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Origin of Ed McCurdy song 'Josie'?

DigiTrad:
FRANKIE AND ALBERT
FRANKIE AND ALBERT
FRANKIE AND JOHNNY
FRANKIE SILVERS
LEAVING HOME
MAGGIE WAS A LADY (Frankie & Johnny variant)


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Rick Fielding 02 Sep 02 - 01:44 PM
Joe Offer 02 Sep 02 - 02:05 PM
Joe Offer 02 Sep 02 - 02:18 PM
Joe Offer 02 Sep 02 - 02:25 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 02 Sep 02 - 04:09 PM
Rick Fielding 02 Sep 02 - 04:46 PM
masato sakurai 02 Sep 02 - 09:50 PM
Stewie 02 Sep 02 - 10:29 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 02 Sep 02 - 11:52 PM
toadfrog 03 Sep 02 - 12:12 AM
masato sakurai 03 Sep 02 - 01:45 AM
GUEST,jbf 23 May 10 - 09:47 PM
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Subject: Origin of Ed McCurdy song 'Josie'?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 02 Sep 02 - 01:44 PM

Hi. I've been singing this song for close to 30 years now, and have never really known any info about it. It's a varient of "Frankie and Johnnie" or "Frankie and Albert" but strikes me as a 'composed' song, probably by Ed. There's a "modern verse" about 'an electric fan...'

Anyone know if there are other recordings of it, besides Ed's, that may have some background information. Thanks.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Origin of Ed McCurdy song 'Josie'?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 02 Sep 02 - 02:05 PM

Hi, Rick - I haven't found the "Josie" lyrics. Can you poste the ones you sing?

For a start, here's the Traditional Ballad Index entry on "Frankie and Albert.

-Joe Offer-

Frankie and Albert [Laws I3]

