Take Me Back to Tulsa

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"Take Me Back to Tulsa"
Written by Bob Wills/Tommy Duncan
Language English
Form Western swing
Original artist Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys
Recorded by (many, many other artists)

"Take Me Back to Tulsa" is a Western swing standard song. Bob Wills and Tommy Duncan added words to one of Bob Wills old fiddle tunes in 1940. The song takes its name from the chorus:

Take me back to Tulsa, I'm too young to marry.
Take me back to Tulsa, I'm too young to marry.

The song is a series of unrelated, mostly nonsense, rhyming couplets, i.e.:

Little bee sucks the blossom, big bee gets the honey.
Darkie picks the cotton, white man gets the money.

Modern covers of the song, in order to avoid racial offense, tend to replace above line with:

Poor boy picks the cotton, Rich man gets the money.

When Wills was asked about the lines, he said they were just nonsense lyrics that he learned as a youth.[1]

Bob Wills and The Texas Playboys recorded "Take Me Back to Tulsa" in 1941 (OKeh 6101) and it became one of their larger hits. When played at Cain's Ballroom in Tulsa, it often included the lines:

Would I like to go to Tulsa? Boy I sure would.
Well, let me off at Archer, and I'll walk down to Greenwood.

Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys performed the song in his 1940 movie Take Me Back to Oklahoma. Spade Cooley's Western Dance Gang also performed it in their 1944 short movie titled for the song, Take Me Back to Tulsa.

The song has been recorded by many other artists over the years.

Errata[edit]

Al Dexter is sometimes credited with writing "Take Me Back to Tulsa", perhaps due to his musically similar hit song "Pistol Packin' Mama".[2][3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Peterson, "Class Unconsciousness in Country Music", p. 54: "Years later Bob Wills said these were just 'nonsense lyrics that went with the tune,' one of many he learned as a youth when he absorbed every bit of blues and jazz from blacks that he could."
  2. ^ Carlin, Country Music, p. 103: "Besides "[Pistol Packin'] Mama,' [Al] Dexter wrote the words to Bob Wills's theme song, 'Take Me Back to Tulsa,' the ever-popular 'Rosalita,' the barroom weeper 'Too Blue to Cry,' and the upbeat cowboy number 'so Long, Pal'."
  3. ^ Coleman, Playback, p. 48: "He [Al Dexter] freely admitted to borrowing from western swing icon Bob Wills; in fact, 'Pistol Packin' Mama' bears a close, almost fraternal resemblance to Wills's 'Take Me Back to Tulsa'."

Bibliography[edit]

  • Carlin, Richard. Country Music: A Biographical Dictionary. Routledge, 2002. ISBN 0-415-93802-3
  • Coleman, Mark. Playback: From The Victrola To Mp3, 100 Years Of Music, Machines, And Money. Da Capo Press, 2004. ISBN 0-306-80984-2
  • Peterson, Richard A. "Class Unconsciousness in Country Music". You Wrote My Life: Lyrical Themes in Country Music pp. 35–62, edited by Melton A. McLaurin and Richard A. Peterson. Routledge, 1992. ISBN 2-88124-554-4