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odd two dozen which made a certain record in 1924. The sheet indicated that more than a thousand copies of it had been sold during one month of the year. It doesn't take long for such a seller as that—multiplying this record by twenty-three, the sales of the other companies—to run 'way ahead of "popular" numbers, with the exception, perhaps, of those outstanding hits of Broadway which romp up past the million mark in a few months.
Of course there are some topical numbers which have only a brief life. There's a New Star in Heaven Tonight, which dealt with—how did you guess it?—the passing of Rudolph Valentino, sold splendidly for a few months and then dropped off to almost nothing. But that had to do with a personality—a single individual. It lacked the uni­versal appeal of a tragic love story, a railroad or steamship wreck or the career of a bandit.
They Know What They Want
"These folks for whom we write and sing are finicky," says Robison. "They know the formula they like and they want no changes or improvements. The phonograph and revival meetings are their religion. The radio means little to them, the movies nothing. Take the story of The Wreck of the 12:56, which has sold half a million and is still going strong. There's a simple story and a simple tune. There are only sixteen bars of music to the whole thing, repeated over and over.
"They pay more attention to the story than to the mel­ody. You've got to stress the moral and you must have a singer who can put over every word clearly.
"Now I'm teamed up with another singer. He's a Kansan like myself and his name is Frank Luther, although he also sings under the name of Bud Billings."
The famous Death of Floyd Collins, by the way, was not written from the pen of Robison, but was written by An­drew W. Jenkins, a blind preacher of Atlanta, Georgia. Jenkins has since made a number of records with Robison. He is a gifted fiddler and has a voice which lends itself hap­pily to singing these ballads. His two daughters, who work with him, take down his songs as he hums them.
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III