WRECK: Black & Blue Yodelers
- wReck thiS meSS ~ Radio Patapoe 97.2 ~ Amsterdam
Ethno-Illogical Psycho-Radiographies: no. 280: Black & Blue Yodels
streaming via internet:
"I am the tallest Pygmy in this life"
o Francis Bebey
"I got to know blues music when I was 14 or 15 years old, mostly from
the American Forces Network. I had a transistor radio and listened to
it for hours at night, with the radio hidden under my pillow."
o Wim Wenders
"I think yodel music is gonna be the rap of the late '90s"
o Tori Spelling, of "Beverly Hills 90210" fame
24 January 2005 / 17-19.00
Umbo Weti > Leon Thomas 
No Dog Jazz > Adrian Sherwood 
The Tarzan Yell > Johnny Weismuller 
Rev. Beck's Place > Francis Bebey 
The Tarzan Yell > Johnny Weismuller 
Masakhane > Miriam Makeba 
Black Yodel No. 1 > Mike Johnson 
BBC Rooftop Yodel > Serena Dankwa 
Swiss Maid (Yodel Song) > Fred & Adele Astaire 
Yodel Mountain > Bob Wills & Carolina Cotton 
H.O.B.O. > Goebel Reeves 
The Whistling Bird > Lottie Kimbrough & Winston Holmes 
The Cowboy > Slim Gaillard & His Atomic Engineers 
Yodeling Fiddling Blues > Mississippi Sheiks 
Cool Drink of Water Blues > Tommy Johnson 
T For Texas > McDonald Craig 
Mule Skinner Blues > Jose Felciano 
The Tarzan Yell > Johnny Weismuller 
Lovesick Blues > Emmett Miller 
Spaced Cowboy > Sly & the Family Stone 
Potholes in my Lawn > De La Soul 
Cowboys > the Fugees 
Something in my Heart > Barrington Levy 
Whoa Buck > C.B. "88" Cook 
Anyway > Laura Love 
The Tarzan Yell > Johnny Weismuller 
Hum Allah > Leon Thomas & Pharoah Sanders 
The Tarzan Yell > Johnny Weismuller 
Cara Mia > Bobby McFerrin 
Sonnymoon for Two > Eddie Harris 
The Ignorant Version > Adrian Sherwood 
The Cowboy > Slim Gaillard & His Atomic Engineers 
"...I wandered through the lofty solitude of an upland vale in Uri.
In broad daylight from a hanging pasture-land came shouting the
shrill jodel of a cowherd, sent forth across the broadening valley;
from the other side anon there answered it, athwart the monstrous
silence, a like exultant herd-call: the echo of the towering mountain
walls here mingled in; the brooding valley leapt into the merry lists
of sound. so understands the yearning youth the whistling wind,
the howling hurricane, till over him there comes the dreamlike state
in which the ear reveals to him the inmost essence of all his eye had
held suspended in the cheat of scattered show, and tells him that his
inmost being is one therewith, that only in this wise can the Essence
of things without be learnt in"
o Richard Wagner
 "Leon Thomas in Berlin" BMG/Bluebird <www.bluebirdjazz.com>
rerelease. Excellent example of Thomas' energy, working here with
Oliver Nelson and brilliantly yodeling his head off. Incredible
channeling of Pygmy spirit voices that come in loud and clear over
the transmitter implanted in the late Leon Thomas's soul. If you want
to hear the future of vocals you're gonna have to go back to 1969
here. The yodeling is nothing short of mind-boggling [I assume you
still have one to boggle].
 "Never Trust a Hippy" on Real World. Check this for complete AS
<www.onusound.co.uk>. Great solo project by AS that combines world
music with lots of trademark dub effects, industrial waste and
inspired sample reuse including some nice S.E. Rogie and various
Pygmy yodel sample reprocessing.
