Sunday, August 10, 2014

Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys -- "New San Antonio Rose" (1940)

Deep within my heart lies a melody
A song of old San Antone

"New San Antonio Rose" was the signature song of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys.

Bob Wills
The Texas Playboys are synonymous with Western swing -- an agglomeration of country-and-western, Dixieland-style jazz, "rowdy city blues" (a term Wills used to describe the music of Bessie Smith), and a few other musical styles -- which was usually played by a stringed band augmented with drums, a piano, and sometimes horns.  

Western swing is first and foremost dance music.  It swings, boys and girls -- in fact, it swings like nothing else ever did.

Wills recorded a Western-swing-meets-mariachi-music instrumental called "San Antonio Rose" in 1938.  Some of his band members wrote lyrics for the song, and it was retitled "New San Antonio Rose."  

The new version became a huge hit for the Texas Playboys in 1940, and an even bigger hit for Bing Crosby the following year.  It's been covered by a whole host of country-music superstars -- including Ernest Tubb, Patsy Cline, Ray Price, Willie Nelson, and Merle Haggard. 

I didn't see any roses on my trip to San Antonio earlier this summer, but I did see a lot of wildflowers as I walked and biked along the San Antonio River Walk (or Paseo del Rio).  

There were common sunflowers (Helianthis annuus) in great profusion:

Here's a closeup of one of those sunflowers:

There were Indian blankets, which are also called firewheels (Gaillardia pulchella):

Another closeup:

I saw the standing cypress, also known at the Texas plume (Ipomopsis rubra):

And I saw the pink evening primrose, which some call the Mexican evening primrose (Oenothera speciosa):

Last but not least, I saw the Texas lantana (Lantana urticoides):

Here's the original 1940 recording of "New San Antonio Rose":

C'mon now . . . everybody sing!

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

1 comment:

  1. San Antonio Rose (the origiinal) is on my "Camino Real Corral" CD, which was written about in my Old Curiosity Shop for August 2010. When I hear this song, I think, "Bob Wills had a reed section that approached Guy Lombardo's Royal Canadians, and a brass ensemble with players who were familiar with the Mariachi sounds from nearby Mexico." And the next cut is also from a Western Swing boxed set: "Rockin' Rollin' Mama" by Buddy Jones, recorded in 1939, presumably long before Alan Freed heard the term "Rock & Roll".