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Lyr/Tune Req: Sleepy Eyed John

dulcimer 27 May 98 - 10:34 PM
Rockaday Johnnie 28 May 98 - 10:41 AM
Rockaday Johnny 28 May 98 - 11:53 AM
Nathan Sarvis (nsarvis@iglobal.net) 28 May 98 - 10:11 PM
Neil Rossi 31 Jul 98 - 03:28 PM
rich r 31 Jul 98 - 06:03 PM
Gene 11 Nov 98 - 01:26 AM
GUEST 09 Aug 11 - 08:28 AM
Jim Dixon 10 Aug 11 - 10:59 AM
Jim Dixon 11 Aug 11 - 10:35 PM
Jim Dixon 11 Aug 11 - 10:47 PM
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Subject: Lyric/tune Req: Sleepy Eyed John
From: dulcimer
Date: 27 May 98 - 10:34 PM

Heard this song recently, but could not get down the words or tune (in my mind) fast enough. Heard it performed by a group that plays a style somewhere between blue grass and old time Appalachian country music. Any help out there?


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Subject: RE: Lyric/tune Req: Sleepy Eyed John
From: Rockaday Johnnie
Date: 28 May 98 - 10:41 AM

My guess you heard the Greenbriar Boys -They made three wonderful lps for Vanguard. The song is not on their greatest hits Cd however.


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Subject: RE: Lyric/tune Req: Sleepy Eyed John
From: Rockaday Johnny
Date: 28 May 98 - 11:53 AM

Yup - just checked it kicks off Greenbriar Boys "Ragged but Right" Lp Vang 79159 where they credit the song to Johnny Horton - so you may be able to track it down that way...


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Subject: Lyr Add: SLEEPY-EYED JOHN
From: Nathan Sarvis (nsarvis@iglobal.net)
Date: 28 May 98 - 10:11 PM

I've heard the bluegrass duo Jim & Jesse McReynolds do it on one of their albums. The words I recall are:

(chorus)
Sleepy Eyed John, You better get your britches on
Sleepy Eyed John, Better tie your shoe
Sleepy Eyed John, You better get your britches on
Trying to get to heaven 'fore the devil gets to you

Sleepy Eyed John, He had a wooden leg
The leg weren't nothing but a little wooden peg.
With one shoe off and one shoe oh
He could do the double shuffle till the cows come home

There's another verse with a line
"carved out a fiddle from a wagon seat"
but I can't remember the rest.
The tune is close to the fiddle tune "Sandy River Belle"


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Subject: Lyr Add: SLEEPY-EYED JOHN (from Johnny Horton)
From: Neil Rossi
Date: 31 Jul 98 - 03:28 PM

Here's the way I sing it (stolen from Johnny Horton):


Way down yonder on the Candy Creek,
Whittled out a fiddle from my wagon seat.
Tuned my fiddle and I rosined my bow,
Now I play a little tune wherever I go.
CHORUS:
Sleepy Eyed John, better get your britches on,
Sleepy Eyed John, better tie your shoes.
Sleepy Eyed John, better get your britches on,
Try to get to heaven 'fore the devil gets to you

Got twenty dollars for to build a fence,
I took my money and I ain't worked since.
Sold my buggy and I sold my plow.
Wouldn't take a dollar for my journey now.

Sleepy Eyed John, he had a wooden leg,
The leg weren't nothing but a little wooden peg.
With one shoe off and one shoe on,
He could do the double-shuffle till the cows come home.

Over the hickory and down the pine,
The old coon left with the coon dog behind.
John said, "'Sic 'em" and the racoon laughed.
He crossed Green River in a minute and a half.

Sleepy Eyed John, he stole a goose.
The goose he tried but he couldn't get loose.
Says John to the goose, "If you don't be still,"
We'll miss our supper down in Candyville."


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Subject: RE: Lyric/tune Req: Sleepy Eyed John
From: rich r
Date: 31 Jul 98 - 06:03 PM

Laurie Lewis & Tom Rozum also have a fine version on their Rounder CD - "The Oak & The Laurel"

rich r


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Subject: RE: Lyric/tune Req: Sleepy Eyed John
From: Gene
Date: 11 Nov 98 - 01:26 AM

Refresh THREAD:
Sounds like JH is singing 'Caney Creek'
and 'Caneyville' to me!


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Req: Sleepy Eyed John
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Aug 11 - 08:28 AM

Is that the same melody as "Dance Around Molly"?


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Req: Sleepy Eyed John
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 10:59 AM

You can hear Johnny Horton sing SLEEPY-EYED JOHN at YouTube

I agree that it sounds like "Caney Creek" & "Caneyville." There is a Caneyville in Grayson County, Kentucky, with a Caney Creek nearby, but I can't find any Candyville.

Also, Horton sings a couple of lines differently than Neil Rossi's lyrics.

"The raccoon left and the old hound whined."

"The goose he flopped but he couldn't get loose."

Also, he sings the verses in a different order (not that it matters).


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Req: Sleepy Eyed John
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 11 Aug 11 - 10:35 PM

The oldest recording I can find of SLEEPY-EYED JOHN is by Ole Rasmussen, made about 1950. You can hear it at YouTube. The only surprise there is that he sings:

"Try to get to heaven 'fore the devil gets the news."

It reminds me of the old "Irish toast" - "May you be in Heaven twenty years before the devil knows you're dead."


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Tune Req: Sleepy Eyed John
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 11 Aug 11 - 10:47 PM

Correction: that should be Ole Rasmussen and his Nebraska Cornhuskers, with vocal by Ted Wilds. Authorship is credited to Tex Atchison. This information is from the Online 78 rpm Discographical Project.


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