zondag 29 december 2013
Prisoner's Song (1924) / Thrills That I Can't Forget (1925) / Blue Eyes (1927) / Great Speckle Bird (1936) / Wild Side of Life (1951) / It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels (1952)
"It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" is a 1952 #1 country hit song written by J. D. "Jay" Miller, recorded by Kitty Wells. Originally recorded by Al Montgomery as "Did God Make Honky Tonk Angels?"
It was an answer song to the Hank Thompson hit "The Wild Side of Life", which was originally recorded by Jimmie Heap.
"The Wild Side of Life" and "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" are set to an apparently traditional tune, that was already used in Rev. Guy Smith's "The Great Speckled Bird"—popularized in 1936 by Roy Acuff, and more familiarly in the Carter Family's "I'm Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes" recorded in February, 1929 (originally recorded by the North Carolinba Ramblers and Roy Harvey as "Blue Eyes").
The tune is also used in an even older song "Thrills That I Can't Forget" recorded by Welby Toomey and Edgar Boaz in 1925.
But then there is the striking resemblance with "The Prisoner's Song" recorded in 1924 by Vernon Dalhart.
"The Prisoner's Song", is a song copyrighted by Vernon Dalhart in 1924 in the name of Dalhart's cousin Guy Massey, who had sung it while staying at Dalhart's home and had in turn heard it from his brother Robert Massey, who may have heard it while serving time in prison.
The Prisoner's Song rates as a 1920s all-time best-seller with a staggering seven million-plus copies sold worldwide in the version by Vernon Dalhart. The Vernon Dalhart recording charted for 32 weeks, twelve at No. 1, during 1925 and 1926. The Vernon Dalhart version was recorded on Victor Records in October 1924 and marketed in the hillbilly music genre. It became one of the best-selling records of the early twentieth century, with at least two million copies sold (sales figures are uncertain; some place the sales at 7 million or more), as well as over a million copies of the sheet music to the tune.
Long-lasting controversy over the authorship of the song quickly arose. Dalhart copyrighted the song in Guy Massey's name, taking 95% of the author royalties for himself and giving Massey 5%. Shilkret protested, claiming that the song as Dalhart had brought it to him (Shilkret) was unusable, and that he rewrote the music. The Shilkret family fought unsuccessfully through the 1950s for author credit.
Guy Massey had heard the song from his brother Rob Massey, who had actually spent some time in prison and probably first heard the song there. Palmer cites a letter dated October 20, 1924 from Guy Massey to his brother Rob Massey and two of his sisters telling them that he agreed to a 5% stake in royalties because he thought there would not be any royalties. Guy also said that, even though the royalty contract did not mention Rob explicitly, he (Guy ) would split the 5% evenly with Rob. Although Dalhart changed his story frequently when he told it in public, he sometimes also claimed to have rewritten the original that he got from Guy. At times there were claims made that Guy had written it and there were claims that Rob had written it. Another story claims the lyrics were carved into the wall of a cell in the old Early County Jail in Blakely, Georgia by Robert F. Taylor, who was at one time held there
Here are the recordings, beginning with "The Prisoner's Song"
(o) Vernon Dalhart (1924) (as "Prisoner's Song")
Vernon Dalhart, v;
Acc. Lou Raderman, viola; Carson Robison, g;
Recorded in New York on August 13, 1924.
(c) Vernon Dalhart (1924) ("Prisoner's Song")
Recorded October 1924
Released on Perfect 12164
(c) Vernon Dalhart (1925) ("Prisoner's Song")
Recorded March 1925
Released on Cameo 703
(c) Welby Toomey and Edgar Boaz 1925 (as "Thrills That I Can't Forget")
Welby Toomey, v; acc. Edgar Boaz, g.
Recorded in Richmond, IN Friday, November 13, 1925
Released on Gennett 3228
and Challenge 159 (with alias-name John Ferguson)
(c) North Carolina Ramblers & Roy Harvey 1927 (as "Blue Eyes")
Posey Rorer, f; Bob Hoke, bj-md/v; Roy Harvey, g/v.
