Cowboy Copas

Tennessee Waltz

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A native of Adams County in southern Ohio, Lloyd "Cowboy" Copas made his way to Nashville and a lucrative contract with King records in 1946 via a series of talent shows and radio broadcasts in the Cincinnati area during the '30s. He didn't sing cowboy songs and certainly had no experience whatsoever as a rancher or livestock handler. The "Cowboy" moniker dates back to those early Ohio days, when Copas performed as a duo with Lester Vernon Storer, a fiddler who used the stage name of Natchee the Indian. Living Era's Tennessee Waltz is a 26-track tribute to Cowboy Copas, covering the years 1945-1951. This is genuine Nashville country music, some of it with authentic string band accompaniment. Copas sang in a voice that sometimes had a thin, slightly shrill and reedy quality to it. His big hit single "Filipino Baby" was an organic result of U.S. involvement in the Pacific Theater of the Second World War. Given southern North America's well-documented obsession with skin pigmentation, this song's popularity might come as a bit of a surprise, as the heartfelt refrain of "dark skinned Filipino" might easily have generated accusations of miscegenation. Instead the record hit the charts and was the very first title bearing the King label ever to do so. Much of the music compiled here is standard issue love and heartbreak material, with one devotional tune and a couple of barrelhouse numbers tossed in to vary the repertoire. "Hangman's Boogie" is marvelously macabre, twangy fun while "Feudin' Boogie" is a spunky duet with Grandpa Jones. If "Tennessee Flat Top Guitar" is a cousin (or uncle perhaps) to "Tennessee Flat Top Box" by Johnny Cash, it also contains sexualized tropes destined to resurface years later in Hasil Adkins' frenetic psycho/ rockabilly masterpiece, "She Said."

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:04
2 2:47
3 2:49
4 2:56
5 2:47
6 2:59
7 2:53
8 2:52
9 3:01
10 2:21
11 2:37
12 2:45
13 2:42
14 2:43
15 2:47
16 2:36
18 2:55
21 2:57
22 3:00
23 2:49
24 2:52
26 3:02
blue highlight denotes track pick