40's/50's roots/country/honkeytonk music?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by BurningSkies, Dec 17, 2005.

  1. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars
    Hey everyone,

    I've just started a side project band with a few friends and we're aiming at a sort of Mike Ness (solo) style 50's country/honkeytonk/roots done with a punk aesthetic.

    I've picked out a few Hank Williams classics, and we're doing the Stones "Dead Flowers" revved up a bit along with "Misguided Angel" by the Cowboy Junkies (with the vocals switched over for a male singer). We're also toying with some Johnny Cash, but don't want to do any of the usual suspects.

    I really would love to hear from those who are eyeball deep in this style what would be great songs to do
    ...I'm not necessarily looking for 'greatest hits' type material.


    Soooo, what do ya think?
  2. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    That sounds cool. Good luck with it :bassist:

    I think the Wabash Cannonball would work well in a more punky style since it is already a good party tune.

    The Supersuckers with Steve Earl's version of "Before they make me run". Great song, way way better than the Stones version. And Steve Earl has that punk attitude.

    You *have* to do Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues". I am sorry, but you have to. You are not allowed to use the term country in anything about the band unless you play this ;)

    But I also am partial to "Big River" if the singer can get the inflections and timing right. For a rockin' version of Big River, get Hank Williams Jr's version. In fact listen to any of Hank Jrs songs to hear how to "punk up" country. For example "Trashy Women" is really easy to find.

    But for a bit more off the wall, have you ever heard Alan Jackson's version of "Mercury Blues"? When I practice it I like to play the chorus and verses very straight country (root/fifth) and then break into a harder 12 bar blues during the solos.

    If the entire band went for a more country feel during the chorus/verse but really rocked out during the solos I think that could be very cool. It would give the feel that the band is outta control and only the singer is reigning them in.

    Just some thought.
  3. jkritchey


    Jul 23, 2002
    Northern Va.
    Not sure that I can recommend too many songs (Folsom Prison Blues?), but for another source of ideas, try this online radio station:

    Bootliquor Radio

    Or straight to the tunes:
    Bootliquor Stream

    I've been listening to this constantly, and I have not been a 'country' fan. The theme is boozin', cheatin' americana songs. Classic Hank Williams (Sr, that is) to Dave Alvin, to Drive By Truckers. Give it a listen, send them some money...
  4. Tritone

    Tritone Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 24, 2002
    Santee, America
    Merle Haggard
    Waylon Jennings
    Buck Owens
    (old) Willie Nelson
    Johnny Paycheck
  5. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Any old Buck Owens or Hank Williams Sr. would be great. I actually played in a band like that years and years ago. We would sit and play old records and found just tons of stuff we could have done. Ferlin Husky, Little Jimmy Dickens, Roy Acuff, Bob Wills, etc.
  6. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars
    Thanks for the reccomendations so far, everyone! I'm spending the evening doing some song searching and sampling...The suggestions so far are good ones.

    Bootliquor radio is interesting...I'm going to record the stream and spend some time listening.

    Unfortunately Fulsom Prison Blues has been shot down by the band collective as too much of a popular number and too much of a trademark song. I'd love to do Big River or a few other options. I've also been dying to do "True Love Ways" by Buddy Holly, for a number of years now. And my dad would have loved to see the day when I played "Wabash Cannonball" (he passed away about 5 years ago).

    Keep the suggestions coming, and if you have specific songs that stand out from an artist I'd love the guidance!
  7. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars
    I also made the mistake of buying the 3 disk Hank Williams 'Original Singles Collection' today. Just about every 2nd song on it would work great. *sigh*
  8. DaftCat


    Jul 26, 2004
    Medicine Hat
    Johnny Horton
    Tom T Hall(faster horses)
    Ray Charles
    Hot Rod Lincoln(not sure who author is)
  9. The first song that popped into my mind is Pistol Packing Mama by Al Dexter. (Made a hit by Merle Travis)
    Drinking beer in a cabaret
    and was I having fun
    Until one night she caught me right
    and now I'm on the run.

    Oh! Lay that pistol down, Babe.
    Lay that pistol down!
    Pistol packing mama,
    lay that pistol down.

    She kicked out my windshield, she hit me over the head.
    She cussed and cried and said I'd lied and
    wished that I was dead.
    Lay that pistol down, Babe...etc.

    Drinking beer in a cabaret and dancing with a blonde.
    Until one night she shot out the lights--bang,
    that blonde was gone.
    Lay that pistol down, Babe...etc.

    I'll see you ev'ry night, Babe, I'll wow you every day.
    I'll be your reg'lar daddy if you'll put that gun away.

    Next is Smoke, Smoke, Smoke That Cigarette by Merle Travis (Made a hit by Tex Williams and Capitol Records 1st million seller)
    Now I'm a fellow with a heart of gold
    And the ways of a gentleman I've been told
    Kind-of-a-guy that wouldn't even harm a flea

    But if me and a certain character met
    The guy that invented that cigarette
    I'd murder that son-of-a gun in the first degree

    It ain't cuz I don't smoke 'em myself
    and i don't reckon that it'll hinder your health
    I smoked 'em all my life and I ain't dead yet

    But nicotine slaves are all the same
    at a pettin' party or a poker game
    Everything gotta stop while they have a cigarette

    Smoke, smoke, smoke that cigarette
    Puff, puff, puff until you smoke yourself to death.

    Tell St. Peter at the Golden Gate
    That you hate to make him wait,
    But you just gotta have another cigarette.

