The Oklahoma Oilfield Blues

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Oklahoma_Oilfield_Blues-Cover.jpg

Dale Ingram posted the cover of this piece of sheet music from 1920 on the "Oklahoma History -- People, Places, Things" Facebook group. He was kind enough to send me the two inside pages, too.

"The Oklahoma Oilfield Blues" was written by Jack Randolph (lyrics) and John F. Carroll (music). It was published in 1920 by the H. M. Keifer Music Pub. Co. of Pawhuska, Oklahoma. The cover, printed in blue, gold, and black, depicts a dapper man in a boater and cuffed pants sitting on a park bench and reading the "Oil and Gas News." In the background is the Minnehoma Gusher, "the 15,000 Barrel Well, PAWHUSKA, OKLAHOMA." The Minnehoma Oil Company was founded by George F. Getty, the father of J. Paul Getty.

The gusher, which came in on January 4, 1920, made national news:

OIL MEN RUSH TO NEW FIELD

(published in the El Paso Herald, January 14, 1920)

Pawhuska, Okla., Jan. 14. -- Since the Minnehoma Oil company's gusher on the Jackson-Worten lease, in the northeast corner of section 14-26-8 [5 miles W and 5 miles N of Pawhuska], came in 10 days ago, more than 100 new locations have been made and already 15 derricks have been started. Trains of trucks carrying materials to the various sites line the road from Pawhuska to the new well.

This well, the largest gusher ever brought in in Oklahoma, encountered production at 2313 feet with the drill 28 feet in the Mississippi lime. The monster flow came as a complete surprise to the owner of the well. It is the No. 3 on this quarter section. The No. 1 was abandoned as dry and the No. 2 made 25 barrels a day. Naturally when the great flow came there was not sufficient storage facilities arranged. Oil covered the ground for more than half a mile. Some 5000 gallons of oil was burned. Along the creek between the wel and the large reservoir, temporary dams were constructed and more than a dozen pumps were put in operation. In this way at least 40,000 barrels of oil valued at $100,000 was saved.

The Gulf Refining company and the Prairie Pipe line concern are rushing two lines to the well from their respective trunk lines.

Operators say that Pawhuska is surrounded by the greatest oil pool yet discovered. Within a radius of eight miles during the past two months four wells have been brought, proving the existence of as many separate fields. The last of these wells was brought in by the J. D. Wrightman company, of Tulsa, only a few days ago in section 30-[2]6-10, four miles northeast of town. This well is making a 100 barrels from the Bartlesville sand.

Still another new field was discovered when Gardner and Spencer completed their 500 barrel well on the southwest quarter of section 19-25-9 [three miles west and three miles south of Pawhuska], one mile from production.

Pawhuska is the mecca toward which Oklahoma producers are now turning and great things will happen in this field within the next few months.

A special advertising spread in the February 1, 1920, Tulsa Sunday World, celebrated Pawhuska's growth (quadrupling between 1910 and 1920) and reported that four oil fields had been found around the city in the previous 60 days and the Minnehoma Gusher had been tamed and was producing 1,000 barrels per day.

There's not much on the web about this song. In March 2007, Eric Marchese performed the song at the Orange County Ragtime Society.

Eric closed his set with a nod to the state of Oklahoma's centennial this year by playing his own, souped-up arrangement of John F. Carroll's music to "The Oklahoma Oil Field Blues," one of the few ragtime pieces to come out of the Sooner State (published in 1920 by H.M. Keifer Music Publishing Company in Pawhuska, Okla.). Again, Eric refrained from singing the piece's lyrics (by Jack Randolph) but described them (the singer longs to be back home in the oilfields where he will, presumably, one day strike it "rich as old John D."). The cover of the sheet music depicts "the Minnehoma Gusher, the 15,000-barrel well" in Pawhuska, as a young gent in a suit sits on a park bench reading a newspaper, the "Oil and Gas News."

The song also is listed in the 1920 Catalogue of Copyright Entries

The lyrics:

I love Oklahoma and the climate too.
When I leave that state I'm always feeling blue.
I want to go back there just to play the oil game,
To make some money and to win some fame.

There are men down there who just worked in the ditch,
Took a little chance and now they're more than rich.
I read all about them in the Oil and Gas News,
So that's just why I've got the oil field blues.

CHORUS:

I've got the blues,
I've got the oilfield blues,
I never felt this way.
I'm going back to a box car shack
If I have to work both night and day.
I'll save up all my money and invest you see,
And if I'm lucky I'll be rich as old John D.
Oh, boy, I've got the Oklahoma oil field blues.

According to the Long Lost Blues website, Jack Randolph and John F. Carroll also wrote the Jamaica-Ginger Blues.

(Click on each photo to see the full-sized image.)

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Oklahoma_Oilfield_Blues-2.jpg

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on January 2, 2017 4:52 PM.

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