TALKING BLUES

Latest update on 03/02/2015

Artist: Chris Bouchillon
Author: Chris Bouchillon
Label: Columbia
Year: 1926

Rap avant la lettre. 'Singer' from North Carolina who camouflaged his ugly singing voice by talking his way through guitar songs of hardship and double entendre. His record company agreed. Then Grand Ole' Opry star Robert Lunn ("The Talking Blues Boy") picked it up. This Roy Acuff sidekick kept the tradition alive until Woody came along. Robert didn't live long enough to witness talking blues' second coming with Woody and folk bands such as The New Lost City Ramblers. Jerry Reed may be regarded as another modern day Robert Lunn.

Covers:

1940:

Woody Guthrie [same approach in Talking Dust Bowl Blues for Victor; it had first been recorded by Alan Lomax for the Archive of Folk Culture at the Library of Congress; Woody was a speaker and a good one, see his conversations with Alan on Rounder cd-set Library Of Congress Recordings; his lingo came right off the streets (inspired by Robert Lunn)]

1941:

Woody Guthrie [same melody (if melody is the right word in a talking blues context) in Talking Columbia and Washington Talkin' Blues, two out of many songs written for the Bonneville Power Administration, the power company in charge of the Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River, built to provide electricity among farmers in the whole Pacific Northwest region; folk friend Woody was charged to win every local farmer's sympathy for this innovation; electricity was brand new and unknown, so he came up with catch phrase: "it runs everywhere, cheaper than rain water"; see also: Oregon Trail and Grand Coulee Dam]

1941:

Almanac Singers [as Talking Union; lyrics: John Greenway; in 1958 Folkways released a collection of Talking Blues sang by the same John Greenway, mining the canon of Woody Guthrie, Tom Glazer a.o. and an 'obvious source' for folkies in the sixties]

1947:

Woody Guthrie [as Talkin' Subway after experiencing New York for the first time]

1955:

Pete Seeger [as Talking Union]

1957:

Rambling Jack Elliott [as Talking Columbia]

1959:

Lonnie Donegan [as Talking Guitar Blues]

1961:

Bob Dylan [as Talkin' New York and in '62 as Talkin' Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues]

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