Orange Blossom Special

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Orange Blossom Special poster

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"Orange Blossom Special"
(Ervin T Rouse)
performed by The Rosinators

[from the album "The Rosinators" PDC0503]
Will Sneyd, fiddle, vocals ; Fliss Premru, fiddle, vocals ; Paul Castle, guitar, vocals

Lyrics/Song history research on other recordings by The Rosinators

Old Joe Clark
One Kind Favour
I Saw the Light (Hank Williams)
In My Time of Dyin'
Blue Ridge Mountain Blues
Cindy's Breakdown (aka Get Along Home Cindy)
Joli Blon (aka Jolie Blonde)
Little Sadie

Looking for the Stone (aka Daniel Saw The Stone)
Poncho's Lament (Tom Waits)

Country Music Song Lyrics - bluegrass, Cajun, Country Blues & Gospel


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"On the first listening I was under it's spell;
on the second I was hooked! This is real
acoustic roots at its best. Don't let this one
pass you by!" [Maverick Magazine]

"It blew me away. Just such a wonderful
piece of work." [Bill Hahn, 'Traditions,
WFDU FM, New Jersey, USA]

"Buy the album. You won't regret it"
[Gail Comfort, CMR Nashville]

Download from  Apple iTunes 

The Rosinators

"When American roots music deejays rave about bluegrass passion, Cajun verve
and country-gospel authenticity, you know that The Rosinators are the real deal.
From deep in the heart of Balham Alligator territory, the London-based trio have
added their own stamp to the American old time tradition so convincingly that most
of their radio airplay comes from US stations. Formed in 2001, they blazed out of
the traps with dynamic three-part vocal harmonies and fiery twin-fiddle attacks
driven by crackin' guitar picking."
[Acoustic Music Centre - Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Aug 2005]


(as sung by The Rosinators)

Orange Blossom Special

1. Well look a-yonder comin'
   Comin' on down the track
   Well look a-yonder comin'
   Comin' on down the track
   It's the Orange Blossom Special
   Bringin' my baby back

2. Well talk about her ramblin'
   She's the fastest train on the line
   Well talk about her travellin'
   She's the fastest train on the line
   She's the Orange Blossom Special
   Rollin' down the seaboard line

3. Well, I'm going down to Florida
   Get some sand in my shoes
   Or maybe California
   Get some sand in my shoes
   I'll ride the Orange Blossom Special
   And lose those New York blues

COUNTRY SONG LYRICS - links to Bluegrass,
Cajun, Country Blues and Gospel Country song lyrics

Song History Research

State historical marker honors musician Ervin Rouse
(from - June 28 2008 - Matt Tessnear, Sun Journal)

More than a hundred people gathered Saturday morning at
Buzzard's Corner to celebrate the life of a Craven County
native who wrote a song many simply call "The Special."

The N.C. Department of Archives and History honored Ervin
T. Rouse by dedicating a historical sign at the intersection of
N.C. 55 and Wintergreen Road, one-quarter mile from the
place where he was born in 1917. In 1938, Rouse wrote
"Orange Blossom Special," a song about a train that traveled
from New York to Miami. Over the years many notable music
artists, including Johnny Cash, have recorded the song. Many
have also tried to take credit for writing it.

"The song belongs to the world now, but Ervin Rouse belongs
to Craven County," said Randy Noles, an Orlando, Fla., resident
and Rouse biographer. "I'm sure Ervin, wherever he is, is looking
down right now saying ‘See, I told you so. It was me and no one

Fiddlers' Curse by Randy Noles


One of the most bizarre stories in all of popular music is the story
behind Orange Blossom Special, arguably the century's best-known
fiddle tune as well as one of the most-performed songs of the 20th
century and a signature hit for the late Johnny Cash.

In a newly released book, Alabama-bred author Randy Noles
investigates the lives of the two men credited with authoring the
song, which salutes a legendary streamlined passenger train.

