Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Category: 1920s

Yes! We Have No Bananas

First recorded by Edward Furman & William Nash (1923).
Hit versions by Billy Jones (US #1 1923), Ben Selvin (US #1 1923), The Great White Way Orchestra (US #3 1923).
Also recorded by Benny Goodman & His Rhythm Makers (1935), Spike Jones & His City Slickers (1950), Louis Prima & Keely Smith (1950).
Also recorded (as “I’ve Got the Yes! We Have No Bananas Blues”) by Eddie Cantor (US #2 1923).

From the wiki: “‘Yes! We Have No Bananas’ is a novelty song by Frank Silver and Irving Cohn published July 19, 1923. The song title was inspired by the yell of a Long Island fruit salesman from Greece.

“First introduced by both authors (as Frank Silver’s Music Masters) in a Long Island roadhouse, then later in Murray’s restaurant in New York, ‘Yes, We Have No Bananas’ was widely popularized on stage by Eddie Cantor in his revue Make It Snappy. The song was first recorded in 1923 by Edward Furman & William Nash. Nationally popular recordings were also released in 1923 by Billy Jones, Ben Selvin, and The Great White Way Orchestra, and others, before Cantor released a popular parody titled ‘I’ve Got the Yes! We Have No Bananas Blues’. Covers of ‘Yes! We Have No Bananas’ were recorded a decade later by Benny Goodman & His Rhythm Makers (1935), and in 1950 by Spike Jones & His City Slickers (1950), and Louis Prima & Keely Smith (1950).

“In his book, A History Of Popular Music In America, Sigmund Spaeth noticed a striking similarity between the melodies of ‘My Bonnie Is Over The Ocean’ and Händel’s ‘Hallelujah Chorus’. Try for yourself: ‘Hallelujah bananas, oh bring back my Bonnie to me.’ No wonder Spike Jones & His City Slickers cut a version.”

Ain’t Misbehavin’

First released by The Charleston Chasers (1929).
Hit versions by Leo Reisman & His Orchestra (US #2 1929), Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five (US #7 1929), Bill “Bojangles” Robinson (US #8 1929), Fats Waller (US #17 1929 |1943), The Teddy Wilson Quartet (US #6 1937), Dinah Washington (R&B #6 1948), Johnnie Ray (UK #17 1956), Tommy Bruce & the Bruisers (UK #3 1960), Hank Williams, Jr. (C&W #1 1986).
Also recorded by King Cole Trio & Anita O’Day (1945), Bill Haley & His Comets (1957), Sam Cooke (1958), Leon Redbone (1975).

From the wiki: “With lyrics by Andy Razaf and score by Thomas ‘Fats’ Waller and Harry Brooks, ‘An’t Misbehavin” was created specifically as a theme song for the Razaf/Waller/Brooks Broadway musical comedy Connie’s Hot Chocolates. In a 1941 interview with Eddie ‘Rochester’ Anderson, of The Jack Benny Show fame, Fats said the song was written while ‘lodging’ in alimony prison, and that is why he was not ‘misbehavin’.’

“The song was first performed at the premiere of Connie’s Hot Chocolates at Connie’s Inn in Harlem as an opening number by Margaret Simms and Paul Bass, and repeated later in the musical by Russell Wooding’s Hallelujah Singers. Connie’s Hot Chocolates transferred to the Hudson Theatre on Broadway in June 1929, where it was renamed to Hot Chocolates and where Louis Armstrong took over as orchestra director. The script also required Armstrong to play ‘Ain’t Misbehavin” in a trumpet solo, and although this was initially slated to only be a reprise of the opening song, Armstrong’s performance was so well received that the trumpeter was asked to climb out of the orchestra pit and play the piece on stage.

Pass Me By

First performed by Digby Wolfe (1964).
Also recorded by Frank Sinatra (1964).
Popular version by Peggy Lee (US #93/MOR #19 1965).

(Above): Opening credits clip from ‘Father Goose’.

From the wiki: “‘Pass Me By’ was composed by Cy Coleman with lyrics by Carolyn Leigh for the 1964 romantic comedy film Father Goose, set in World War II, starring Cary Grant. The film would go on to win an Academy Award for its screenplay. Although ignored by Oscar, the film’s theme song, ‘Pass Me By’, would later become a hit for his collaborator, Peggy Lee. Coleman has said that he based the song’s tempo on Grant’s jaunty walk in the movie.

