vrijdag 29 november 2013

Old Chisholm Trail (1928) / Western Cowboy (1933) / When I Was a Cowboy / Out on the Western Plain / Sporting Cowboy (1927)

In July, 1933, Alan Lomax and his father John Lomax visited the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. John Lomax, as a representative of the Library of Congress in Washington, was searching for folksongs, but there seemed to be little in the way of singing at Angola, that is until a warder brought Leadbelly to their attention. Playing a heavy 12-string guitar and singing in a deep, rumbling manner, Leadbelly began with a version of the old cowboy song The Old Chisholm Trail, which he called Western Cowboy (AAFS # 119-B-1)
Leadbelly's version of "Western Cowboy" was recorded by the Lomaxes on July 16, 1933. It's not a typical cowboy song, but it shows how an imaginative blues singer can take a fragment of a song and build it into a powerful story.
Leadbelly recorded this song at least five times and each version varied in content as well as title. It shows Leadbelly's love of Western Music.

Listen here to the 36 seconds version of  Leadbelly's first ever recorded song from 1933 as part of a medley:

As I just said Leadbelly's song " Western Cowboy" was derived from "The Old Chisholm Trail".
Especially the "Come a ti-yi-yippee, yipee yay, yippee yay" part.

"The Old Chisholm Trail(named after the famous Chisholm cattle trail ) is a cowboy song that dates back to the 1870s, when it was among the most popular songs sung by cowboys during that era. Based on an English lyrical song that dates back to 1640, "The Old Chisholm Trail" was modified by the cowboy idiom. It has been recorded by the world's most popular Western singers, including Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, cisco Houston, Peter LaFarge, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Bing Crosby, Randy Travis, and Michael Martin Murphey.

And Roger McGuinn (see next link)


The oldest version seems to be recorded on March 22, 1928 by Harry "Mac" McClintock (1928)


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Listen here:

Leadbelly's song "Western Cowboy" is also partly derived from "The Sporting Cowboy" , which starts with the line "When I Was a Cowboy"

Watts and Wilson's "The Sporting Cowboy"
Watts and Wilson (Wilmer Watts and Frank Wilson), c. April, 1927, Chicago, IL.
Released on Paramount 3006

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And on Broadway 8112 (as by Weaver and Wiggins)

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Listen here:

As I said above Leadbelly recorded "Western Cowboy" at least five times

In 1934 Leadbelly recorded another version of "Western Cowboy".
Recorded ca. July 1, 1934 in Louisiana State Penitentiary, Angola, Louisiana for the Library of Congress (#122-B)

Listen here:

In 1943 Leadbelly recorded another version: "Cow Cow Yicky Yicky Yea / Out on the Western Plains"
Recorded ca. October 1943 in New York City.
Released on Disc 3002 (as part of the 3-disc album "Negro Folksongs sung by Lead Belly".

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Listen here:

And in 1944 Leadbelly recorded another version : "When the Boys Were On the Western Plain" (later retitled as "Western Plain (When I Was a Cowboy)")
Recorded February 17, 1944 in New York City

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Listen here:

Leadbelly's "When I Was a Cowboy" was also contained in John A. Lomax's book "American Ballads and Folk Songs" (1934)



"The Old Chizzum Trail" was also contained in Lomax's "American Ballads and Folk Songs" (1934), where it was right behind Leadbelly's "When I was a Cowboy"


But already in 1910 "The Old Chisholm Trail" was contained in John Lomax's book "Cowboy Songs and other Frontier Ballads"





Woody Guthrie used Leadbelly's arrangement for his song "Jesse James".
Recorded April 25, 1944
Moses Asch planned to release this Woody Guthrie song on an anthology of cowboy songs, but it was not released at the time. It was finally released in 1991


And in 1997



Listen here:

(NOT to be confused with this song http://jopiepopie.blogspot.nl/2013/11/jesse-james-1920-jesus-christ-1940.html

In 1944 Woody Guthrie also recorded a version of "The Old Chisholm Trail" 
Recorded April 19, 1944
First released in 1964 on the album "Hard Travelin" (Disc D-110)

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Listen here:

Leadbelly's version was also covered by:

(c) Ian & Sylvia 1966 (as "When I Was a Cowboy")



Listen here:

(c) John Denver 1966 (as "When I Was a Cowboy")

John Denver - John Denver ‎Sings | Releases | Discogs

Listen here:

(c) Jim Kweskin Jug Band  (1967)  (as "When I Was a Cowboy")          

Maria Moldonado (better known as Maria Muldaur) sings a beautiful version on Jim Kweskins album Garden of Joy (Reprise label RS6266)

