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Origins: Wandering (Early and Late)

DigiTrad:
WANDERIN'


Related threads:
Lyr Req: stop my Wanderin' (9)
Lyr Add: Wanderin' Blues (9)


Richard Bridge 06 Jul 99 - 04:18 PM
Richard Bridge 06 Jul 99 - 05:03 PM
Tiger 06 Jul 99 - 07:04 PM
Sandy Paton 06 Jul 99 - 07:22 PM
Eli Marcus 07 Jul 99 - 05:37 PM
Sandy Paton 07 Jul 99 - 05:46 PM
Richard Bridge 11 Jul 99 - 06:48 PM
Joe Offer 30 Jul 02 - 07:57 PM
Stewie 30 Jul 02 - 10:24 PM
dick greenhaus 30 Jul 02 - 10:27 PM
Franz S. 04 May 05 - 01:57 PM
GUEST,Clint Keller 04 May 05 - 02:17 PM
Leadfingers 04 May 05 - 02:30 PM
Steve-o 04 May 05 - 05:27 PM
Janice in NJ 04 May 05 - 06:00 PM
greg stephens 04 May 05 - 06:05 PM
Stewie 04 May 05 - 06:25 PM
Franz S. 04 May 05 - 08:39 PM
Deckman 04 May 05 - 09:12 PM
Sandy Paton 05 May 05 - 01:44 AM
GUEST,Reggie Miles 05 May 05 - 04:47 AM
Franz S. 05 May 05 - 12:28 PM
Janice in NJ 06 May 05 - 12:09 PM
dick greenhaus 06 May 05 - 01:32 PM
John Hardly 06 May 05 - 02:22 PM
GUEST,Dan 19 Feb 08 - 02:54 PM
Tunesmith 19 Feb 08 - 03:50 PM
Dave Roberts 19 Feb 08 - 03:56 PM
GUEST,Joseph de Culver City 19 Feb 08 - 04:59 PM
GUEST,Hootenanny 19 Feb 08 - 06:01 PM
Joe_F 19 Feb 08 - 09:15 PM
Abby Sale 03 Nov 10 - 12:06 PM
Bill D 03 Nov 10 - 12:15 PM
Don Firth 03 Nov 10 - 04:07 PM
Don Firth 03 Nov 10 - 04:10 PM
GUEST,Tim S. 01 Jun 11 - 04:31 PM
GUEST 25 Oct 12 - 07:40 PM
Mark Ross 25 Oct 12 - 08:44 PM
Jon Bartlett 12 Nov 12 - 04:34 PM
GUEST 16 Dec 14 - 08:14 AM
GUEST,Coltman 16 Dec 14 - 11:39 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 16 Dec 14 - 11:59 AM
GUEST,Jed 25 Aug 15 - 01:58 AM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 30 May 17 - 05:18 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 30 May 17 - 08:28 AM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 30 May 17 - 03:20 PM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 31 May 17 - 08:43 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 31 May 17 - 01:55 PM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 01 Jun 17 - 03:00 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 01 Jun 17 - 08:23 AM
GUEST,Joseph Scott 01 Jun 17 - 03:33 PM
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Subject: Wanderin' (Blues)
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 04:18 PM

About 35 years ago I learned the above from dots. It's in the database. But I find I had slightly diferent words, and I've lost half of a verse. It of course is not a verse that is in the database. So has anyone got the verse for Wanderin' Blues which should have the line in it of "It seems that/like I've been workin' since the day that I was born"?

Thanx


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Subject: RE: Wanderin' (Blues)
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 05:03 PM

Ah-hah. I haven't remembered that verse but I have remembered another one!

"I never keep a job for long/I just take off and roam/If I could find some money/I could buy myself a home/But it looks like/I ain't never gonna cease/My wanderin'"


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Subject: ADD Version: Wanderin'
From: Tiger
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 07:04 PM

From Dave Van Ronk Recording (great!), plus Sandburg's American Songbag. Sandburg credits first 3 stanzas to Arthur Sutherland of Rochester, NY, last 2 stanzas to Hubert Canfield of Pittsford, NY. Slightly more than what's in the DT.

