Carson J. Robison

Induction Year: 1971

Birth Name: Carson Jay Robison

Birth Date: 08-04-1890

Place of Birth: Oswego, Kansas

Death Date: 03-24-1957

Place of Death: Poughkeepsie, New York

With a continuous studio career from 1924 to 1956, Carson J. Robison is probably the most recorded singer-songwriter in country music history. He was also one of the first full-time country writers.

Robison was raised on a farm in Kansas and was self-taught on guitar, tenor banjo, harmonica and ukulele. He also learned the unique skill of two-tone whistling, sounding like two people whistling in harmony.

After working as a cowboy, oilfield worker, soldier and railroad dispatcher, he began concentrating on music when he was 30 years old. He was discovered by recording star Wendell Hall and brought to New York in 1924. For the next several years, Robison was in demand as a session musician, playing and whistling on the records of Gene Austin, Hoagy Carmichael and others.

From 1924 to 1928, Robison provided country star Vernon Dalhart with instrumental backing and songs. He wrote many of Dalhart's big "event" songs, commemorating fires, train wrecks, earthquakes and the like. He also became Dalhart's partner on duets and in trio recordings with fiddler Adelyne Hood. Despite their success, the two men had a less than cordial relationship. Dalhart reportedly treated Robison like a sideman and demanded one-third of his songwriting royalties. When this escalated to one-half of Robison's royalties, the songwriter severed the partnership.

Robison immediately teamed up for duets with Frank Luther, who could sing almost exactly like Dalhart. They had an instant hit with "Barnacle Bill the Sailor" and followed it with four sequels. With Luther's wife, fiddler Zora Layman, they also aped Dalhart's trio records. The Luther-Robison partnership lasted until they parted amicably in 1932.

Next, Robison reinvented himself as a cowboy singer. He traveled with his group to Great Britain and Ireland in 1932, 1936 and 1939, becoming the first act to take country music overseas. Stateside, he starred in a string of national radio series for CBS and NBC throughout the 1930s. During this phase of his career Robison wrote such cowboy classics as "Carry Me Back to the Lone Prairie."

When World War II broke out, Robison shifted musical styles again. He created topical songs about the conflict that became enormously popular. He scored the biggest hit of his career with the humorous "Life Gets Tee-Jus, Don't It" in 1948. Ever alert to changing tastes, he wrote and recorded "Rockin' and Rollin' with Grandma" in 1956, the year before his death.

"1942 Turkey in the Straw"

Carson Robison1942 #22 pop

"Barnacle Bill the Sailor"

(written with Frank Luther)

Frank Luther1929 
Frank Luther & His Pards1929 
Carson Robison1929 
Carson Robison & Frank Luther1929 
Arthur Fields1929 
Vernon Dalhart1929 
Hoagy Carmichael1930 
Frank Luther (remake)1934 
Louis Jordan1938 
Louis Prima & Keely Smith1953 
Ella Jenkins1969 

"Carry Me Back to the Lone Prairie"

Louise Massey & the Westerners1934 
The Ranch Boys 
The Light Crust Doughboys1935 
Milton Brown & His Brownies1937 
Roy Rogers1937 
Gene Autry & Mary Lee1941 
Foy Willing & the Riders of the Purple Sage1946 
Roy Rogers1947 
Jimmy Wakely1956 
The Sons of the Pioneers1961 
Johnny Bond1961 
Eddy Arnold1963 
Riders in the Sky1982 

"Carry Me Back to the Mountains"

Frank Luther & Carson Robison1930 
The Carson Robison Trio1930 
Bashful Brother Oswald1972 
Mac Wiseman2001 

"Carson Robison's Story"

(Parts 1 & 2)

Carson Robison1930 

"Down on the Old Plantation"

Frank Luther & Carson Robison1929 
The Carson Robison Trio1930 
Doc Hopkins1931 
Tex Fletcher1938 
The Browns1961 

"Going Back to Texas"

Frank Luther & Carson Robison1929 
The Carson Robison Trio1929 
Frank Luther & Ed Faber1929 
Carson Robison & His Pioneers1932 
Carson Robison & His Buckaroos1941 

"Hirohito's Letter to Hitler"

Carson Robison1945 

"Hitler's Last Letter to Hirohito"