When the Saints Go Marching In

First recorded by The Paramount Jubilee Singers (1923).
Hit versions by Louis Armstrong (US #10 1939), The Weavers (US #27 1951), Percy Faith & His Singers (US #29 1951), Fats Domino (US #50 1959).
Also recorded (as “The Saints Rock ‘n Roll”) by Bill Haley & His Comets (US #18/UK #5 1956), The Million Dollar Quartet (1956), Tony Sheridan & The Beat Brothers (1961).

From the wiki: “‘When the Saints Go Marching In’, often referred to as ‘The Saints’, is an American gospel hymn. According to jazz critic Al Rose this tune was first published as a Baptist hymn in 1916 and credited to Edward Boatner, the man behind religious-classic ‘He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands’. Though it originated as a Christian hymn, it is often played by jazz bands. This song was famously recorded on May 13, 1938 by Louis Armstrong and his Orchestra.

“The first known recorded version was in 1923 by the Paramount Jubilee Singers on Paramount 12073. Although the title given on the label is ‘When All the Saints Come Marching In’, the group sings the modern lyrics beginning with “When the saints go marching in”. No author is shown on the label. The earliest versions were slow and stately, but as time passed the recordings became more rhythmic. Louis Armstrong was one of the first to make the tune into a nationally known Pop tune in the 1930s. (Armstrong wrote that his sister told him she thought the secular performance style of the traditional church tune was inappropriate and irreligious.)

Ain’t She Sweet

First recorded by Eddie Cantor (1926).
Hit versions by Ben Bernie & His Hotel Roosevelt Orchestra (US #1 1927), Johnny Marvin (US #14 1927), Gene Austin (US #4 1927), Mr. Ford & Mr. Goon-Bones (US #14 1947), The Beatles (recording as “The Beat Brothers”, 1961 |US #19/UK #29 1964).
Also recorded by Gene Vincent (1956), Duffy Power (1959).


From the wiki: “‘Ain’t She Sweet’ was composed by Milton Ager (music) and Jack Yellen (lyrics). Ager wrote the song for his daughter Shana Ager, who in her adult life was known as the political commentator Shana Alexander. ‘Ain’t She Sweet’ became popular in the first half of the 20th century as one of the hit songs that typified the Roaring Twenties. Like ‘Happy Days Are Here Again’ (1929), it became a Tin Pan Alley standard. Both Ager and Yellen were later elected to membership in the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Blue Skies

First recorded by Vaughn De Leath (1927).
Popular recordings by Ben Selvin (US #1 1927), Al Jolson (1927, in The Jazz Singer), Benny Goodman (1935), Count Basie & His Orchestra (US #8 1946), Bing Crosby (1946), Willie Nelson (MOR #32/C&W #1/CAN #1 1978).
Inspired Theolonious Monk “In Walked Bud” (1947).

From the wiki: “‘Blue Skies’ was composed by Irving Berlin in 1926 as a last-minute addition to the Rodgers and Hart musical Betsy. Although the show ran for 39 performances only, the song was an instant success, with audiences on opening night demanding 24 encores of the piece from star Belle Baker. During the final repetition, Ms. Baker forgot her lyrics, prompting Berlin to sing them from his seat in the front row.

Beale Street Blues

First recorded by Prince’s Band (1917).
Popular versions by W.C. Handy (1917), Jelly Roll Morton (1926), Fats Waller & Alberta Hunter (1927), “Big” Joe Turner (1940), Louis Armstrong (1954), Ella Fitzgerald (1958).

From the wiki: “‘Beale Street Blues’ was written in 1917 by American composer and lyricist W.C. Handy. The title refers to Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee, the main entertainment district for the city’s African American population in the early part of the twentieth century, and a place closely associated with the development of the Blues. ‘Beale Street Blues’ was first popularized for a mass audience when sung on Broadway by Gilda Gray in the 1919 musical revue Schubert’s Gaieties.