........Tiger

Wanderin' - as performed by Dave Van Ronk

My daddy is an engineer,
My brother drives a hack,
My sister takes in washin'
An' the baby balls the jack,
An' it looks like
I'm never gonna cease my wanderin'.

I've been a-wanderin',
Early and late,
New York City
To the Golden Gate,
An' it looks like
I'm never gonna cease my wanderin'.

Been a-workin' in the army,
Workin' on a farm,
And all I got to show for it
Is the muscle in my arm,
An' it looks like
I'm never gonna cease my wanderin'.

There's snakes on the mountain,
And eels in the sea,
'Twas a red-headed woman
Made a fool out of me,
And it looks like
I'm never gonna cease my wanderin'.

Ashes to ashes
And dust to dust,
If whiskey don't get you,
Then the women must,
And it looks like
I'm never gonna cease. my wanderin'.

C


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Subject: RE: Wanderin' (Blues)
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 06 Jul 99 - 07:22 PM

Paul Clayton added this one:

I wake up in the mornin',
Lord, I haven't got a dime.
I don't know where I'm goin'
But I'm gonna take my time,
And it looks like
I ain't never gonna cease
My wanderin'.

Sandy


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Subject: RE: Wanderin' (Blues)
From: Eli Marcus
Date: 07 Jul 99 - 05:37 PM

James Taylor did a version on the Gorilla album around 1975, and his turn around verse was "an' it don't look like, I'll ever stop my wanderin'" which I found a bit easier to sing than the traditional last line.


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Subject: RE: Wanderin' (Blues)
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 07 Jul 99 - 05:46 PM

Please ignore the double negative in my posting above. Sing: "It looks like I'm never gonna cease my wandering." Ought to make it easier for some to sing and avoids using the Taylor revision which, to me, lacks the essential poetry of the original.

Sandy (still an old folk fogey)


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Subject: RE: Wanderin' (Blues)
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 11 Jul 99 - 06:48 PM

Thanks. Alas none of them the missing verses I was looking for. I guess I'll just have to get drunk and sing it over and over until the missing bits start to come back!


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Subject: Origins: Wanderin'
From: Joe Offer
Date: 30 Jul 02 - 07:57 PM

Looks like this is the primary thread on this song, so I'm going to tag it for DTStudy purposes. The version posted above by Tiger is an exact copy of the lyrics shown in Carl Sandburg's American Songbag (1927). The Digital Tradition appears to be the same, except that it's missing the final "ashes" verse.
-Joe Offer-
Here's the entry from the Traditional Ballad Index:

Wanderin'

DESCRIPTION: "My daddy is an engineer, My brother drives a hack, My sister takes in washin' An' the baby balls the jack, An' it looks like I'm never gonna cease my wanderin'." Tales of work and poverty, held together by the refrain "never gonna cease my wanderin'."
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1927 (Sandburg)
KEYWORDS: work hardtimes rambling nonballad
FOUND IN: US(MA)
REFERENCES (7 citations):
Sandburg, pp. 188-189, "Wanderin'" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Scott-BoA, pp. 335-336, "Wandering" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-FSNA 218, "Wand'rin" (1 text, 1 tune)
Darling-NAS, p. 281, "Wandering" (1 text)
Silber-FSWB, p. 59, "Wandering" (1 text)
BrownIII 507, "I Got de Hezotation Stockings and de Hezotation Shoes" (1 short text, with a verse and chorus from "Hesitation Blues" and a verse from "Wanderin'")
DT, WANDERIN*

