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The Yellow Rose of Texas (song)

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Wikipedia article

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| artist = Gene Autry & Jimmy Long

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| released = June 5, 1933

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| recorded = March 1, 1933

| studio = ARC Studios, New York City

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| label = Melotone 12700

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"'The Yellow Rose of Texas'" is a traditional American folk song dating back to at least the 1850s. Members of the Western Writers of America chose it as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time. Several versions of the song have been recorded, including by Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson and Mitch Miller.


The earliest known version is found in 'Christy's Plantation Melodies. No. 2', a songbook published under the authority of Edwin Pearce Christy in Philadelphia in 1853. Christy was the founder of the blackface minstrel show known as the Christy's Minstrels. Like most minstrel songs, the lyrics are written in a cross between a parody of a generic creole dialect historically attributed to African-Americans and standard American English. The song is written in the first person from the perspective of an African-American singer who refers to himself as a "darkey," longing to return to "a yellow girl" (that is, a light-skinned, or bi-racial woman born of African/African-American and European-American progenitors).

The soundtrack to the TV miniseries 'James A. Michener's Texas' dates a version of the song to June 2, 1933 and co-credits both the authorship and performance to Gene Autry and Jimmy Long. Don George reworked the original version of the song, which Mitch Miller made into a popular recording in 1955 that knocked Bill Haley & His Comets' "Rock Around The Clock" from the top of the Best Sellers chart in the U.S. Miller's version was featured in the 1956 motion picture 'Giant', and reached #1 on the U.S. pop chart the same week 'Giant' star James Dean died. Stan Freberg had a simultaneous hit of a parody version in which the bandleader warred with the snare drummer, Alvin Stoller, who also featured prominently in Miller's arrangement. 'Billboard' ranked Miller's version as the No. 3 song of 1955.Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1955


Earliest known version, from Christy's Plantation Melodies. No. 2:

Civil War use of the song

This song became popular among Confederate soldiers in the Texas Brigade during the American Civil War; upon taking command of the Army of Tennessee in July 1864, General John Bell Hood introduced it as a marching song.Lanning, Michael Lee. 'Civil War 100: The Stories Behind the Most Influential Battles, People and Events in the War between the States'. Sourcebooks, Incorporated 2006. p. 306. The final verse and chorus were slightly altered by the remains of Hood's force after their crushing defeat at the Battle of Nashville that December:

(Last verse)

The modified lyrics reference famous Confederate military commanders Joseph Johnston, P.G.T. Beauregard, and Robert E. Lee. Texan veterans sang it openly to mock Hood's mishandling of their Nashville campaign.Walker, Gary C. 'The War in Southwest Virginia 1861-65'. A&W Enterprise 1985. p. 130.

In this version of the chorus, "soldier" replaced "darkey." The same substitution is made throughout the song.

The song was very popular with not only Texan troops but other infantry units in the west such as Louisiana and Arkansas.

Gene Autry and Jimmy Long version

Gene Autry first recorded this song on January 27, 1933 at Victor Studios, without supporting musicians. On March 1, he and Jimmy Long recorded the better-known version for American Record Corporation (ARC). This was released in June 1933 on Melotone, Perfect and several other dime store labels distributed by ARC. His version started with "There's a yellow rose in Texas, I'm going back to see,

no other fellow knows her, nobody else but me." On March 10, Autry filed a copyright not for lyrics, but for his arrangement and melody. Whether the copyright was good is unknown, Gene knew all the tricks of the trade, and he learned how to squeeze every dime out of his creative efforts. He made a small fortune from songwriting and publishing over the years (600 songs), and in 1961 he bought a major league baseball team.

Popular hit

In September 1955, for six weeks, Mitch Miller had a 'Billboard' number one hit with "The Yellow Rose of Texas", and 13 months later, Miller's hit version was used for a key scene in the 1956 Texas-based film 'Giant'. Miller's lyrics used "rosebud" and no words - except the term "yellow" - to indicate either Rose or the singer was a person of color. The 1955 song became a gold record. The song achieved the #2 position in the UK and the #1 position in Australia.

In 1955 Stan Freberg issued a parody version of the song which sees him battle against an over-enthusiastic snare drummer.

The Yellow Rose

In 1984, country music artists Johnny Lee and Lane Brody recorded a song titled "The Yellow Rose," which retained the original melody of "The Yellow Rose of Texas" but with new lyrics, for the title theme to a TV series also titled 'The Yellow Rose.' It was a number one country hit that year.

Other versions

* Dacosta Woltz's Southern Broadcasters, Gennet - 6143 (1927)

* Dario Moreno

* Gene Autry & Jimmy Long - recorded for Melotone Records on March 1, 1933, catalog No. 12700

* Roy Rogers (1942)

* Bing Crosby recorded the song in 1955 for use on his radio show and it was subsequently included in the CD 'So Rare: Treasures from the Crosby Archive' (2010)

* Ronnie Hilton - this reached the No. 15 spot in the UK charts in 1955.

* Michael Holliday - a single release in 1955.

* Mantovani (1959)

* Pat Boone (1961)

* Hoyt Axton (1991) on "Songs of the Civil War" CD (Columbia)

* Kidsongs (1997)

* Waldemar Matuka

See also

* Yellow Rose of Texas Award

* High yellow

* Emily D. West

* 'The Yellow Rose'


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