“Like many of Handy’s songs, Beale Street Blues is a hybrid of the blues style with the popular ballad style of the day, the opening lyrics following a line pattern typical of Tin Pan Alley songs and the later stanzas giving way to the traditional three-line pattern characteristic of the Blues. The song itself is now in the public domain in the United States, due to expiration of the copyright, though most of the recordings of it are still covered by their own copyrights.”

Sugar Blues

First recorded by Leona Williams & Her Dixie Band (1922).
Popular versions by Clyde McCoy (US #2 1931), Fats Waller (1935), Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys (1936), Ella Fitzgerald & the Chick Webb Orchestra (1940), Johnny Mercer (US #4 1947).

From the wiki: “‘Sugar Blues’ was written in 1920 by Clarence Williams and recorded for the first time by Leona Williams (no relation) and Her Dixie Band in 1922. The song was made popular by Clyde McCoy in 1931, featuring the sound of the growling wah-wah mute. MCcoy recorded it no less than four times, and it became his trademark song. ‘Sugar Blues’ would also be recorded by Fats Waller (1935), Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys (1936), and Ella Fitzgerald (1940), and chart again on the Hit Parade in 1947 with a vocal cover by noted songwriter-lyricist Johnny Mercer (‘Satin Doll’, ‘Fools Rush In‘, ‘Jeepers Creepers‘).”

My Babe

First recorded (as “Dis Train”) by The Florida Normal and Industrial Institute Quartette (1924).
Also recorded (as “This Train”) by Sister Rosetta Tharpe (1939).
Hit version adapted by Willie Dixon and recorded (as “My Babe”) by Little Walter & His Jukes (R&B #1 1955).
Also recorded (as “My Babe”) by Cliff Richard (1959), The Uniques (1969), Willie Dixon (1970).

From the wiki: “‘My Babe’ was based on the traditional Gospel song ‘This Train (Is Bound For Glory)’, first recorded in 1924 by The Florida Normal and Industrial Institute Quartette. It was also first recorded by Sister Rosetta Tharpe as ‘This Train’ in 1939; a second version would be recorded by Tharpe in 1947 with the Sam Price Trio.

“‘My Babe’ was written by Willie Dixon (‘Hoochie Coochie Man’, ‘Spoonful’, ‘Little Red Rooster‘) for Little Walter. Dixon reworked the Gospel arrangement and lyrics from the sacred (the procession of saints into Heaven) into the secular (a story about a woman who won’t stand for her man to cheat): ‘My baby, she don’t stand no cheating, my babe, she don’t stand none of that midnight creeping.’ Released in 1955 on Checker Records, the song was the only Dixon composition ever to become a #1 R&B single, one of the biggest hits of either of Dixon’s or Walter’s careers. Backing Little Walter’s vocals and harmonica were Robert Lockwood, Jr. and Leonard Caston on guitars, Willie Dixon on double-bass, and Fred Below on drums.

Going Up the Country

First recorded (as “Bull Doze Blues”) by Henry Thomas (1928).
Hit version by Canned Heat (US #11 1969).

From the wiki: “Canned Heat, who were early Blues enthusiasts, based ‘Going Up the Country’ on ‘Bull Doze Blues’, recorded in Chicago for Vocalion Records in 1928 by Texas bluesman Henry Thomas. Thomas was from the songster tradition and had a unique sound, sometimes accompanying himself on quills, an early Afro-American wind instrument similar to panpipes. For the Canned Heat recording ‘Going Up the Country’, Alan Wilson used Thomas’ melody on the quills and his basic rhythm, but re-arranged it for a Rock setting and rewrote the lyrics; multi-instrumentalist Jim Horn reproduced Thomas’ quill parts on the flute.

“I’m going where I never get bulldozed…”

“The term ‘bull doze’ in the original Thomas recording was a reference to a prolonged beating with a whip, and its earliest recorded use in print was from newspapers in 1876, not long after the civil war, when white men would beat black men with whips to warn them not to vote.”

Frankie and Johnny

First recorded by Ted Lewis & His Band (US #9 1927).
Also recorded by Mae West (1933).
Other hit versions by Brook Benton (US #20/MOR #6/R&B #14 1961), Mr. Acker Bilk (UK #42 1962), Sam Cooke (US #14/MOR #2/R&B #4/UK #30 1963), Elvis Presley (US #25/UK #21 1966).

