WTM #1084: Yodeling Wanda Jackson

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wReck thiS meSS ~ Radio Patapoe 88.3
Amsterdam ~ Ethno-Illogical Psycho-Radiographies
8 February 2010 // 16.30-18.30


“A hard-headed woman and a soft-hearted man / been causing trouble ever since the world began / Well, a hard-headed woman is a thorn in the side side of a man…”
• Wanda Jackson

“When you meet Wanda she really a sweet lady with a nasty voice.”
An early journalist’s assessment of WJ

Just Another Broken Heart > The Carter Family [Flowers in Wildwood / Trikont]
Round Up Time in Texas > Girls of the Golden West [Flowers in Wildwood / Trikont]
Meditation/Funnel of Love > b/art Radio / Wanda Jackson
Feudin’ And Fightin’ > McKinney Sisters w Bob Wills
You Bug Me Bad > Wanda Jackson [Let’s Have a Party / Charly vinyl]
Who Shot Sam > Wanda Jackson [Let’s Have a Party / Charly vinyl]
My Poncho Pony > Patsy Montana [Flowers in Wildwood / Trikont]
Cowboy Yodel > Wanda Jackson
Honey Dont’ > Wanda Jackson [Let’s Have a Party / Charly vinyl]
Go To Sleep My Darling > Dezurik Sisters [Flowers in Wildwood / Trikont]
Wanda Jackson Documentary > Wanda Jackson [Youtube]
I’m Gonna Round Up My Blues > Carolina Cotton [Yodeling Blonde Bombshell /Kit Fox]
Tater Pie > Carolina Cotton [Yodeling Blonde Bombshell /Kit Fox]
Let’s Have a Party > Collin Kids
Let’s have a Party (Loving You Movie Part 2) > Elvis Presley
Let’s Have a Party > Wanda Jackson [Let’s Have a Party / Charly vinyl]
Rock Your Baby > Wanda Jackson [Let’s Have a Party / Charly vinyl]
I Betcha My Heart I Love Ya > Laura Lee McBride w Bob Wills
Boogie, Woogie Yodeler Blues > Margo Smith [Swiss Cowboy & Country / Cammeron]
I Betcha My Heart I Love Ya > Wanda Jackson  [Theme song on the radio????]
Rosetta > Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys [The Voice & Band of Bob Wills / Pickwick vinyl]
Bring it on down to my house honey > Rose Maddox with the Maddox Brothers
Big Moon > Patsy Montana w the Prairie Ramblers
Cherokee Maiden > Rose Maddox with the Maddox Brothers
Wanda Jackson Interview 22.01.10 > Wanda Jackson
Swiss Cowboy or Country > Margo Smith [Swiss Cowboy & Country / Cammeron]
Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On > Wanda Jackson [Let’s Have a Party / Charly vinyl]
Lonesome Whistle > Hank Williams [25 original Recordings / Rolled gold]
Riot in Cellblock No. 9 > Wanda Jackson [Let’s Have a Party / Charly vinyl]
9 No. Cellblock in Riot [Backmasked] > Wanda Jackson [Let’s Have a Party / Charly vinyl]
Rotation Blues > Elton Britt [Stars & Stripes Forever / Cattle]
Six Pack to Go > Hank Thompson (1925-2007)
Interview With Wanda Jackson January 2010
Hop, Skip and Jump > Collin Kids
Hard Headed Woman > Wanda Jackson [Let’s Have a Party / Charly vinyl]
Cowpoke > Elton Britt [Stars & Stripes Forever / Cattle]
Blue Yodel #6 > Wanda Jackson [live]
Yodel boogie > Rosalie Allen [Hillbilly Yodel Star of the 1940s / Cattle]
Fujiyama Mama > Wanda Jackson [Let’s Have a Party / Charly vinyl]
Honey Bop > Wanda Jackson [Let’s Have a Party / Charly vinyl]
Blue Yodel #6  > Wanda Jackson
Cocaine Blues > Hank Thompson
Fallstaff Beer-commercial > Hank Thompson

In January I had the nervous pleasure and honor of interviewing the gracious Wanda Jackson, who is still full of spunk and brimstone. What makes her interesting is, of course, she was the first female rock star, billed the “Female Elvis” during her first tours, when she was still being chaperoned and chauffeured to gigs by her dad because she was still under age.

