Blue Ridge Mountain Blues
DESCRIPTION: "When I was young and in my prime, I left my home in Caroline, Now all I do is sit and pine, For those folks I left behind. I've got the Blue Ridge Mountain blues." The singer longs for home, and dreams of the aged parents at home whom he will soon see
AUTHOR: unknown (see NOTES)
EARLIEST DATE: 1924 (recordings, George Reneau [in April], Riley Puckett [in September])
KEYWORDS: separation home travel father mother nonballad homesickness home return reunion travel family dog
FOUND IN: US(SE)
REFERENCES (2 citations):
BrownIII 401, "Blue Ridge Mountain Blues" (1 text)
BrownSchinhanV 401, "Blue Ridge Moountain Blues (1 tune plus a text excerpt)
Bill Cox, "Blue Ridge Mountain Blues" (Conqueror 8232, 1933; Banner 32941/Perfect 12969, 1934)
Vernon Dalhart, "Blue Ridge Mountain Blues" (Banner 1611, 1925) (Challenge 164/Challenge 314, 1927; rec. 1925) (Broadway 8061, n.d.)
Sid Harkreader, "Blue Ridge Mountain Blues" (Vocalion 15193, 1926)
Al Hopkins & his Buckle-Busters, "Blue Ridge Mountain Blues" (Brunswick 180, 1927) [Hopkins had recorded the song with the Hill Billies in 1926, but I don't have the release number]
Wade Mainer, "Blue Ridge Mountain Blues" (Blue Ridge 109)
Charlie Newman, "Blue Ridge Mountain Blues" (OKeh 45184, 1928; rec. 1927)
Riley Puckett, "Blue Ridge Mountain Blues" (Columbia 254-D, 1924; Harmony 5127-H, n.d.) (Bluebird B-6196, 1935)
George Reneau (with uncredited vocals by Gene Austin), "Blue Ridge Blues" (Vocalion 14815, 1924)
Ernest V. Stoneman, "Blue Ridge Mountain Blues" (Okeh 45009, 1925)
Doc Watson, "Blue Ridge Mountain Blues" (on RitchieWatsonCD1)
cf. "Where Is My Wandering Boy Tonight?" (quoted)
NOTES: The only authorship claim I've personally found for this lists it as copyright 1958 by Bill Clifton and Buddy Dee. Clifton, however, was born in 1931, and Riley Puckett recorded the song in 1924, so this claim is demonstrably false. Paul Stamler found it credited to Bill Cox, which is at least chronologically possible though he seems to have recorded it relatively late.
Jaan Kolk writes, "[Reneau's] earliest (known) recording credits 'Carson' as the songwriter on the disk label. Joop's page [http://jopiepopie.blogspot.ca/2013/06/blue-ridge-mountain-blues-1924.html] says (without reference) that the songwriter was Cliff Hess under the pseudonym Cliff Carson.This is plausible, as Hess did write songs, and other sources mention that it was Hess, as A&R man for Vocalion who did not like Reneau's voice and brought in Gene Austin to do the singing. Since both Austin and Hess worked for Victor as well, they might not have wanted their names on the label. I can find no other reference to Hess using that (or any other) pseudonym, however. When I saw the name 'Carson' I thought of Fiddlin' John Carson (from Georgia) who wrote a great many songs without filing copyright. But that is pure speculation on my part.
"Another site, http://www.paulcastlemusic.com/blue-ridge-mountain-blues.html attribute the statement that Hess wrote the song using the pseudonym Carson to musician and writer Kinney Rorer (great nephew of Posey Rorer)." Kolk does wonder, however, if Hess would have failed to put his name on a song that proved so popular.
I note also that the earliest recordings I've heard (Reneau's of 1924 and the Al Hopkins cut of 1926/1927) use a tune not quite the same as that generally heard in bluegrass circles today. Bill Monroe was surely responsible for popularizing the modified tune, but I don't know if he created it. - RBW
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