DESCRIPTION: Frankie discovers her husband (Albert/Johnnie) involved with another woman. She shoots him. Depending on the version, she may be imprisoned or allowed to go free
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1904 (Copyright as "He Done Me Wrong" by Hughie Cannon)
KEYWORDS: infidelity murder bawdy betrayal execution jealousy judge prison trial
FOUND IN: US(Ap,MA,MW,SE,So,SW)
REFERENCES (27 citations):
Laws I3, "Frankie and Albert"
Randolph 159, "Frankie and Johnny" (6 texts, 2 tunes)
Randolph-Legman I, pp. 477-484, "Frankie and Johnny" (5 texts, 1 tune)
Eddy 108, "Maggie Was a Lady" (3 texts, 3 tunes)
Leach, pp. 761-765, "Frankie and Albert (Johnnie)" (2 texts)
Friedman, p. 211, "Frankie and Albert (Frankie and Johnny)" (2 texts)
Cray, pp. 137-149, "Frankie and Johnnie" (4 texts, 1 tune)
PBB 113, "Frankie and Albert" (1 text)
Sandburg, pp. 76-77, "Frankie and Albert"; 77-81, "Frankie and Johnny"; 82-82, "Frankie Blues"; 84-85, "Josie"; 86, "Sadie" (5 texts, 6 tunes)
Lomax-FSUSA 88, "Frankie and Albert" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-FSNA 305, "Frankie" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-ABFS, pp. 103-110, "Frankie and Albert" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
Asch/Dunson/Raim, p. 58 "Frankie" (1 text, 1 tune)
Arnett, pp. 148-149, "Frankie and Johnny" (1 text, 1 tune)
Spaeth-ReadWeep, pp. 31-36, "Frankie and Johnnie" (1 text with variant stanzas, 2 tunes)
JHJohnson, pp. 33-38, "Frankie and Johnnie" (1 text)
Courlander-NFM, pp. 182-184, "(Frankie and Albert)" (1 text)
JHCox 46, "Maggie Was a Lady" (2 texts)
PSeeger-AFB, p. 64, "Frankie And Johnny" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-FSWB, p. 177, "Frankie And Johnny" (1 text)
Fuld-WFM, pp. 233-235, "Frankie and Johnny"
DT 316, FRANJOHN* FRANJON2
~~~~~
Versions of "Leaving Home," the Charlie Poole song:
Cohen/Seeger/Wood, pp. 144-145, "Leaving Home" (1 text, 1 tune)
Rorrer, p. 72, "Leaving Home" (1 text)
DT 316, FRANJON3*

RECORDINGS:
Mississippi John Hurt, "Frankie" (OKeh 8560, 1928; on AAFM1, RoughWays2)
Riley Puckett, "Frankie and Johnny" (Columbia 15505-D, 1930) (Bluebird B-8277, 1939)
Roscoe Holcomb, "Frankie and Johnny" (on Holcomb2)
Dykes Magic City Trio, "Frankie" (Brunswick 127, 1927; on RoughWays1)
Pete Seeger, "Frankie and Johnny" (on PeteSeeger17)
~~~~~
Versions of "Leaving Home," the Charlie Poole song:
Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers, "Leaving Home" (Columbia 15116-D, 1926; on CPoole01, CPoole05)
New Lost City Ramblers, "Leaving Home" (on NLCR02, NLCRCD1)
Notes: Various theories have been proposed to explain the origin of this ballad. One theory connects it with the story of Frankie Silvers [Laws E13]. Another links it to the murder of Allen Britt ("Al Britt"= "Albert") by Frankie Baker in St. Louis, MO, on Oct. 15, 1899 (she was jealous of his relationship with Alice Pryor). (This murder was documented in the October 19, 1899 edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.) Versions have shown a tendency to take on local color and even be connected with local events. - RBW, EC
Legman offers extensive documentation for the ballad in Randolph-Legman I. - EC
Researcher Rusty David, of St. Louis, suggests that while the details of the current ballad support the Frankie Baker/Allen Britt story, in fact the ballad predates this murder, and describes a killing that took place in the same red-light district of St. Louis sometime around 1865-70. When the Baker/Britt killing took place, according to David, the earlier ballad was modified to fit the new events. He bases this suggestion on having found traces of the ballad before 1899. -PJS
Randolph catalogs authors who date the origins of the song before 1899, listing:
* Thomas Beer (who offers a date before 1863, and cites a date in the 1840s for the original murder). Belden finds no authority for these claims
* Sandburg (claims widespread currency by 1888)
* Niles (claims it predates 1830, but without evidence)
* Orrick Johns (early 1890s)
* Tyrrel Williams (pre-Civil War)
* George Milburn ("long before 1899," using names other than Frankie and Albert)
Fuld, however, lists the first occurrence of the tune as 1904 (with documentation), and notes that the "Frankie and Johnny were lovers" version first appears in 1925.
The song "Leaving Home," recorded by Charlie Poole and others (and properly called "Frankie and Johnny"), is not actually a "Frankie and Johnny" text; it was written by the Leighton Brothers and Ren Shields and copyrighted in 1912. If it entered oral tradition, it is as a result of the Poole recording or some such similar source. It is, however, included under this entry because it is based on "Frankie and Johnnie" and often treated as a variant of that song
Adding all this up, the verifiable facts appear to be as follows:
Whatever the earlier history, it seems certain that a canonical Frankie and Albert emerged from the Frankie Baker (1876-1952) and Al Britt (1882/3-1899) affair. The Leighton/Shields song supplied the names "Frankie and Johnny," which are now well-established.
Frankie Baker, in her trial, claimed that Al Britt threatened her with a knife, and she shot him in self-defence. She was acquitted, but later left the area to try to find peace, and worked odd jobs for the rest of her life. She eventually sued Hollywood because of their treatments of the Frankie legend. - RBW
File: LI03

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions

The Ballad Index Copyright 2002 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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Subject: ADD: Josie (from Sandburg)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 02 Sep 02 - 02:18 PM

As you can see in the Traditional Ballad Index entry, Sandburg must have really liked the song. He put five versions in American Songbag (1927)
-Joe Offer-


JOSIE

Josie she's a good girl, as everybody knows,
She gave one hundred dollars for an ivory suit of clothes;
"He is my man, but he won't come home."

She went down the street as far as I could see,
And every band that she passed by played "Nearer My God to Thee,"
"Oh, he's my man, but he won't come home."

She went down the street, a revolver in her hand,
Saying, "Stand back, gents and ladies; I'm searching for my man,
Oh, he's my man, but he won't come home."