 Honorary jungle comrade. Noble savage, conservationist,
metaphorical colonialist, erotic male, Olympic champion swimmer who
used his brother's American passport to compete for US, underwear
model, and inventor of arguably one of the most famous yodels in the
 "Lambarene Scheweitzer" on Adami. FB was one of the most
interesting of yodelers: musicologist, poet, novelist, archivist, who
was able to fuse ethnic African sounds with Western music before
there even was World Music. He was one of the main inspirations for
my yodeling book.
 "A Summer with Culture" on Culture Records
<culture.record@...> MM, a mega-star singer who crossed over
into Western charts in the 1960s she does some yodeling here on this
Juju-guitar tinged composition that exudes joy and triumph. This
politically active anti-apartheid singer was introduced to Western
audiences by Harry Belafonte.
 "Mike Johnson Black Yodel No. 1" on Roughshod, 1993
<http://hometown.aol.com/blackyodelno1/myhomepage> Altho Mike Johnson
[b. 13 June 1946, Washington, D.C.] may be the self-declared "Country
Music's No.1 Black Yodeler" he has some rights to that claim. He is a
yodeler of both soul and finesse and that he is basically still
ignored by the country bigwigs and Nashville schmaltz producers is
probably what simultaneously saves him from drowning in pap and syrup
but it also condemns him to a marginality that spells neglect that we
thought the Outlaws had undone in the late 70s. Things change but
basically stay even more the same as before. This truck drivin'
yodelin' guitar-playin' is not only a singer and promoter of the
oppressed in country music [basically blacks] but he has the
evangelical zeal to prove to anyone that yodeling is more than just a
call, gimmick, or attention-getting device. He's got the rigor, joy,
intensity and sense of indignation to set the music on fire and let
the yodel be heard in all its octaval richness. A man who has lived a
rich, adventurous life that has had its fill of tragedy, one can't
but hear that brimming in the music. He joined the Navy as a
Cryptologist and served two tours in Vietnam including the Gulf of
Tonkin, and it is here, ironically, that he really started playing
guitar. "I played local bars and pubs in the area, and on a lot of
camping trips singing to the rabbits and the squirrels and raccoons.
Ha. The guys in the troop liked it but I really wasn't all that good.
What really went over was that I knew the songs." The songs of Hank
Williams, Roy Acuff, Jimmie Rodgers, Gene Autry, Johnny Cash, and,
Roger Miller. In the Navy he met his teacher Nickki. They "hit it off
because we both liked Hank Williams and Roger Miller and beer! he
thought I had rgw 'potential to be a good hillbilly singer'.
Mike actually wrote his first song in 1957 and began performing
around the mid-60s and wrote a few tunes. Mostly it was his lyrics to
the compositions of Roger Miller, Johnny Cash His interest in
Country Music was influenced by the Western Music of the Singing
Cowboys who ruled the Silver Screen during the 1940s and '50s. Gene
Autry, Rex Allen, Tex Ritter, Herb Jeffries, and Roy Rogers. Camping
took them places where the only music heard was Country. "I fell in
love with the Steel Guitar and Fiddle kickoffs and turn-a-rounds." He
says. "It was similar to Western Music but much more personal, deeper
and soulful that had a way of reachin' in a grabbin' you.
Particularly Hank's wailing tear jerkers. Roger Miller made you feel
good about bad situations. Chris Kristofferson songs cornered your
emotions and Johnny Cash made my blood rush. I found it! I loved it!
And I wasn't gonna turn it loose!" He wrote JUST A NOBODY his first
yodeling song in the early 1970s. Did his first recording sessions in
1981 in Nashville and got some of the songs placed in several local
In 1986 Mike released "MIKE JOHNSON, BLACK YODEL NO.1." with the
[single] I BELIEVE IN ROY ROGERS "and boy did it take off!" as he
began selling his cassettes along his long haul trucking routes in
truck stops "from Texas to Tennessee and the Carolinas to Chicago."
