Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Yodeling in reggae, R&B, classical music, etc.

Reggae, classical music, prog rock, R&B.... If you think that these genres are immune to the influx of yodeling, then think again. 

Alpine yodeling originated in Europe, but in the United States we associate it almost exclusively with country and western music. From the lazy "blue yodel" of Jimmie Rodgers to the Alpine-style yodeling of singing cowboys like Roy Rogers and Elton Britt and country singers like Kenny Roberts, yodeling has become a part of the country music tradition. 

Yodeling isn't confined to country music and traditional Swiss music, though. Today on Music Weird, we'll look at some examples of yodeling outside of country music and traditional European music. 

If you're interested in reading more about yodeling than you ever thought was even possible, the book Yodel-Ay-Ee-Oooo: The Secret History of Yodeling Around the World (pictured above) by Bart Plantenga is pretty exhaustive. It's out of print, but you can still find affordable copies floating around. 

Classical music yodeling

On her album Yodelling the Classics, Mary Scheider yodels tunes such as the William Tell Overture. 

Reggae yodeling

"Country reggae" is an actual thing. In 1997, Trojan Records released a limited-edition 3-disc box set of reggae artists performing classic country songs (Trojan Country Reggae Box Set). A similar single-disc collection called The Reggae Country Collection followed. 

Several reggae recordings feature yodeling. One example is Leroy Gibbs' "Yodel Reggae" from 1987 and another is Ashton "Peanuts" Davis' "Jailhouse Yodel" from the 1970s.  

R&B yodeling

R&B singer Billy Williams, who had his biggest hit with "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter" in 1957, was also a yodeler. He recorded this version of "Cattle Call" in 1953. (Music Weird previously featured this recording in a post on Western recordings by African-American artists.)

Rock and roll yodeling

Johnny Wildcard recorded "Rock and Roll Yodel" in 1962. The song was written by Billy Barton, who also wrote the 1953 country chart-topper "A Dear John Letter" by Ferlin Husky and Jean Shepard. This appears to be Wildcard's only record.

Prog rock yodeling

The Dutch prog rock band Focus had a hit in 1971 with "Hocus Pocus," which features yodeling. 

Club/dance yodeling

The Austrian group Edelweiss recorded this club/dance tune, "Bring Me Edelweiss," in 1988. It prominently features yodeling. The chorus is similar to ABBA's "SOS."


Pop yodeling

Many pop artists over the years have known how to yodel, even if they didn't do it very often. Patti Page, for example, could yodel, as heard on her 1951 recording of the Patsy Montana song "I Want to Be a Cowboy's Sweetheart."

Ronnie Ronald, the British music hall artist, was a whistler and yodeler who combined the two on his 1958 recording "The Whistling Yodeller." He does some yodeling on this 1949 recording of "The Windmill Song."

Occasionally, pop artists sang about yodeling without actually yodeling. The Andrews Sisters' 1947 recording "Toolie Oolie Doolie (Yodel Polka)" contains no yodeling and isn't a polka. 

1 comment:

  1. On Monday, 29 August 2016, in a ceremony on the Main Stage, officiated by Bob Everhart, president of the National Traditional Country Music Association, James Adelsberger was presented the Rural Roots Music Commission’s 2106 “Instrumental CD of the Year” Award, and Mike Johnson, Country Music's No.1 Black Yodeler, was presented with the “Lifetime Achievement” Award for his decades of country music involvement.

    James Adelsberger & Mike Johnson

    Instrumental CD of the Year & Lifetime Achievement awards

    Joe Arnold, manager, Roughshod Records P.O. Box 100933 Arlington Va. 22210