During the Depression years the site of unemployed and homeless men riding freight trains in box cars or on the blinds was hardly unusual. It was hard and dangerous but was brought about by desperation. From these times many stories emerged of incidents and characters. Many of these stories went from campfire chat in hobo jungles to songs. This one was recorded and written by the great Jimmie Rogers.

“The Singing Brakeman” was born in 1897 in Meridian, Mississippi where his father was a maintenance foreman for the railroad. As a young child he accompanied his father to work and was exposed to blues and black musical traditions at an early age. He eventually became a brakeman and received his music break when he was recorded by Ralf Peer during the famous Bristol Sessions in 1927.

His trademark yodel spring many imitators including a young Gene Autry. His career was cut short when he died in 1933 of Tuberculosis while recording his last session. Among his many notable recordings was “Blue Yodel No 9” which included Louis Armstrong on trumpet.

He wrote and adapted many songs and trains and hobos.


Hobo Bill’s Last Ride — 3 Comments

  1. I’ve always loved hearing this song sung and learned it when I was a child in the 30’s (I’m 85) I’m a singer with some other senior citizens, but the songs we sing are mostly from WW’s I & II and pop from the Big Band era. I would want to get the piano score for HOBO BILL’S LAST RIDE so I can add this as one of my solos. list.

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