Monday, October 08, 2012

Weekend's Blue Norther & Remembered Song

Weather forecasters warned us late last week: A cold front, referred to as a blue norther, will sag southward ushering chilly air across the southern Plains on Friday and northern Texas on Saturday. Highs will drop 20-30 degrees behind the front with breezy conditions adding to the chill."

Forecast was correct. Temperatures on Saturday and Sunday barely inched above 50 degrees after having been in the high 70s and low 80s during the week. Skies were unrelentingly grey. But this morning, even though it feels almost frosty, the sky is brilliant blue and weather forecast promises gradual rise in temperatures during the week, returning to the low 80s, for at least a little while longer.

From Texas State Historical Association website:
The term blue norther denotes a weather phenomenon common to large areas of the world's temperate zones—a rapidly moving autumnal cold front that causes temperatures to drop quickly and that often brings with it precipitation followed by a period of blue skies and cold weather. What is peculiar to Texas is the term itself. The derivation of blue norther is unclear; at least three folk attributions exist. The term refers, some say, to a norther that sweeps "out of the Panhandle under a blue-black sky"—that is, to a cold front named for the appearance of its leading edge. Another account states that the term refers to the appearance of the sky after the front has blown through, as the mid-nineteenth-century variant blew-tailed norther illustrates. Yet another derives the term from the fact that one supposedly turns blue from the cold brought by the front. Variants include blue whistler, used by J. Frank Dobie, and, in Oklahoma, blue darter and blue blizzard. Though the latter two phrases are found out-of-state, blue norther itself is a pure Texasism. The dramatic effects of the blue norther have been noted and exaggerated since Spanish times in Texas. But that the blue norther is unique to Texas is folklore.
"Blue norther" - sounds kind of romantic doesn't it? Kind of familiar to me too having, long ago, been an avid country music fan. It didn't take long to track my memory down.

Blue norther (often wrongly quoted in lyrics as blue northern) is mentioned in Someday Soon a song written in 1964 by Canadian singer-songwriter Ian Tyson. He recorded it with his wife Sylvia. Judy Collins' version of the song was a hit in 1969, many other artists have recorded it since.

Someday Soon is about a gal who's in love with a rodeo rider, just back from military service; her parents don't like him.

There's a young man that I know whose age is twenty-one
Comes from down in southern Colorado
Just out of the service, he's lookin' for his fun
Someday soon, goin' with him someday soon

My parents can not stand him 'cause he rides the rodeo
My father says that he will leave me cryin'
I would follow him right down the roughest road I know
Someday soon, goin' with him someday soon

But when he comes to call, my pa ain't got a good word to say
Guess it's 'cause he's just as wild in his younger days

So blow, you old blue norther, blow my love to me
He's ridin' in tonight from California
He loves his damned old rodeo as much as he loves me
Someday soon, goin' with him someday soon.

Judy Collins' version is available at YouTube, as is the version by Ian and Syliva Tyson, but here are two others: one by Patty Loveless and Kathy Mattea; the other, lyrics tweaked to suit a male vocalist, by Johnny Cash, who also tells us about addiction to the rodeo.


mike said...

I'm way down here in the extremely Deep South...Corpus Christi. Didn't know this weather is called a "blue norther"...I call it "beautiful". I've only resided here seven years, so maybe I'm not familiar with the local colloquialisms. I'll have to toss the phrase around and see if I receive any knowing responses.

We had cloud cover yesterday and again today, so no blue, but lows in the upper 50s (I'm freezing!), which is the signal that the seasons have changed after our eight months of summer! The typical cold front is met with intensely blues skies, very low humidity, and a very warming sun, even though the temperatures can be low.

Wisewebwoman said...

Love that old song, T. Sylvia long ago left Ian and you might like some of her group "Quartette" 's albums. I love their sound.

Blue Norther, good title for a novel or movie, yeah? :)


Wisewebwoman said...

Here's a link to one of my faves by Quartette:


Twilight said...

mike ~~ We're just north of the Red River here, in OK, local TV stations call it Texoma. So you probably experienced a slightly softer side of the blue norther....New one to me too, apart from the vague memory of the term I dragged up, from an old song.

It's warming up slowly now.
The cold snap should start the leaves a-turning.

Twilight said...

Wisewebwoman ~~ Thanks for the link - nice sound, I'll listen to a few more from Quartette.

Yes, Blue Norther would make a good title for a piece of fiction.....have at it WWW, you know you're itching to do so!