From the wiki: “The song ‘Frankie and Johnny’ (sometimes spelled ‘Frankie and Johnnie’; also known as ‘Frankie and Albert’ or just ‘Frankie’) was inspired by one or more actual murders. One took place in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1899 when Frankie Baker, a 22-year-old woman, shot her 17-year-old lover Allen (also known as ‘Albert’) Britt in the abdomen. The song has also been linked to Frances ‘Frankie’ Stewart Silver, convicted in 1832 of murdering her husband Charles Silver in Burke County, North Carolina. Popular St Louis balladeer Bill Dooley composed ‘Frankie Killed Allen’ shortly after the Baker murder case. The first published version of the music to ‘Frankie and Johnny’ appeared in 1904, credited to and copyrighted by Hughie Cannon, the composer of ‘Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey’.

“At least 256 different recordings of “Frankie and Johnny” have been made since the early 20th century. Ted Lewis & His Band recorded the first popular rendition in 1927. Mae West inserted her ballad in her successful Broadway play Diamond Lil. West sang the ballad again in her 1933 Paramount film She Done Him Wrong, which takes its title from the refrain, substituting genders. A flurry of recordings in the 1960s made the Pop music charts, including recordings by Sam Cooke (1963) and Elvis Presley (1966).”

Midnight Special

First recorded (as “Pistol Pete’s Midnight Special”) by Dave Cutrell (1926).
Also recorded (as “The Midnight Special Blues”) by Sam Collins (1927).
Hit versions by Lead Belly (1934), Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper (C&W #4 1959), Paul Evans (US #16/UK #41 1960), Johnny Rivers (US #20/CAN #36/AUS #86 1964).
Also recorded by Harry Belafonte (1962), Creedence Clearwater Revival (1969).

From the wiki: “‘Midnight Special’ was first commercially recorded on the OKeh label in 1926 as ‘Pistol Pete’s Midnight Special’ by Dave ‘Pistol Pete’ Cutrell (a member of McGinty’s Oklahoma Cow Boy Band). (In March 1929, the band, now named ‘Otto Gray and the Oklahoma Cowboys’, recorded the song again, this time with the traditional title using only the traditional lyrics.)

“Sam Collins recorded the song commercially in 1927 under the title ‘The Midnight Special Blues’ for Gennett Records. Collins’ version also follows the traditional style but his recording was the first to name the woman in the story, Little Nora, and he was the first singer to refer to the Midnight Special’s ‘ever-living’ light. In 1934 Huddie William ‘Lead Belly’ Ledbetter recorded a version of the song at Angola Prison for John and Alan Lomax, who mistakenly attributed it to him as the author. Ledbetter recorded at least three versions of the song, including one in 1940 with the Golden Gate Quartet, a gospel group.

The Peanut Vendor

First recorded (as “El manisero”) by Rita Montaner con Orquesta (1927).
Hit versions by Don Azpiazu & His Havana Casino Orchestra (US #1 1930), Louis Armstrong (US #15 1930), Red Nichols & His Five Pennies (US #5 1931), The California Ramblers (US #5 1931), Stan Kenton & His Orchestra (US #1 1947).

From the wiki: “‘El manisero’, known in English as ‘The Peanut Vendor’, is a Cuban son-pregón composed by Moisés Simons. Together with ‘Guantanamera’, it is arguably the most famous piece of music created by a Cuban musician. ‘The Peanut Vendor'” has been recorded more than 160 times, sold over a million copies of the sheet music, and was the first million-selling 78 rpm of Cuban music. Its success was far-reaching, directly leading to the ‘Rumba craze’ in the US and Europe which lasted through the 1940s.

Jolé Blon

First recorded (as “Ma blonde est partie”) by Amede, Ophy & Cleoma Breaux (1929).
Hit version by Red Foley (C&W #1 1947).
Also recorded by Waylon Jennings (1958), Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band (1980), Gary “U.S.” Bonds (1981).