Jim Kweskin & The Jug Band - Garden Of Joy (Vinyl, LP, Album) | Discogs

Listen here:

(c) The Sllednats (= Standells) 1967  (as "When I Was a Cowboy")


Listen here:

(c) Harpers Bizarre 1968  (as "When I Was a Cowboy")



Listen here:

(c) Hearts and Flowers (1968)  (as "When I was a Cowboy")
On album "Of Horses, Kids, and Forgotten Women"




Listen here:


(c) Rory Gallagher 1975 (as "Out On The Western Plain")


Listen here:

(c) Peter Rowan 1978 (as "When I Was a Cowboy")



Listen to a sample here:


(c) Odetta (2001) (as "When I Was a Cowboy")


Listen here:

(c) Van Morrison  (as "Western Plain")
Recorded in the Caledonia Studio in Fairfax, California in 1975
Released in 1998 on the album "The Philosopher's Stone"


Listen here:

(c) Alvin Youngblood Hart 1996 (as ("When I Was a Cowboy (Westen Plains)"
Released on album "Big Mama's Door")



Listen here:

zaterdag 23 november 2013

Beautiful Star of Bethlehem (1940)

"Beautiful Star of Bethlehem" was written in 1938 by a Tennessee dairy farmer, R. Fisher Boyce and was first published in 1940 by the Vaughan Company. The song was printed in the company's song-book, "Beautiful Praise".

One year later "Beautiful Star of Bethlehem" was printed as song #1 in the 1941 book "Singing Star", also published by James D. Vaughan.

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Look inside this book:




As we can see on the sheet above, Adger M. Pace is also mentioned as co-composer of the song.
My guess is, Pace was responsible for the arrangement of the song before it got published.


In the 1960's on several gospelalbums "Beautiful Star of Bethlehem" was credited to A.L. Phipps.
Most likely Arthur Leroy Phipps made a new arrangement of  "Beautiful Star of Bethlehem", which was probably introduced on a radio-show in the early 1960's. The Phipps Family recorded a version in 1966 on the album "Christmas with the Phipps Family" (SEE FURTHER ON)

Beautiful Star of Bethlehem

Few people today realize the popular Christmas song "Beautiful Star of Bethlehem" was written by the late R. Fisher Boyce in a Middle Tennessee milk barn in the early part of the 20th century. It would go on to become a seasonal standard performed by a variety of artists, and it would eventually be sung in the White House by The Judds during a nationally televised Bob Hope Christmas special.

Boyce was born in the tiny community of Link, located in southern Rutherford County, in November 1887. The third of six children, Boyce loved music and was singing solo and in quartets by the early 1900s. In the spring of 1910, he married Cora Carlton from the Rockvale community. They would become the parents of 11 children, five of whom lived to be adults. Only one daughter, Willie Ruth Eads, remains alive. Eads remembers singing as a great source of entertainment for their family.

"The neighbors would come in, and we'd all gather around our family piano," Boyce's daughter said. "My sister Nanny Lou (Taylor) would play, and we would sing way into the night."

In 1911, the young couple celebrated their first wedding anniversary and saw Boyce's song "Safe in His Love" published by the A.J. Showalter Company, one of the early publishers of shape note hymnals. As did many others from across the Southeast, Boyce later traveled to Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, to attend one of the annual music normal schools conducted by the James D. Vaughan Publishing Company, which was founded around 1900. Vaughan was another major publisher of shape note hymnals.

After completing his studies, Boyce went on to teach shape note "singing schools" through-out the area. Rather than using standard music notation, this system assigned a tone on the musical scale to each of the distinctive geometrically shaped note heads. (See Darlyne Kent's article Old-Time Music Square Music in November's Old-Time Times.)

In 1940, the Vaughan Company published Boyce's song "Beautiful Star of Bethlehem." The song was printed in the company's song-book, "Beautiful Praise". Later, the song would be republished in Vaughan's Favorite Radio Songs.
Dr. Charles Wolfe, a Middle Tennessee State University English professor and nationally recognized authority on the origins of traditional country and gospel music, said, Vaughan,s Favorite Radio Songs would be like a collection of greatest hits today. By the 1940s, radio was an important part of the American landscape and reached a vast audience. Vaughan salesmen would pitch the songs in this book to radio stations and quartets who performed on the stations in an effort to broaden their exposure.

Boyce wrote Beautiful Star of Bethlehem while the family was living on a dairy farm in the Plainview community, about two or three miles from what is now the Interstate 24 Buchanan Road Exit. The songwriter's son, the late Franklin Boyce, recalled in a 1996 interview that his dad said he couldn't concentrate in the house because of noise made by the children. He walked across the road to the barn to find the solitude he needed to write.

