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Lyr Req: My Name Is John Johanna (Kelly Harrell)

DigiTrad:
STATE OF ARKANSAS
THE STATE OF ARKANSAW


Related threads:
(origins) Origins: State of Arkansas (37)
Lyr Add: Tocowa (1)
Lyr Req: Meat you couldnt chaw / State of Arkansas (5)


clifton 29 Jul 98 - 10:13 AM
29 Jul 98 - 09:02 PM
Bruce O. 30 Jul 98 - 02:06 PM
clifton 30 Jul 98 - 10:44 PM
GUEST,Presto 29 Oct 08 - 02:22 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 29 Oct 08 - 03:54 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 29 Oct 08 - 04:04 PM
GUEST,Presto 06 Nov 08 - 05:36 PM
Presto 07 Nov 08 - 11:03 AM
GUEST 11 Jan 09 - 08:14 PM
GUEST,Chuck Crawford 15 May 10 - 02:09 PM
GUEST,Aaron 11 Jun 10 - 06:45 PM
Jim Dixon 12 Jun 10 - 11:28 PM
GUEST 21 Sep 11 - 12:50 PM
Lighter 21 Sep 11 - 01:04 PM
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Subject: lyrics: John Johanna
From: clifton
Date: 29 Jul 98 - 10:13 AM

on Smith's Anthology there is a song that starts "my name is john johanna I come from Buffalo town..." Being from AR the song kinda tickled my ear and I'd sure like to get a copy of the lyrics so that I might post them. -clifton


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Subject: Lyr Add: MY NAME IS JOHN JOHANNA (Kelly Harrell)
From:
Date: 29 Jul 98 - 09:02 PM

Here it is:

MY NAME IS JOHN JOHANNA

Sung by Kelly Harrell and the Virginia String Band,

My name is John Johanna. I came from Buffalo town.
For nine long years I've traveled this wide, wide world around
Through ups and downs and mis'ries, and some good days I saw,
But I never knew what mis'ry was 'till I went to Arkansas.

I went up to the station, the operator to find,
Told him my situation and where I wanted to ride.
Said: "Hand me down five dollars, lad. A ticket you shall draw
That'll land you safe by railway in the state of Arkansas."

I rode up to the station and chanced to meet a friend.
Alan Catcher was his name although they called him Cain.
His hair hung down in rat tails below his under jaw.
He said he run the best hotel in the State of Arkansas,

I followed my companion to his respected place,
Saw pity and starvation was pictured on his face.
His bread was old corn dodgers. His beef I could not chaw.
He charged me fifty cents a day in the State of Arkansas.

I got up that next morning to catch that early train.
He says: "Don't be in a hurry, lad. I have some land to drain.
You'll get your fifty cents a day and all that you can chaw.
You'll find yourself a different lad when you leave old Arkansas."

I worked six weeks for the son of a gun. Alan Catcher was his name.
He stood seven feet two inches, as tall as any crane.
I got so thin on sassafras tea, I could hide behind a straw.
You bet I was a different lad when I left old Arkansas.

Farewell, you old corn rabbits, also you dodger pills,
Likewise you walking skeletons, you old sassafras heels,
If you ever see my face again, I'd hand you down my paw.
I'd be looking through a telescope from home to Arkansas.

If you want to play along while you sing, the whole thing is chorded in D, with a few bent notes here and there.

Murray


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Subject: RE: lyrics: John Johanna
From: Bruce O.
Date: 30 Jul 98 - 02:06 PM

Another version, with tune, is in DT, #643, "The State of Arkansas".


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Subject: RE: lyrics: John Johanna
From: clifton
Date: 30 Jul 98 - 10:44 PM

so hey murray

this is great. it was the corn dodgers and the sassafras that was gettin hard to, well, get. I should have known it, I remember the days in the delta drinkin sassafras with my own grandaddy. but corn dodgers? who knows. thanks for help.

c


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: My Name Is John Johanna
From: GUEST,Presto
Date: 29 Oct 08 - 02:22 PM

So, can anyone shed light on "corn rabbits", "dodger pills", and "sassafras heels"?