Even though giants like Bill Monroe and Bob Ellis were singing some
of his songs, progress was not noticeable. He emerged in 1993 with
over 600 new songs - sometimes writing some 12 songs per day! -
giving him a total of more than 1200 songs. He quickly went to work
and released his fourth and final Cassette Album, BLACK YODEL NO.1,
THE SONG, THE SONGWRITER,, which was rereleased in the early 1990s as
a CD. It was the grueling trucking schedules that put him on the map
and established him as a true indie self-made country singer of
talent. In 1986 he formed Roughshod Records and You And Me Publishing
in 1987 for his Gospel and middle of the road songs. In January 1995
Mike created the Top-Rail Chatter, the Independent's Country Music
Magazine to promote Traditional Country Music and Independent
artists, writers, and performers. Mike's yodeling has that effortless
air that seems to combine joy and tragedy, mayhem and soul and sounds
like Jimmie Rodgers and Swiss style - plaintive, acrobatic, and
organic [not gimmicky]. He is now known simply as "Black Yodel No.1".
He learned to yodel from Johnny Weissmuller, "Weissmuller's Tarzan
wasn't faithful to Burroughs original character, but his movies were
exciting and his yell became a world-wide trademark that spawned
millions of imitators. Including me! It was a natural high! I
practiced it so much that my mother even threatened to send me to
Africa! It even became my trademark for a long while. Know what that
does in a rowdy, beer drinking bar full of drunks. So when I began
doing the yodeling songs of Jimmie, Gene and Roy, it came kinda
natural. Tarzan had taught me!" [Info Joe Arnold, Roughshod Records
 "Radio 4 World Roots" on BBC, 06.03.04. SD was my gracious and
beautiful yodeling hostess who yodeled from the BBC rooftop and was
heard despite urban din. We were forced by the producer to do the
yodel book interview outdoors in winter, battling gusts and shivers.
 "Fascinating Rhythm: Complete Recordings Vol. 1, 1923-1930,
Naxos, 2000. Featuring Adele Astaire, includes: "Swiss Maid (Yodel
Song)" [Gershwin & Gershwin], 1927, with Adele doing some intense
compressed yodeling. Neither FA nor AA were black but he did dance
and song routines that were influenced by black vaudevillians.
Sometimes described as dancing like a black man.
 "Westward Ho!" on Camay vinyl. Collection of cowboy standards.
Although Wills could yodel he usually kept it to a truncated heey
haw, leaving the yodeling to Tommy Duncan, the Girls from the Golden
West or in this case the wonderfully gifted Carolina Cotton.
 Goebel Reeves [born 1899, died 26 January 1959] was a true
rambling rambunctious characters who acquired the nickname Texas
Drifter. Although not at all born poor, Reeves was touched by the
hobos and thus gave up a comfortable life for the hobo lifestyle
turning to music after hearing vaudevillian singer-yodeler Al Wilson
who first taught him to yodel. In 1917, he joined the army (initially
as a bugler) and saw action in Europe, where he was wounded and upon
return to the US became a hobo, singing on street corners. He was a
teller of tall tales and a hellraiser who insisted that HE taught
Jimmie Rodgers how to yodel. He made his first recordings for OKeh
Records in San Antonio, in 1929. Penning countless songs himself
until his death, mostly about hobo living, loneliness and having no
family life. In 1939 he shipped out to Japan, where he worked with
The Industrial Workers of the World. Many of his songs, especially
"Hobo's Lullaby" (later also popularised by Woody Guthrie) have been
recorded by countless others. His "Station HOBO Calling" is one of
his best. Here he affects the voice of a southern black man in a
typical blackface manner of the time who details his dislike for
police and authority and touts a kind of idealized hobo-anarchist
 Another underrated and under-documented singer,
jack-of-all-musical-trades. Winston Holmes was one of the first black
record label owners, a pianist of some regard, a whistler, singer,
and a yodeler.