My father said the song was inspired by the Lord. Otherwise, how could he, a simple country man, ever write a song about such a glorious event in world history, Franklin Boyce asked.

When searching through some old papers, the family found a yellowed article clipped from The Daily News Journal, a newspaper in Murfreesboro. It had been written in the early 1960s. A story by Marie Chapman recounts the elder Boyce's recollection of how the song came to be written.

"I got up one Sunday morning to write it down, Boyce recalled. When his train of thought was interrupted by a member of the family who entered the room singing, he moved his pencil and pad to the barn, and there "Beautiful Star of Bethlehem" was put on paper.

The words and melody got on my mind," Boyce told Chapman, "till I could hardly sleep at night." The humble farmer said he looked upon both the words and tune as gifts from God.

Dean Boyce, Franklin's wife, remembers how her late sister-in-law, Nanny Lou, talked about helping her father put down the music for the song. "I believe, she said, they worked all morning on the music at the piano, and it rained hard all the time they were working on it.

Nell McKee, a retired educator who lives in the Buchanan area, attended Mt. Carmel Baptist Church where Boyce was a deacon and song leader when the song was written. Now in her 90s, McKee still attends the same church and recalls that Boyce would sing the lead part and his wife would sing the harmony in her clear alto voice.

"Fisher and Cora would sometimes sing the song at church," McKee remembers. "Cora would weep every time they sang together. She was very proud of her husband for writing that song."

Ironically, the family has never received royalties from the song. As was commonplace during that time in history, the legal copyright became the property of the company that published the material. As a rule, the song-writers were paid a one-time fee. To make a living, Boyce taught private voice lessons and worked at a variety of jobs including dairy farming and insurance and nursery sales

During his later years, Boyce and his wife moved into town where he and a nephew, M. B. Carlton, were partners in the Ideal Fruit Market on West College Street. There, Boyce sold single copies of the song for a small amount of money.
Although he is often overlooked, Boyce is an important part of Tennessee's musical history. Wolfe said, With the exception of Uncle Dave Macon's music, Boyce's song is the most important musical composition to come out of Rutherford County.

Wolfe added that he thinks the earliest professional recording of the piece was performed by the John Daniel Quartet on their private Daniel label.


(Thanks to Roel Vos for the picture and the soundfile below)
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Initially, the John Daniel Quartet had been one of the Vaughan Company's traveling quartets. The job of these traveling musical groups was to perform, for free, the Vaughan songbook compositions in churches through-out the Southeast and beyond so that congregations, once given a sampling of the music, would want to order songbooks.

In Daniel's case, the group became so popular that they soon struck out on their own and, in the 1940s, became one of the hit acts of the Grand Ole Opry. Interestingly, one of the early members of this foursome was West Tennessee native Gordon Stoker, who would go on to become a member of the Jordanaires, made famous for their work with Elvis.

The exposure the tune received from appearing in songbooks, combined with its performance on the Opry, propelled Boyce's song to new heights. Bluegrass great Ralph Stanley recorded the song. Later, Emmylou Harris, Ricky Skaggs, the Judds, The Bishops, and others also cut it.
(from: http://www.nashvilleoldtime.org/Newsletters/December2004Newsletter.htm)

As you can read in the text below the first recording seems to be made around 1953/1954 in Nashville by the John Daniel Quartet on their own Daniel-label with John "Whit" Curtis as arranger and sole accompanist.

Click on the text above and you can scroll through it.

Here's another early version, sung by Mr. J. W. Breazeal, Springfield, Missouri on April 27, 1958:


(c) The LeFevres 1961 on the album: Christmas With The Gospel Singing Caravan
Released on (Sing Records/LP-556):

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(c) Jimmie Davis 1963 on the album Highway To Heaven
Released on (Decca RecordsDL74432):

"Beautiful Star of Bethlehem" was credited to A.L. Phipps on this album:



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Listen here:

(c) Stanley Brothers 1964 on the album Hymns of the Cross
Released on King Records (KS 918)

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Listen here:

(c) Phipps Family (1966) (on the abum: "Christmas with the Phipps Family")
Released on the Pine Mountain label (#128) (owned by the Phipps Family themselves)

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Listen here at 19 min and 46 sec in the next YT:

(c) Mother Mabel Carter sang "Beautiful Star of Bethlehem" on Johnny Cash's "Holy Land Concert", which was broadcasted on December 26, 1968 on the BBC.