-PP


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: My Name Is John Johanna
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 29 Oct 08 - 03:54 PM

corn rabbits- A modern one is popcorn (mushroon var. best) molded with caramel into the shape of a rabbit. Google, and you will find a candy company selling the molds.
However, the Harrell song I know has 'swamp rabbits'.

corn dodger- fried cornmeal bread (johnny cake). If shaped like a biscuit, called a 'pill'.

sassafras heels- the versions mostly have 'sassafras tea'. Dunno where the heels came from. Something invented by the singer.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: My Name Is John Johanna
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 29 Oct 08 - 04:04 PM

See version by Hayes in the Digitrad, a good one. Put state of arkansas in the Lyrics Search box, and the link to the lyrics plus several threads will show up.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: My Name Is John Johanna
From: GUEST,Presto
Date: 06 Nov 08 - 05:36 PM

Thanks, Q

I like "swamp rabbits" - will have to listen to the original again...."corn rabbits" as described above makes no sense in this song.

I guess "dodger pills" does make sense.

I'll also listen carefully to the "sassafras heels" line, though the other three objects of John Johanna's farewell appear to be people, and I doubt it's "tea".

I also love (and used to perform) the Lee Hayes version, which apparently earned him the nickname of "Arkansas Hard Luck Lee". I seem to remember it's on the "Sod Buster Ballads" album, but will have to check.

But the Kelly Harrell version is a prize, especially the odd instrumental in the middle!

-PP


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: My Name Is John Johanna
From: Presto
Date: 07 Nov 08 - 11:03 AM

Further intense listening to the recording brings me to "corn crabbies", or something that sounds more like that than "rabbits"......still a mystery.    OY!

-PP


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: My Name Is John Johanna (Kelly Harrell)
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Jan 09 - 08:14 PM

sassafras hills?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: My Name Is John Johanna (Kelly Harrell)
From: GUEST,Chuck Crawford
Date: 15 May 10 - 02:09 PM

The words given above are essentially correct, except (to my ears) it is "swamp rabbits," which I assume is a derogatory term like "bog trotters" in Ireland.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: My Name Is John Johanna (Kelly Harrell)
From: GUEST,Aaron
Date: 11 Jun 10 - 06:45 PM

Hi.
I think it's "swamp rabbits", too.
Also, I believe he's saying "sassafras hills", referring to the large number of sassafras trees that grow in Arkansas.

Is this whole song seriously just a D chord? Does anyone know how to play this on guitar?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: My Name Is John Johanna (Kelly Harrell)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 12 Jun 10 - 11:28 PM

I believe those 2 lines should be:

Farewell you old swamp rabbits, also you dodger pills.
Likewise you walking skeletons, you old sassafras hills.

A swamp rabbit is an actual species of rabbit. Click the link.

A corn dodger is a small lump of fried cornbread. I have no idea what a "dodger pill" is. (I Googled for that phrase and all I found were other versions of this song, so we seem to have a correct transcription of a very idiosyncratic usage.)

"Sassafras hills" I take to mean any hilly country where the sassafras tree grows. I don't think there is any specific place called the Sassafras Hills.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: My Name Is John Johanna (Kelly Harrell)
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Sep 11 - 12:50 PM

"Likewise your walking skeletons, your canebreaks and your chills"
is how I hear it. Chills coming from being wet all day working in the swamp, presumably. The "your" being Arkansas'.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: My Name Is John Johanna (Kelly Harrell)
From: Lighter
Date: 21 Sep 11 - 01:04 PM

The Mississippi Valley used to be infamous for "chills and fever," as they called malaria. During the Civil War, Helena, Ark., was known as the "deadliest place" on the Mississippi because of the incidence of malaria.


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