She stepped into the barroom, and there her husband stood,
She drew her revolver from her side and shot him thru and thru;
"He's my man, but he wouldn't come home."

She went down to the jail-house, keys all in her hand,
Saying, "here, Mr. Jailer, lock me up, for I've shot my man;
He's my man, but he wouldn't come home."

One thing hurt Mrs. Josie, one thing made her cry,
Standing there in the courthouse door when the hurst (hearse) came rolling by;
"Oh, he's my man, but he wouldn't come home."

"I'm not going to wear no mourning, not going to wear no black,
But I'll go down to the graveyard and bring my Iva back;
Oh, he's my man, but he done me wrong."

She went down to the graveyard and fell down on her knees,
And prayed to the Lord in heaven to send her heart some ease;
"Oh, he's my man, but he wouldn't come home."

Sitting in the parlor by an electric fan,
Pleading with the youngest girl never to marry a gambling man;
"He'll be your man, but he'll not come home."


Sandburg's notes:
The restless sons of Man in the mountains of Kentucky sometimes descend to the plains and live in the big cities, in the centers of wickedness, in the tents of the ungodly, where night is turned into day by the bright lights. When they go back to the mountains sometimes they have songs their lips have learned in strange places. Perhaps one of the children of the mountains learned a Frankie song in one of the cities and brought it back to the mountains where the name of the heroine was changed to Josie. Or, perhaps, it was in the mountains that the first Frankie song was born and the name of the leading character was Josie and it was in the city that her name was changed.
When the song history of America is definitively written, we shall know about these things.


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Subject: ADD: Sadie (from Sandburg)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 02 Sep 02 - 02:25 PM

Here's another version from Sandburg's American Songbag:

SADIE

Sadie went into the bar-room, and she ordered up a big glass of beer.
She said, "Tell me the truth, Mister Bartender, has my Henry Brown been here?
'Cause he's my man, and he's doin' me wrong, he won't come home."

"Well I ain't goin' to tell you no secrets, and I ain't goin' to tell you no lies,
But I saw Henry Brown just a moment ago, and I could hardly b'lieve my eyes,
'Cause he's your man, what's been doin' you wrong, he won't come home."

Sadie drank up all her beer, and she ordered up a big glass of gin,
She said, "Ain't it a shame, Mister Bartender, that I've a-takin' to drinkin' again,
On account of my man, what's a-doin' me wrong, he wouldn't come home."

Sadie went up a dark alley, and she didn't go up there for fun,
For under her sky-blue kimono, she had a great big forty-four gun,
On account of her man, what was doin' her wrong, he wouldn't come home.

"Roll me over easy, now roll me over slow,
Oh, roll me over on my right side because my left side hurts me so,
'Cause I'm Sadie's man, what's a done her wrong, I wouldn't come home."

They hauled out the rubber-tired carriage, and they hauled out the rubber-tired hack,
They were haulin' a guy to the grave-yard, and they weren't gonna haul him back,
He was Sadie's man, that had done her wrong, he wouldn't come home.


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Subject: ADD: Lilly
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 02 Sep 02 - 04:09 PM

Newman L. White reported "Sadie" from Auburn. AL, 1915-1916; tune "Nigger Blues."
"Amy" was reported from Durham, NC, 1919.
Cox recorded "Maggie Was A Lady" from West Virginia, 1915 and 1916.
Odum, 1925, printed 21 stanzas under the title of "Lilly," and also noted the title "Pauly." Odum and Johnson, The Negro and His Songs, Univ NC Press (reprinted Negro Universities Press), pp. 228-230.
Sigmund Spaeth maintained that the song originated in St. Louis between 1850 and 1860, in "Read 'Em and Weep," 1927, p. 34 (not seen).

Lyr. Add: LILLY

Lilly was a good girl evy'body knows;
Spent a hundred dollars to buy her father suit o' clothes.
Her man certainly got to treat her right.

She went to Bell Street, bought a bottle of beer;
"Good mornin', bar-keeper, has my lovin' man been here?
My man certainly got to treat me right."

"It is Sunday an' I ain't goin' to tell you no lie,
He was standin' over there jus' an hour ago."
"My man certainly got to treat me right."

