September 24, 2016

Did you know John D. Loudermilk wrote all these songs... and do you, like me, know all these songs?

I'm reading the obituary of a man I'd never heard of, who died this week at the age of 82. I love the picture of him as a youngish man, pointing at his framed gold records. The songs are so varied, including things I heard on the radio when I wasn't even a teenager, like "A Rose and a Baby Ruth" (1956), "Sittin' in the Balcony" (Eddie Cochran!), "Abeline," "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye," and the unforgettable "Norman" (ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh):



Bill invited me to a show but I said no, cannot go/There's a dress that I've got to sew and wear for Norman...

Loudermilk had 2 of the most striking of the politically conscious songs of the later era: "Tobacco Road," based on "his poverty-stricken childhood in Durham, N.C.," a hit in 1964 for the British group called The Nashville Teens...



... and "Indian Reservation," a tribute to the Cherokee people and a hit for Paul Revere and the Raiders:

34 comments:

Sean Gleeson said...

Well, unlike you I did not know all of those songs, but I knew about half. And specifically, I about half-knew “Norman.” I have been hearing a slightly modified version of that song on the radio for about 20 years, ever since moving to Oklahoma City. The chorus (Norman, ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh) is the very catchy jingle for the “Mile of Cars” in Norman, Oklahoma. And until seeing that video you posted just now, I had no idea that it was based on a real song. Thanks.

Yancey Ward said...

I knew who he was and I am familiar with all those songs plus a few more. Loudermilk's work was pretty diverse for a songwriter.

Cacimbo Cacimbo said...

"a tribute to the Cherokee people"

Is that still how it is viewed today? Or as cultural appropriation, evil white men making money off of the their granddaddy's crimes against the Native American. I think attitudes have changed and their would be outrage today at a "white" band debuting this song. Portraying the white founding fathers as black and hispanic - very trendy and uber hip. White people so much as wearing dreadlock hairstyle during a fashion show - cultural theft that must be condemned.

Ann Althouse said...

Of course, singing about the Cherokee like that feels naive and wrong today. It kind of did at the time too. But at this point it's half-a-century-old pop culture.

coupe said...

I used to fly at Red Flag in Vegas every year, and saw all the acts. We would get free tickets from the USO. They'd even give us a van and an enlisted driver so we could get plastered on all the cheap booze.

There she was - Susan Thompson. Much shorter hair though. She had a real young band. The place was packed with blue hairs and Elvis groupies, but I loved the old Vegas shows. I know there was three acts, but she's the only doll I remember. She must have sung before I got plastered.

I haven't been there since the early 90's, but the shows were not as good as the 70's and 80's. The clubs were smaller, and more personal. You could meet the singers in the club before they went on. They didn't just appear from backstage.

Even Sinatra came in from the front door, and it took him half an hour just to get to the stage!

madAsHell said...

Did Ms. Susan Thompson go on to do voice work with Alvin and the Chipmunks?

As my whimsy leads me.. said...

In high school I adapted "Abilene" to my hometown, Aberdeen, Ohio."
"Aberdeen, Aberdeen, prettiest town that I've ever seen. It's a river town, but it sure is clean in Aberdeen, my Aberdeen."
That was my answer to some of the kids across the river in Maysville, Kentucky (where we lived then) who would chant, "Maysville, Maysville, keep it clean.,Throw your trash in Aberdeen!" They are essentially the same town, separated by the river and connected by a bridge. Minor geographic rivalries could be a big deal back then.

Toy

virgil xenophon said...

I'm sorry but cacimbo cacimbo is an idiot and his "cultural appropriation" BS simply CANNOT go unchallenged. Under his theory people "of color" wouldn't be able to use pianoes (sorry Count Basie and Duke Ellington) nor Cellos (sorry Yo Yo Ma) nor ride in cars, trains or airplanes, nor avail themselves of polio vaccines nor most of the other medical advances in the world--not to mention electricity, the telephone, tv, the steam engine, frozen foods, etc. because they were ALL invented by white people and emerged from an overwhelmingly white, European culture. I could go on for hours--this is just off the top off my head. See how easy it is to play this game? MORON!!!

virgil xenophon said...

PS and AA reveals herself to be equally moronic for giving credence to cacimbo cacimbos delusions with her "naive and wrong" crap. Really, Ann, are you really a total moron, or are you just trying real hard today for some unfathomable reason to make people thing you're one? Please for the love of all that's holy don't tell me you really buy into all this uber PC "cultural theft" crap.

EDH said...

Ann Althouse said...
Of course, singing about the Cherokee like that feels naive and wrong today. It kind of did at the time too. But at this point it's half-a-century-old pop culture.

Elizabeth Warren's Pow Wow Chow 'Cherokee' recipes were word for word COPIES of famous FRENCH chef's techniques

virgil xenophon said...

PPS to AA: And need I provide you with an annotated bibliography of all the economists, anthropologists, sociologists, historians and political scientists who are on record as pointing out that cultures which liberally "borrow" from each other are the most advanced and advance the quickest, while those that remain "stove-piped," isolated from other cultures lag far behind? (Africa's historical cultural isolation--caused mainly by geographic factors--and resultant backwardness being a classic case in point.)