Carson Robison1945 #5 country

"In the Cumberland Mountains"

Frank Luther & Carson Robison1931 
The Carson Robison Trio1931 

"Left My Gal in the Mountains"

Carson Robison & Frank Luther1929 
Frank Luther & Ed Faber1929 
Gene Autry1929 
The Carson Robison Trio1931 
The Lonesome Cowboy & Girl1931 
Burl Ives1953 
Jaye P. Morgan1959 
Hank Thompson1959 
Tennessee Ernie Ford1959 
Elton Britt1960 
The Wilburn Brothers1962 
The Sons of the Pioneers1964 
Hoyt Axton1978 
The Stonemans1982 

"Life Gets Tee-Jus, Don't It"

Carson Robison1948 #3 country, #14 pop
Walter Brennan1962 
Archie Campbell1966 
Hank Williams Jr.1969 

"Little Green Valley"

The Vernon Dalhart Trio1928 
Frank Luther & Carson Robison1928 
Frank Luther1928 
The Arkansas Woodchopper1929 
The Carson Robison Trio1931 
Marty Robbins1959 
Slim Whitman1968 
Jerry Lee Lewis1975 
Del, Doc & Mac1998 

"Mussolini's Letter to Hitler"

Carson Robison1942 #21 pop
Denver Darling1942 

"My Blue Ridge Mountain Home"

Vernon Dalhart & Carson Robison1927 
Vernon Dalhart & Carson Robison1928 
Vernon Dalhart1928 
Frank Luther1928 

"My Little Home in Tennessee"

Vernon Dalhart1925 
Harkreader & Moore1927 
Mr. & Mrs. Hugh Cross1928 
Bradley Kincaid1929 
The Carter Family1932 
Mac Wiseman1953 

"Open Up Dem Pearly Gates"

Frank Luther & Carson Robison1929 
Carson Robison & His Pioneers1932 
The Beverly Hill Billies1935 
The Chuck Wagon Gang1964 
Doc & Merle Watson1971 

"Railroad Boomer"

The Carson Robison Trio1929 
Frank Luther & Carson Robison1929 
Frank Luther & Ed Faber1929 
Gene Autry1930 
Goebel Reeves1931 
The Pine Ridge Boys1940 
Riley Puckett1941 
The Rice Brothers Gang1941 
Roy Acuff1941 

"Rockin' and Rollin' with Grandma"

Carson Robison1956 

"Runaway Train"

(written with Robert E. Massey)

Vernon Dalhart1925 
The Carson Robison Trio1931 
Carson Robison & His Pioneers1932 

"Sleepy Rio Grande"

Carson Robison & Frank Luther1929 
The Carson Robison Trio1929 
Carson Robison & Frank Luther1930 
The Louisiana Strollers1936 
Carson Robison & His Buckaroos1941 
Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys1946 
Hank Snow1958 

"The John T. Scopes Trial"

Vernon Dalhart1925 
Vernon Dalhart and Company1925 
Charlie Oaks1925 
Charles Nabell1925 

"The Mississippi Flood"

Vernon Dalhart1927 

"The Old Gray Mare Is Back Where She Used to Be"

Carson Robison1942 #21 pop

"The Wreck of the Shenandoah"

Vernon Dalhart1925 
Vernon Dalhart & Company1925 
Vernon Dalhart (remake)1928 

"There's a Bridle Hangin' on the Wall"

Carson Robison & His Buckaroos1936 
Judie & Julie1939 
Gene Autry1945 
Rex Allen & Don Edwards2005 

"Way Out West in Kansas"

Billy Murray & Ed Smalle1924 
Vernon Dalhart1924 

"Whistling the Blues Away"

Wendell Hall & Carson Robison1924 

"Wreck of the Number Nine"

Vernon Dalhart1927 
Frank Luther1928 
Tex Ritter1945 
Marty Robbins1956 
Jim Reeves1961 
Hank Snow1963 
The Stoneman Family1964 
Jim & Jesse1973 
Doc Watson1991 

"Zeb Turney's Gal"

(written with Marjorie Lamkin)

Vernon Dalhart1925 
Vernon Dalhart and Company1925 
The Arkansas Woodchopper1929 
Bradley Kincaid1934 
Hank Snow1952 
Roy Acuff1963 

Carson J. Robison

Induction Year: 1971