Show #173 – Standin’ On The Corner of Skid Row

Skid Row: “A 54-block area in downtown Los Angeles became Skid Row in the late 1800s — which was when Union Rescue Mission first opened its doors. This particular area was an ideal congregating spot for hobos, aimless rail riders, transient workers, and people running away from past lives because it was the last stop on the train for the whole country. Daily rate hotels and various entertainments (mostly bars and brothels) catered to the culture of rail riders who were transient by nature.” (From the Union Rescue Mission web site).

Many of the songs we played were referring to this specific geographic area, but the term “skid row” has come to mean the “wrong side of the tracks” or other such place anywhere.

(From the site phrases.org.uk) This American expression came into being in the Great Depression. Residence on Skid Row evokes imagery of someone who was slipping down in society – ‘on the skids’.

Skid rowThese skids weren’t just figurative though, they did exist. In the late 19th century there was an expansion of the logging industry in the USA, especially in the north-west states, and millions of trees were felled to supply the building trade. Large tree-trunks were hauled, either to sawmills or to the nearest road, river or railway, along tracks made of greased timbers. These were known to loggers as ‘skid roads’. The 1880 Topographical Survey of the Adirondack Region refers to these:

“… lumbermen had cut ‘skid-roads’ on which logs were drawn [etc.].”

It is a line that shows up in many songs. Inspired by Elton John’s “(Gotta Get) a Meal Ticket” and Blackie Farrell’s new release “Cold Country Blues” where he sings his own song (covered by many) “Skid Row In My Mind.”

And there you have it, a little bit of Bakersfield and a little bit of Beyond.

And check this out. Got a mention in the San Francisco Chronicle!

Artist Cut Album Label
Tim Hus Bakersfield Music Bushpilot Buckaroo Stony Plain Records
Trevor McSpadden Long Long Time The Only Way Chaparral Street Music
Trevor McSpadden Ready To Get Hurt Again The Only Way Chaparral Street Music
Merle Haggard Skid Row The Other Side of Bakersfield, Vol. 1 – 1950S & 60S Boppers and Rockers from ‘Nashville West’ Bear Family Records GmbH
The Kinks Alcohol Muswell Hillbillies (Legacy Edition) Legacy Recordings
10Cc The Wall Street Shuffle Sheet Music Revvolution Records
Elton John Gotta Get (A Meal Ticket) Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy MCA Records
WOODIE GUTHRIE Washington Talkin’ Blues Columbia River Collection Rounder Records
Tom Waits Tom Traubert’s Blues Small Change Asylum
Merle Haggard & The Strangers Somewhere on Skidrow Pride In What I Am Columbia
Little Shop of Horrors Musical Band Skid Row (down Town) Selected Favourites from Little Shop of Horrors City Lights Music
Chris O’Connell Skid Row in My Mind Be Right Back! Song Records
Nigel Owen Skid Row On the Road Back Nigel Owen
Dick Philpot Skid Row Another Man’s Dream Dick Philpot
Mark Worsham Bummin’ On Skid Row Trail of Tears Lost Gold Records
Tom Brosseau Down On Skid Row Grand Forks Loveless
Joe Turner Skid Row Boogie Tell Me Pretty Baby Arhoolie Records
Ronny Elliott Skid Row Hillbilly Ronny Elliott & the Nationals Blue Heart Records
Porter Wagoner Skid Row Joe The Essential Porter Wagoner RCA
Bob Frank Return To Skid Row Joe Bob Frank VANGUARD (VAN)
Stompin’ Tom Connors Country Jack (Wino of Skid Row) Long Gone to the Yukon EMI Music Canada
Raye Smith Skid Row Street Silently Route 5 Records
Blackie Farrell Skid Row in My Mind Cold Country Blues Drifter Music
Ruby Dee & The Snakehandlers Make it Last North of Bakersfield Dionysus

 

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by | February 29, 2016 · 9:37 pm

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