It begins at 40 min and 40 seconds in the next YT:

(c) Ralph Stanley & The Clinch Mountain Boys 1977
Released on the album "Clinch Mountain Gospel" (Rebel SLP-1571)


Listen here:

(c) Emmylou Harris 1980 (on the album "Light of the Stable")


Listen here:

(c) Judds 1987


Listen here:

(c) Patty Loveless (2002)  (on album "Bluegrass & White Snow")


Listen here:

(c) Oak Ridge Boys (2002)  (on album "An Inconvenient Christmas"
Released on (Spring Hill Records CMD1034):


Listen here:

NOT to be confused with Neil Young's "Star of Bethlehem".

woensdag 13 november 2013

Jesse James (1920) / Jesus Christ (1940)

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In April of 1882, Jesse James was murdered.... With Jesse's death (shot in the back of the head, unarmed, by a man he trusted as a friend), the legend was complete.... All that was needed in order to enshrine the legend permanently was a ballad. Within a short time after Jesse's death, an otherwise unknown minstrel by the name of Billy Gashade (mentioned in the last verse of the song) created the ballad which has come to be Jesse James' lasting epitaph....

Jesse James (I) [Laws E1]


"Until recently, the earliest known printing of 'Jesse James' was a broadside printed by New York publisher Henry J. Wehman (no. 1044). Though undated, it can be placed between 1888 and 1897 on the basis of Wehman's address given on the sheet. It has been reproduced by Finger (1927) and by Thede and Preece.

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According to Norm Cohen in his book Long Steel Rail, in 1977, Guthrie T. Meade came across an 1887 pocket songster in the Library of Congress, Comic and Sentimental Songs; one of the texts, as sung by Robert Jones, is 'Jesse James'.
Jones, born blind in east Tennessee, made his living after the age of fifteen by singing and playing the fiddle . In the text of "Jesse James", in the last stanza it says the song was made by Billy LaShade, rather than Gashade (as mentioned above)

Long Steel Rail: The Railroad in American Folksong - Norm Cohen - Google Boeken

In 1910 "Jesse James" was collected by John A. Lomax in "Cowboy Songs and other Frontier Ballads". In the last stanza of Lomax's text of "Jesse James", it says the song was made by Billy Gashade.

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The first recorded version of this traditional I could find : Bentley (or Bently) Ball in 1920.
His source for the "Jesse James" ballad was John A. Lomax's 1910 lyrics as printed above.
He made a few minor textual changes: "dirty little coward" in Lomax's lyrics became "mean little coward" in Ball's version.

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       Bentley Ball

The only info on Bentl(e)y Ball I could find is this: Bently Ball was an itinerant typewriter salesman and song collector who forayed into recording. He also was the first artist to record "Gallows Trees" (which became a classic, recorded by Leadbelly as "Gallis Pole" and Led Zeppelin as "Gallows Pole").
The recorded history of "Jesse James" begins rather early compared to most of the other songs in this book. It was first recorded by Bentley Ball for Columbia in May, 1919, as part of a group of folksongs rendered in concert-hall style for "cultured" listeners.
Bentley Ball also wrote a book in which he made some comments on cowboy songs like "The Dying Cowboy" and "Jesse James"




(o) Bentley Ball (1920)
Recorded April 1919 in New York
Matrix # 90039
Released in 1920 on Columbia A3085.

Listen here:

Or here:

(c) Bascom Lamar Lunsford (1924) (as "Jesse James")
Bascom Lamar Lunsford, vocals and banjo
Recorded in Atlanta, GA Saturday, March 15, 1924
Released on Okeh 40155

Bascom Lamar Lunsford - Jesse James / I Wish I Was A Mole In The Ground (Shellac, 10", 78 RPM) | Discogs

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Her's a version by Lunsford from a few years later.

(c) Ernest Thompson (1924) (as "Jessie James")
Recorded  April 26, 1924 in New York.
Released on Columbia 145-D and also on Harmony 5121-H

Ernest Thompson - Lightning Express / Jessie James (Shellac, 10", 78 RPM, Repress) | Discogs

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(c) Riley Puckett 1924 (as "Jesse James")
Acc. by Gid Tanner on guitar
Recorded September 11, 1924
Released on Columbia 15033-D

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Listen here:

(c) George Reneau 1924 (as "Jesse James")  (DIFFERENT SONG)
Recorded September 12, 1924
Released on Vocalion 14897

As you can hear this is a different song about Jesse James

(c) Vernon Dalhart 1925 (as "Jesse James")
Recorded September 1925 in New York
Released on Gennett 3143 and Silvertone 4012

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(c) Vernon Dalhart 1925 (as "Jesse James")
Recorded September 22, 1925
Released on Edison 51621

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And on Edison Blue Amberol cylinder 5057

