Orange Blossom Special

Originally the "Orange Blossom Special" was a fiddle tune composed by Ervin T. Rouse, a fiddler and songwriter, in 1938. The first recording was made in 1939 by Ervin and his brother Gordon Rouse.

The melody refers to the passenger train "Orange Blossom Special" that connected railroads between New York City and Miami in the United States. It ran only during the winter season but became famous for its speed and unbeatable luxury. All food, from pies to birthday cakes, was prepared or baked on board. Cut flowers and fresh fish were taken on at every revictualing stop and for each run the train carried a fortune of wine, liquor and champagne, these at pre-Prohibition prices.
In 1938, the same year he wrote it, Ervin Rouse copyrighted the song. By the 1950's the song became a favourite at bluegrass festivals. It was popular for its rousing energy and for a long time the capability of fiddlers was measured by their ability to play the Orange Blossom Special. Norm Cohen wrote in his book "Longsteel Rail: the railroad in American folksong": 
For many years, Orange Blossom Special has been not only a train imitation piece, but also a vehicle to exhibit the fiddler's pyrotechnic virtuosity. Performed at breakneck tempos and with imitative embellishments that evoke train wheels and whistles, OBS is guaranteed to bring the blood of all but the most jaded listeners to a quick, rolling boil.
Although Rouse had copyrighted the melody even before it ever reached Jacksonville, Robert Russell Wise, a bluegrass fiddler who worked in the Jacksonville area, claimed authorship of the song. For years he pretended to have written the melody in less than an houre together with Rouse, after they had visited the Jacksonville terminal for a tour with the Orange Blossom Special train. Over the years, authorship of the same melody has been claimed by many other musicians.

Orange Blossom Special has been recorded and performed in countless versions. It has been performed by Johnny Cash, who brought Ervin Rouse to Miami in order to play the song at his concerts. In 1969 it was recorded by Robert Russell Wise, the so-called composer. That version, he said, is the way it was written and the only way it is supposed to be performed.
Not only for fiddlers Orange Blossom Special has been a challenge, but also accordeon players have done their utmost to perform it in an appropriate speed:
click the link to hear Orange Blossom Special on accordeon.
Click this link to hear a high speed performance on accordeon, withe some variations: Orange Blossom Special

Source: Norm Cohen "Longsteel Rail: The railroad in American folksong"
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