Roud #4399
RECORDINGS:
Vernon Dalhart, "Wanderin'" (Columbia 1585-D, 1928)
NOTES: The total irrelevance of plot to this song is shown by the fact that Scott's version (which is mostly about the traveler's rambles, except for the line "If the Republicans don't get you, the Democrats must") shares only three lines, apart from the refrain, with the DT version. - RBW
File: San188

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2016 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


Here are the notes from Sandburg:
This peculiarly American song in text A (first 3 verses)is from Arthur Sutherland of Rochester, New York, as learned from comrades in the American Relief Expedition to the Near East. It is a lyric of tough days. The pulsation is gay till the contemplative pauses, the wishes and the lingerings, of that final line of each verse, and the prolonged vocalizing of "l-i-k-e." The philosophy is desperate as the old sailor saying, "To work hard, to live hard, to die hard, and then to go to hell after all, would be too damned hard." Text B (last 2 verses - snakes & ashes), also a lyric of tough days, is from Hubert Canfield of Pittsford, New York.

The Digital Tradition lyrics:

WANDERIN'

My daddy is an engineer,
My brother drives a hack,
My sister takes in washin'
An'the baby balls the jack,
An' it looks like
I'm never gonna cease my wanderin'.

I been a wanderin'
Early and late,
New York City
To the Golden Gate,
An' it looks like
I'm never gonna cease my wanderin'

Been a-workin'in the army
Workin' on a farm,
All I got to show for it
Is the muscle in my arm
An' it looks like
I'm never gonna cease my wanderin'

Snakes in the ocean
Fish in the sea,
Took a red-headed woman
To make a fool outa me,
An' it looks like
I'm never gonna cease my wanderin'

@rambling
filename[ WANDERIN
TUNE FILE: WANDERIN
CLICK TO PLAY
RG


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Subject: RE: Wanderin' (Blues)
From: Stewie
Date: 30 Jul 02 - 10:24 PM

Meade, Spottswood, Meade 'Country Music Sources' gives 2 references not listed above: Lomax, Alan 'Hard Hitting Songs for Hard-Hit People' Oak Pub 1967, p66 and Silverman, Jerry 'Folk Song Encyclopedia II' Chappell Music Co 1975, p13. Vernon Dalhart recorded it twice - 29 September 1928 and 23 October 1928, Co 1585-D and Ha 767-H respectively.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Wanderin' (Blues)
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 30 Jul 02 - 10:27 PM

Well, ca 1947, I had a square dance band called The Wanderers (the Weavers hadn't appeared yet). Our signature tune was Wanderin'--at least until Sammy Kaye (Swing and sway with...) made a pop hit out of it. We scrounged around for something catchy but different, and decided on a goodnight waltz we'd heard from a blues-type singer. Yep. It was "Goodnight Irene" Oh well.


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Subject: Origins: Wandering (Early and Late)
From: Franz S.
Date: 04 May 05 - 01:57 PM

I've been wandering early and late,
New York City to the Golden Gate,
And it looks like I'm never gonna cease my wandering.

I though it would be easy to track down this song, but it hasn't been. James Taylor is a common source, Sammy Kaye is mentioned in a 1997 thread here, can't find the song in the Digitrad. It's in Sandburg's American Songbag, where he says he collected it from one Arthur Sutherland of Rochester, NY, who learned it from someone on the American Relief Expedition to the Near East. So that gets it back to the 1920's.

Anyone know more?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Wandering (Early and Late)
From: GUEST,Clint Keller
Date: 04 May 05 - 02:17 PM

I've thought the language sounds like Sandburg himself had a hand in it, but I have no evidence.

clint


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Subject: RE: Origins: Wandering (Early and Late)
From: Leadfingers
Date: 04 May 05 - 02:30 PM

http://www.reveries.com/folkden/wanderin.html is the Roger McGuinn site - He claims 'Pre WW1 song with rewrite by R McGuinn !!
Being a dim banjo player I dont do Blickies !!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Wandering (Early and Late)
From: Steve-o
Date: 04 May 05 - 05:27 PM

The definitive version was done back in the 50s/early 60s by the great Josh White. It's been a long long time, but I somehow think James Taylor's lyrics are closer to that version than McGuinn's.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Wandering (Early and Late)
From: Janice in NJ
Date: 04 May 05 - 06:00 PM

Along with House of the Rising Sun, Wandering was one of the first songs I learned that had more than three chords. I heard recordings of both songs by Josh White, and possibly others, before 1960, but it wasn't until I heard Dave Van Ronk sing them around 1964 that I understood how beautifully powerful each could be.

