As time moves toward my journeys end
I know Im going to where Ive never been.
Just one thing I ask, Lord, while on my way,
That I make someone happy every day
By the songs I might sing and the things I may say
Then I will feel I have paid my way.
-- Slim Clark
And that he did
Welcome to the official Yodeling Slim Clark website. Dedicating nearly 70 years to a career of performing authentic cowboy, western and folk music, Yodeling Slim Clark worked on stage, in radio, television, and also as a recording artist and songwriter, compiling over 100 recordings throughout his career. With his music known and loved throughout the world, he often is considered a legend, and sometimes even titled as a World Champion yodeler. He remained true to his love of cowboy music, and although living most of his life in the northeast United States, Yodeling Slim Clark dressed, sang, rode, and lived his life with the heart of a cowboy.
Slim received numerous awards throughout his career, including inductions in Halls of Fame in Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, induction to the Walkway of Stars at the former Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee and also the Western Music Association Hall of Fame in Tucson, Arizona. Although Yodeling Slim Clark passed on in 2000, his presence remains timeless. May you enjoy your visit to this site
Autobiography of Yodeling Slim Clark, 1917 - 2000
(written sometime in the early 1980s)
A little background on my life in show business and other things. I hope it is of interest to some people --- it has been to me. Nothing fantastic, nothing classed as great, but satisfying.
I had an interest in cowboy music ever since I was old enough to understand what they were singing about on the old-fashioned, wind-up phonographs. At the age of 7 or 8, I decided I was going to be a cowboy singer. Also an artist. I said, Ill do those two things, and believed it. So much so that I just went ahead and did them and thought that was the way it was supposed to be. And if I had to do it all over again, I would do the same things. Perhaps a little differently, but it would be basically the same.
At the age of 13, I was singing cowboy songs that Id learned on the old-fashioned , crank-up phonograph---a Victrola. Id sit in the rocking chair and rock for hours listening to the old songs by Charlie Blake, John White, Jimmie Rodgers and Bradley Kincaid.
Along about that time a fellow came by with a guitar and he showed me a few chords, just a few. And thats just what I play today---the same few chords. I never became much of a guitar player, but for the type of song that I do and the style that I have and the crudeness of my delivery, the way that I play is very much in line with everything else, so Ive never bothered to become much of a guitar player. It would be just like putting white sidewall tires on a pulp truck.
So I learned a few chords and started singing around with some of the local bands. Used to get two dollars a night. Pretty good money. Of course, I had to walk four or five miles carrying a guitar in a burlap bag to do these things, but at intermission, theyd have me do a few cowboy songs because I couldnt play too well during the dance. And then thered be local shows and town shows. A few, as we called them back the in those days, cowboy shows would come through on occasion and people would ask the show manager to let me get up and sing a song during the evenings entertainment, and theyd do it. I was well accepted, accepted even by the groups that used to come by and let me sing. I had offers to travel with some of them, which I did.
At the same time, there was a fellow by the name of Wilf Carter who had already been established, probably a year or so ahead of me. Everybody said, You sound like Montana Slim (aka Wilf Carter). I said, Who in the world is that? I hadnt heard of him because we didnt have a radio at that time. The neighbors had a radio and they told me about it. I found out when he was on -- in the morning around 9:00. After that, whatever I was doing, cutting wood for the family, or haying, or whatever, I would quit at that time and go listen to Montana Slim because everything he sang was exactly my idea of what the cowboy singer should be like. If there is such a thing as great, he was the greatest of all. He learned a lot about cowboy life and thats where a lot of his songs were born, going on to write some of the finest of the cowboy songs.
Their songs were written on the range---somebody got an idea and theyd make up a song about it. Somebody was generally lucky enough to have a guitar or banjo and theyd amuse themselves in the evenings around the campfire. One might write a verse, and then another would add to it---thats the way some of the songs went along. Some had quite a story to them, sometimes tragic, but a lot of them were just songs they sang to keep the cattle in good spirits in the evening. Music seemed to soothe the big herds of cattle. It was also amusement for the cowboys, sitting around after a hard day in the saddle. That kind of life appealed to me and I decided to be a cowboy, too. You dont have to be born and raised in Texas to be a cowboy. Some of the best cowboy bronc riders that I ever knew came out of New England, New York, and New Jersey---out that way.
You can learn to be a cowboy without going out West, but I went out into Saskatchewan and Canadas West to learn a little more about it. I picked up all kinds of cowboy material from the rodeos that I traveled around with as an entertainer. In the evenings after the big rodeos were over, I used to sing for hours to the cowboys sitting around the trailers and camps and trucks. Theyd keep me awake all night, singing for them and I became very accustomed to the western type of life and the songs and stories. So thats where my interest grew and was nurtured into my being a cowboy singer.
Pete Roy has bee a big influence in my career, too, through his great help with songwriting. Sometimes wed collaborate on the story and music, so hes been a big help in a lot of my big tunes such as Calgary Stampede, which was gold, Young Mounties Prayer, which was a big hit in Canada, Stampede the Outlaw, and many, many others that have become standards in cowboy music.
I also sang at a dude ranch and lead trail rides and entertained the tourists on these rides. I was given some pretty good opportunities to further my career through connections with big booking agents and radio stations and so forth.