Recorded in Chicago, IL October 1927
Released on Paramount 3072 and Broadway 8158
Broadway 8158 as by Wilson Ramblers;
(c) Carter Family 1929 (as "I'm Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes")
Carter Family (Sara Carter [vcl/autoharp], A.P. Carter [vcl], Maybelle Carter [vcl/gt])
Recorded February 14, 1929 Victor Studio, Trinity Baptist Church, 114N. 5th St., Camden, NJ
Released on Victor V-40089, Bluebird B-5122 and Montgomery Ward M-4230
(c) Roy Acuff and his Crazy Tennesseeans (1936) (as "Great Speckle Bird")
20 October 1936 Furniture Mart Building, 666 Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL - Roy Acuff & His Crazy Tennesseans (Jess Easterday [gt], Clell Sumne [dobro], Red Jones [bass], Sam Hatcher [harmonica]. Producer: William Callaway)
Released in January 1937 on Melotone (#7-01-59) and Conqueror (#8740)
Re-released on Vocalion Okeh 04252 in August 1938
Re-released on Columbia 37005 in 1946
Roy Acuff first recorded "Great Speckle Bird" in 1936 and continued to perform it regularly on the Grand Ole Opry. It quickly became one of the most famous songs in country music. It was based on a verse from the King James Bible (Jeremiah 12:9 Ð "Mine heritage is unto me as a speckled bird, the birds round about are against her;"). Interpreted as a description of the persecution experienced by the church, the verse, set to a traditional tune, soon gave rise to a Pentecostal anthem.
Acuff first heard the song sung in 1936 in Knoxville, Tennessee sung by a gospel group called the Black Shirts. After paying fifty cents to the leader of the Black Shirts, Charlie Swain, for a copy of the song, he immediately began to perform his own version of it and his radio performance landed him his first record contract.
Others say "Great Speckle Bird" was written about 1934 by a radio entertainer of Springfield, MO., known as "Uncle George", whose real name was Guy Smith.
One text was printed anonymously in the Aurora (Mo.) Advertiser, March 16, 1936.
Another version was copyrighted in 1937 by the M.M. Cole Publ. Co. of Chicago, with the words credited to Rev Guy Smith and the music to Roy Acuff.
(c) Jimmie Heap & The Melody Masters (1951) (as "Wild Side Of Life")
Jimmie Heap [ld gt], Perk Williams [vcl-1/fiddle],Horace Barnett [rh gt], Butterball Haris[steel], Bill Glendening [bass], Arlie Carter [piano]
Recorded ca February 1951 Peterson's Studio, Austin, TX -
Released on Imperial 8105
Jimmy Heap and His Melody Masters first recorded "Wild Side" in 1951, but never had a hit with the song.
Hank Thompson did, and his version spent three and one-half months atop the Billboard country chart in the spring and early summer of 1952.
(c) Hank Thompson and His Brazos Valley Boys (1952) (as "The Wild Side Of Life")
Hank Thompson (Hank Thompson [vcl/gt], Billy Gray [gt/leader], Curly Chalker [steel], Billy Briggs Stewart [bass], William Wayne Foster [drums], Joe Herman „Big Red“ Hayes [fiddle], Kenneth Allen „Little Red“Hayes [fiddle], Gilbert „Gil“ Baca [piano]. Producer: Dee Kilpatrick)
Recorded December 11, 1951, Capitol Recording Studio, 5515 Melrose Ave., Hollywood, CA
Released January 1952 on Capitol #1942
(c) Al Montgomery (1951) (as "Did God Make Honky Tonk Angels")
Released on Feature Records 1036
(c) Kitty Wells (1952) (as "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels")
(Kitty Wells [vcl], Joseph Zinkan [harm vcl], Eddie Hill [gt/harm vcl], Shot Jackson [steel], Johnny Wright [bass], Dorris Warren [fiddle]. Producer: Paul Cohen)
Recorded May 3, 1952 Castle Studio, The Tulane Hotel, 206 8th Ave. North, Nashville, TN –
Released June 1952 on Decca 28232
Burl Ives had a top 10 hit with "Wild Side Of Life" concurrent with Hank Thompson's No 1 hit.
Tommy Quickly & The Remo Four (1964) (as Wild Side Of Life) (No. 33 UK Chart),
Freddy Fender reached No. 13 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart in early 1976.
A version by the British rock band Status Quo reached the UK top 10 in 1976.
In the same year Rod Stewart recorded a version for his album "A Night On The Town".
(c) Marianne Faithfull (1978) (as "Honky Tonk Angels")
(c) David Allan Coe (1977) (incorporated in "If That Ain't Country")
David Allan Coe mentions all the titles at the end of his If That Ain't Country.
An' I'm thinkin' tonight of my blue eyes,
And flyin' with the great speckled bird.
I didn't know God made honky-tonk angels
And went back to the wild side of life.
In 1981, "Wild Side" and "It Wasn't God ..." were combined into a duet by Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter on their album Leather and Lace; that version reached No. 10.
Kris Kristofferson also uses fragments of "Wild Side Of Life" in his "Blessing In Disguise" and "The Devil To Pay" (both '81)
More versions here: