Orange Blossom Special (song)
The fiddle
The term fiddle may refer to any bowed string musical instrument, most often the violin. It is also a colloquial term for the instrument used by players in all genres, including classical music...

 tune "Orange Blossom Special", about the passenger train of the same name, was written by Ervin T. Rouse
Ervin T. Rouse
Ervin Thomas Rouse is a fiddler and songwriter largely known for his widely recorded "Orange Blossom Special" bluegrass standard....

 (1917-1981) in 1938. The original recording was created by Ervin and Gordon Rouse in 1939. It is considered the best known fiddle tune of the twentieth century and is often called simply The Special. It has been referred to as "the fiddle player's national anthem".


By the 1950s, it had become a perennial favorite at bluegrass festivals, popular for its rousing energy. For a long time no fiddle player would be hired for a bluegrass band unless he could play it.


Other musicians, including Robert Russell "Chubby" Wise
Chubby Wise
Robert Russell "Chubby" Wise was an American bluegrass fiddler.Wise began playing fiddle at age 15, working locally in the Jacksonville area. He joined the Jubilee Hillbillies in 1938, then began playing with Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys in 1942, including dates at the Grand Ole Opry...

, have claimed authorship of the song. As Chubby tells the story, one night, after he and fellow musician Ervin made their usual rounds, they decided to visit the Jacksonville Terminal in Florida and see what the fuss over the Orange Blossom Special train
Orange Blossom Special (passenger train)
The Orange Blossom Special was a deluxe passenger train operated primarily by the Seaboard Air Line Railroad between New York City and Miami in the United States....

 was all about . .
Rouse copyrighted the song in 1938 and recorded it in 1939. Bill Monroe
Bill Monroe
William Smith Monroe was an American musician who created the style of music known as bluegrass, which takes its name from his band, the "Blue Grass Boys," named for Monroe's home state of Kentucky. Monroe's performing career spanned 60 years as a singer, instrumentalist, composer and bandleader...

, regarded by many as "the father of bluegrass music," recorded the song (with Art Wooten on fiddle) and made it a hit. Since then countless versions nave been recorded, among them Chubby's own, as an instrumental in a 1969 album, Chubby Wise and His Fiddle. And that version, said Chubby, "is the way it was written and the way it's supposed to be played."


Look a-yonder comin'

Comin' down that railroad track

Hey, look a-yonder comin'

Comin' down that railroad track

It's the Orange Blossom Special

Bringin' my baby back

Well, I'm going down to Florida

And get some sand in my shoes

Or maybe Californy

And get some sand in my shoes

I'll ride that Orange Blossom Special

And lose these New York blues

"Say man, when you going back to Florida?"

"When am I goin' back to Florida? I don't know, don't reckon I ever will."

"Ain't you worried about getting your nourishment in New York?"

"Well, I don't care if I do-die-do-die-do-die-do-die."

Hey talk about a-ramblin'

She's the fastest train on the line

Talk about a-travellin'

She's the fastest train on the line

It's that Orange Blossom Special

Rollin' down the seaboard line


  • Johnny Cash
    Johnny Cash
    John R. "Johnny" Cash was an American singer-songwriter, actor, and author, who has been called one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century...

     named his 1965 album
    Orange Blossom Special (album)
    Due to the acclaim that the cover of the song "Orange Blossom Special" received from the audiences that attended live concerts of Cash, a single of the song was released previous to the album, in February of 1965 reaching number three in the Billboard singles. During the mid 1960s, the authorship...

     after the song. While bluegrass performers tend to play it as strictly an instrumental, Cash sang the lyrics, and replaced the fiddle parts with two harmonicas.
  • The Moody Brothers
    The Moody Brothers
    The Moody Brothers are an Americana country music trio who gained prominence in 1985 when they were nominated for a Grammy Award for their instrumental performance of the classic fiddle tune "Cotton Eyed Joe"...