She went down to First Avenue, to pawn-broker.
"Good mornin', kind lady, what will you have?"
"I want to git a fohty-fo' gun, for all I got's done gone."

He say to the lady, "It's against my law
To rent any woman fohty-fo' smokin' gun,
For all you got'll be daid an' gone."

She went to the alley, dogs begin to bark,
Saw her lovin' man standin' in de dark,
Laid his po' body down.

"Turn me over, Lilly, turn me over slow,
May be las' time, I don't know,
All you got's daid an' gone."

She sent for the doctors- doctors all did come.
Sometimes they walk, sometimes they run;
An' it's one mo' rounder gone.

They picked up Pauly, carried him to infirmary.
He told the doctors he's a gamblin' man;
An' it's one mo' rounder gone.

Newsboys come runnin' to tell de mother de news.
She says to the lads, "That can't be true,
I seed my son 'bout an hour ago.

"Come here, John, an' git yo' hat;
Go down the street an' see where my son is at.
Is he gone, is he gone?"

The policemen all dressed in blue,
Dey come down de street by two an' two.
One mo' rounder gone.

"Lucy, git yo' bonnet! Johnnie, git yo' hat!
Go down on Bell Street an' see where my son is at.
Is he gone, is he gone?"

Sunday she got 'rested, Tuesday she was fined.
Wednesday she pleaded for all-life trial,
An' it's all she got done gone.

Lilly said to jailer, "How can it be?
Feed all prisoners, won't feed me.
Lawd, have mercy on yo' soul!"

Jailer said to Lilly, "I tell you what to do-
Go back in yo' dark cell an' take a good sleep!"
And it's all she got done gone.

She said to the jailer, "How can I sleep?
All 'round my bedside lovin' Paul do creep;
It's all I got's gone."

The wimmins in Atlanta, dey heard de news,
Run excursions with new red shoes;
An' it's one mo' rounder done gone.

Some give a nickel, some give a dime,
Some didn't give nary red copper cent;
An' it's one mo' rounder gone.

Well, it's forty-dollar hearse, an' rubber-tire hack,
Carry po' Paul to cemetery, but fail to bring him back;
An' it's one mo' rounder gone.

Well, they pick up Pauly, an' laid him to rest;
Preacher said de ceremony, sayin',
"Well, it's all dat you got's daid an' gone."

From Odum and Johnson, see above. This, to me, is redolent of the time, and with it's ties to other songs of the era, is my favorite.


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Subject: RE: Origin of Ed McCurdy song 'Josie'?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 02 Sep 02 - 04:46 PM

Here's the way I hear it from McCurdy's record:

JOSIE

JOSIE WENT TO THE BARROOM ORDERED UP A GLASS OF BEER
SAID TELL ME THE TRUTH BARTENDER, HAS MY TRUE LOVE BIN HERE
HE'S MY MAN. BUT HE WON'T COME HOME.

AINT GONNA TELL YA NO SECRETS, AINT GONNA TELL YA NO LIES
BUT I SAW YER MAN A WHILE AGO AND I COULDN'T BELIEVE MY EYES
HE'S YER MAN BUT HE WON'T COME HOME

JOSIE DRANK HER BEER, ORDERED UP A GLASS OF GIN
SAID AINT IT A SHAME BARTENDER . I'M TAKIN' TO DRINK AGAIN
HE'S MY MAN, BUT HE WON'T COME HOME

JOSIE WENT DOWN BROADWAY REVOLVER IN HER HAND
SAID STAND BACK GENTS AND LADIES I'M LOOKIN FOR MY MAN
HE'S MY MAN, BUT HE WON'T COME HOME.

JOSIE SAW HER LOVER AND HER REVOLVER DREW
THEN JOSIE PULLED THE TRIGGER, SHOT HIM THROUGH AND THROUGH
HE WAS MY MAN, BUT HE WOULDN'T COME HOME.

ONE THING HURT MISS JOSIE, ONE THING MADE HER CRY.
STANDIN' THERE IN THE JAILHOUSE DOOR AS THE HEARSE CAME ROLLIN BY
HE WAS HER MAN BUT HE WOULDN'T COME HOME.

