Farther Up the Road
|"Farther Up the Road"|
|Single by Bobby "Blue" Bland|
|Format||10" 78 rpm & 7" 45 rpm record|
|Label||Duke (Cat. no. 170)|
|Writer(s)||Don Robey and Joe Veasey aka Joe Medwick|
|Bobby "Blue" Bland singles chronology|
"Farther Up the Road" or "Further on Up the Road" is a blues song first recorded in 1957 by Bobby "Blue" Bland. The song became Bland's first record chart success and one of his best-known songs. "Farther Up the Road" has been performed and recorded by numerous blues and other artists, including Eric Clapton who has made it part of his repertoire.
"Farther Up the Road" is credited to Joe Medwick (born Joseph Medwick Veasey), a Houston-area independent songwriter/broker, and Duke Records owner Don Robey. In an interview, blues singer Johnny Copeland claimed he and Medwick wrote the song in one night; Medwick then sold it the next day to Robey, with Robey taking Copeland's songwriting credit. According to Bobby Bland, Medwick wrote the song with no involvement by Robey.
The guitar work on the song has been attributed to three different guitar players: Pat Hare, Mel Brown, and Wayne Bennett. However, Bland noted that Hare was the session guitarist, having been chosen by arranger/trumpeter Joe Scott. It was Hare's only session with Bland, although he was in Junior Parker's Blue Flames, who sometimes provided backup while Bland was on tour. Bennett and Brown were Bland's later guitarists.
"Farther Up the Road" is a mid-tempo twelve-bar blues that has been called a "seminal Texas shuffle". It features Bland's vocals contrasted with the aggressive guitar sound of Pat Hare. The backing arrangement is provided by the Bill Harvey Orchestra, who add a big band-influenced intro and outro as well as chord substitutions to the twelve-bar scheme. Part of the song's success may be due to Bland's "telling a convincing story, making brief lyrical vignettes highly believable with his conversational style".
The song was Bland's first charting single after several years of recording for various record companies. It became a #1 hit during a fourteen-week stay in 1957 in the Billboard R&B chart as well as reaching #43 in the Billboard pop chart. Bland enjoyed nearly uninterrupted chart success for the next twenty years.
Eric Clapton versions
Eric Clapton has recorded several versions of "Farther Up the Road" over the years, usually calling it after its opening lyrics "Further on Up the Road". Clapton uses the lyrics from the original, but the song is performed at a faster tempo as an unembellished shuffle. The song first appeared on his 1975 live album E. C. Was Here. In 1976, a live version was recorded with Freddie King, which is included on Freddie King (1934–1976). Also in 1976, he performed the song with The Band in the concert film The Last Waltz. Another live version was recorded in Japan in 1979 for Clapton's Just One Night. In 1981, Clapton with Jeff Beck recorded it during The Secret Policeman's Other Ball benefit show. A version with Joe Bonamassa appears on the 2009 video Joe Bonamassa: Live from the Royal Albert Hall. Clapton co-performed the song with Robbie Robertson during his induction at the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 2000 and resurrected it for his 2007 and 2011 Asian, European and American world tours.
"Farther Up the Road" has been interpreted and recorded by several blues and other artists. Some of these include Lonnie Mack (from his 1964 album For Collectors Only, released 1970); Magic Sam (1966 from Rockin' Wild in Chicago); Shakey Jake Harris (1969, Further on Up the Road); Andrew Odom and Earl Hooker (1969, Farther on Down the Road); Roy Buchanan (1975, Live Stock); Mike Bloomfield (1976, Live at the Old Waldorf); Robin Trower (1977, In City Dreams); Lucky Peterson (1984, Ridin' ); Magic Slim (1990, Gravel Road), Johnny Copeland (1990, Live in Australia); Gary Moore (1993, Blues Alive); Earl Gaines (2007, Crankshaft Blues); Mick Hucknall (2008, Tribute to Bobby); Steve Miller (2010, Bingo!); and Johnny Winter with Jimmy Vivino on guitar (2011, Roots)
- Hogan, Ed. "Deadric Malone – Biography". allmusic. Retrieved August 12, 2010.
- Farley, Charles (2011). Soul of the Man: Bobby "Blue" Bland. University Press of Mississippi. pp. 74, 88–89. ISBN 978-1-60473-919-0.
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- Koda, Cub. "Pat Hare – Biography". allmusic. Retrieved August 12, 2010.
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- Whitburn, Joel (1988). Top R&B Singles 1942–1988. Record Research, Inc. p. 45. ISBN 0-89820-068-7.