Chet Atkins

Y’all know Charlie Parker dug country music right?

It’s facinating to me that a tune written for a musical in 1924 by a composer who studied with Dvorak would become a country standard.

“Indian Love Call” – Rudolph Friml


In listening to Billy Jack Wills, Spade Cooley, and bands from the Western Swing tradition I was introduced to the song “Indian Love Call”. It was one of those songs that immediately grabbed me. There was something about it that drew me in and I wanted to find out about it’s history, learn it and make it a part of my repertoire. The song has been recorded by many artists including, none other than the “Yodeling Cowboy” Slim Whitman, Artie Shaw, Chet Atkins, and countless others including Roots Reggae pioneer Bobby McCook!

How it became a standard: (from Wikipedia)

Indian Love Call” (first published as “The Call“) is a song from Rose-Marie, a 1924 operetta-style Broadway musical with music by Rudolf Friml and Herbert Stothart, and book and lyrics by Otto Harbach and Oscar Hammerstein II. Originally written for Mary Ellis, the song achieved continued popularity under other artists and has been called Friml’s best remembered work.

The play takes place in the Canadian Rocky Mountains and features the sonorous tune in the overture and in Act One while the love interests call to each other per a supposed Native Canadian legend about how men would call down into the valley to the girls they wished to marry. In most (or all) versions of Rose-Marie, including the best-known movie version, the tune is reprised several times throughout the narrative.

The musical was the longest running musical of the 1920s, enjoyed international success, and became the basis of four films with the same title. As the musical’s biggest hit, “Indian Love Call” outlived its origins. The New York Times described the song as being among those Rudolf Friml songs that became “household staples” in their era. The song was said to have been a favorite of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

About the Lead Sheet:

The version I used as a reference for the transcription was Chet Atkins’ version. For the most part the tune seems to be played most often in either the key of D or Eb. The country versions tend to use the IV/V/I progression vs. the II/V/I progression more often than not but there are examples of different subs being used from version to version. I kept it simple here so there would be flexibility to add or subtract subs depending on your taste.

Download Lead Sheet “Indian Love Call

Here is the Chet Atkins‘ version that I based the lead sheet on:

Here is the Slim Whitman‘s version:

Here is Artie Shaw‘s version:

and last but not least Tommy McCook and The Supersonics‘s rock steady version!

Y’all know Charlie Parker dug country music right?