New York City was, at that time, the center of music, as Nashville is now. New York seemed to be the big place---thats where you got on records. I was hired to make records and became very, very popular. At that time cowboy singing was exactly that. The big bands and new sounds and electronic arrangements that they have now werent even invented yet. In fact, we were just making 78 speed across-the-board-records. I did the first echo chamber that was ever made, and I did the first multiple recording that was ever made. That doesnt make me any better than anyone else, it was just an experimental thing.
I had all kinds of chances to be up there on the top shelf, but it required staying and living in the big city, playing clubs, meeting with people all the time, and I was too much of a country boy to stand for that. I was brought up in the country and hunting and fishing were my life. They came first. So when I couldnt do my hunting a fishing, I was very unhappy and wouldnt be able to do the job I was supposed to be doing. I would disappear in the Fall from the city. Theyd wonder where I was and Id be on a hunting excursion. In the Spring, Id disappear again because it was fishing season. Theyd again wonder, Where is this guy? We want him here, should have him here, but we cant get ahold of him
Hes always in the woods somewhere. So they lost patience with me and said, To heck with him
well get him when we can and if we cant get him well get somebody else.
Anyway, I decided Id rather be a big toad in a small puddle and came back to New England. Of course records have made me known all over the world, and I didnt have to travel so far to be heard. So I do respect the recordings and the recording companies for all the help they have given me along these lines. I have gotten a big as I have cared to. I am quite satisfied. I just dont want to be, and dont believe in, such things as the greatest. I like to be well respected and well remembered, but as for being the greatest, that doesnt make any difference to me. If I have made people happy with my music, that is exactly what my aim was.
I enjoy the festivals that come every year now. They have kind of been a rebirth for me. In fact, in the late 60s, with the turn of country music from country to pop and country rock, it got out of hand for me. I couldnt see that type of stuff. I was very authentic in my approach and it had to stay that way---I wouldnt change---I was too stubborn to change. I couldnt, I guess, if Id wanted to. I stayed with the old stuff and I was just about ready to hang it up and forget about it and just remember my old records and say, thats the way it used to be
, when the festivals, Bluegrass and Old Time music festivals, started to move, started to blossom out here and there. At first they didnt know whether or not to use me on those type of shows. I was a western entertainer and they wanted to keep things pure. They wanted Bluegrass and Old-Timey and at first they didnt stop to realize I WAS old-timey, I was real old time country and western, not the modern.
A couple of them gave me a shot to see what would happen. I was well received because it was just down my alley, singing the old authentic western songs that people were starving to hear and couldnt anymore because of the big change that had come over country music. They really gobbled me up, so to speak, and I was amazed.
Then all the festivals started using me all over the eastern seaboard. I have become very well respected wherever I go because I have not changed and I never will. People know what they are going to hear when they see my name on the bill. So it has been a big thing for me. In fact, I think that, besides my recording, the festivals have made me more popular than I ever was before. I am very, very thankful and I have thought so many times how great it has been that this change has come before it was too late. I love to do the shows and I love to meet the people, but I hate to do the traveling and everything in connection with going to and from, and also the hanging around waiting for the shows. Those things tire and bore me when I could be fishing or playing golf. I love to do the personal appearances and meet the people and visit with them, but its the traveling to shows that almost makes me refuse to do them. But I will keep going as long as I can. As I said before, if I had to do it all over again, I would do the same thing
perhaps a little differently, but basically the same.
I guess that tells my story as a cowboy entertainer. Now for the artist part. I have become as popular as an artist as I have a singer, locally or in the east, not world wide. I do very well and I have a pretty busy season. I love to paint the outdoors, the wildlife, the hunting and fishing pictures, the sportsmans dreams, old country homes and farms, country roads, pets, logging scenes of the older era (not the modern mechanized type of logging). Mostly the old days, the horse and drag days, things like that, and the log-hauling days. I like to paint those particular types of pictures.
I am known as a deer painter. I paint the whitetail deer probably more than anything. Being a hunter and guide for many years and a conservationist and nature lover, I studied the subject very well and know what Im painting. Painting is like singing You have to know what you are singing about or painting about in order to do a good job of it.
I shall continue as long as I can to carry out these two things that I enjoy so much. I hope somewhere along the way I will be able to meet all the people who have supported me and been kind to me and respected me all these years.
-- Slim Clark
Such are Slims words describing his career until the early 80s. He continued to flourish throughout the 80s and 90s, performing at shows and continuing his recordings, increasing a world wide fan base and also receiving much recognition through numerous awards, including admittance to the Maine Country Music Hall of Fame, the Massachusetts Country Music Hall of Fame, the Rhode Island Country Music Hall of Fame, receiving the Pioneer Award in the Downeast Country Music Association, induction into the Walkway of Stars at the former Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, TN in 1996 and induction into the Hall of Fame at the Western Music Association in Tucson, AZ in 2000. Although he was extremely thankful and looking forward to attending the ceremony for that last honor, unfortunately his passing on July 5, 2000 prevented that from happening. A little more information includes his birth, December 11, 1917 in Springfield, MA. ; marriage to Celia Jo Roberson Clark (aka Blue Eyed Celia) for 25 years
two children, a son named Wilf Carter Clark and a daughter named Jewel LaVerne Clark. Divorced from Celia in 1968 and married Dr. Kathleen M. Pigeon Clark in 1981, remaining happily wed until his death.
-- Jewel Clark