From the wiki: “‘Jolé Blon’ is a traditional Cajun waltz, often called ‘the Cajun national anthem’ because of the popularity it had in Cajun culture’; is considered to be the very first Cajun recording. The song was then later popularized on a nationwide scale by a series of renditions and references in late 1940s country songs. There is some mystery to the song’s origin: According to Cleoma Breaux’s daughter, while Amede Breaux is credited with writing the song, it was his sister, Cleoma, who actually wrote the lyrics and Amede sang the song. Dennis McGee claims the original song was written by Angelas Lejeune as ‘La Fille De La Veuve (The Widows Daughter)’ during WWI and Cleoma simply rewrote the lyrics, allegedly about Amede’s first wife.

Walk Right In

First recorded by Cannon’s Jug Stompers (1929).
Hit version by The Rooftop Singers (US #1/MOR #1/R&B #4/C&W #23/UK #10/AUS #1 1962).

From the wiki: “‘Walk Right In” is the title of a Country-blues song written by Gus Cannon and originally recorded by Cannon’s Jug Stompers in 1929. Cannon helped to popularize jug bands when, along with Noah Lewis and Ashley Thompson, he formed a band to play parties and dances. In 1914 Cannon began touring in medicine shows. He supported his family through a variety of jobs, including sharecropping, ditch digging, and yard work, but supplemented his income with music. Cannon’s Jug Stompers first recorded at the Memphis Auditorium in January 1928. (Modern listeners can also hear Cannon’s Jug Stompers’ recording of ‘Big Railroad Blues’ on the compilation album The Music Never Stopped: Roots of the Grateful Dead.)

Tip-Toe Thru the Tulips

First recorded by The Nick Lucas Troubadors (US #1 1929).
Other hit versions by Roy Fox Orchestra (US #11 1929), Johnny Marvin (US #11 1929), Tiny Tim (US #17 1968).
Also recorded by The Humane Society (1967).

From the wiki: “‘Tiptoe Through the Tulips’ was written by Al Dubin and Joe Burke, and first published in 1929. Nick Lucas’ recording of ‘Tip-Toe’ hit the top of the charts in May 1929, first introduced to the public by Lucas in the 1929 musical talkie Gold Diggers of Broadway. His recording held the #1 position for 10 weeks. The song was also used in ‘Sinkin’ in the Bathtub’, the first Looney Tunes cartoon ever, in 1930. The song was revived in 1967 by the California rock group The Humane Society and, in 1968, by Tiny Tim, whose version charted in the US Top 20.”

Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall in Love)

First recorded by Irving Aaronson & His Commanders (1928).
Hit versions by The Paul Whiteman Orchestra (US #5 1929), Dorsey Brothers & their Orchestra (US #9 1929).

From the wiki: “‘Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall in Love’ (also known as ‘Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall in Love)’ or simply ‘Let’s Do It’) was written in 1928 by Cole Porter. It was introduced in Porter’s first Broadway success, the musical Paris (1928) by French chanteuse Irène Bordoni for whom Porter had written the musical as a starring vehicle. The song was later used in the English production of Wake Up and Dream (1929) and was also used as the title theme music in the 1933 Hollywood movie, Grand Slam.

“‘Let’s Do It’ was the first of Porter’s famous ‘list songs’, featuring a string of suggestive and droll comparisons and examples, preposterous pairings and double entendres, dropping famous names and events, drawing unexpectedly from highbrow and popular culture.

Parade of the Wooden Soldiers

First US recording by The Vincent Lopez Orchestra (1922).
Other popular versions by The Andrews Sisters (1950), The Crystals (1963), Harry Connick, Jr. (1993).

From the wiki:”‘The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers’ (originally titled ‘Parade of the Tin Soldiers’) was composed in 1897 for solo piano by Leon Jessel who later published it for orchestra in 1905, as ‘Opus 123’. In 1911, Russian impresario Nikita Balieff chose Jessel’s whimsically rakish ‘Parade of the Tin Soldiers’ for a choreography routine in his ‘The Bat’ vaudeville revue, changing the title to ‘The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers’. (A link below goes to a 1911 Berlin recording of ‘The Parade of the Tin Soldiers’ for Russian distribution.) Balieff’s wooden-soldier choreography referenced a legend regarding Tsar Paul I: that he left his parade grounds without issuing a ‘halt’ order to the marching soldiers, so they marched to Siberia before being remembered and ordered back.