 Gaillard should get more press and accolades than he does. This
hipster, singer, songwriter was known for his gift of extemporaneous
neologisms, a kind of hipster babble that put him in the realm of the
best of the jivers - a kind of mix of scat, scatology, early
rapsterisms, something that amuses me about Lee Scratch Perry. Babble
that eventually goes beyond logic and gathers critical mass to become
meaningful. Funny coincidence, I am in the early stages of
interviewing that great band FSK who have managed to reinvent
yodeling via reprocessed and sampled yodeling. Thomas of FSK recently
noted in an email: "I know slim gaillard, met him in person in the
eighties in london, interviewed him for my radio show, had him booked
to a german jazz festival, he also plays a major role in my novel
"hellblau'" (2001). yodel on!"
 "American Yodeling: 1911-1946" on Trikont. They don't get much
better than this. With intelligent liner notes by Christoph Wagner. A
great introduction to early American yodeling.
 Tommy Johnson [1896-1956] Mississippi singer-yodeler, one of
thirteen children, learned to sing and play from other family members
in this very musical family. As an alcoholic [drinking Sterno this
his "Canned Heat Blues"] and womanizing married man, he took to
rambling around Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, eventually
settled down to become a sharecropper, playing at parties on the
weekends or on the streets of Jackson. First recorded in 1928. Known
for his spine-tingling falsetto and eerie yodels and a sinister
albeit manufactured persona and guitar-playing acrobatics that might
be compared to Hendrix.
 "Three Country Music Yodelers" on Roughshod
<BlackYodelNo1@...> Includes 2 numbers each by 3 black country
yodelers including Mike Johnson. Although Stoney Edwards was a
formidable voice, a songwriter who had 15 Billboard singles, he
remains relatively obscure. Could it be the combination of being a
black country singer and the fact that he yodels? McDonald Craig's
yodel is heavily influenced by Jimmie rodgers, who was himself very
much influenced by black railroad workers and itinerant musicians.
Released 4 albums on Gold Standard in the 1960s won first place at
the 1978 Annual Jimmie Rodgers Yodeling Contest in Meridian
Mississippi. The only black man to ever do so.
 "The Voice and Guitar of Jose Feliciano" on RCA vinyl. Not black
but singing in that idiom, as a kind of blind [slick] blues-folk
troubadour. He is better than the cliched hit "Light My Fire" which
made him and snuffed out any possibility for a really serious career.
 "The Minstrel Man from Georgia" on Columbia 1996.
Under-regarded blackface singer, yodeler. Lent his sinister voice to
the benchmark version of "Lovesick Blues" which it is said Hank
Williams used as his vocal blueprint. To read more about this
complicated and mysterious American performer who may have even
taught Jimmie Rodgers an octave leap or 2 read the excellent "Where
Dead Voices Gather" by Nick Tosches.
 "There's a Riot Goin' On" on Epic, 1971. That Sly to me is the
epitome of cool is proof positive that yodeling has always been hip
and misunderstood as was he. Perhaps the definitive musician,
cultural icon who combined funk and psychedelia, family of man /
black consciousness and yodeling. His was not mere ornamentation as
he was known as a wild radio DJ who would yodel between tunes late at
 "3 Feet Hi and Rising" on Tommy Boy. Barmy combination of street
rimes, countrified nods, wacked lyrics, fun and edginess making it a
landmark rap disc which of course includes some sampled Parliament
 "The Score" on Columbia. Another landmark hiphop disc, with some
stabs at cultural and political relevance, anger, indignation but
without all of the annoying gangster pomposity.
 "Turning Point" on Greensleeves, 1992. Used to roam the Jamaican
hillsides as a youth, yodeling. Is known as the "Blue Mountain
 "Presenting the Alan Lomax Collection" Tangle Eye Remix on CRS
<www.continental.nl> <news@...>. This song goes a long way
toward proving my premise that yodeling very likely came to the New
World via the earliest slave ships. This collection once again proves
that the recorder [white] almost always is projected as more
important than the actual music he recorded.