The book, Fiddler's Curse: The Untold Story of Ervin T. Rouse,
Chubby Wise, Johnny Cash and the Orange Blossom Special 
Centerstream Publishing, $14.95), reveals the luckless Rouse to
be the sole author.

Rouse, who endured tragedy, alcoholism and mental illness, spent
his final years fiddling for tips in isolated taverns at the edge of the
Everglades. Wise, who achieved fame as the seminal fiddler of the
bluegrass era and the acclaimed author of the song, also struggled
to overcome personal demons and heal the scars of childhood abuse
and abandonment. Cash, the tortured superstar who made the Special
a mainstream hit, quietly championed Rouse and earned the enmity
of Wise following a perceived onstage slight.

"The book settles a longstanding authorship controversy over the
song," said Noles. "More importantly though, it offers a fascinating
glimpse into the private lives of these brilliant but deeply flawed
men and paints a vivid portrait of life as an itinerate musician in
the 1930s and 1940s."

Noles wrote Orange Blossom Boys, a critically acclaimed 2002
Centerstream Publishing release, regarding the song. However,
after he dug deeper into the story and uncovered new information
about Rouse, Wise and Cash's connection to both men and to the
song, he revised and updated Orange Blossom Boys for re-release
as Fiddler's Curse.

"In addition to telling a terrific yarn, this book is an important
contribution to the literature of traditional American music," says
Ron Middlebrook, president of Anaheim-based Centerstream
Publishing. "Plus it validates the life of Ervin Rouse, who might
otherwise have been forgotten. We're very proud to be associated
with this project."

Now available from or

New article about Randy Noles' book in the Tampa Bay Tribune
by Philip Morgan (Published August 17, 2008)

Highjacking The Orange Blossom Special

TAMPA - The obscure Ervin T. Rouse lived in a shack in the
Everglades and played fiddle tricks for tips, even though he had
thousands in the bank.

Rouse, a diagnosed schizophrenic, had no concept of money,
says his biographer, Randy Noles.

"He would get a royalty check, it might be $10,000, and he
would go to a hot dog stand and try to cash it," Noles says.

And Rouse didn't seem to care much that the famous bluegrass
fiddler Chubby Wise claimed credit for co-writing "Orange
Blossom Special," a bluegrass standard recorded by dozens of
artists.  full article

The Special

The Special
Total running time 80 min.
USA 2005.

DIR Bestor Cram, Mike Majoros
PROD Cram, Miguelangel Aponte-Rios, Zach Stauffer
CAM Aponte-Rios, Michelle Andrews, Cram,
Andrew Kukura, Jeremy Leach ED Majoros

One of the ten most-performed songs of the 20th century, she evokes
both the sweetness of a familiar face and the power of a screaming
engine. Like the familiar call of a train whistle, we recognize her in the
first few notes. She is "Orange Blossom Special," the anthem of
American bluegrass. The Special is a musical story of that song told
by musicians and their music. Named after a seasonal train that ran
down the East Coast to Florida, "Orange Blossom Special" was
written in 1938 by fiddle virtuoso Ervin T. Rouse and made famous
by Chubby Wise. The film explores this thread of musical tradition
with some of that thread's participants, including Vassar Clements,
Béla Fleck, Charlie Daniels, String Cheese Incident, The Del McCoury
Band, Johnny Cash and others. Combining concert and backstage
footage, interviews with musicians and fans, a rich and diverse
collection of archival stills, vintage films and television broadcasts,
The Special is a journey as memorable as the Orange Blossom Special
itself, the fastest train on the line.

From a Life Magazine interview with Johnny Cash in 1994

Orange Blossom Special by Johnny Cash

CD available from or

"I recorded 'Orange Blossom Special' in the mid '60s, and in those
days everybody that recorded it claimed the "arrangement" because
no one knew who wrote it. But Mother Maybelle Carter was at the
session, and I asked her, "Do you know who really wrote 'Orange
Blossom Special'?" She said, "Sure I do. Ervin Rouse and his brother
Gordon." And I said, "Where are they? " She said, "Last time I heard,
they were in Florida."

