Washboard Blues

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1927 recording by Paul Whiteman and His Concert Orchestra.

"Washboard Blues" is a 1926 popular song written by Hoagy Carmichael, Fred B. Callahan and Irving Mills and released by Paul Whiteman's orchestra in 1927, featuring piano and lead vocals by Carmichael.[1]

Paul Whiteman recorded the song on November 18, 1927, in Chicago with Hoagy Carmichael on piano. Two takes were recorded. Paul Whiteman recorded and released a new recording of the song in 1956.[2]

The song is an evocative washerwoman's lament. Though the verse, chorus, and bridge pattern is present, the effect of the song is of one long, cohesive melodic line with a dramatic shifting of tempo. The cohesiveness of the long melody perfectly matches the lyrical description of the crushing fatigue resulting from the repetitious work of washing clothes under primitive conditions.[3]

Alec Wilder first heard the song on a Paul Whiteman twelve-inch record on which Carmichael both played and sang with the large orchestra, Victor 35877-B.[3][4]


A copy of the lyrics from the Indiana University archives of the Hoagy Carmichael collection credits F. B. Callahan with the words to "Washboard Blues".[5]


  1. ^ Greenwald, Matthew. "Washboard Blues". AllMusic. Retrieved 7 March 2010. 
  2. ^ "Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra". Redhotjazz.com. Retrieved 2016-07-26. 
  3. ^ a b Wilder, Alec (1990). American Popular Song: The Great Innovators 1900-1950. New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 374. ISBN 0-19-501445-6. 
  4. ^ "Paul Whiteman and His Cocert Orchestra* - Among My Souvenirs / Washboard Blues (Shellac)". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2016-07-26. 
  5. ^ "Hoagy Carmichael Collection". Webapp1.dlib.indiana.edu. Retrieved 2009-09-30. 

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