Here are the lyrics I've developed over more than 40 years.

I've been wandering early, and I've been wandering late,
I've been to New York City and I've seen the Golden Gate,
And it looks like,
I'm never going to cease,
My wan-der-ing.

Now I've worked in a diner, for the nickels and the dimes,
And still I keep on waiting for the better times,
And it looks like,
I'm never going to cease,
My wan-der-ing.

And I've worked in a factory, on the sweat shop floor,
Some good looking low life, he used me for his whore,
And it looks like,
I'm never going to cease,
My wan-der-ing.

There are snakes in the desert, eels in the sea,
Some good looking low life made a fool out of me,
And it looks like,
I'm never going to cease,
My wan-der-ing.

Now, if I killed that bastard, I might get ninety-nine,
I'm telling you, sisters, he just ain't worth the time,
And it looks like,
I'm never going to cease,
My wan-der-ing.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Wandering (Early and Late)
From: greg stephens
Date: 04 May 05 - 06:05 PM

Janice in NJ: you aroused a lot of memories with your reference to the chords of this song. As a good old blues'n'skiffle lad, I was thrilled to bits by Josh White's chords on this. So slinky, you just had to have a go. Gave you a whole new way of looking at guitar playing. Mind you, these days I seem to have totally reverted to G C D7. But these relative minors are still lurking in the old brain somewhere.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Wandering (Early and Late)
From: Stewie
Date: 04 May 05 - 06:25 PM

Meade et alia 'Country Music Sources' gives a Sandburg reference and two recordings of 'Wanderin'' by Vernon Dalhart: 29 Sept 1928 [Co 1585-D] and 23 October 1928 [Ha 767-H (Mack Allen)].

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Wandering (Early and Late)
From: Franz S.
Date: 04 May 05 - 08:39 PM

Thank you all. Leadfingers,I'm going to leave that website until tomorrow morning; must admit I've never heard of R. McGuinn. (I'm also a banjo player and don't do blickies. I'm sure there's another banjo joke in there somewhere.) I had forgotten until Janice in NJ mentioned it the Josh White version; his version of anything he did was definitive.

Hello, Stewie. So we're still stopped at 1928 or so as the earliest published reference.

One of the best parts of doing things like this is that mudcatters teach me about resources i was unaware of. Or of which I was unaware. I keep adding bookmarks.

Again thank you.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Wandering (Early and Late)
From: Deckman
Date: 04 May 05 - 09:12 PM

Hi Franz ... Nice to hear from you.

The late Walt Robertson used this song as his "theme song" for the year he produced a weekly TV show in Seattle. His show was named ... "The Wanderer!" I think the year was 1953. He used the words as you've written them, but his tune was his own. I know that he told some people the source of his tune, but I simply don't remember. I'm betting that either Don Firth or Sandy Paton might remember that part of the story. CHEERS, Bob(deckman)Nelson


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Subject: RE: Origins: Wandering (Early and Late)
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 05 May 05 - 01:44 AM

I think Walt's tune (and text) were essentially those published in Sandburg's Songbag. I certainly began singing it about that time and may have picked it up first from Walt, and utilized his chords, too.
    Paul Clayton created a verse I like to include:

I wake up in the mornin',
Haven't got a dime.
Don't know where I'm goin',
But I'm gonna take my time,
And it looks like, I'm never gonna cease
My wanderin'.