    In a game of chance the other night
    Old dame fortune was good and right
    The kings and queens they kept on comin' around

    Aw, I was hittin' em good and bettin' 'em high
    But my bluff didn't work on a certain guy
    He kept callin' and layin' his money down

    See, he'd raise me then I'd raise him
    and I'd say to him buddy ya gotta sink or swim
    Finally called me but didn't raise the bet!

    --Hmmph! I said Aces Full Pal -- I got you!
    He said, "I'll pay up in a minute or two
    But right now, i just gotta have another cigarette."


    Now the other night I had a date
    with the cutest little gal in any state
    A high-bred, uptown, fancy little dame

    She said she loved me and it seemd to me
    That things were sorta like they oughtta be
    So hand in hand we strolled down lovers lane

    She was a long way from a chunk of ice
    And our pettin' party was goin' real nice
    And I got an idea I might have been there yet

    So I give her a kiss and a little squeeze
    Then she said, "Travis, Excuse me Please
    But I just gotta have a cigarette."

    Next is Hey Good Looking by Hank Williams (the real deal, not Jr.)
    Hey, hey, good lookin',
    Whatcha got cookin'?
    How's about cookin' somethin' up with me?
    Hey, sweet baby,
    Don't you think maybe
    We could find us a brand new recipe?
    I got a hot-rod Ford and a two-dollar bill
    And I know a spot right over the hill.
    There's soda pop and the dancin's free,
    So if you wanna have fun come along with me.
    Hey, good lookin',
    Whatcha got cookin'?
    How's about cookin' somethin' up with me?

    I'm free and ready,
    So we can go steady.
    How's about savin' all your time for me?
    No more lookin',
    I know I've been tooken [sic].
    How's about keepin' steady company?

    I'm gonna throw my date-book over the fence
    And find me one for five or ten cents.
    I'll keep it 'til it's covered with age
    'Cause I'm writin' your name down on every page.
    Hey, good lookin',
    Whatcha got cookin'?
    How's about cookin' somethin' up with me?

    Next is Come on over to my house Baby by Bob Wills & the Texas Playboys. I'm not sure who wrote this song, if there was a single author. It is the same as "Keep on Trucking Mama" essentially.

    Come on over to my house baby
    There's nobody home but me.
    Come on over to my house baby
    I need some company.

    Two an' two's four
    Four an' four's eight
    Don't let your baby
    Walk by my back gate.

    Come on over to my house baby,
    There's nobody home but me.

    Ok, I'll stop with the lyrics.

    Next is Dim Lights, Thick Smoke and Loud Loud Music by Joe Maphis
    Next is Ten Little Bottles and/or Tijuana Jail by Johnny Bond
    Next is Sally let your bangs hang down by the Maddox Brothers and Rose. Rose Maddox was the original "pull out all the stops, take no prisoners, kick ass country honky tonk performer. Her version of Honky Tonkin' is pretty damned good too.
    Next is Walking the Floor Over You by Ernest Tubb
    Next is It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels by Kitty Wells
    Next is If You've Got the Money Honey, I've Got the Time by Lefty Frizzell.

    This list should get you started. Hank Williams was part of that style, but Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, et al came later. Also the original version of the bluegrass band Hot Rize had an alter ego band called "Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers". They would come out frequently and do a set in sequined suits of just this sort of music. If you can find any of their Red Knuckles recordings, they are great. When I first saw Commander Cody in about 1971 they were doing this stuff. Hot Rod Lincoln is from this era and style. Ok, that's enough for now. My wife says it's time for bed.
  10. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars
    Thanks Aaron!

    I knew that you'd come through... ;)

    You've given me some leads to work on. I used to have a nice Lefty Frizzel set that definitely had some do-able songs (hmmm, wonder where that disk wandered off too...).

    I'm gonna see what I can track down without breaking the bank, then make up some CDs for the guys to review. We're at that fun stage where everyone involved is coming up with suggestions to choose from...practice today should make for some interesting debate!
  11. I'll think of some more people and songs a little later. Got a lot to do today. My father was the first "hillbilly" DJ in Southern California, on KPRO in Riverside. Being an ex-Marine radioman from the mountains of Virginia with his right leg shot off didn't qualify him for Guadalcanal, but did qualify him to DJ and engineer for a radio station oriented to ex-pat Southerners. Near the end of the war his show was taken over by Tennessee Ernie Ford. I grew up on this music. I think it is ironic that at a time when the word b**r couldn't be used in a song on the Grand Ole Opry, Bob Wills was singing about alcoholism and cocaine addiction. Anyway, this is great fun music with a serious bent. The best resource is Bear Music out of Germany. They bought up all the old masters years ago and their productions are top notch, but very expensive. You can still find a lot of this stuff reasonably priced. If you can find a video of one of the performances by the "Maddox Brothers and Rose" from the '50s you will be amazed. She was a truly wild woman as a performer. Elvis and James Brown had nothing on her! Wish we were a little closer. I'd offer to play my 1954 Fender Dual Pro D8 steel guitar with the band.
  12. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars

    Heh. I wish you could play steel for us! Our guitar player is actually a bit of a weird musical savant...I work with him during the day, and he plays unbelieveable 70's southern rock style stuff, but grew up on ol' country classics and bluegrass. He's one of those guys who can pick up just about any instrument and do it well, and can play banjo, mando and does a right-good Tele style too.

    That's a great story about your dad...serious roots. I unfortunately grew up in a house that was either classical or 'big band'...although I did spend some time vacationing down in Tennessee back when I was in my mid-twenties and have gone to the 'modern' Opry along with all of the other notable spots in that area and saw as many bands as I could. I remember being amazed with the ability of the players I saw down south. My Telecaster loving was reinforced by that experience, but alas, I'm a much better bass player than guitar player.