“In December 1920 Nikita Balieff’s La Chauve-Souris (The Bat) revue reached Paris, to great acclaim, and in 1922 it was brought to Broadway. In 1922, the instrumental version of ‘The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers’ became a US hit single performed by The Vincent Lopez Orchestra in 1922. In 1933, a Betty Boop cartoon, Parade of the Wooden Soldiers, was created with the music. Also in 1933, The Rockettes began annually performing their own choreographed version of the piece, based on Balieff’s original, in their Radio City Christmas Spectacular.”

Stardust

Co-written and first recorded (as an instrumental) by Hoagy Carmichael (1927).
Hit versions by Irving Mills & His Hotsy Totsy Gang (US #20 1929), Isham Jones & His Orchestra (US #1 1930), Bing Crosby (US #5 1931), Louis Armstrong (US #16 1931), Frank Sinatra with The Tommy Dorsey Orchestra (US #7 1941), Nat “King” Cole (US #79/UK #24 1957), Billy Ward & His Dominoes (US #12/R&B #5/UK #13 1957), Nino Tempo & April Stevens (US #32 1964).
Also recorded by Jon Hendricks (1990).

From the JazzStandards.com: “On October 31, 1927, Hoagy Carmichael and His Pals recorded ‘Stardust’ at the Gennett Records studio in Richmond, Indiana. Hoagy’s ‘pals,’ Emil Seidel and His Orchestra, agreed to record the medium-tempo instrumental in between their Sunday evening and Monday matinee performances in Indianapolis, seventy miles away. In 1928 Carmichael again recorded ‘Stardust,’ this time with lyrics he had written, but Gennett rejected it because the instrumental had sold so poorly. The following year, at Mills Music, Mitchell Parish was asked to set lyrics to coworker Carmichael’s song. The result was the 1929 publication date of ‘Star Dust’ with the music and lyrics we know today.

“According to the Carmichael, inspiration for the song struck while visiting his old university campus. Sitting on a wall reminiscing about the town, his college days, and past romances, he looked up at the starlit sky and whistled ‘Star Dust’. Richard Sudhalter’s biography ( Stardust Melody: The Life and Music of Hoagy Carmichael) contends that the melody may have begun with fragments, evolving over months and maybe years, but Carmichael preferred to perpetuate a myth that sweet songs are conceived in romantic settings.

Lovesick Blues

First recorded (as “I’ve Got The Love-sick Blues”) by Elsie Clark (1922).
Also recorded by Jack Shea (1922), Emmett Miller & His Georgia Crackers (1928), Rex Griffin (1939).
Hit versions by Hank Williams (US #24/C&W #1 1949), Frank Ifield (US #44/UK #1 1962).

From the wiki: “First published as ‘I’ve Got The Love-sick Blues’ and introduced by Vaudeville singer Anna Chandler in the musical Oh, Ernest, ‘Lovesick Blues’ was first recorded by Elsie Clark in a March 1922 for OKeh Records and covered by Jack Shea for Vocalion Records later the same year. In 1928It was covered by Emmet Miller in 1928 (accompanied by his ‘Georgia Crackers’, Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorsey, Eddie Lang, and Leo McConville) and, in 1939, by Country singer Rex Griffin.

“The recordings by Miller and Griffin would inspire Hank Williams to perform the song during his first appearances on The Louisiana Hayride in 1948. Receiving an enthusiastic reception by the audience, Williams decided to record his own version despite an initial push-back from his producer Fred Rose and his band. Williams’ recording would go on to become one of the biggest Country hits ever – spending 16 weeks at #1 in 1949. Co-writer Irving Mills also wrote ‘It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing’, ‘Mood Indigo’ and ‘Caravan‘ in partnership with Duke Ellington. The other co-author, Cliff Friend, sold his share for $500 during the Depression.”

Big Rock Candy Mountain

First recorded (as “Big Rock Candy Mountains”) by Harry McClintock (1928).
Popular versions by Burl Ives (1949), Pete Seeger (1957), Dorsey Burnette (B-side US #102 1960).

