Saw Notes

A Resource for Musical Saw Enthusiasts

Jimmie Rodgers: Home Call

 

 

Since I started listening to saw players, I’ve come across a lot of surprisingly beautiful music. The saw is often considered a novelty instrument, and for that reason, sometimes the musical skill of the sawyer can be a bit underdeveloped ( I include myself in that group). Happily, however, there are saw players who are also marvelous musicians, players who are able to make the most of the dreamy sound of the saw. This is the case in a recording by Jimmie Rodgers with saw player L. D. Dyke.

Jimmie Rodgers was born in 1897 and died in 1933 of tuberculosis, and in his 35 short years, he recorded hundreds of songs. The song, “Home Call”, was recorded in 1929, and it paints an idyllic portrait of family life. Rodgers wrote the song with his sister-in-law Elsie McWilliams. The lyrics describe the singer’s home as a “love nest,” and Rodgers sings “We are happy as happy can be/ in the evening/ just Carrie, Anita, and me,” referring to his wife and daughter. Rodgers was known for his yodeling, and in this recording the yodeling sounds contented and relaxed, while the sound of the saw adds a soothing, mystical sound to the song. Unfortunately, the sawyer L. D. Dyke on the recording remains somewhat of a mystery. Not much seems to be known about him other than his name on the recording.

The Discography of American Historical Recordings lists 5 takes of this song, but only the first and second include the saw. The first recording here is one of the first takes and includes the saw and a steel guitar, in addition to Jimmie Rodgers’ voice and guitar. The second recording does not include the saw, and it just isn’t the same. If you listen to both of these recordings, you can appreciate the magic a good saw player can add to a song.

 

The following recording includes the saw playing of L. D. Dyke. It also includes video of sneakers hanging from telephone wires. I don’t understand the connection of the sneakers to the recording, but somehow the video seems just right. 

 

This recording does not have a saw. Nor does it have video of sneakers hanging from wires. 

 

 

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Rowena Southard, your blog hostess, is a musical saw enthusiast who lives in California. She loves all kinds of music and has a special fondness for unusual instruments.