“New San Antonio Rose“ was originally and often referred to as just “San Antonio Rose” was the signature song of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys…..as “San Antonio Rose” was an instrumental song written by Bob Wills….who first recorded it with the Playboys on November 28, 1938…..that is when band members added lyrics….and it was re-titled “New San Antonio Rose”….and a fresh recording was made on April 16, 1940 with a vocal by Tommy Duncan.
The song opens with the refrain:
Deep within my heart lies a melody, A song of old San Antone.
The song is written in the first person with the “Rose of San Antone” being the singer’s lost love. The most successful recording was made by Bing Crosby with Bob Crosby and the Bob Cats on December 16, 1940….as over a million copies were sold for which Bing was awarded a gold record. “New San Antonio Rose” was the first national hit by Bob Wills and His Playboys….thus propelling them from their Southwestern fame to national aclaim…..as their version charted in 1941 and again in 1943.
The song, both the music and lyrics, reflects the Mexican influence Bob Wills found growing up in the Southwest….as he developed the melody of the original “San Antonio Rose” itself from a traditional tune, “Spanish Two Step”, by the playing the bridge in reverse…..as the song ruffled the feathers of Southern country music moguls….when Wills and the Playboys performed it with horns and a drum at the Grand Ole Opry on December 30, 1944.
In this video seen herewith….legendary fiddle player extraordinaire, Johnny Gimble and his band The Bosque Bandits perform the original instrumental version of the song on a live Austin City Limits appearance in 1979…..as Gimble could make any and all Texas swing music tunes sound wonderful…..as a result of his talent as a fiddle player.