Yodeling and Whistling and My Eclectic Music

NOTE: My iTunes music library and play lists (1000’s of songs) probably is the most eclectic and diverse song list than any other person. Even my husband agrees and he cannot believe my range of music tastes. On my playlists and collections, I have everything from 40’s and 50’s music, to present day pop. In this collection, I have doo-wop, crooners, ballads, torch-songs, folk music, psychedelic music, swamp rock, love songs, most of pop and rock and roll, lite country, album rock, big-haired rock, glam rock; and just about every genre except classical and jazz. (Oh and blues, nope, no blues.)

I love music so much, that I even enjoy variations of singing – the human voice in song is of particular interest to me, particularly the way it can twist and turn, cackle and snarl, bend, and wail. Harmonies are like candy to my ears.

Most interestingly, I enjoy noises that humans make in song. I am sure that puts me in a definite minority of people with that taste, but the crazy sounds of 50’s doo-wop, some 40’s scatting, and all kinds of other noises that the voice makes in song is fascinating to me.  Call me weird, quirky, or whatever, but I am a music lover, so it won’t disturb me.

This is my first in a series of a few blogs that call attention to “noises” made in popular song. I am going to start out with yodeling, and then will write others, all with links to songs to demonstrate for anyone interested in this weird stuff like me, that include whistling, variations on the sung word “Hey” and maybe some other surprises.

What is yodeling in song? It is a form of singing which involves repeated and rapid changes of pitch between the low-pitch and the high-pitch, mostly with noises. Yodeling comes from the Bavarian countries and with my 23 and Me results, (that blog is also coming soon where I talk about my results) it turns out that I have lots of German roots, so it is no wonder that I love this form of singing.

Also, one truly must possess a pristine voice to pull it off appropriately in popular music.  In some forms, it is just elongated notes held at a high pitch, and in some forms it sounds just like a yodel should sound. (Think Yodelay-hee-who) Here then are my favorite pop songs with yodels of some form or variation. And after that, be sure to check out the most stunning yodeling song you ever heard in your life by Kacey Musgraves recorded when she was only 14 years old. It is old school yodeling – rapid pace at the end – like you have never heard before. See in Last paragraph

Here are some of my favorite yodels which I try to imitate in the privacy and comfort of my own car so as not to break the ear drums of any unwitting and innocent victims. This is not ranked, just numbered. Each song is linked with a You Tube video for your viewing pleasure.

  1. Five-o’clock World by the Vogues. This is a song you think you do not know, but you most certainly would recognize it if you heard it. The voices and harmonies of this five hit wonder group in the mid sixties were heavenly. The voices are strong enough to pull off an incredible and distinctive yodel in the middle of the song, which has great other sound effects made with voices. “Ad-delady hee, hee, hee – yep, yep” is the refrain. It is almost Yodel-lady-he —-it is THAT close to a real yodel. It is awesome.
  2. Young Girls by Bruno Mars – I don’t know where this pop hit came from but although it was not as chart topping as his other songs, his voice is wonderful on this, and the tune is very catchy. It is my very favorite just because of the yodeling in it. It goes something like: “Yeah you young and wild girls, I always come back to you, come back to you, you-you-ooh-ooh-you-ooh-ooh-ooh-yeah you you-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh etc” going higher and higher with his oohs like a yodel. I just love it because I pretend I can both sing and yodel just like him when I sing along. This chorus is prolonged and repeated for a lengthy stretch to make it notable. This type of yodel is similar to when LeAnn Rimes did her Blue song that was her first hit and made her famous and was discussed as a pitch-perfect yodel at that time, only instead of singing you, she yodeled blue. I am not crazy about that song, so it is not on my list, but has the same kind of yodel.
  3. Lights by Journey – I don’t know how many people besides me would call these sound effects yodeling, but that’s what it feels and sounds like to me so I count this song. Journey is known for sound effects in place of lyrics, and I happen to like this about them. Sometimes when there is a beautiful voice to hear, just hold those notes on the many sound effects! (Nah, nah, nah don’t you know.)  Oh, oh, oh, oh-woah….. at the very beginning in  Steven Perry’s beautifully high voice sends shivers.  Then in the middle, when he holds this yodel-like sequence: Without your char-arh-ahr-arms, oooh-woah, oooh, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah nah, woah, oooh, woah. Love it! Pure beauty.
  4. Calypso by John Denver – No one would dispute this type of yodeling because it is absolutely old-school yodeling. There is no pretense here on it being anything else. After he sings the lyrics, he just goes into Hodelay-hee, dee, dee, dee, dee, Hodelay dee do do do do do do, Hodelay hee dee dee dee dee, Hodelay heee heeeee. It’s a neat song.
  5. Joanne by Michael Nesmith – I saw him in person this past year – a thrill as it was just him and he did some of his rare cuts, along with his biggest solo hit. When he has discussed this gorgeous song in the past, he referenced the yodeling, I can’t remember where or when, but I do remember that the notes he holds are high pitched and like a yodel, so I include it.  Oh her name is Joanne and she lives in the meadow by the pond, ah, ahhhhh, ahhhh, ahhhhnd.  And she touched me for a moment that spoke to me of her sweet love-ovvvv-ovvv-ovvvv-ovve. At any rate, he elongates the end of some of the phrases in the lyrics with a beautiful high yodel. For meee–eeeee-eeeeee…..
  6. The Lonely Gothard – Sound of Music – This is the song that started my fascination with yodeling and I absolutely loved it from the first time I heard this song.

Now I have completely ignored the country genre for a reason.  There are too many country songs with this feature for one, and secondly, I barely tolerate most country-music. However, there is one stand out song, by my current idol Kacey Musgraves, linked in the first sentence of this paragraph, who surprised everyone this year by winning all the big Grammy awards including Album of the Year. In this song, called the Texas Yodler, where she sings about being a country girl and just belts out the fastest most beautiful yodel you ever heard in your life, it is simply a wonder to behold that anyone can do that with a voice. So if you check out any of the linked You Tubes, make sure this is one that you visit. Even if you don’t like country, or yodeling, this is a stunner.

And a PS about Kacey Musgraves:  if you think it is weird that I love a country artist, remember that Taylor Swift was labeled that for a long time, even though she was no more country than The Eagles. Maybe country-ish, or country-rock (DUH, I love Creedence Clearwater Revival and Mike Nesmith) or country-pop (which I mostly like) but not pure country. In fact, Kacey is known for snarky lyrics that poke fun of the country music lifestyle and small town people. Her lyrics are so smart, witty and cynical, that she has been banned from most country music stations and only has become popular because of television appearances and a huge fan base of people like me, who thinks she defies the country genre. She also wears light up boots, and has a gorgeous voice. I cannot wait to see her in person tonight at the Houston Rodeo where she will serenade about 45,000 people.

Next up will be Whistles. Oh, how I love to put my lips together and pretend I am whistling along in the songs that will be mentioned, even though I cannot whistle at all.

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