Sandy


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Subject: RE: Origins: Wandering (Early and Late)
From: GUEST,Reggie Miles
Date: 05 May 05 - 04:47 AM

I've always enjoyed my Vernon Dalhart 78rpm version of this song. I can here it echoing betwixt the vast cavity atop me shouilders even as I type. There were some great instrument solos between the verses on that version too. (if I remember correctly)

I've been a meanin' to learn
that ol' song for years
if I ever settle down
and git dry behind the ears
but it looks like
I ain't never gonna
cease my wanderin'.

Maybe now's a good time. Hmmm...Where did I stick them Vernon discs...?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Wandering (Early and Late)
From: Franz S.
Date: 05 May 05 - 12:28 PM

So I guess Fran DeLorenzo was right when he listed the author as unknown.   Tantalizing, ain't it. You know there had to be someone, somewhere, who made up at least the kernel of the song, but he or she is lost in the folkmists.

When I started this Loafer's Glory project, I just intended to havea quick ID of origin (Author) and performer of each song or poem Phillips used in the show.   It looks like in 30, 40, 50 cases out of about 7000 that quick ID turns into a research paper real fast. But that's the fun part.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Wandering (Early and Late)
From: Janice in NJ
Date: 06 May 05 - 12:09 PM

Here are the chords I play. Changes, except that run from C down to Am, are indicated just before the word where they happen.

(C) I've been wandering early,
And (E7) I've been wandering late,
I've (A7) been to New York City,
And I've (F) seen the (Am) Golden (G7) Gate,
And it (C) looks like, (bass run c-b-a to Am)
I'm never going to cease,
My (F) wan- (G7) -der- (C) -ing.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Wandering (Early and Late)
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 06 May 05 - 01:32 PM

Way back in the dark ages (1947 or so), I had a band called The Wanderers--we did square dances and some small concertizing. Our wind-up song (and our theme) was a little-known hobo's song called Wandering. Then Sammy Kaye came out with a pop version, and we had to switch.
So we took a nice little good-night waltz that was familiar to some folkies, but not to the general public. It was called ---let me think now---oh yes, "Goodnight Irene".

Sometimes you can't win for losing.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Wandering (Early and Late)
From: John Hardly
Date: 06 May 05 - 02:22 PM

anyone interested in playing the James Taylor version might like these chords...

X02420 002420

I've been wandering X46454 early and late from 242422 New York 242322 City to the 224232 Golden 024232 Gate,
and it X02420 don't look X24232 like X46454 I'll ever 242422 stop 242322 my 024232 wandering. X02420 002420

My daddy was an engineer, my brother drives a hack,
my sister takes in laundry while the baby balls the jack,
and it don't look like I'll ever stop my wandering.

I've been in the army, I've worked on a farm
and all I've got to show is the muscle in my arm,
and it don't look like I'll ever stop my wandering.

My ma, she died when I was young, my daddy took to stealing and he got hung,
and it don't look like I'll ever stop my wandering.

Snakes in the ocean, eels in the sea, I let a redheaded woman make a fool out of me,
and it don't look like I'll ever stop my wandering.

I've been wandering early and late from the New York City to the Golden Gate,
and it don't look like I'll ever stop my wandering.
No, it don't look like I'll ever stop my wandering.


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Subject: RE: Wanderin' (Blues)
From: GUEST,Dan
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 02:54 PM

What does the refernce to "and the baby balls a jack" refer to? Tank


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Subject: RE: Wanderin' (Blues)
From: Tunesmith
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 03:50 PM

The first time I heard this song was on a Josh White TV show (C1960 BBC TV,UK). I remember being disappointed at Josh's "crooning" style; however,I was impressed by his son, Josh White Jr, who did a great version of "Handsome Molly".


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Subject: RE: Wanderin' (Blues)
From: Dave Roberts
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 03:56 PM

I'm a bit hesitant to say this, but I first heard this song in 1967 on a Black & White Minstrel Show album.


