YELLOW DOG RAG

Created on 18/09/2007
Latest update on 13/07/2020

Artist: Prince's Band
Author: William Christopher Handy
Label: Columbia
Year: 1916

As Joe Turner Blues - Introducing Yellow Dog Rag, following two other W.C. Handy songs they first recorded: St. Louis Blues and Hesitation Blues. Published by Pace & Handy in 1914.

Covers:

1917:

W.C. Handy's Memphis Blues Band [as Yellow Dog Blues for Lyrathone]

1918:

Wadsworth Novelty Orch. [idem]

1920:

Joseph C. Smith

1920:

Ben Selvin

1925:

Bessie Smith [with Fletcher Henderson's Hot Six; closing off with: "He's gone where the Seven crosses the Yellow Dog"]

1927:

Crying Sam Collins [as Yellow Dog Blues; might be the guitarist Handy heard in Tutwiler; Collins was from McComb, MS and also recorded a Hesitation Blues, another so-called Handy composition]

1928:

Duke Ellington

1929:

Ben Pollack

1929:

Wise String Orch. [for Vocalion]

1930:

Ted Lewis [top 5 US]

1932:

Rhythmakers [with Henry 'Red' Allen]

1953:

Kid Ory

1954:

Louis Armstrong

1956:

Big Maybelle

1957:

Joe Darensbourg & his Dixie Flyers [hit US]

1958:

Nat King Cole [in biopic St. Louis Blues]

1958:

Johnny Maddox [as piano rag]

1966:

Alexis Korner

The Yellow Dog was the nickname of the Yazoo Delta railroad line, crossing the Southern line in Moorhead, MS. The Southern Illinois linked Chicago with the Gulf of Mexico right through the Mississippi Delta, while the Yazoo Delta (Yellow Dog) went from east to west between Yazoo City and Clarksdale. "He's gone to where the Southern crosses the Yellow Dog" repeated over and over, was the lyric line Handy remembered when in 1903 a young black guitar player was waiting for the same train in the Tutwiler, MS railway station. Meanwhile the boy was handling his guitar strings in such an unusual but strikingly moving way with a knife, Handy had to write it down in his diary, not realizing he just notified the very first bottleneck effect and the very first AAB blues pattern on the side. Was it maybe Henry Sloan, mentor of Charley Patton at the Dockery Farm? Or was it Charley Patton himself, who was 12 in 1903? Patton lived on walking distance from both Tutwiler and Moorhead and sings about the Yellow Dog in his Green River Blues. (see also: Where The Southern Crosses The Dog, Make Me A Pallet On The Floor and Green River Blues)

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