Song Lyric Sunday – Orange Blossom Special

This week Jim Adams has prompted us with choosing songs involving A Song with a Harmonica for this week’s Song Lyric Sunday.

“Orange Blossom Special” is known as a fiddle tune, but Johnny Cash with the Tennessee Three took it to a whole new level with Johnny’s harmonica playing, coming in loud and clear at San Quentin Prison! The first video shows him playing both harmonica parts.

At the bottom of this post is an interesting story about the authorship of the song. Chubby Wise claimed the song for years and played it on the Grand Ole Opry every week. Ervin Rouse (the writer) and Wise took a trip to Jacksonville, Florida, boarding and touring the train, Orange Blossom Special at the Jacksonville Terminal. The train, Orange Blossom Special was a luxurious passenger train on the Seaboard Air Line Railroad connecting New York City and Miami that began on November 21, 1925 by SAL President S. Davies Warfield who wanted to capitalize on the development in Florida. Warfield took note in the success that Henry Flagler was having by attracting travelers to Florida with his railroad and the Orange Blossom Special was born.

Jacksonville Terminal today is the Prime Osborn Convention Center.

Many have covered the song over the years, but I thought this young lady nailed it! Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Check out the book “Orange Blossom Boys: The Untold Story of Ervin T Rouse, Chubby Wise and the World’s Most Famous Fiddle Tune” on Amazon.

SONG FACTS

  • Written by Ervin Thomas Rouse in 1938. Click on his link to read a very interesting blog about his life.
  • One of the “most played” bluegrass songs of all time and is often referred to as “the fiddle player’s national anthem”.
  • Johnny Cash named his 1965 album “Orange Blossom Special” after the song.
  • Read more about the song in the Authorship below.

“Orange Blossom Special” by Johnny Cash

Look a-yonder comin'
Comin' down that railroad track
Hey, look a-yonder comin'
Comin' down that railroad track
It's the Orange Blossom Special
Bringin' my baby back
Well, I'm going down to Florida
And get some sand in my shoes
Or maybe Californy
And get some sand in my shoes
I'll ride that Orange Blossom Special
And lose these New York blues
"Say man, when you going back to Florida?"
"When am I goin' back to Florida? I don't know, don't reckon I ever will."
"Ain't you worried about getting your nourishment in New York?"
"Well, I don't care if I do-die-do-die-do-die-do-die."
Hey talk about a-ramblin'
She's the fastest train on the line
Talk about a-travellin'
She's the fastest train on the line
It's that Orange Blossom Special
Rollin' down the seaboard line
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Ervin Thomas Rouse
Orange Blossom Special lyrics Β© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, BMG Rights Management

From Wikipedia:

Authorship

Rouse copyrighted the song before the Orange Blossom Special train ever came to Jacksonville. Other musicians, including Robert Russell “Chubby” Wise, have claimed authorship of the song. Wise did not write it although he claimed for years that he had. Rouse, a mild mannered man who lived deep in the Everglades never contested the matter. Years later, Johnny Cash learned of Rouse and brought him to Miami to play the song at one of his concerts. In a video on YouTube, Gene Christian, a fiddler for Bill Monroe who knew both men, confirms that Rouse wrote and copyrighted the song.[2] Christian says in the interview that Chubby Wise popularized the song by playing it weekly on the Grand Ole Opry.

As Wise tells the story, he and Rouse decided to visit the Jacksonville Terminal in Florida to tour the Orange Blossom Special train.

… even though it was about three in the morning we went right into the Terminal and got on board and toured that train, and it was just about the most luxurious thing I had ever seen. Ervin was impressed, too. And when we got done lookin’ ‘er over he said, “Let’s write a song about it.” So we went over to my place … and that night she was born. Sitting on the side of my bed. We wrote the melody in less than an hour, and called it Orange Blossom Special. Later Ervin and his brother put some words to it.

Rouse copyrighted the song in 1938 and recorded it in 1939. Bill Monroe, regarded by many as “the father of bluegrass music”, recorded the song (with Art Wooten on fiddle) and made it a hit. Since then countless versions have been recorded, among them Wise’s own, as an instrumental in a 1969 album Chubby Wise and His Fiddle. And that version, said Wise, “is the way it was written and the way it’s supposed to be played”.[3]

Leon “Pappy” Selph says that he was the author of The Orange Blossom Special in this interview in 1997. He states that he wrote it in 1931.

23 Comments on “Song Lyric Sunday – Orange Blossom Special

  1. Not keen on Jonny Cash but this brilliant the Harmonia is synonymous with train sound amazing little fiddler the third video πŸ’œ

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  2. That is so cool watching Johnny Cash switching harmonicas. Cash has such a distinctive voice and I love listening to him sing. Nice write-up again Lisa, and this song was made for the fiddle. Thanks for including that Mikayla roach video.

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  3. Wow, I learned something new today. Didn’t know that Mr. Cash could play the harmonica. Thanks for the amazing song choice!

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    • Thank you for your kind words and I’m glad you learned something! Love it when that happens! Sorry I didn’t reply sooner, you were buried in my spam folder. πŸ™‚

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  4. Double harmonicas! Never seen that one before. I love seeing Johnny play for the prisoners. The Man in Black was a great man in more ways than one ❀ ❀ ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is on my playlist when I do my hula hoop workout. The beat is just right for the hip movement. LOL! I love everything Johnny did and his whole story of how he managed to get out of the hardship of drugs, when so many others did not and died young. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • I love my hula hoop workout. I have pro hula hoops and I go about 30 minutes a day. I’ve lost 3″ in my waist since March. I was going up to an hour, but now I’m just on maintenance and it is fun! πŸ™‚

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  5. I was only familiar with the Charlie Daniels version of this song. Johnny Cash did an amazing job. And that nine-year-old girl was phenomenal, although the setting reminded me of Deliverance…

    Liked by 1 person

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