In my continued efforts to repel as many hits as possible to this blog, (hardy harr) I’ve developed a slight interest in country yodeling. Over the weekend I added Hank Snow to my music collection and today Jimmie Rodgers. Does anyone know how yodeling came to American country music from the Swiss music tradition? I know this topic is bound to get lots of interest. Found this on an article called “Will there be yodeling in heaven?” by Bart Plantenga:
The confluence of hillbilly or cowboy music and yodeling happens somewhere in mid-Pennsylvania among the speedbumps heading into the Appalachian foothills. Here in the early 1800s the British and Irish settlers met their new neighbors, German immigrants — carriers of the yodeling tradition.
As many of them migrated further south, into the Virginia Appalachians and beyond, they met Scandinavians (practictioners of a unique yodeling called kölning). Add to that French, Caribbean, Mexican, and African influences and you have the setting for the birth of hillbilly yodeling. Along the way German ur-memories of yodeling converted hollers into something more musical (see Howard Finster), then blending with Irish narrative ballads.
Note the mountain settings and that cowboys are herders, too — lonesome and dangerous work like the shepherds’. In 1905, Emma B. Miles wrote in The Spirit of the Mountains : ” [He] conquers his chosen bit of wilderness…fighting and praying. His are the adventures of which future ballads will be sung…His first songs are the yodel. Then he learns…songs of fighting and drinking.”
I said to Martha just the other day, “I’ll bet I could be the next country star by reintroducing yodeling! It’s coming back dear!”
“Yeh,” she replied with a wry smile, “You do that!” Seriously though, we both thoroughly enjoyed Hank Snow this weekend. Did you know that Bob Dylan’s extended story songs were obviously influenced by Hank Snow?