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(c) Fiddlin’ John Carson and his Virginia Reelers 1927 (as "Jesse James")
Fiddlin’ John Carson, f; unknown, f; unknown, bj; Moonshine Kate (Rosa Lee Carson), g.
Recorded Atlanta, GA Thursday, March 17, 1927
Released on Okeh 45139

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Listen here:

(c) Vernon Dalhart 1927 (as "Jesse James")
Vernon Dalhart, v; acc. Murray Kellner, f; own h; Carson Robison, g. New York, NY
Recorded April 12, 1927
Released on Victor 20966


(c) Frank Luther 1927 (as "Jesse James")
Recorded Febr/March 1927
Released on Grey Gull 4133

(c) Harry "Mac" McClintock (1928) (as "Jesse James")
Recorded on March 10, 1928 in Oakland, CA
Released on Victor 21420

Harry McClintock - Jesse James / Sam Bass (Shellac, 10", 78 RPM) | Discogs

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(c) Marc Williams (1928) (as "Jesse James")
Recorded March 23, 1928 in Chicago, IL
Released on Brunswick 269


(c) Uncle Dave Macon & Sid Harkreader 1929 (as "Life and Death of Jesse James")
Uncle Dave Macon, bj/v; Sid Harkreader, g
Recorded in Chicago, IL Thursday, June 20, 1929
Released on Vocalion 5356

Uncle Dave Macon And Sid Harkreader - Life And Death Of Jesse James / Man That Rode The Mule Around The World (Shellac, 10", 78 RPM) | Discogs

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Listen here:

(c) Woody Guthrie (1940) (as "Jesus Christ")

In 1940 Woody Guthrie turned Gashade's original song around. Observing the disparity between how the rich and the poor people lived in New York City, he wondered what might happen if Jesus "was to walk into New York City and preach like he use to." Using Gashade's melody as well as the lyrical structure from "Jesse James," Guthrie provided his answer, putting Jesus in the lead role and having him nailed in the air by the bankers, preachers, cops and soldiers.

And here's Woody's "Jesus Christ"

In 1944 Woody Guthrie would record a song with the same title "Jesse James", which is a different song in both melody and lyrics. That version was copied from Leadbelly's "Western Cowboy" (1933) or "Cow Cow Yicky Yea / Out on the Western Plains" (1943) or "Western Plain (When I Was a Cowboy)" (1944)
On his turn Leadbelly's version was adapted from Watts & Wilson's "The Sporting Cowboy" -
Watts & Wilson (Wilmer Watts and Frank Wilson), c. April, 1927, Chicago, IL.

But more so from the traditional "The Old Chisholm Trail" recorded on March 22, 1928 by Harry "Mac" McClintock

SEE NEXT LINK: http://jopiepopie.blogspot.nl/2013/11/sporting-cowboy-1927-old-chisholm-trail.html

(c) Carl Sandburg 1945 (as "Jesse James")


Listen to a sample here:


And here's "The Ballad of Jessie James" from the 1949 movie "I Shot Jessie James"

(c) Pete Seeger 1957 ( as "Jesse James")


Listen here:

(c) Kingston Trio 1961 ( as "Jesse James")


Listen here:

(c) Bob Dylan 1961 (as "Jesse James")

In February 1961 Dylan sang a portion of "Jesse James", recorded in the East Orange, New Jersey home of Bob & Sid Gleason



Listen here:

Bob Dylan, in his song "Outlaw Blues" from his 1965 album Bringing It All Back Home, defends his decision to "go electric" with the line "Ain't gonna hang no picture, ain't gonna hang no picture frame/Well, I might look like Robert Ford, but I feel just like a Jesse James."

(c) Bob Seger  (1972) (as "Jesse James")


Listen here:

(c) Ry Cooder 1980 (as "Jesse James")

 Ry Cooder's arrangement of the song plays over the end credits of Walter Hill's 1980 movie The Long Riders

Listen here:

(c) Pogues 1985 (as "Jesse James")


Listen here:

(c) U2 1988 (as "Jesus Christ")
Due to U2's spirited 1988 cover, Guthrie's revision as "Jesus Chist" may be as well known -- if not more so -- than the original "Jesse James"

Listen to U2's version of Woody Guthrie's "Jesus Christ"

(c) Jackson C Frank 1997 (as "Jesse James")
(home-recording) on CD "Blues Run the Game"


Listen here:

(c) Van Morrison, Lonnie Donegan & Chis Barber 2000 (as "Ballad of Jesse James")
on album "Skiffle Sessions" (Live in Belfast 1998)


Listen here:


(c) Bruce Springsteen 2006 (as "Jesse James")



Listen here:

(c) Nick Cave 2007 (as "Ballad of Jesse James")

A portion of the song is performed on-screen by Nick Cave, playing a strolling balladeer in a bar patronised by Robert Ford, in the 2007 movie The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.

