Friday, July 17, 2015

Folk Music Friday: Don't Hesitate

I love musical threads that wind their way through decades and various songs.

The first known recording of Jack 'O Diamonds, comes from Blind Lemon Jefferson back in 1926.

From Wikipedia:

Jack of Diamonds (a.k.a. Jack o' Diamonds and Jack of Diamonds (Is a Hard Card to Play)) is a traditional folk song. It is a Texas gambling song that was popularized by Blind Lemon Jefferson. It was sung by railroad men who had lost money playing Coon Can. At least twelve white artists recorded the tune before World War II. The song has been recorded under various titles such as "A Corn Licker Still in Georgia" (Riley Puckett) and "Rye Whiskey" (Tex Ritter).

The song is related to "Drunkard's Hiccoughs", "Johnnie Armstrong", "Todlen Hame", "Bacach", "Robi Donadh Gorrach", "The Wagoner's Lad", "Clinch Mountain", "The Cuckoo", "Rye Whiskey", "Saints Bound for Heaven", "Separation", and "John Adkins' Farewell." This family of tunes originally comes from the British Isles, though is most well known in North America. The lyrics may originate in the American Civil War song "The Rebel Soldier" and the melody from the Scottish song "Robie Donadh Gorrach", known by Nathaniel Gow as "An Old Highland Song".

Here's the YouTube.  I have the same version on CD:

Here's Woody Guthrie singing a few lines of the song's cousin, Rye Whiskey.  As a bonus, there is a clip of Alan Lomax interviewing Woody tacked on to the end:

Now hear the great Charlie Poole turning the song into a new one called Hesitation Blues. I don't know the year, but it's most likely 1920's:

Finally, here are the Avett Brothers performing The Coo Coo Song almost 90 years after Blind Lemon recored Jack 'O Diamonds.  They segue into "The Fall," so keep listening!

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