William said...

I heard a lot of his songs, but they never really made much of a dent. Background music but not quite Muzak......Well, anyway he made a living and people made a living off him, and nobody involved did anyone any harm. So blessings on him and RIP.

LYNNDH said...

Did not see his Obit. I enjoyed then and still do enjoy his song. Feeling old now.

Old RPM Daddy said...

@Virgil: "I'm sorry but cacimbo cacimbo is an idiot and his 'cultural appropriation' BS simply CANNOT go unchallenged."

I didn't sense that Cacimbo was advocating that position. To me, he seemed to be suggesting that today, somebody would be offended, since "cultural appropriation" is all the social justice rage these days.

Will Cate said...

Thanks for posting the Norman video -- that fills in a puzzle piece for me. The legendary bar-band NRBQ a few years back did a version of that song they called "Norma" (with slightly re-worked lyrics)... here.

Cacimbo Cacimbo said...

@ Old RPM Daddy Thanks, you are correct.

P.S. I am a she.

Wilbur said...

The Louvin (pronounced Looven)Brothers, Ira and Charlie, real name was Loudermilk. They were cousins of John D.

If you don't the Louvin Brothers music, you should.

Wilbur said...

From Wikipedia:
"A well-known story surrounding one of Loudermilk's songs is that, when he was asked by the Viva! NashVegas radio show about the origins of the Raider's hit song "Indian Reservation", he told that he wrote the song after his car was snowed in by a blizzard and being taken in by Cherokee Indians. He claimed that the chief "Bloody Bear Tooth" asked him to make a song about his people's plight and the Trail of Tears. Loudermilk, after being awarded the first medal of the Cherokee nation for this, was asked to read an old ledger book kept during The Trail of Tears. As he read through the names, he discovered his great grandparents, at the age of 91, were marched 1,600 miles (2,600 km) during the plight."
So much for cultural appropriation.

ganderson said...

The Louvins- "Cash on the Barrelhead!" Loudermilk recorded a few songs himself- they got some play on KQRS in the Twin Cities, back when it was an "underground" station in the early '70s.

Fabi said...

Johnny and Edgar Winter did a brilliant cover of 'Tobacco Road'.

Mark Nielsen said...

I didn't know of the Nashville Teens' version, but Lou Rawls' rendition of Tobacco Road is classic, and predates the Teens by a year, apparently.

Ann Althouse said...

Loudermilk put out his own version in 1960, so that is the original.

There's also a Jefferson Airplane version.

Wilbur said...

I've always (intensely) disliked the Nashville Teens' version of Tobacco Road.
The Lou Rawls version is indeed great. Thank you for sharing that, Mark Nielsen.

Ann Althouse said...

It's obvious that a pop artist today would not do something with lyrics like Indian Reservation. It was of its time, which was half a century ago.

Wilbur said...

Loudermilk wrote "Talk Back Tremblin' Lips". A country classic for Ernest Ashworth.

Johnny Tillotson had the pop hit. Around that same year, one of my older sisters came home one day and said one of her high school classmates got in trouble. Seems in Sister Agnes Lenore's English class she was into some poetry and this kid was goofing around. The nun stopped and asked him "So, Mr. Fahey, what kind of poetry do you like?" He instantly responded with the Tillotson hit "Poetry in Motion", which cracked up the class, if not dear Sister.

virgil xenophon said...

Old RPM Daddy/

You're exactly right. Apologies to one and all. I jumped the gun...must.review.critical.reading.skills..

Bad Lieutenant said...

"Did you know John D. Loudermilk wrote all these songs... and do you, like me, know all these songs?"


Who?

rcocean said...

"Cherokee people
Cherokee tribe
So proud to live
So proud to die"

I hated that plastic SJW song when I was a kid, and I still hate it.

"Took away our native tongue
And taught their English to our young"

No actually, "they" didn't do that at all.

rcocean said...

"Though I wear a shirt and tie
I'm still part redman deep inside"

Uh, most Cherokee people are ALL "Redman" inside. And proud of it.

Johanna Lapp said...

Hearing "Norman," I SO wish that Janet Leigh had recorded a cover version. Maybe a duet with Anthony Perkins.

Jon Ericson said...

I hated that plastic SJW song when I was a kid, and I still hate it.

Yeah, it sucked.

Gary Rosen said...

I'm not crazy about all these songs (e. g. Norman) but "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye" is one of my all-time favorites. Beautiful meoldy and haunting, romantic lyrics. Songwriting is the rarest and most difficult talent in pop music.

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Josephbleau said...

The professor as a current PC advocate must know that white people of the past must be judged by current standards and the moral ideals of our current elites, not by the standards of their own time. Thus this Loudermilk character is just a racist swine and nothing else. If the story of his great grandparents being relocated in the trail of tears at the age of 91 they would have to have been born in the 18th century, as unlikely a scenario as warren being an afirmative action eligible Native American.