Like many other western-swing numbers — especially those of the double-entendre variety — “What’s the Matter with the Mill” has its origins in blues music. In fact, six years before Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys recorded their version (in 1936), Vocalion brought out the very first recorded version of the tune, with the artists listed as Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe. Their real names were Lizzie Douglas (who wrote the number) and Joe McCoy, both of whom became not only husband and wife but also big influences on the early ‘30s Chicago blues scene.
One of these days, I’m going to track down that record and play it on SWING ON THIS. Meanwhile, I’ve got the great Texas Playboys take on it, with Bob and Tommy Duncan trading verses, the lilt in their voices indicating full well that they knew what the song was REALLY about.
This week, in fact, SWING ON THIS is especially heavy on western-swing versions of blues, R&B, and big-band/Great American Songbook stuff, including “Mood Indigo,” “Slow Boat to China,” “Hallelujah, I Love Her So,” and “Mona Lisa.” And for the classical-music fans out there (like, for instance, Stan and Jane Johnson), there’s even a Strauss waltz!
That’s SWING ON THIS, 7 p.m. Saturday on KWGS, 89.5FM in the Tulsa listening area or streaming everywhere at publicradiotulsa.com
1. “What’s the Matter with the Mill,” Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys
(for A. SCOTT ARIZONA)
2. “Hallelujah, I Love Her So,” Brazos Valley Boys
3. “Wine, Women, and Song,” Al Dexter and His Troopers
(for BETTYE & GARY and the GLASS LIFTERS)
4. “Worried Mind,” Billy Parker
5. “Trying to be True,” Modern Mountaineers
(for TIM SISNEY)
6. “Kansas City,” Caravan Swing Band w/Linda Freeman
7. “Slow Boat to China,” Nashville Swing Band
(for CAROLE & JACK BENDER)
8. “Mona Lisa,” Hank Thompson
9. “Walkin’ the Dog,” Wayne Hancock
10. “Tenderly,” Rose Sinclair
(for CHERYL IDE)
11. “Ragged But Right,” Moon Mullican
12. “Mood Indigo,” Michael H. Price and His Western Swingmasters
13. “Blue Danube Waltz,” Bill Boyd and His Cowboy Ramblers
(for STAN & JANE JOHNSON)
14. “Relaxin’,” Johnnie Lee Wills