I know why the caged bird yodels

Last week I got the idea that the Paint Branch Ramblers should have an opening song to bookend what we’ve been closing with, the “Last Call Waltz.” This is the song, most recently recorded by Tangleweed, but orginally written as “Blue Fishin'” by Kip Rainey, Edward Burch, and me as part of the incidental music we were writing for what was to be a show about fishing in the U.S. for export to Norwegian television. Don’t ask. Wait: do.

In any case, I had an idea for a title, the “First Round Polka,” and all I needed was a song to go with it. The only stipulations I set myself were that the song a) should follow the basic polka chord changes (i.e., “Tiger Rag” or “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”), b) should modulate into the key of the relative 5th for a trio section, and c) should be wordless except for a yodeled melody, and that melody should make some reference to the similarly wordless yodeled melody in the “Last Call Waltz.”

So this past Wednesday, I fooled around on the mandolin until the instrumental parts came together, and this afternoon I wrote the yodel. Here’s basically what it’s going to sound like.


The chords are:

F F F C7
C7 C7 C7 F
F F F Bb
E7 F C F

With the coda:

Gm E7 F D7
G7 C7 F

Now to write out the rest of it for practice on Monday.

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