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By B.B. King

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Playing—and embodying for audiences—both the brakeman and the hobo at the same time, Jimmie Rodgers manages to have things both ways, to switch between personalities but leave the listener recalling only the positive aspects of each. At just this time there also happened to be specific reasons why the brakeman and the hobo were less far apart than they had ever been. ” That term tramps is a sign of how some things had changed. There had been certain long-established distinctions among men and women of the road; terms such as hoboes, tramps, and vagrants all had specific shades of meaning, understood by others in transit and in many cases defined by the law, as well.

And there are many compilations and online downloads available of their hits. • Carson Robison: Far more of his recordings are out of print than in, but there is a cross-era sampling of his music on the CD Blue River Train and Other Cowboy and Country Songs (Jasmine, 2007). Meeting Jimmie Rodgers two Close to the Ground The Singing Brakeman “The Singing Brakeman” was both the first of the potent public identities that Jimmie Rodgers embodied and a moniker that would never leave him. Even after he had become uncomfortable with its implication that he was a parttime amateur performer, venue operators would continue to use the phrase in newspaper ads and handbills.

Jimmie is perfectly content in “ Moonlight and Skies” to have a pal named Blackie, a “lad with a true heart” who is shot dead while trying to pull off an armed robbery, go on to meet a sweetheart in heaven. ” You can easily imagine the audience laughing in recognition when they first heard that one. Jimmie’s songs and style built a strong sense of “us” all along the way, but with little corresponding sense of an excluded or repellent “them” to fight. He rarely got involved with politics, one known exception being his support for the mid-1920s Texas gubernatorial campaigns of Ma and Pa Ferguson, who were populist and fast and loose in ethics, but tellingly anti–Ku Klux Klan at a time when that organization was at the height of its racist influence.

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