Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mac and Slim: Decca 1937


On the left is copy of a Decca 78 recorded by Clayton McMichen in 1939 at the last Decca session. This medley of fiddle tunes is one of six fiddle tune medleys (18 tunes) all done at the last session.

In 1937 McMichen landed a recording contract with Decca. On July 27, 1937 The Wildcats headed for New York where they recorded Farewell Blues; In The Pines; Chicken Don’t Roost Too High; I Want My Rib; Georgiana Moon; Bile Dem Cabbage Down; Sweet Bunch Of Daisies; Frankie and Johnny; Under The Old Kentucky Moon; and Yum Yum Blues.

According to Merle Travis and Charles Wolfe he was present at the recording session. Merle said that his first recording session was playing guitar on McMichen’s recording of “Farewell Blues.” According to Rich Kienzle article on Slim Bryant: Slim, Loppy and Kenny Newton reunited with Mac that summer. Gary Cinell and also Tony Russell do not list Travis as being part of the session.

In my last interview I told Slim the songs on the session he said, "I played on all them." When I asked Slim about Merle he said, "Merle wasn't there." [Juanita confirms: She was with Mary Jane (Slim's wife) who was sick with euremic poisoning, while Mac and Slim were in NYC recording.]

Several songs from this session have become old-time standards. McMichen's "Georgiana Moon" is a fiddle standard today. According to Mac: "It was one of the most beautiful tunes I ever wrote in my life. We were going to get rich off it- huh! We didn't sell enough to pay for the first pressing. I got about 75-80 cents for writing it."

Mac and Slim also wrote lyrics for the tune and included them in their 1934 songbook. I also used Georgiana Moon as of the melodies I selected to arrange and record for my Mel Bay book, "American Fiddle Tunes for Acoustic Guitar." The book features fingerstyle arrangements of fiddle tunes.

More to come,


1 comment:

wrightgayle said...

if jimmie rodgers wasnt a great miscian,i wonder why so many tried to copy him