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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Three Miles South of Cash - Bob Wills and Carolina Cotton

We're in full Western Swing mode here at Dreamtime, this time around with a video of Bob Wills and The Texas Playboys from 19 and 51, featuring a semi-duet of Three Miles South of Cash between Wills and Carolina Cotton, who performs her signature yodelin' as Wills tries to keep pace.

This is from a so-called "Snader Telescription," one of television's first music videos. Snaders were 3-4 minute films shot live and produced from around 1950 until late 1953 or early `54, according to this site. The brainchild of Louis D. Snader, a Southern California real estate developer, almost all of the several hundred Snader Telescriptions were written, produced, and directed by a Duke Goldstone, who even helped design many of the sets. Goldstone could shoot as many as 12 Snaders in one day.

A bigger live draw than Tommy Dorsey and Benny Goodman in his heyday during in the 1940s, Wills career was winding down by 1951, as was Western Swing itself. He'd have one last Top Ten hit with Faded Love in 1950, although he'd continuing performing into the late `60s. The Yodelin' Blonde Bombshell - Carolina Cotton - was a featured songbird in the Spade Cooley, Deuce Spriggins (to whom she was briefly married), Hank Penny, and Bob Wills bands, as well as cutting her own singles.

Cotton appeared in several B Westerns as well as in some of the first "Soundies," an even earlier precursor to music videos (although the audio was taped, rather than performed live). Cotton was also one of the first female deejays, as well as a television pioneer. She turned down the role of Annie Oakley (later played by Gail Davis) to develop her own series, Queen of the Range, although the show was never aired. In the early `60s, Cotton retired from her entertainment career, earned her Masters Degree in Special Education, and taught at several schools in California. She'd occasionally still perform at Western Swing fan conferences and charity events into the late `90s, before passing away in 1997.

Cotton had a fascinating career, and you could learn more about her and her life at, a great site maintained by her family.

1 comment:

Kerry Dexter said...

amazing how many artists Wills has influenced, and continues to. thanks for the article, Fred.