“Big Beaver”: Thank You, Goodnight from The Texas Troubadours

Ernest Tubb is coming into the home stretch as he prepares to let Leon Rhodes and Buddy Charleton loose on a Bob Wills instrumental – “Big Beaver” – from the live LP,   Hittin’ the Road:

Big Beaver – The Texas Troubadours

[Pssst:  Click on the triangle above to hear ”Big Beaver” by The Texas Troubadours.]

ET + Texas Troubadours LP

Thanks to Gary Olson of Home on the Range, I now know that Big Beaver is a place in Osage County, Oklahoma that once had a big dance hall frequented by Bob Wills and those fabulous Texas Playboys.

“Hoopaw Rag”: Mid-Century Modern Western Swing

Steel guitar prodigy, Vance Terry, gets co-songwriting credit on “Hoopaw Rag,” an adaptation of a fiddle tune – “Bob Wills Stomp” – that was recorded January 25, 1955 in     Los Angeles at the beginning of a three-year association with the Decca label for Bob Wills & the Texas Playboys:

Note:  In the 5 seconds preceding the start of the song, Bob Wills whispers instructions to his band.

Oddly, this song appears to have been kept in the can.  PragueFrank’s most excellent Country Music Discographies points out that “Hoopaw Rag” remained unissued on LP for another 16 years until included on 1971 Vocalion album, San Antonio Rose.

Vocalion VL-73922 San Antonio Rose:
San Antonio Rose; Black And Blue Rag*; My Shoes Keep Walking Back To You**; Four Or Five Times; Roll Your Own; New Dream Eyed Waltz**; Don’t Let The Deal Go Down; I’ll Allways Be In Love With You; Hoopaw Rag**, Carnations For The Memory** – 71
(*previously unissued, **previously unissued on album, reissued on Coral CB-20109).

The authoritative discography in Charles Townsend’s biography of Bob Wills – likewise titled, San Antonio Rose – confirms that “Hoopaw Rag” was only ever issued on LP, never on 78 or 45.  Until two decades later in 1992, that is, when MCA issued a CD anthology of mid-50s Decca recordings entitled, Bob Wills – Country Music Hall of Fame Series.

Bob Wills - 1955

           Bob Wills on WFAA-TV, Dallas, Texas in 1955

“Rockin’ Red Wing”: New Spin on an Old Tune

I first learned of the song “Red Wing” from Asleep at the Wheel’s 1993 tribute album to Bob Wills & the Texas Playboys that features two original members of the Texas Playboys, Eldon Shamblin and Johnny Gimble.  I somewhat assumed Bob Wills had written the tune, but no – Kerry Mills & Thurland Chattaway put it to paper in 1907, Mills having adapted the music from an 1848 Robert Schumann piece (“The Happy Farmer Returning from Work“).

In 1959 Sammy Masters updated the song not only with a “new” rock beat but also a more contemporary storyline and thus, “Rockin’ Red Wing” was born:

This song was originally released in 1959 on fledgling label, Warner Brothers, but going nowhere – according to 45cat – until reissued in 1960 on Lode, at which point the song found its footing and climbed the pop charts to #64.

Rockin Red Wing - Sammy Masters 45

Original lyrics:

There once was an Indian maid,
A shy little prairie maid,
Who sang a lay, a love song gay,
As on the plain she’d while away the day;

She loved a warrior bold,
This shy little maid of old,
But brave and gay, he rode one day
To battle far away.

Updated lyrics:

There once lived an Indian maid
A teenage Indian maid
Who heard one day her radio play
And the rock an’ roller stole her heart away

And now every single night
All around the campfire bright
All the braves they yearn just to take their turn
And dance with their heart’s delight

Oh yeah, let’s rock, rock tonight with Rockin’ Red Wing
While the tom tom’s wailin’, her feet are sailin’
Oh yeah, let’s rock, rock tonight with Rockin’ Red Wing
A little Indian maiden loves to rock and roll

Time Machine:  Three Years in Reverse

Several years prior Sammy Masters teamed up with guitar legend, Jimmy Bryant, on two songs, “Pink Cadillac” and “Whop-T-Bop” – both released on 4-Star in 1956.