Hank Snow's "I'm Movin' On", recorded in 1950, is justly revered by fans of classic (i.e. no orchestral backing) country music. Most of them, I suspect, would be shaken out of their cowboy boots by Matt Lucas' wild rockabilly waxing. Born in Memphis, Lucas had left home as a teenager, hoping for a motion-picture career; while he never did much screen time, he did establish himself as a capable drummer, and eventually he returned home to the Delta. Back in Memphis, he cut "I'm Movin' On" for the Renay label, with a frenzied vocal and his own drum part, which simulated the song's railroad train at least as successfully as, say, Arthur Honegger's Pacific 231. The local white radio stations, thinking this R&B shout was the voice of a black man (heck, so did I at first), passed on the record; eventually, Rufus Thomas at WDIA broke the record through, and other Southern stations followed suit. Mercury's Smash subsidiary picked it up for national distribution, and it bounced its way into the middle of the charts. The musical arbiters of the time didn't have much use for such a seeming anachronism as rockabilly, and Lucas, after a couple of singles on Dot, faded from national attention, but "I'm Movin' On" remains, and, I am happy to report, so does he. Long may he play.
Where can I get this on CD?
England's Ace Records has included this manic track on The Golden Age of American Rock 'n' Roll, Vol. 9 (CDCHD 800), which should be easily obtainable.
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Copyright © 2000-02 by Charles G. Hill
Chart information from Billboard is copyrighted by Billboard Publications, Inc.
Thanks to Matt and Barbara Lucas.