This Day in Music History – Davy Jay Sparrow on Bob Wills

It was this day in 1975 that the King of Western Swing, Bob Wills passed away.  We asked our good friend Davy Jay Sparrow to write a little something about Wills for the occasion and to show us some of his favorite videos of the King performing.

Long Live the King:  Bob Wills (March 6, 1905 – May 13, 1975)

By Davy Jay Sparrow

May 13th is the day that “The King of Western Swing” Bob Wills passed away in 1975.  It seems like a good enough time to reflect and appreciate for those who know his work.  Moreover, it seems like a perfect opportunity to educate those who do not.  I would like to say that his influence is so great that even your favorite pansy/indie rock band should pay homage to him.  However, I feel that bands like THIS would best be left to go suck their thumbs in the corner.  This is America, damn it!  So, let’s begin by lettin’ Bob do a bit of talkin’ with the fiddle, his weapon of choice since childhood:

James Robert “Bob” Wills was born in Texas way back in 1905.  He grew up farmin’ and fiddlin’.  He spent his childhood soakin’ up music from all the crazy cultures that surrounded him and at the age of 16 he took to ridin’ freight trains.  As you would expect, in his 20’s he earned his money as a part time barber and blackface performer.  He eventually went on to shape an entire genre of music (Western Swing, duh) that encompassed just about every style in the American repertoire, from blues to jazz to hillbilly to boogie woogie to popular to sentimental to swing to cowboy and more.  Typical, no?

So, instead of summarizing his biography here and being forced to leave out so many of the fantastic stories and events that took place in Bob Wills’ life, I am instead going to direct you HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE to find out as much as you can about the life and times of my favoritest musician.

A final thought –
Bob Wills made music during the height of the Great Depression.  The world was a terrible place to live in.  Men like Woody Guthrie began to purposely write confrontational songs that explicitly stated what was wrong with the world and then gave some ideas as to how we might go about fixing it.  Why?  To help people get along a little better.  Well, Bob Wills sang songs about love, rhythm, dancin’ girls, smoochin’, drinkin’, animals, and other such “escapist” things.  He even made up his own words from time to time!  Why?  For the same damn reason as Woody, of course.  To help folks out in the way he knew best.  Any performer out there should consider the idea that you don’t have to be a cranky, sulky, high-horse ridin’, overly emotional songwriter or musician in order to affect a positive change in the world.  Chances are you’ll do the opposite by turning people off to your ideologically narrow message that lacks all subtlety and bores your audience into a repetitive hipster cross-armed head nod.  And nobody wants that.  Keep you music fun.  Keep it swingin’.  This is America-
LONG LIVE THE KING!!!

Davy Jay Sparrow leads up his own honky tonk and western swing outfit known so humbly as Davy Jay Sparrow & His Well-Known Famous Drovers. You can check them out online here, or our archive of stories about Davy and the boys here, or even better yet at one of their upcoming live performances listed below.

Sat May 14 2011 1:00pm
Upland Brewing – WFHB Acoustic Roots Festival
Bloomington, IN

Sun May 22 2011 7:00pm
Max’s Place Pizza
Bloomington, IN

Sat May 28 2011 1:00pm
Private Show – Bloomington Yacht Club
Unionville, IN

Sun May 29 2011 5:00pm
Beatersville – The Phoenix Hill Tavern
Louisville, KY

Mon June 6 2011 9:00pm
The Bishop with The Two-Man Gentleman Band
Bloomington, IN

Sat Jun 11 2011 10:00am
WFHB 91.3
Bloomington, IN

Thu Jun 23 2011 8:00pm
Road Rocket Rumble
Indianapolis, IN

Sat July 2 2011 10:00pm
The Sinking Ship
Indianapolis, IN

Sat July 23 2011 9:00pm
Max’s Place – Whispering Beard Showcase
Bloomington, IN

Thu July 28 2011 10pm
The Green Lantern
Lexington, KY

Fri July 29 2011 12:00pm
WDVX 89.9 FM Blue Plate Special
Knoxville, TN

Fri July 29 2011 9:00pm
Preservation Pub
Knoxville, TN

Sat Aug 27 2011
Whispering Beard Folk Festival
Friendship, IN

Sat Sept 3 2011
Metamora Old Time Music Festival
Metamora, IN

November 19 2011 8:00pm
Southgate House
Newport, KY

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