Wednesday, June 03, 2015

WACKY WEDNESDAY: Hot Smokin' Cigarette Songs


I don't smoke cigarettes and I never did.

But in the days before smoking bans, cigarettes -- made their smokey mark on various strands of American popular song.

Country singers poke fun at their addictive qualities. Sometimes their used as a metaphor of loneliness or a symptom of an empty, sinful life.

Listen to all of these tunes and you'll be coughing and hacking by the end of this blog post.

xxx

First let's start with the song that inspired this week's theme. A couple of weeks ago my old pal Mark asked me if I remembered a song that referred to a cigarette as something that had "fire on one end a fool on the other." I didn't recall this but went searching through cig songs to try to find it. Mark found it before I did, a novelty tune called "Cigareets & Whuskey and Wild, Wild Women." Mark found a good version by Ramblin; Jack Elliott. But I decided to use this goofy one by a group called Red Ingle & The Natural Seven. I never realized before that The Hombres lifted Ingle's introduction for the introduction to their own 1967 hit "Let It Out (Let it All Hang Out)."



I don't think hokum bluesman Bo Carter actually was singing about tobacco products in this 1936 love song, "Cigarette Blues."



One of the most famous country tunes about cigarettes was this talking song by Tex Williams, which he co-wrote with Merle Travis -- "Smoke, Smoke, Smoke That Cigarette."



Here's a sad and sultry one called "Three Cigarettes in an Ashtray" by Patsy Cline.



Tiny Tim (you've read about him recently) reached back to 1898 to find a song defending nicotine addiction with "Sly Cigarette," performed here with Brave Combo.



Speaking of sly, Robbie Fulks paid tribute to his boyhood home, the great state of North Carolina in his song, "Cigarette State."



I'm not sure where Ry Cooder found "Fool for a Cigarette," but it appeared on his album Paradise and Lunch as a medley with J.B. Lenoir's "Feelin' Good."



If  "Cigarettes and Coffee" were what powered Otis Redding, then they should be mandatory.

8 comments:

  1. Nice, really dug, Otis Redding, Cigarettes and Coffee.

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  2. Bobby Ray Watson (Memphis based blues artist) wrote Fool for a Cigarette

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  3. Thanks, Arden. A guy named Sidney Bailey is credited as songwriter, But I just found a reference in Robert Gordon's It Came From Memphis that says Bobby Ray Watson cut the original version of the song as a demo with Ry Cooder playing guitar on it. However then Ry decided to record it himself. That book describes "Fool for a Cigarette" as "this great song of his (Watson's)." https://books.google.com/books?id=2NKwQyNiP9EC&pg=PA197&lpg=PA197&dq=Bobby+Ray+Watson+Fool+for+a+Cigarette&source=bl&ots=KPnHdoO-2l&sig=b6mGy5zCxsaJ2Hcxhs5U2ZNenTU&hl=en&sa=X&ei=BxlvVcywIsLvtQXYhICIDQ&ved=0CCkQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=Bobby%20Ray%20Watson%20Fool%20for%20a%20Cigarette&f=false

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  4. Then I found this http://www.originals.be/en/originals.php?id=1868

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  5. Tom Wilk6:17 AM

    There's also "Harry Rag" by the Kinks.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks Tom. Goes well with this song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lh4h1Cx2E0M

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  7. Tom Wilk10:39 AM

    Thanks, Steve. One other song is "Little Billy" by The Who. It was written by Pete Townshend in the 1960s to discourage young people from smoking at the request of the American Cancer Society. The Who released a studio version on "Odds and Sods" in 1974. Here is a rare live version recorded at the Fillmore East in 1968:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4A3T80f-jwc

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  8. Thanks for the further research, Steve! Good to know! (God, I'm sick, I love this stuff!) So, it was the unsung hero cabdriver Sidney Bailey (who moonlighted as a writer for Stax!) Ahhhh, all the unsung heroes!!

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