Friday, December 31, 2021

100 years ago: Isham Jones hit #1 with “Wabash Blues”

Wabash Blues

Isham Jones

Writer(s): Fred Meinken (music), Dave Ringle (words) (see lyrics here)

First Charted: December 10, 1921

Peak: 16 US, 11 GA, 12 SM (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 0.06 video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Born in Ohio in 1894, Isham Jones became a pianist, saxophonist, and composer before he formed his own jazz band. Some considered his “the best dance band of the pre-swing era.” PM That band included trumpeter Louis Panico, who played an integral part of “Wabash Blues” as “the laughing cornet,” a nickname derived from how much his trumpet playing sounded like a person laughing. SM

Wabash was a river which flows through Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois. It had been written about previously, most notably in “On the Banks of the Wabash” in the late 1890s. SM Dave Ringle added “standard blues lyrics” SM about being unhappy and lonesome that were similar to the song “Wang Wang Blues,” a hit from a year earlier. SM

Both songs are examples of “up-tempo, rather cheerful blues,” TY2 a break from the view “of the blues as being slow and depressing.” TY2 “Wabash Blues” “doesn’t follow the classic 12-bar blues form.” TY2 Instead, it was “a good example of a commercial blues, written in Tin Pan Alley for the general market.” TY2

“Wabash Blues” was one of Jones’ earliest hits. He reached the charts 73 times from 1920 to 1938. This was his first of eight #1 songs. PM It became “a jazz band favorite.” DJ The Benson Orchestra, featuring pianist Roy Bargy, also charted with the song (#6, 1922) DJ as did Dolly Kay (#13, 1922), Ted Lewis (#16, 1930), and Russ Morgan (#17, 1939). PM


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First posted 4/25/2023.

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