 "Pangaea" Nebraskan Love does a distinctive and kinetically
rambunctious fusion of "Afro-celtic hip-alacian" music that is
punctuated by some mighty effective yodels.
 "The Best of Pharoah Sanders" on Impulse vinyl, 1972. This was
probably the second jazz disc I bought after "Memphis Underground" by
Herbie Mann. Still an incredible breathtaking tower of sound and
inspiration. Includes many of Leon Thomas' longer collaborative
pieces with PS including "Hum Allah" as a remnant of the "Back to
Africa" movement when all good creative blacks of calibre rejected
their slave names and adopted black names. LT wrote the lyrics to
"Creator Has a Master Plan" as well. One of the regrets of my book on
yodeling is not having started a year or 2 earlier so I could have
interviewed LT before he died a kind of pauper's death in a crummy
Bronx hospital pretty much alone.
 Not exactly a yodeler but in among all his scatty
pyro-lingual-gymnastics one senses an inadvertent yodel gesture from
time to time.
 "A Tale of Two Cities" on Hyena<www.hyenarecords.com> Eddie
Harris became famous for doing the soundtrack to - I think - Exodus.
This gained him the ire of his fellow serious boppers and jazz
musicians. He never quite recovered although he was a tireless
inventor of sounds and instruments that stretched the sound of jazz.
He also did a healthy bit of scat that often veers off into yodeling.
o I am currently putting together some very different collections of
yodels for some yodel compilations. I expect them to be convincing
evidence that yodeling is neither marginal nor trivial.
o I am also helping in the development of 2 documentary films on
yodeling, one by a Dutch filmmaker who made his mark with his recent
RECORDINGS, non-nonsense stationary camera portraits of people [Dutch
and various refugees, immigrants, etc] singing songs from their
native cultures. He also did a wonderful portrait of the recently
deceased illustrator Max Velthuis.
o Further, I will be coming to the US to lecture, read from
YODEL-AY-EE-OOOO and cause some octaval mayhem in Madison, Wis.; Ann
Arbor; Indiana; NYC [@ KGB & BPC] and who knows where else. Each
reading gig I do I need live epiglottally stimulated yodelers to help
out with the yodeling gymnastic. If you are an interested in-the-area
yodeler, please contact me.
o Much of the info comes from my book: Yodel-Ay-Ee-Oooo: The Secret
History of Yodeling Around the World [Routledge 2004 342p. illus.
bibliog. index. ISBN 0-415-93990-9. $21.95]. Although the book was
far from complete. I already have enough for a second volume
tentatively titled YODELING IN HI FI.
o "YODEL-AY-EE-OOOO is an amazing, wild, and wonderful book. If
there's anything to be known about yodeling since the dawn of
recorded time, Bart Plantenga knows it, and he knows how to write
about it - wisely, humorously, and stylishly."
-- Nolan Porterfield, Author of JIMMIE RODGERS: The Life and Times of
America's Blue Yodeler
The Wire [UK], Feb. 2004: "Plantenga has compiled a book that will
be exceedingly difficult for future yodel researchers to improve
upon. Calling on his wide-ranging musical knowledge and extensive
research, Plantenga has gone far beyond the usual haunts - the Swiss
Alps, American hillbilly music, Tarzan flicks - to root out
yodeling's origins and musical offshoots everywhere a vocal cord has
ever vibrated, including such unlikely places as India, Brazil, and
central Africa. Irreverent and often self-deprecating he
nevertheless makes a powerful case for the vast (if "secret")
influence of yodeling on a large number of the world's vocal styles
what makes Plantenga's book a page-turner is the huge number of
sidebars and specialised discographies sprinkled generously
throughout the text. It contains as much information as you'd expect
in a serious scholarly study, but also reads as the work of a
completist tracing musical family trees and sonic obscurities around
the world; its glossaries, word games, and Eccentrics' Corners make
it eminently skimmable."