View here:

More versions:

The Originals © by Arnold Rypens - JESSE JAMES


zondag 3 november 2013

Only a Miner 1927 / He’s Only a Miner Killed in the Ground (1928) / Only a Hobo (1963)

"Only a Miner Killed" was written as a poem by John Wallace Crawford (1879)

His first book, The Poet Scout, was published in San francisco in 1879. Included was "Only a Miner Killed," written after Commodore Vanderbilt's death on January 4, 1877.
While in Virginia City, in 1877, a wagon passed up Main Street, with a soiled canvas thrown over it. Some curbstone brokers rushed out to investigate, and when they returned were asked what was the matter. "O," replied one, "It's only a miner killed." Old Commodore Vanderbilt died on the same day and the papers were full of accounts concerning this multi-millionaire. A paragraph in the Virginia City Chronicle, referring to the above incident, suggested the following verses:
In its first printing, the poem was headed by a few lines which hinted at a Nevada (Comstock silver mining) setting:





It is assumed that Crawford's poem preceded the song by a decade, but there is an outside chance that the mining song was in tradition before Vanderbilt's death and was heard by Crawford.

The decade of the 1880's seems the likely time for the transformation of Crawford's poem... into a folksong.
In his book "Ozark Folksongs" Vance Randolph says that Mrs. Coral Almy Wilson remembered hearing "Only a Miner" in 1888.

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Duncan Emrich in his book "American Folk Poetry" obtained the dates 1890 and 1897

Wayland Hand was given 1900, 1904, and 1908, when he was recording for the LOC in 1946 and 1948





As enumerated by Archie Green in his book "Only a Miner", the song was collected many times by the Archive of Folk Song and others, with various informants placing the date they learned the song in the 19th century, the earliest being 1888.




The FIRST version of "Only a Miner" seems to be recorded by Doc Roberts, Charles "Dick" Parman and Charles "Ted" Chestnut who formed the Kentucky Thorobreds.

(o) Kentucky Thorobreds (1927) ("Only a Miner")
Recorded September 1927
Released on Paramount 3071, 1928;
And on Broadway 8070 [as Old Smokey Twins]

Kentucky Thorobreds - Only A Miner / I've Waited Long For You (Shellac, 10", 78 RPM) | Discogs

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I didn't find a sound-file of this one yet, but only 1 year later Ted Chestnut and Doc Roberts did record the song again on the Gennett-label (this time with Asa Martin on guitar)

(c) Ted Chestnut (1928)  (as "He’s Only a Miner Killed in the Ground")
Acc. by Doc Roberts (fiddle) and Asa Martin (guitar)
Recorded August 23, 1928 in Richmond, IN
Released on Gennett 6603, Champion 15587 (as Cal Turner) and Supertone 9180 (as Alvin Bunch)

August 23rd in Gennett History, 1928: Ted Chestnut Recorded “He’s Only A Miner Killed in the Ground” | Gennett Records Discography

Listen here:

Or here:

On the same date Ted Chestnut recorded a song called "Only a Tramp", which is similar in style to "Only a Miner" in lyrics and in melody.

Bob Dylan would use the melody of "Only a Miner" and part of the lyrics of "Only a Tramp" (or "The Tramp on the Street") for his song "ONLY A HOBO"

SEE: http://jopiepopie.blogspot.nl/2013/11/only-tramp-1926-tramp-on-street-1939.html

With the help of John and Alan Lomax, in August 1933, Blind James Howard recorded a version in Harlan County with the title "Hard-Working Miner".



Listen here: James “Blind Jim” Howard - The Hard​-​Working Miner 

This version was also contained in Lomax's book "American Ballads and Folksongs" (1934)


(c) Aunt Molly Jackson - (as "Poor Miner's Farewell")

This was Aunt Molly Jackson's 1932 variant of John Wallace Crawford's "Only A Miner Killed"
John Greenway's rendition on "The Songs and Stories of Aunt Molly Jackson" (Folkways FH 5457; ca. Feb 1961) appears to be the most likely "model" for Bob Dylan's own "Only A Hobo"




Here's the story of how Aunt Molly Jackson came about composing this song


Listen here (after Aunt Molly tells her story the song begins at 4 minutes)

(c) Hedy West 1963 (as "Miner's Farewell (Poor Hardworking Miners)"


Listen here:

(c) Bob Dylan 1963 (as "Only a Hobo")

Bob might have heard Bob Davenport singing "Poor Miner's Lament" in The Troubadour in London, before composing "Only A Hobo".