From the wiki: “‘Big Rock Candy Mountain’, first recorded by Harry McClintock in 1928, is a folk music song about a hobo’s idea of paradise – a place where ‘hens lay soft boiled eggs’ and there are ‘cigarette trees’. McClintock claimed to have written the song in 1895, based on tales from his youth hobo-ing through the United States, but some believe that at least aspects of the song have existed for far longer. McClintock was a member of the Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.), and the author of other labor songs as ‘Haywire Mac’, ‘Sam Bass’ and ‘Hallelujah Bum Again’. His original 1928 recording was used on the O Brother, Where Art Thou soundtrack (minus the plural form). The song achieved widespread popularity in 1949 when a sanitized version intended for children was recorded by Burl Ives. A version recorded in 1960 by Dorsey Burnette reached #102 on Billboard’s chart.

I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die-Rag

Inspired by “Muskrat Ramble” by Louis Armstrong & His Hot Five (1926).
Also recorded (as “Muskrat Ramble”) by Dean Martin (1950).
Popular version by Country Joe & The Fish (1967).

From the wiki: “‘Muskrat Ramble’ was written by Kid Ory and first recorded by Louis Armstrong & His Hot Five (including Ory, on trombone) in 1926. The song served as the B-side to Armstrong’s first solo outing as a recording artist, ‘Heebie Jeebies’. In 2001, the heirs of Kid Ory launched a lawsuit against Country Joe McDonald, claiming that the music of ‘I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die Rag’ constituted plagiarism of ‘Muskrat Ramble’. In 2005, courts ruled in McDonald’s favor primarily because the original 1926 recording had fallen into the public domain.

Wade in the Water

First recorded by The Sunset Four Jubilee Singers (1925).
Also recorded by Birmingham Jubilee Singers (1930), Odetta (1954), Johnny Griffin & the Big Soul Band (1960), Graham Bond Organisation (1965).
Hit versions by Ramsey Lewis (US #19/R&B #3/UK #31 1966), Herb Alpert (US #37/MOR #5 1967).
Melodic refrain used (in “Little Walter”) by Tony! Toni! Toné! (1988).

From the wiki: “‘Wade in the Water’ is the name of a Negro Spiritual first published in New Jubilee Songs as Sung by the Fisk Jubilee Singers (1901). It is associated with the songs of the Underground Railroad, and the verses reflect the Israelites’ escape out of Egypt as found in the Book of Exodus. Some sources claim that songs such as ‘Wade in the Water’ contained explicit instructions to fugitive slaves on how to avoid capture. (This particular song allegedly recommends leaving dry land and taking to the water as a strategy to throw pursuing bloodhounds off one’s trail.) The first known recording was made in 1925 by The Sunset Four Jubilee Singers.

“Other early recordings were published by the Birmingham Jubilee Singers (1930) and Odetta (1954). A 1960 instrumental recording by Johnny Griffin & the Big Soul Band is thought to have inspired both the Graham Bond and Ramsey Lewis recordings.

Sweet Georgia Brown

First recorded by Ben Bernie & His Hotel Roosevelt Orchestra (US #1 1925).
Also recorded by Ethel Waters (US #6 1925), Isham Jones & His Orchestra (US #5 1925), Red Nichols & His Orchestra (1930).
Best-known recordings by Bing Crosby (US #5 1932), Stéphane Grappelli & Django Reinhardt (1938), Brother Bones & His Shadows (US #10/R&B #9 1948), Tony Sheridan & The Beat Brothers (1962).

From the wiki: “”Sweet Georgia Brown” is a Jazz standard and Pop tune written in 1925 by Ben Bernie, Maceo Pinkard (music) and Kenneth Casey (lyrics). It is believed Ben Bernie came up with the concept for the song’s lyrics – although he is not the accredited lyricist – after meeting Dr. George Thaddeus Brown in New York City: Dr. Brown, a longtime member of the State House of Representatives for Georgia, told Bernie about Dr. Brown’s daughter Georgia Brown and how subsequent to the baby girl’s birth on August 11, 1911 the Georgia General Assembly had issued a declaration that she was to be named Georgia after the state, an anecdote which would be directly referenced by the song’s lyric: ‘Georgia claimed her – Georgia named her.’ The tune was first recorded in March 1925 by Bernie & his Hotel Roosevelt Orchestra, resulting in a five-week run at #1.

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