Friday, May 6, 2011

30/40 Days

Ernest Tubb is gonna call up the gypsy woman, and she's sending out a worldwide hoodoo. Those are Chuck Berry's words of course, and it's a gift to us to hear Tubb sing them on his 1955 version of "Thirty Days" released two months after Chuck put out his second single for Chess. They both raced up the R&B and Country charts respectively, and established Chuck Berry as a first rate crossover artist/songwriter. Berry's guitar solo is chunky and rhythmic, soaring over and leading the rhythm section. Tubb calls out to his soloists: Billy Byrd, "Half-Moon" Bradley, and Tommy Jackson of the Texas Troubadours, making it sound like his own. It was, after all, Berry's version of Bob Wills' "Ida Red" (a western swing number) that finally caught Leonard Chess's ear (on the insistence of Chess star Muddy Waters) from his homemade audition tape earlier that year. It evolved into "Maybellene," his first single.

Ronnie Hawkins recorded a blistering rockabilly version as "Forty Days." Maybe he was a more patient man giving his woman an extra ten days to come back home. Or perhaps, it's a biblical reference to Noah's Ark, after living with the torrential rains and flooding back home in Arkansas, where he and his band, including teenage drummer Levon Helm, had fled for the brighter pastures of the Toronto music scene.

Chuck Berry's liaison to Chess, Muddy Waters, recorded a single (different song) "Forty Days & Forty Nights" around this time with future murderer Pat Hare on guitar. Waters, also using the biblical reference, is "like a ship out on the sea" waiting for forty days and nights, and it's "raining all the time." His lover hasn't returned and most likely won't.

"Thirty Days" mp3
by Ernest Tubb, 1955.
available on Thirty Days - Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight

"Forty Days" mp3
by Ronnie Hawkins and The Hawks, 1958.
available on Roulette Years

"Forty Days & Forty Nights" mp3
by Muddy Waters, 1956.
available on The Chess Box: Muddy Waters


"Thirty Days" mp3
by Chuck Berry, 1955.
available on Johnny B Goode: His Complete 50's Chess Recordings


available on King of Western Swing


The Hound said...

Tubb recorded quite a few R&B and R&R type tunes, my favorite is his version of Robert Nighthawk's Kansas City Blues....

Mikel J said...

I always luved the Ronnie Hawkins version & that's the only one I was aware of. Thanks for this history on a great song!

Anonymous said...

Great stuff
Thanks for sharing it here.
I ejoyed the Ida Red tune very much.

Anonymous said...

Wow, where did that trumpet solo get beamed in from on Ida Red? Classy tune.


Feeling My Age said...

Muddy Waters was blogged about here!