It was the only clue I had. I called a disc jockey down there named
Cracker Jim Brooker, and I asked Cracker Jim, "Did you ever hear
of Ervin Rouse?" And he said, "Aw, I know Ervin. He lives with the
Seminoles out in the swamp, and he makes swamp buggies for a living."
I said, "You got any idea how I could talk to him?" And he said, "Sure.
I'll announce it on the air: 'Ervin, call me and I'll give you Johnny Cash's
number."' It wasn't an hour till Ervin Rouse called me from some little
settlement in the swamps. I said, "Ervin, I happen to be coming to
Miami on tour. Would you come to my show and do 'Orange Blossom
Special' with me?" He and Gordon came in the clothes they worked in.
I brought Ervin up to play the fiddle, and he absolutely killed them. At
the end of the song, they were applauding and he literally got down on
his knees. He was such a sweet, humble man. Gordon's still living. I still
see him every time I'm down there."


DVD : Johnny Cash - A Concert Behind Prison Walls
(DVD with Audio CD both featuring 'Orange Blossom Special')
1976 televised concert, shot inside the Tennessee State Prison, also
featuring Linda Ronstadt, Roy Clark and Foster Brooks

available from or

Orange Blossom Special Videos

The Bluegrass Babies (soundtrack by The Rosinators)

Visit The Bluegrass Babies on Facebook   


as performed by Vassar Clements - with fiddle solos
by Jason Carter (Del McCoury Band), Hunter Berry
(The Rage),  Andy Leftwich (Kentucky Thunder),
Stuart Duncan, James Price (Clinch Mountain Boys),
Jim van Cleve (Mountain Heart), Rhonda Vincent,
Sara Watkins (Nickel Creek) and Alison Krauss


as performed by Johnny Cash at San Quentin State Prison in 1969


as performed by Roger Miller in 1956


as performed by The Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain


Fiddle Tab / Sheet Music Links

Orange Blossom Special : sheet music + slow & fast audio files
from Megan Beller's collection of articles, sheet music,
and sound files for teaching and learning the fiddle as
featured on her Fiddle Studio site.

The Fiddle According to Vassar
(Homespun Video)
90-minute DVD or VHS, Includes music book

The Fiddle According to Vassar

The great fiddler Vassar Clements shows you how to apply blues and
jazz influences to transform ordinary fiddle sounds into extraordinary
ones. You'll master more than a dozen of his trademark licks, plus
slides, chromatics, double and triple-stops, slurs and boogie-woogie
patterns. Songs: "Sally Goodin," "Cincinnati Rag," "Avalanche,"
"Windjammer," "Lonesome Fiddle Blues," "Good Woman's Love,"
"Orange Blossom Special", "Listen To The Mockingbird,"
"Down Yonder."

DVD available from or

Hot Licks For Bluegrass Fiddle
by Stacy Phillips

Hot Licks For Bluegrass Fiddle

Over 450 bluegrass licks and how to apply them to your own solos,
with many full and partial solos as example...sections on double stops,
upper positions, kickoffs, tags, fills, and a whole chapter on the ins and
outs of Orange Blossom Special (now with CD)

Sheet music - for one of the several variations of Orange Blossom Special
from 'Hot Licks for Bluegrass Fiddle'.

Book available from or

Note: If you have any comments about this page or can suggest additional
links or stories to add to this research, please write to Paul Castle

Tell a friend about this page

Lyrics/Song history research on other recordings by The Rosinators

Old Joe Clark
One Kind Favour
I Saw the Light (Hank Williams)
In My Time of Dyin'
Blue Ridge Mountain Blues
Cindy's Breakdown (aka Get Along Home Cindy)
Joli Blon (aka Jolie Blonde)
Little Sadie

Looking for the Stone (aka Daniel Saw The Stone)
Poncho's Lament (Tom Waits)

Country Music Song Lyrics - bluegrass, Cajun, Country Blues & Gospel

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