his own tastes were perhaps more inclined toward country and hillbilly music, with his other outstanding credits including Silver Threads and Golden Needles (eventually a hit for the Springfields) and Porter Wagoner’s A Satisfied Mind. He also recorded quite a bit of primitive rockabilly and hillbilly by other artists at his small Texas studio, much of it not released until his death.

Some details of where to find those recordings at

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/jack-rhodes-mn0000125414/

Here is Ronnie Dawson’s recording of Action Packed:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=NlXA2tFH_70#t=0/

And here is Ronnie performing Monkey Beat City in Australia in 1994, when he was about 55:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZiqS_-UE-s

Elroy Dietzel’s cult rockabilly favorite “Rock-n-Bones” later covered by both Dawson and the Cramps:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jfMUPGsMlk/

I’ve got a nice version of Silver Threads on vinyl, by a 1960s Irish “showband” called The Cadets, which I must upload.

Starting point on The Cadets:

http://www.irish-showbands.com/Bands/Cadets.htm/

Dylan did a version of Satisfied Mind. Still seeking that at the moment but for the time being have settled for a nice version by an American actor and singer, new to me, called Hamilton Camp:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWFDLxMZ__g/

Details of the Dylan version, and the lyrics, at:

http://www.bobdylanroots.com/satisf.html/

Jack Rhodes’s son put together a little video essay on his dad, at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrN_8Yia-sU/

Interestingly, Rhodes’s early career was in bands with his step-brother, Leon Payne, who also wrote a good few classics and had a stint with Bob Wills …

Leon wrote hundreds of country songs in a prolific career that lasted from 1941 until his death in 1969. He is perhaps best known for his hits “I Love You Because“, “You’ve Still Got a Place in My Heart” and the 1948 song “Lost Highway“, a song made famous by Hank Williams in 1949. Leon Payne also wrote under the pen-name of “Pat Patterson” on tracks such as “It’s Nothing to Me” performed by Sanford Clark.

He began his music career in the mid-1930s, playing a variety of musical instruments in public, and later performing on KWET radio in Palestine, Texas, starting in 1935. He also had a stint playing with Bob Wills‘ Texas Playboys in 1938. Payne was a regular working musician at Jerry Irby’s nightclub in Houston, Texas.[1] He joined his stepbrother, famed songwriter Jack Rhodes, and formed Jack Rhodes and The Lone Star Buddies in 1949. They performed regularly on the Louisiana Hayride show in Shreveport, Louisiana.[citation needed] He was later on the Grand Ole Opry.[citation needed]

Much of his musical legacy is in the form of recordings of his songs by other artists, perhaps most famous of which are two of his songs recorded by Hank Williams: “Lost Highway” and “They’ll Never Take Her Love From Me”, which were both minor hits.[citation needed]

 

Turning to the co-author of Satisfied Mind – Red Hayes was one of Hank Thompson’s Brazos Valley Boys.

He once said:

The song came from my mother. Everything in the song are things I heard her say over the years. I put a lot of thought into the song before I came up with the title. One day my father-in-law asked me who I thought the richest man in the world was, and I mentioned some names. He said, “You’re wrong, it is the man with a satisfied mind.” It has been done a lot in churches. I came out of the Opry one night and a church service was going on nearby. The first thing I hear was the congregation singing “Satisfied Mind.” I got down on my knees.

 

**

 

Another possible story, taking in some of the above, is the crossover of rockabilly into punk and new wave.

On a collection called After Sun, found recently, I especially liked F-Folding Money by Tommy Blake (1958).

Hear it at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6WaFDRq9Gk/

It’s very funny – a laconic take on adult brush-off of teenage needs, with echoes of Summertime Blues, by Eddie Cochran, which was, of course, brilliantly remade by Sid Vicious.

Sid should have done F-Folding Money. The chorus line stutter was clearly meant to be sung as if the singer wanted to say he needed some Fuh-fuckin money but turned the adjective into Fuh-Foldin (meaning ready money in the pocket) just in time. But in 1958, Blake bowdlerised it a touch more by singing Eff-foldin. I thought it was crying out to be remade with the original joke made clearer.

Coincidentally, my son, Luke, called recently to recommend an unexpected collection of rockabilly covers made by Mark E Smith of The Fall, including F-Folding Money:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-U7y_-ubIs8/

Quite good but for some reason, Smith stuck to Eff-Foldin, which I still think is an un-necessary obfuscation of the joke.

Tommy Blake was a nearly-man who blew his chances and he and his crew make a good story, as summed up at

http://www.rockabillyhall.com/rarerockabilly04.html/

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