C.C.Rider. Everyone from Leadbelly to the Grateful Dead has performed "C.C. Rider," but the question remains: Who was C.C. Rider?The song is listed as "traditional," meaning no one knows who wrote it. During the Civil War, C.C. stood for Cavalry Corporal. Riding is probably the most common metaphor for sexual intercourse in the blues. The rider is a sexual partner, a steady lover. Was a woman singing to her soldier lover in "C.C. Rider"?
On the other hand, both male and female blues singers have sung "C.C. Rider." This makes sense, given that in African American usage, "rider" may be used to mean a lover of either sex - and it makes the soldier theory rather interesting.
(Debra DeSalvo: The Language of the Blues from Alcorub to Zuzu, New York 2006, p. 34 f.)
C.C. Rider broke a pattern for Chuck. Until that time he had only recorded songs of his own. C.C. Rider is a traditional folk song whose authorship is obscure. It has been a favorite of many great blues singers, including Ma Rainey, Lil Green and Bea Booze, all of whom recorded it. Chuck's adaptation is his own and is striking in the originality of its styling.
(From the notes on the back cover of Atlantic LP 8018 by Guy Remark)
"C.C. Rider" became a triumph of production technique for Jerry Wexler. ... This was one of the best records of its time, not really rock 'n' roll or rhythm and blues but an inspired mood that drew from both styles and also from conventional popular music.
(Charlie Gillett: The Sound of the City. The Rise of Rock and Roll, new ed. New York 1996, p. 71)
Baker reached way back to the repertoire of the "Mother of the Blues," Ma Rainey, for the classic "See See Rider." Many young listeners must have as- sumed - as I did at the time - that it was a new song.
(Chip Deffaa: Blue Rhythms. Six Lives in Rhythm And Blues, New York 2000, p. 193)
For the record:
Chuck Willis: »C.C. Rider«. Recorded Jan. 31, 1957, in New York. First rel. on Atlantic # 1130 in March '57, the tune first charted in April, eventually reaching #1 r&b (BB) and #12 pop. Released on Atlantic LP # 8018 (Chuck Willis: King Of The Stroll) in late March 1958. Personnel included Gene Barge (tenorsax), Phil Kraus (marimbas) and Jesse Stone (arr/cond). In July, the album had passed the half- million sales mark; Chuck Willis died only two weeks after its release. BB Review Spotlight: Watch this one. Willis exhibits his usual sock show- manship and drive on "C.C. Rider," a great old blues with a haunting arrangement.
|Atlantic LP # 8071 (cover)|
*** BONUS SONG added March 31, 2012 ***
A smooth, jazzy-mellow reading of »C.C. Rider« from King Curtis' Atco LP King Size Soul (1967), recorded in Memphis, July 4, 1967 (yeah, they were working that day...). I don't know whether this album version is the same as the one released on Atco # 6711 in 1969.
King Curtis & The Kingpins: »C.C. Rider« from the Atco LP # SD 33-231 (1967):