|Author: Rhynes, J.D.
|The wide spread influence of Jimmie Rodgers music on America and the world
One of my very favoritest 2 record album set of all time, was
recorded by my friend Merle Haggard, back in 1969, and it featured
songs that were written by "The Singing Brakeman", Jimmie Rodgers.
[ This set is on Vinyl, the way real records used to be ] I first
heard a song from this album on my way home from work one evening.
I was half way between Modesto, Ca. and Campo Seco, Ca. where I
lived, and I was lisening to Glen Stepp, an old disc jockey buddy
of mine's radio show when he said, here's a song by Merle Haggard
off of his latest album, and commenced playing one of Jimmie's
"train songs". [ Lookie yonder comin', comin' down the railroad
track, lookie yonder coming, coming down the railroad track- - - ]
By this time I had jes turned onto Hiway 26 fer a couple of miles.
and halfway through that song, I slammed to a stop, turned my car
around and headed to Freitas Music in downtown Stockton, Ca. , one
of the few places you could find REAL country music back then. I
got there 10 minutes before closing time, and bought one of the
greatest tributes ever recorded to the music of Jimmie Rodgers.
Mr. Nes Freitas told me that, that record was selling like the
proverbial hotcakes! I sat up until WAY after midnite playing it
that nite, and it's still one of my favoritest of Merle's
recordings. [ As soon as it was available on CD I got that one
Well, as my pal Ron Thomason is wont to say, I told you that, now
I'll tell you this. My father was raised in the Masonic Orphanage in
Batesville, Arkansas until he was 18 years old. They taught all of
the boys and girls a trade while they were raised there so they
would be able to support themselves. The girls were trained as
nurses and the boys as carpenters. SO, fast forward to the summer of
1931. My father was 23 years old, and had went over to Oklahoma to
visit his brother William Oscar Rhynes who had moved to Henryetta,
Oklahoma a few years prior. Dad said that carpenter work was slow at
the time so he stayed in Oklahoma to work in the wheat harvest fer a
few weeks. While he was there he was witness to one of he greatest
events ever in his life. He got to see, live in person THE Jimmie
Rodgers, "The Singing Brakeman"! Dad said that Jimmie was in town
to put on a live concert on a Saturday evening at the local theatre,
and to promote it he did a live "promo" show in the town square that
day. Dad said there were so many folks in the square that day it
was gonna be hard fer everybody to hear Jimmie sing. You gotta
remember this was way before electrical sound systems were
available. Now there in that town square is a statue that is a
memorial to those who have served in our armed services. It is a
large statue, so Dad said ol Jimmie got up onto the base of that
statue with his Martin guitar and sang about a dozen or so songs for
the throng of folks gthered there. It goes without saying that the
theatre was sold out that nite, and Dad said every farmer within a
100 mile radius was in Henryetta to hear Jimmie Rodgers sing that
Years later, it was my pleasure to introduce my father to Alan
O'Bryant and listen to dad tell Alan of the time he saw Jimmie
Rodgers sing to the folks there in Henryeta, Ok. Alan would always
sing the song The Train Carrying Jimmie Rodgers Home, for my
father, and dedicate it to him. [ As far as I'm concerned, there
aint NOBODY can sing that song like Alan O'Bryant can! ]
The SInging Brakeman has been gone now fer 78 years, and Dad
"crossed over Jordan" 13 years ago, but the memories of those
stories as well as the music will be with us as long as there is
folks that love this music we call Country and Bluegrass. May GOD
bless the memory of Jimmie Rodgers, a TRUE American original.
Oh yes. The title of that 2 record set is; Same Train, Different Time
Copyright © 2002 California
Bluegrass Association. All rights reserved.
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