Jimmie Rodgers did not have a great singing voice. He was not an exceptionally talented guitar player and, in fact, was not known to be a very good musician. He found it difficult to keep time when recording with other musicians and was nowhere near the songwriter that he is “officially” credited with having been. That lack of songwriting ability when coupled with Jimmie’s difficulty in learning new material limited the number of recording sessions that could be scheduled during his short lifetime.
But Jimmie Rodgers was one of the great stylists of his day and he used his unique “blue yodel” and combined “hillbilly” and blues music in a way that continues to influence country music even today. He paved the way for the “singing cowboys” who became so popular in
James Charles Rodgers, the youngest of three children, was born to a poor
Jimmie, who spent much of his young adult life working railroad jobs like his father, never seemed to see his railroad wages as anything more than the money he needed to tide him over until his singing career blossomed. Despite that, Jimmie Rodgers will always be remembered as a “railroad man” because he billed himself for a long time as “The Singing Brakeman,” an image that
Jimmie Rodgers was a man in a hurry. He knew that tuberculosis would kill him, especially if he did not spend weeks at a time in bed resting and recuperating from the effects of the disease that was killing so many of his countrymen. But Jimmie Rodgers was not one to spend his time bedridden and worrying about himself. He decided to make the most of the time he had, and only took to his bed when his doctors told him that he was near death if he refused to end his non-stop touring and recording schedule for a while, instances that became more and more frequent as Jimmie’s neglect of his health began to take its ultimate toll on him.
“That old T.B.” finally beat Jimmie Rodgers in May, 1933 when he died in a
Jimmie Rodgers was a man who fought tremendous odds in order to live the life of his dreams. He was a musical pioneer who, although he could not finally beat the disease that killed him, held it off long enough to establish his place in music history. He survived the death of traveling vaudeville tent shows and the impact that the Great Depression had on the sale of his records. He was there to see the early days of radio and to suffer the effects of “talkies” on the kind of traveling live entertainment packages that made his living.
Nolan Porterfield has done a magnificent job of describing the ups and downs that Jimmie Rodgers suffered in his 35 years. In one sense, Jimmie did not have much to show for a music career that resulted in the sale of some seven million records and constant touring of the south and southwest parts of the country. At his death he had only about $4,000 to his name, the money that he had been advanced for his last recording session and the proceeds from the sale of an automobile. But, oh what a life he lived, and what a legend he has become!
Rated at: 5.0This is one of the songs that Jimmie did for his Hollywood "short." It's known as "Blue Yodel No. 1" or "T for Texas."