She was a pioneer in the same spirit as Patsy Montana – a woman in a man’s world. Both were women with appreciable gifts that allowed their excellence to supersede and conquer any sexist misgivings there may have been. She did allude to various occasions when she was perceived as a threat to the male dominated country / rock and roll worlds. This is something Dolly Parton also had to deal with, the idea of beauty as a kind of trump card that also serves as an Achilles heel in that the beauty must be squashed by the men so that they did not have to compete with her “unfair advantage” and plainly her rockin’ dynamic stage act had a destabilizing effect on audiences akin to Hank Williams and Elvis. Where sexiness combined with entertaining talent serve up a potent evening’s fare.

She is also interesting because she embodies that struggle between earthly pleasures and the pursuit of a more spiritual life. You see, she was no ordinary singer, she was one of the foxiest rockers to ever set high-heeled foot on stage. She just exuded such sex appeal that even Elvis came a courtin’ in the mid-1950s. She  knew how to frame her curves, knew how to accent her beautiful face with makeup without ever coming on too strong. Although her beauty probably was a liability in some circles such as the Grand Ole Opry where her beauty was so provocative she was prevented from performing her hot, addled, insinuating rockers that came with a variety of shimmying, shaking bodily parts that was the female equal of any Elvis provocation to censorship.

She became a devout Christian in the early 1970s, gave up the rockin’ numbers, sang messages of the lord, sometimes yodeling. But regardless of her spiritual intent she could not shake the fact that she was a provocative bodily presence on stage and eventually she began returning some of her crowd-pleasing rockers in her repertoire. This created a special excitement for audiences because she was officially in denial of the seductive, salacious connotations of rock and roll but had to give in at some point and address this aspect of her stage presence so she came up with a fairly satisfying blend of devoutness with a tendency to insinuate the sin with double entendres, a wink here, a quick shake of the hips there. And at 75-ish she is still able to hold her own on stage. She can still perform the breathless numbers and she can still reach the high notes in her yodel.

The profile-interview will be featured in my new book Yodel in HiFi. But here is a small hors d’oeuvre.

WJ: Some of the advice I give young singers if they ask if I have any tips these days these days and I say “Yeah, don’t forget your foreign fans cuz they’ll come when you’re gonna need them. … I was just fortunate that they didn’t forget me and I started building on that In America for 10 or 15 years there just wasn’t much work for country singers. And that’s when I was invited to Scandinavia and did an album and they put a 3-week tour together. I had fans but I no idea I had that many fans in Europe. So I worked primarily Scandinavia and Europe from 85 to 95.
WTM: A lot of the 100 yodelers I’ve interviewed over the years say there’s something special going on when they’re yodeling – their consciousness changes or they get kind of high – I haven’t pinned down exactly what that is due to, the yodeling itself, the breathing…
WJ: It bubbles up joy in yuh.
WTM: That’s what they say.
WJ: I don’t do real fancy yodeling. I have one gospel song that has a Swiss yodel in it.
WTM: Which one is that?
WJ: I have to think about it… “Light’s/Life’s Journey”

This show featured a crammed selection of her hits, her yodel numbers and some yodels and songs by her contemporaries and people who influenced her. As she pointed out, she was influenced by Patsy Montana, but I also hear the Girls of the Golden West and the Cackle Sisters in the crisp dynamics and joyous outbursts. One of my all-time favorites from the genre is the much under-appreciated Carolina Cotton: great looker “The Blonde Bombshell” but also wrote great insinuating and thoroughly inventive songs and her yodeling sounded effortless. It was an octave better than all of her contemporaries. Another feisty woman was Rose Maddox who had an influential group with her brothers. All of these performers, had a kinetic take on country & Western [or cowboy], giving it a modern level of impatience, of tension between growing up and grown up, between knowing and hoping. She saw Rose Maddox perform and I think she and Hank Thompson were her two big influences; Thompson because he saw talent and gave her a chance to develop that as her mentor. Others mentioned include Hank Williams, Elton Britt, Elvis, the Collins Kids, Laura Lee McBride and Rosalie Allen, all of whom were either contemporaries or sounds floating around in her immediate surroundings. Margo Smith she mentioned as a yodeler she admires…

All of these people will find their way into YODEL IN HIFI


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