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Origins: 'Willie Jean' origin

GUEST,Folkpunch 11 Apr 12 - 07:08 PM
Joe Offer 11 Apr 12 - 09:03 PM
GUEST,999 11 Apr 12 - 09:21 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 12 Apr 12 - 04:48 AM
GUEST,leeneia 12 Apr 12 - 10:16 AM
GUEST 14 Dec 12 - 11:34 PM
michaelr 15 Dec 12 - 10:45 AM
GUEST,rcat 13 Apr 13 - 01:17 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 13 Apr 13 - 12:49 PM
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Subject: ADD: Willie Jean
From: GUEST,Folkpunch
Date: 11 Apr 12 - 07:08 PM

There's a song I've been singing since 1966, called Willie Jean. I learned it from local players in California. Nobody ever said who wrote it or where it came from. Back in the early 80s and old friend who was a jazz and blues record collector swore to me that it was an old Willie McTell song – he put me in touch with someone who said they could prove it, said they had the 78. I went to see this person but they were all packed up, moving out of town. Starting to sound like a flying saucer story….   I went to the Library Of Congress and could only find it listed as Public Domain. I listened to a couple of versions in the listening chamber: Hoyt Axton, Mose Allison. Every once in a while I do another web search and it always just goes back to the Blues Magoos. There must be more….   Does anybody know anything about this song?

Here's the lyrics as I sing them.


WILLIE JEAN

sometimes I think about the folks back home
that twelve mile stretch of road that we used to roam
sometimes I think about a little girl named Willie Jean
did she ever get as far as New Orleans

we used to lie on a hilltop, catch that risin' sun
walk down by the river to see that old river run
oh god it easy then to make her feel like a queen
did she ever get as far as New Orleans

we used to walk hand in hand down by the river bank
drink hot water from an old railway tank
she turned into a woman at the age of seventeen
did she ever get as far as New Orleans

my mama used to tell me, son don't you ever come to harm
look at me here people, I'm on this goddamn county farm
sometimes I lie awake just thinkin' about sweet Willie Jean
did she ever get as far as New Orleans

sometimes I think about the folks back home
and I wonder do they miss me or even think of me since I been on the roam
and sometimes I think about a little girl named Willie Jean
did she ever get as far as New Orleans


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Subject: ADD Versions: Willie Jean
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Apr 12 - 09:03 PM

Sometimes, after Mudcat being around for almost 16 years, it seems we must have covered every song in the folk genre. Not so. This song has been mentioned here twice, but never posted until "folkpunch" posted it today. It's not listed in the Traditional Ballad Index or the Roud Folk Song Index. It's a great song. I can't recall hearing it ever before. Joe & Eddie have a recording, but it's only an instrumental and bears little resemblance to other recordings with this name. I found several versions on Spotify, and I'll post a few.
The Harry Fox Agency has a song titled "Willie Jean" attributed to Hoyt Axton, and recorded by Axton, by David Crosby, and by the Byrds. Based on what I can find, I'd attribute the song to Hoyt Axton.

WILLIE JEAN
(as recorded by David Crosby)

Sometimes I think about folks back home,
That twelve mile road now that I used to roam;
Sometimes I think about a girl named Willie Jean,
Did she ever get as far as New Orleans?

We used to watch a riverboat from a grassy bank,
Drink hard water from a railway fillin' tank;
Yes, sometimes I think about sweet Willie Jean,
Did she ever get as far as New Orleans?

People told me that I'd come to harm,
Here I am now on this hot old county farm;
Sometimes at night now I think about Willie Jean,
And I wonder did she ever get as far as New Orleans?


from a recording by David Crosby on an album titled Sixties Transformation

WILLIE JEAN
(as recorded by Hoyt Axton)

Sometimes I think about the folks back home
And the twelve mile road I used to roam;
Sometime I think about a girl named Willie Jean
Did she ever get as far as New Orleans?

We used to watch the riverboats from a grassy bank,
Yeah, drink hot water from a railway fillin' tank;
Sometimes at night I cry and think about a girl name Willie Jean,
Did she ever get as far as New Orleans?

Yes, sometimes I wonder about the people there,
And I wonder do they still have their county fair;
Sometime at night I cry and think about Willie Jean,
Did she ever get as far as New Orleans?

You know people told me, "Boy, you're gonna come to harm"
Yeah, look at me working on this knockdown county farm
Sometimes at night I cry and think about a girl name Willie Jean,
Did she ever get as far as New Orleans?

Hoyt Axton (Irving Music/BMI)


From the 1965 Hoyt Axton album Saturday's Child, which features a photo of a very young Hoyt Axton on the cover.



A lyrics website had the following verse, but I haven't yet found a recording with it:
    Sometimes I think about ol' Saturday's child
    Yeah and all the times we were runnin' wild
    Sometimes I think about a girl name Willie Jean
    Did she ever get as far as New Orleans?


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Willie Jean' origin
From: GUEST,999
Date: 11 Apr 12 - 09:21 PM

Credit given to Hoyt Axton on this 45 rpm label


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Willie Jean' origin
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 12 Apr 12 - 04:48 AM

Here's a post I made last night, then couldn't connect to Mudcat when I hit submit and not afterwards:


Earliest recording of a song of that name at LOC is from 1960: Indigo plying and singing his blues by Jimmy Drew.

Here's an ad for the LP for sale giving a date of 1962 Jimmy Drew - Indigo.

The next at LOC is Hoyt Axton Saturday's Child, which LOC dates as 1964?. There's an mp3 of the track in his discography for this record at Hoyt Axton's site.

Hoyt Axton is credited with the song in several places including this one Rod McDonald - Recognition, which if the lyrics posted threre are correct includes that verse Joe.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Willie Jean' origin
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 12 Apr 12 - 10:16 AM

There are a couple of versions of this on YouTube. Just search for "Willie Jean."


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Willie Jean' origin
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Dec 12 - 11:34 PM

Can anyone tell me where I can down load this song. It is my name sake


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Willie Jean' origin
From: michaelr
Date: 15 Dec 12 - 10:45 AM

Michael Jackson wrote it.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Willie Jean' origin
From: GUEST,rcat
Date: 13 Apr 13 - 01:17 AM

I also learned this song in the sixties from someone who learned it from someone. Always thought it was "traditional."

Here are the lyrics as I learned them:

Sometimes I think about the folks back home
That old twelve mile stretch of road I used to roam
I sit and I think about young Willie Jean
I wonder if she made it to New Orleans

I used to chase that girl down an old windy beach
Don't you know she was always runnin', just a little out of reach
And I sit and I think about young Willie Jean
I wonder if she made it to New Orleans

My folks always told me, someday you'll come to harm
And sure enough here I am . . . on a prison farm
Yeah I sit and I think about young Willie Jean
Wondering isf she made it to New Orleans


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Willie Jean' origin
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 13 Apr 13 - 12:49 PM

Decca, 1961, issued a 45rpm with Jimmy Drew singing "Willie Jean."


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