Revolution in the Air: The Songs of Bob Dylan 1957-1973 - Clinton Heylin - Google Boeken

The Originals © by Arnold Rypens - ONLY A HOBO

Bob Dylan recorded "Only a Hobo" on a few occasions.

--As Blind Boy Grunt he recorded a version in January/February 1963 at the Broadside offices in New York. He was accompanied by Happy Traum on this version, which was released in September 1963 on the next album:

"Broadside Ballads Vol. 1" - mono vinyl LP, Broadside Records BR 301 (USA).



Listen to a sample here:


--In August 1963 Dylan recorded a DEMO of the song for Witmark & Sons.



The Witmark DEMO was officially released in mono in Oct 2010 on The Bootleg Series Vol. 9 - The Witmark Demos 1962-1964.


Listen here:

--The version released on The Bootleg Series Vols. 1-3  is an out-take from "The Times They Are A-Changin" album, recorded Columbia Studios, New York, 12 Aug 1963.

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As I said above for his song "Only a Hobo", Bob Dylan used the melody of "Only a Miner" and part of the lyrics of "Only a Tramp" (or "The Tramp on the Street") 

Only a hobo; Dylan's re-working of several traditional songs, finally rescued by Rod Stewart | Untold Dylan

SEE:  http://jopiepopie.blogspot.nl/2013/11/only-tramp-1926-tramp-on-street-1939.html

In 1961 Bob Dylan already had used the melody of "Only a Miner" for his version of  Sara Carter's "Railroading on the Great Divide"


Listen here to Bob's version of "Railroading on the Great Divide"



(c) Mike Seeger (1966) (as "The Hard Working Miner")

Listen to a sample here:


(c) Rod Stewart 1970 (as "Only a Hobo")


Listen here:

(c) Bob Dylan 1971 (as "Only a Hobo")
Recorded in September 1971 (outtake for the Greatest Hits II-album)
Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica – Bob Dylan
Backing Vocals, Banjo – Happy Traum                                                                           


This 1971 Dylan-version pretty accurately followed the arrangement of the Rod Stewart-version.

Listen here:

(c) Hazel Dickens 1986

It's Hard to Tell the Singer from the Song - Hazel Dickens | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic

(c) Jonathan Edwards and the Seldom Scene (1988)

(c) Patrick Street 1993 (as "Prince Among Men")


Listen here:

(c) Andy Irvine 1995 (as "Prince Among Men")

Rain on the Roof (Andy Irvine album) - Wikipedia


Listen here:

Only a Tramp (1926) / The Tramp on the Street (1939)

On June 16, 1877 the Sacramento Daily Union contained the poem called "Only a Tramp".

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The lyrics of the first verse of the poem were clearly used to compose the "Only a Tramp" song.

In 1880 "Only A Tramp" (composed by Dr. Addison D. Crabtre), was published by White, Smith and Co. of Boston.

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The complete sheet-music is here:


In 1926 the first version of "Only a Tramp" was recorded.
Rufus K. Stanley, v; acc. own bj.
Recorded c. March 1926 in Chicago, IL
Released on Paramount 33175

Listen here:

(c) Art Frazier 1927 (as "Because He Was Only A Tramp")
This version has some adapted lyrics.
Art Frazier, v; own tbj
acc. Wyzee Hamilton, f; Frank Nichols, f; Luther Patrick, g.
Recorded in Birmingham, AL c. August 15, 1927

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(c) Ted Chestnut 1928 (as "Only a Tramp")   This is a different song
Acc. by Doc Roberts (fiddle) and Asa Martin (guitar)
Recorded August 23, 1928 Gennett Recording Studio, Starr Piano Company Building, Whitewater Gorge Park, Richmond, IN
Released on Gennett 6673 ,
Also released on Champion 15587 (as by Cal Turner) and Conqueror 7262 (as by Eli Jenkins)

Listen here:

(c) Uncle Pete & Louise 1933  (as "Only a Tramp")
Elmore “Pete” Raines, Louise Collins, v duet;
acc. Louise Collins, f; Elmore “Pete” Raines, g.
Recorded in New York, NY Wednesday, June 14, 1933
Released on the B-side of Conqueror 8342

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(c) Grady and Hazel Cole 1939 (as "The Tramp on the Street")
Recorded August 24, 1939
Grady and Hazel Cole, vocal duet; accompanied by Elmer Hicks, ac
Released on Bluebird B 8262

