Welcome to Mellow's Log Cabin. This blog's purpose is to supply information on a diversity of American southern music - ranging from country, blues, old-time and folk to R&B, rock'n'roll and rockabilly. I regularly present my research results about artists, labels, shows and also give guest writers a chance to publish their texts here on occasion.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wayne Raney's Lost John Boogie


Wayne Raney - "Lost John Boogie" (King 719)


The origins of the folk song "Lost John" have been discussed for a long time. Although not as popular as other early folk songs, "Lost John," "Long Lost John," or "John Dean from Bowling Green" (as this tune is also called), it was recorded by a number of different artists. Famous blues composer W.C. Handy published a version in 1920 on sheet but it's probable that the song dates back to the 19th century and originated as a negro folk song. The story of a prisoner, who was chosen to be a victim for a test of new blood hounds but ran too fast for the dogs obviously seemed to had a bearing on the song's lyrics. Handed down through generations of black prisoners and farmers, many lyrical variations developed.

Wayne Raney possibly learned it in that way. "Lost John" was a popular tune among the black and white rural population in Raney's home state Arkansas and his mentor Lonnie Glosson also cut two or three versions of the song during his career. The first recording was probably made by the duo of Dick Burnett and Leonard Rutherford, an old-time duo from Kentucky (where the song was even more popular), in 1926 for Columbia. Blind Dick Burnett was a folk song collector and learned it likely from other musicians. After their recordings, other versions followed by Bascom Lamar Lunsford, DeFord Bailey, the Allen Brothers, and other both old-time and blues musicians.

Wayne Raney
Raney cut his rendition of "Lost John" on December 30, 1947, at radio KWEM in West Memphis, Arkansas, accompanied by Alton Delmore (vcl/gtr), Rabon Delmore (vcl/gtr), Roy Lanham (gtr), and the Lunar Sisters. It was a new, over-worked country boogie version entitled "Lost John Boogie." Raney and the Delmores had taken the old material and re-worked it as a faster boogie with new lyrics. On that same session, also the famous "Jack and Jill Boogie" was laid down by Raney. The song was issued on King 719 with "Jole Blon's Ghost" as the flip side and went on to become one of Raney's most successful singles, cracking the Billboard Top 15 C&W Charts in the fall of that year. It was not until 1949, when Raney hit the number one charts position with "Why Don't You Haul Off and Love Me."

"Lost John" is today a not as popular as other folk songs and was forgotten during the folk revival. Merle Travis recorded another version of "Lost John Boogie" in 1951 on Capitol, while Arkansas native Kenny Owens released a rock'n'roll version in the 1960s. Even the Beatles did an unissued version, but somehow "Lost John" was left by the roadside.

6 comments:

Floyd said...

Thanks Raney and Glossen were both favorites of mine growing up.

tip said...

Can we not download this file?

Mellow said...

Sorry tip but divshare changed the download possibilities. It seems you cannot download the file anymore. I'm currently searching for the best solution.

Bless My Bones said...

I've finally figured a way around the divshare problem. It's possible to offer the download link separately from the player. On my own blog, I add the link to the highlighted song title. If you need more info, just let me know.

Thanks so much, Mellow, for linking to Can't You Hear Them Calling.

Bless My Bones said...

I've been playing this one over and over. Is there any chance that you might consider adding a link for it as you did with the song above? I don't want to put you to any trouble, but I checked itunes and it's not available there. Thanks again for posting it, Mellow.

Mellow said...

No problem, I'll post it for you.