SITTIN IN THE PARLOUR BY AN ELECTRIC FAN
PLEADIN' WITH HER SISTER, DON'T MARRY A GAMBLIN MAN
HE WAS HER MAN BUT HE WOULDN'T COME HOME.


Rick


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Subject: RE: Origin of Ed McCurdy song 'Josie'?
From: masato sakurai
Date: 02 Sep 02 - 09:50 PM

An "electric fan" verse is in the 22-stanza version of "Frankie and Johnnie" in A Treasury of American Ballads, edited by Charles O'Brien Kennedy (Arco, 1957, pp. 305-310; stz. 20; no source is given):

Frankie now sits in the parlor,
Underneath an electric fan,
Telling her little sisters
To beware of the gawdam man.
They'll do you wrong,
Yes, they'll do you wrong.

~Masato


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Subject: RE: Origin of Ed McCurdy song 'Josie'?
From: Stewie
Date: 02 Sep 02 - 10:29 PM

There was a lengthy discussion of 'Frankie and Johnny/Albert' on the Ballad-L site some time ago. Reference was made to a study of the ballad: Bruce Buckley 'Frankie and Her Men' Indiana University 1962. Evidently, Buckley lists 410 verses for 'Frankie', of which 256 are substantially different. Sounds like it might be worth seeking out. I noted a gloriously defiant final stanza that someone posted:

Frankie stood up in the courtroom
I'm not talkin' no sass
I didn't shoot Johnny in the first degree
I shot him in his big black ass
He was my man
He was doin' me wrong

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Origin of Ed McCurdy song 'Josie'?
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 02 Sep 02 - 11:52 PM

Now this gal was a real big spender!
"Amy was a good woman, everybody knows,
She spent ten thousand dollars to buy her Albert's clothes."
Durham, NC, 1919, in MS of Blake B. Harrison, "Other stanzas cannot be written." Newman I White, American Negro Folk Songs.

Someone should go back through these old manuscripts and notes to find the versions that couldn't be printed at the time. A lot of good material is stored away in library collections.


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Subject: RE: Origin of Ed McCurdy song 'Josie'?
From: toadfrog
Date: 03 Sep 02 - 12:12 AM

Apparently there are people who say this is a very ancient song, but without a lot of evidence. The Traditional Ballad Index mentions Charlie Poole's version as a "variant," Copyrighted in 1912. Levy has it HEREThe legend goes:

title: Frankie and Johnny, or, You'll Miss Me in the Days to Come.
Composer, Lyricist, Arranger: by Leighton Bros. & Ren Shields.
Ren Shields Publication: New York: Tell Taylor Music Publishers, 1919.
Form of Composition: strophic with chorus
Instrumentation: piano and voice
First Line: Frankie and Johnny were sweethearts, they had a quarrel one day
First Line of Chorus: Oh, I'm a-goin' away and I'm a-goin' to stay, I'm never comin' home
Performer: [Three Leightons]
Engraver, Lithographer, Artist: unattrib. photo of the Three Leightons; De Takacs; H.S. Talbot & Co., Music Print. Chicago
Advertisement: ads on back cover for Tell Taylor Music Publishers stock
Subject: Portraits
Subject: Unrequited love Subject: Quarreling Subject: Homicides Subject: Law enforcement Call No.: Box: 152 Item: 019


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Subject: RE: Origin of Ed McCurdy song 'Josie'?
From: masato sakurai
Date: 03 Sep 02 - 01:45 AM

From Honkingduck:

"Frankie" by Dykes Magic City Trio [Realaudio]
(Recording Date: March 9, 1927; Recording: Brunswick 127; Date Issued: May 1927)

~Masato


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Subject: RE: Origin of Ed McCurdy song 'Josie'?
From: GUEST,jbf
Date: 23 May 10 - 09:47 PM

In the early 60's my parents gave me an LP of folksongs and Josie was one of them. For some reason it popped intop my head today and wouldn't go away so I did a search. The Lyrics that I remember " Sitting in the parlour, by an electric fan" helped in identifyiung the song. The closest lyrics that I remember (the record itself is long gone) are the ones from Rick fielding.
I'm just g;lad I found some history of the tune.
Thanx


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