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Music – 1979 – Mel Tillis – Orange Blossom Special – Performed Live On Stage At Austin City Limits

The fiddle tune “Orange Blossom Special” is about the passenger train of the same name….and was written by Ervin T. Rouse in 1938…..as the original recording was created by Ervin and Gordon Rouse in 1939…..and is often simply called The Special…..while being referred to as the fiddle player’s national anthem….with the lyrics of the first verse being very reminiscent of the Jimmie Rodgers song “Freight Whistle Blues”.

Johnny Cash named his 1965 Orange Blossom Special album after the song….and while bluegrass performers tend to play it as strictly an instrumental….Cash sang the lyrics….and replaced the fiddle parts with two harmonicas and a saxophone….as Cash would play both harmonicas himself…..which is what he did on his At Folsom Prison album….and well as being seen on The Johnny Cash Show….and In his live performances, prior to the “do-die-do-die-do” transition, Cash tended to insert some spoken-word jokes that changed in later performances of the song…especially in his Tennessee State Prison and Prague performances….when he incorporated dialogue from his 1972 song “City Jail”.  

Charlie Daniels’ 1974 Platinum album Fire On The Mountain contains an instrumental live performance recorded at the War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee on October 4, 1974…..and like Daniels’ rendition….many country bands that had fiddle players regularly performed Orange Blossom Special….as seen in this video herewith….where Mel Tillis and his three fiddle band performs the song on Austin City Limits in 1979.

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