    ' Grammy nominated country instrumental "The Great Train Song Medley" featured their father Dwight Moody playing fiddle on Orange Blossom Special.
  • Florida-native Vassar Clements
    Vassar Clements
    Vassar Clements was a Grammy Award- winning American jazz, swing, and bluegrass fiddler. Clements has been dubbed the Father of Hillbilly Jazz, an improvisational style that blends and borrows from swing, hot jazz, and bluegrass along with roots also in country and other musical...

     also often played it during his live performances.
  • A version by Doug Kershaw
    Doug Kershaw
    Doug Kershaw, born January 24, 1936, is an American fiddle player, singer and songwriter from Louisiana. Active since 1949, Kershaw has recorded fifteen albums and charted on the Hot Country Songs charts.- Early life :...

     peaked at #9 on the RPM
    RPM (magazine)
    RPM was a Canadian music industry publication that featured song and album charts for Canada. The publication was founded by Walt Grealis in February 1964, supported through its existence by record label owner Stan Klees. RPM ceased publication in November 2000.RPM stood for "Records, Promotion,...

    Country Tracks chart in Canada in 1970.
  • Noted session artist Tim Watson is famous for performing the song with his band, Black Creek, in imitation of a semi-trailer truck
    Semi-trailer truck
    A semi-trailer truck, also known as a semi, tractor-trailer, or articulated truck or articulated lorry, is an articulated vehicle consisting of a towing engine , and a semi-trailer A semi-trailer truck, also known as a semi, tractor-trailer, or (in the United Kingdom and Ireland) articulated truck...

     rather than a locomotive
    A locomotive is a railway vehicle that provides the motive power for a train. The word originates from the Latin loco – "from a place", ablative of locus, "place" + Medieval Latin motivus, "causing motion", and is a shortened form of the term locomotive engine, first used in the early 19th...

    . The interpretation includes a mock truck horn (rather than a steam whistle), a police car, and a collision with a rather unfortunate opossum.
  • The song was covered by Swedish instrumental rock
    Instrumental rock
    Instrumental rock is a type of rock music which emphasizes musical instruments, and which features very little or no singing.Examples of instrumental rock can be found in practically every subgenre of rock, often from musicians who specialize in the style, most notably Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Link...

     band The Spotnicks
    The Spotnicks
    The Spotnicks is an instrumental rock group from Sweden, who were formed in 1961. They were famous for wearing "space suit" costumes on stage, and for their innovative electronic guitar sound...

     in 1961
    1961 in music
    -Events:*January 15 – Motown Records signs The Supremes.*January 20 – Francis Poulenc's Gloria receives its premiėre in Boston, USA.*February 12 – The Miracles' "Shop Around" becomes Motown's first million-selling single....

     and released on their first album, The Spotnicks in London – Out-a-Space!. In 1962 the Spotnicks recording entered the British Top 30.
  • It was the official theme song (1949-1977) for the Texas Cowgirls basketball team who barnstormed playing men's basketball rules against male opponents. Decked out with boleros, western hats, holsters and pistols over their basketball uniforms, the team entered the courts to the tune, dropping an article of western fashion with each fancy layup.
  • The song was covered by award-winning fiddler Wayne Masters and his band, the Back Creek Valley Boys, on their 2010 album "Back Creek Valley Express".
  • Steve Martin
    Steve Martin
    Stephen Glenn "Steve" Martin is an American actor, comedian, writer, playwright, producer, musician and composer....

     and his band the Steep Canyon Rangers
    Steep Canyon Rangers
    The Steep Canyon Rangers are an American bluegrass band from Brevard, North Carolina.In 2008, the band received a nomination from International Bluegrass Music Association for "Album and Gospel Performance of the Year"....

     played the song at the 2011 A Capitol Fourth
    A Capitol Fourth
    A Capitol Fourth is a free annual concert performed on the west lawn of the United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., in celebration of the Independence Day. Broadcast live on PBS and NPR, the concert is viewed and heard by millions across The United States and the world, as well as...

     Concert on the National Mall
    National Mall
    The National Mall is an open-area national park in downtown Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States. The National Mall is a unit of the National Park Service , and is administered by the National Mall and Memorial Parks unit...

     in Washington, DC.

See also


External links

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