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Subject: RE: Wanderin' (Blues)
From: GUEST,Joseph de Culver City
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 04:59 PM

What does the refernce to "and the baby balls a jack" refer to? Tank

GUEST Dan/Tank, "Ballin' the Jack" refers to a gyrating dance that was popular around the turn of the century.


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Subject: RE: Wanderin' (Blues)
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 06:01 PM

First you put your two knees close up tight
You swing em to the left and you swing 'em to the right
Step around the floor kind of nice and light
And you twist around and twist around with all of your might

Spread your loving arms way out in space
Do the eagle rock with style and grace
Put your two arms out and swing 'em back
And that's what I call Ballin' the Jack

I would hazard a guess that this is a tin pan alley song composed by someone to incorporate a well known slang expression.

I always assumed that ballin' the jack was the same as a going out on that old tenderloin but I could be wrong.

Hoot


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Subject: RE: Wanderin' (Blues)
From: Joe_F
Date: 19 Feb 08 - 09:15 PM

This song was in oral circulation in my high school, 1950-1954, essentially Sandburg's version, except that it was "If the devil don't get you" & "a blond-headed woman". There was occasionally, however, an additional stanza, of which I do not remember the first line:

. . .
My mammy needs a bed,
My daddy needs a pillow
For to rest his weary head,
And it looks like....


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Subject: Dalhart & Sandburg texts
From: Abby Sale
Date: 03 Nov 10 - 12:06 PM

FWIW - Following Stewis, etc, supra:

Meade et alia 'Country Music Sources' gives a Sandburg reference and two recordings of "Wanderin'" by Vernon Dalhart: 29 Sept 1928 [Co 1585-D] and 23 October 1928 [Ha 767-H (Mack Allen)].
--------------------------------

From Vernon Dalhart - Ballads and Railroad Songs:
(My transcription)

My daddy is a engineer, my brother drives a hack,
My sister takes in washing and the baby balls the jack;
And it looks like I'm never gonna cease
My wanderin'.

I've been a wanderin' early and late,
From New York City to the Golden Gate;
And it looks like I'm never gonna cease
My wanderin'.

Sometimes I feel so awful blue,
But what in the world am I gonna do?
And it looks like I'm never gonna cease
My wanderin'.

Been a-workin' in the army, workin' on the farm,
All I got to show for it is the muscle in my arm;
And it looks like I'm never gonna cease
My wanderin'.

I had a little gal and her name was Betsy Ann,
She left me flat and went back to Alabam';
And it looks like I'm never gonna cease
My wanderin'.

I like blondes and brunettes, too,
But you never can tell what gals will do;
And it looks like I'm never gonna cease
My wanderin'.

I wanders East and I wanders West
But I don't know which I like best;
And it looks like I'm never gonna cease
My wanderin'.

There's snakes on the mountains, 'n eels in the sea,
'Twas a redheaded woman made a wreck out a me;
And it looks like I'm never gonna cease
My wanderin'.

=========================

Carl Sandburg, "American Songbag," p189. Text A collected from Arthur Sutherland of Rochester, NY, as learned from comrades in the American Relief Expedition to the Near East. (1920's). Text B from Hubert Canfield of Pittsford, NY.

            A

My daddy is a engineer,
My brother drives a hack,
My sister takes in washin'
And the baby balls the jack,
An' it looks like
I'm never gonna cease my wanderin'.

I been a wanderin'
Early and late,
New York City
To the Golden Gate,
An' it looks like
I'm never gonna cease my wanderin'.

Been a-workin' in the army,
Workin' on the farm,
All I got to show for it
Is the muscle in my arm,
An' it looks like
I'm never gonna cease my wanderin'.

          B

There's snakes on the mountain,
And eels in the sea,
'Twas a redheaded woman
Made a wreck out of me,
And it looks like
I'm never gonna cease my wanderin'.