Yodel-Ay-Ee-Oooo is the first book to view yodeling as a global
phenomenon. It answers the question: How did a centuries-old Alpine
tradition make its way into American country music? Along the way,
the reader discovers that yodeling is not just a Swiss thing:
everyone from African Pygmies, rhinestone cow-people, avant-garde
tonsil-twisters, and Nazi Jugend SS, to pop stars like Jewel and Sly
& the Family Stone to Bollywood star Kishore Kumar have been known to
yodel. We encounter legends Jimmie Rodgers and Gene Autry, whistling
yodelers like Ronnie Ronalde, the chicken yodeling Cackle Sisters,
the campy "Australian Queen of Yodeling" Mary Schneider, and the Topp
Twins, a yodeling lesbian duo. Yodel-Ay-Ee-Oooo is the definitive
deep glimpse into this secret world-one the reader will explore with
great delight. For more info:
o Here are just some yodels or yodelers I am looking for. I am
willing to trade MP3s or CDs for any of the following:
o Gesshoku (Solar Eclipse) (1993), Media Ring -- MGCD-1002 by The
Super God Mountain Orchestra
o "Little Old Country Boy" > Parliament
o "Yodel reggae" Leroy Gibbs Muzik City: The Story of Trojan by
Various Artists [bieb has it] Box.
o "Dragostea Din Tei" sung - and yodeled - in Romanian by O-zone & Haiducii
o Tremeloes: "Yodel Ay
o Jimmy Rowles "The Peacocks", 1977 
o Johnny laat je jodel nog eens horen > the hilbillies
o "Jodel-Greetje" under their pseudonyms Jantje Hendrikx [husband of
Ria] & Ria Roda
o Mark Murphy [jazz] > Songs for the Geese
o Skip James > Yola my blues away
o (Yodel Blues) They Talk A Different Language >Jo Stafford and Johnny Mercer
o Dominican Republic, Allegro. "Yodel Merengue"
o Sergio mendes "jodel" / SE Rogie / Olivio Santoro / Limberugse
Zusjes / Takeo Ishi / Manke Nelis [Cornelis Pieters]
o And during the week of Jan 24-31 this collection of BLACK & BLUE
YODELERS [& SOME Imposters!!] was IN ROTATION during off-peak
non-live broadcasting [only on the web - still struggling to bring
the transmitter and antenna back into the air so we can finally fly
our Jolly Rodger and go full tilt again.
Pendulum WTM Intro > B/art
Greeting > Solo Burundi Girl
The Yodelin' Teacher > Goebel Reeves
Whoa Buck > C.B. '88' Cook
Mupepe > Zap Mama
I Want To Yodel > Josephine Baker
Jungle Roots Dub > Lee Perry & Mad Professor
The Hip Cowboy > Slim Gaillard
Spaced Cowboy > Sly & the Family Stone
Cowboys > The Fugees
Yeah, I'm A Cowboy > Mike Johnson
Lost Lover Blues > Lottie Kimbrough & Winston Holmes
I Asked For Water (She Gave Me Gasoline) > Howlin' Wolf
Big Road Blues > Tommy Johnson
Yodeling Fiddling Blues > Mississippi Sheiks
Something in My Heart > Barrington Levy
Anyway > Laura Love
Yodeling Blues > Sara Martin & Eva Taylor
billy holiday mess ID
Jimmie Rodgers Blues > Stoney Edwards
T - For Texas > McDonald Craig
Worried Devil Blues > Tampa Red
Sequence of Mebasi Yodeling > Gabon Pygmies
Pygmy Divorce Song > Francis Bebey
No Dog Barks > Dub Syndicate
So Wonderfully Big WTM ID > B/art vs Black Sifichi
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