Grady and Hazel Cole were responsible for adapting the lyrics, creating a Gospel-themed hymn.
The adapted lyrics went like this:
Only a tramp was Lazarus that day
He who lay down by the rich man’s gate
And he begged for the crumbs from the rich man to eat
But they left him to die like a tramp on the street 
He was some mother’s darling, he was some mother’s son
Once he was fair, once he was young
Some mother rocked him, little darling, to sleep
But they left him to die like a tramp on the street
If Jesus should come, knock at your door
Would you let him come in, take from your store
Would you turn him away, with nothing to eat
They left him to die like a tramp on the street
He was Mary’s own darling, God’s chosen son
Once he was fair, once he was young
And Mary, she rocked him, little darling to sleep
And she left him to die like a tramp on the street
Other versions have a couple of different/additional verses:
Jesus who died on Calvary’s tree
Shed his life’s blood for you and me
They pierced his side, his hands, and his feet
Then they left him to die like a tramp on the street
If Jesus should come and knock o your door
For a place to lie down or bread from your store
Would you welcome him in or turn him away
For God would reward you on the great Judgment Day


All the versions below follow the Grady & Hazel Cole adaptation.

(c) The Cumberland Mountain Folks (vocal Molly O'Day) 1948  (as "The Tramp on the Street")
Recorded December 14, 1946 CBS Studio, Radio Station WBBM, The Wrigley Building, 410 North Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL
Molly O’Day (Molly O’Day [vcl/gt/banjo], Lynn Davis [vcl/gt], George “Speedy” Krise [dobro], Mac Wiseman [bass], Cecil “Skeets” Williamson [fiddle]. Producer: Art Satherley)
Released on Columbia 37559 and 20187

Even though she never had a record on the Billboard charts Molly O'Day is regarded as one of the most important female performers in country music history, and "The Tramp on the Street" was her classic.
It was Hank Williams who had introduced her to "The Tramp on the Street" when she saw him sing it in Montgomery in 1942, and it would be the leadoff song at het debut recording session and her first release


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(c) Hank Williams 1949 (as "A Tramp on the Street")

Recorded October 1949 [Health & Happiness Show # 2] Castle Studio at The Tulane Hotel, 206 8th Ave. North, Nashville 3, TN
Hank Williams (Bob McNett [el gt], Don Helms [steel], Hillous Butrum [bass], Jerry Rivers [fiddle])

(c) Wilma Lee Cooper 1948 (as "The Tramp on the Street")
Released on Rich-R-Tone 424B
Recorded Summer 1947 WWNC Radio Station, Asheville, NC -
Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper (Wilma Lee Cooper [vcl /rh gt], Stoney Cooper [vcl/fiddle], Bill Carver [steel/dobro/mandolin], Albert Ray Cole [bass/vcl], Scotty McGinnis [accordion].


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Listen here:

Or to a sample here:


(c) Bill Carlisle 1948 (as "Tramp on the Street")  (C&W HIT)
Bill Carlisle (Bill Carlisle [vcl/rh gt] + unknown musicians.
Recorded November 1947 in Cincinnati, OH 
Matrix K2726
Released on King 697

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(c) Maddox Brothers and Rose 1948 (as "Tramp on the Street")
Recorded December 1947 Associated Studio, Pasadena, CA –
Maddox Brothers and Rose (Rose Maddox [vcl-1/hmny vcl-3), Jimmy Winkle [ld vcl], John Calvin “Cal” Maddox [rh gt/hmny vcl-3/harmonica-4], Henry Ford Maddox [hmny vcl-3/mandolin], Bud Duncan [steel], Fred Roscoe Maddox (2nd vcl-1/vcl-2/hmny vcl-3/bass], Kenneth Chalmer “Don” Maddox [hmny vcl-5/fiddle],)
Released on 4Star 1239

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78 RPM - Maddox Brothers And Rose - Tramp On The Street / Flowers For The Master's Bouquet - 4 Star - USA - 1239

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(c) Cisco Houston (as "Tramp on the Street")
Recorded around 1960, but not released.
Finally released on the album "Best of the Vanguard Years" (2000)



Listen to a sample here:

(c) Staple Singers (1967)


Listen here:

(c) Peter, Paul & Mary 1968 (as "Tramp on the Street")


Listen here:

(c) Joan Baez 1969  (as "The Tramp on the Street")


Listen here:

Bob Dylan may have found the inspiration in "Only a Tramp" and/or "Tramp on the Street" to write his songs "Man on the Street" and 1 year later "Only a Hobo"

SEE:  http://jopiepopie.blogspot.nl/2013/11/only-miner-1927-only-hobo-1963.html

Only a hobo; Dylan's re-working of several traditional songs, finally rescued by Rod Stewart | Untold Dylan

A few more versions:  http://www.deaddisc.com/songs/Tramp_On_The_Street.htm