Old music for Friday

I recently listened to three old songs that I’m posting for grins. The first is “Wagoner’s Lad,” a traditional American folk song whose earliest reference is 1908. It’s one of the rare traditional pieces of music highlighting the plight of women. This version is by the Kingston Trio—the incarnation after 1961, when Dave Guard had left the Trio and was replaced by John Stewart. I’ve always found Stewart’s voice a bit wobbly, but I have to admit that on this version it adds to the song:

A jazz classic: “Gladys” by the Stan Getz Quintet, with Lionel Hampton on the vibes. In this song from the 1955 “Hamp and Getz” album, both men are in top form (I guess the days of the vibraphone are over), and are accompanied by Lou Levy on piano, Shelly Manne on drums, and, Leroy Vinnegar on bass. Gladys isn’t heard much, but the tenor sax and vibes are smoking.

Finally, a classic from the movies: Cab Calloway, scat singing on “Jumpin’ Jive”, followed by an absolutely stunning dance number by the Nicholas Brothers. Those jumping splits must have hurt! This is from the 1943 movie “Stormy Weather.” Hep hep!


  1. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted September 21, 2018 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    I love the style of the cover art of the Getz album. I associate it with the music. Charlie Parker records are like that, and There’s a Japanese artist who did the Time Out and Mingus Ah Um covers.It’s like time travel.

  2. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted September 21, 2018 at 6:13 am | Permalink

    Oh god that Hamp and Getz group is good.

    The wagoner tune is astonishing- how plain the lyrics describe women! I wonder if the lyrics are really that old?…

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted September 21, 2018 at 8:11 am | Permalink

      The recent versions of the song has been covered by Dylan, Baez & even Led Zeppelin. The Baez contralto version is the best IMO

      Pinning down the origins of traditional songs is impossible – the lyrics & melodies of different song meld & split – bits borrowed from here & there. It’s the same as as blues/folk.

      The lyrics are very old & it probably evolved out of On Top Of Old Smokey – note that the meter is the same:

      On the top of old Smoky all covered in snow
      I lost my true lover by sparking too slow.

      Sparking is a pleasure, parting is a grief,
      And a false hearted is worse than a thief.

      A thief will only rob you, will take what you have,
      And a false-hearted lover will take you to the grave.

      The grave will only decay you, turn you to dust;
      There’s not one boy in a hundred a poor girl can trust.

      They will tell you they love you to give your heart ease,

      And as soon as your back’s upon them they’ll court who they please.

      “It’s a raining, it’s a hailing; that moon gives no light;
      Your horses can’t travel this dark lonesome night.

      “Go put up your horses, feed them some hay;

      Come and set down here by me, love, as long as you stay.”

      “My horses are not hungry, they won’t eat your hay:
      So farewell, my little darling! I’ll feed on my way.

      “I will drive on to Georgia, write you my mind;
      My mind is to marry, love, and leave you behind.

      “Your parents is against me; mine is the same;
      If I’m down on your book, love, please rub off my name.”

      “I go upon old Smoky on the mountain so high,
      Where the wild birds and the turtle-dove can hear my sad cry.”

      “As sure as the dew drops grows on the green corn,
      Last night I were with her, but to-night she is gone.”

      THIS MUDCAT thread has more info if you have the time to read it all!

  3. Serendipitydawg
    Posted September 21, 2018 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    Are we not celebrating this day in 1823 when Angel Moroni first visited Honest Jo Smith?

    More accurately, celebrating the skill of the old time shyster.

  4. Posted September 21, 2018 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    A fun post. I agree with Michael Fisher, the best version of Wagoner’s Lad is by Joan Baez; you can find it here:

  5. Laurance
    Posted September 21, 2018 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    Wow! Thanks for the music on a grey day! I love the dancers on the Cab Calloway tune.

    I’ve never heard this one by the Kingston trio. I have a lot of their songs, but this is one I missed. I was absolutely riveted by the old photos, though! Good lord!! Ye gods!! Women’s clothes were so confining and uncomfortable in those days!! How on earth did they do housework and the kind of hard work that was necessary without modern conveniences while dressed in those clothes?? Eeyow!!

  6. Keith from NJ
    Posted September 21, 2018 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    “Gladys” sounds like a contrafact of “Blues For Alice.” It is amazing that a 60+ year old performance sounds so fresh. The musicians use the same bebop language we still use today. Thanks for posting this wonderful music.

  7. Posted September 21, 2018 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    Those were some cool cats! Jumping’ Jive never gets old.

  8. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted October 9, 2018 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    If anyone likes the Hampton and Getz tune, get the recording. Talk about “smoking” – they do Cherokee on it.

    Excellent pick PCC(E) – that Gene Krupa one from a while ago too.

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