Ashes to ashes
And dust to dust,
If whiskey don't get you,
Then the women must,
And it looks like
I'm never gonna cease my wanderin'.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Wandering (Early and Late)
From: Bill D
Date: 03 Nov 10 - 12:15 PM

Thanks, Abby...I had a friend, now long departed, who used to do a knockout version similar to the Dalhart one. I sort of learned it a long time ago, but haven't tried in years. Maybe its time to work it up again.

(a couple of the Dalhart verses are kinda weak, and I suspect that's why they aren't common)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Wandering (Early and Late)
From: Don Firth
Date: 03 Nov 10 - 04:07 PM

Walt Robertson (Folkways album cover).

Walt a few years later.

CLICKY and scroll down. Several song sung by Walt, including his particular version of "Wanderin,'" which he used as the theme song of his 1952-53 television program over KING-TV in Seattle.

I believe he got the words from Sandburg's "American Songbag" and I'm not absolutely sure, but I think he learned the tune he used from someone he met when he was going to college in Pennsylvania. He attended several folk festivals at Swarthmore College in the late 1940s.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Origins: Wandering (Early and Late)
From: Don Firth
Date: 03 Nov 10 - 04:10 PM

Just remembered:   Frankie Laine had a pop record of "Wanderin'" (the usual tune) on juke boxes and on the radio in the late 1940s. I first heard the song when I was in high school.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Origins: Wandering (Early and Late)
From: GUEST,Tim S.
Date: 01 Jun 11 - 04:31 PM

I've been trying to track this tune down as well. Back in the late 60s Dave Van Ronk did a great version of it on a Mercury album (I think the title of the album was "Just Dave Van Ronk")--it's not available on CD yet (darn!!). Sammy Kaye is sometimes credited with writing this as well--and he did record it. Thanks to the person who put me on to the Josh White version.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Wandering (Early and Late)
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Oct 12 - 07:40 PM

There's snakes in the Mountain, Eles in the sea. Big headed woman, make a fool out of me. And it seems like, I'm never gonna cease my wondering


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Subject: RE: Origins: Wandering (Early and Late)
From: Mark Ross
Date: 25 Oct 12 - 08:44 PM

Jerry Silverman had an interesting set of chord changes to the song in his book FOLK BLUES.

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Origins: Wandering (Early and Late)
From: Jon Bartlett
Date: 12 Nov 12 - 04:34 PM

Just found a set in George Millburn's "The Hobo's Horn Book (1930). I'll run the words if any wants them (there's a tune, too, but I don't know how to pass that on - I could send a pdf to anyone who wants to transcribe it into musical lingo, which I don't speak).

Jon Bartlett


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Subject: RE: Origins: Wandering (Early and Late)
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Dec 14 - 08:14 AM

The version I have (sheet music) goes like this

I've been wandrin, early and late
New York City to the Golden Gate
And it looks like
I aint never gonna cease my wanderin

Wandrin, wandrin
All alone

My father was an engineer
My brother drives a hack
My sister takes in washin
and the baby balls the jack
And it looks like
I aint never gonna cease my wanderin

Wandrin, wandrin
All alone

Worked in the Army
Worked on the farm
and all I got to show
Is the muscle in my arm
And it looks like
I aint never gonna cease my wanderin

Wandrin, wandrin
All alone

Ashes to ashes
Dust to dust
Never been a woman
A poor boy could trust
And it looks like
I aint never gonna cease my wanderin

Wandrin, wandrin
All alone


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Subject: RE: Origins: Wandering (Early and Late)
From: GUEST,Coltman
Date: 16 Dec 14 - 11:39 AM

To the Guest who cited sheet music above: is a composer/lyricist listed for Wanderin'?
And what's the date of the sheet music?

Any slightest origin information on this song would be valuable. Wanderin' is one of the big mysteries. It was first reported by Sandburg, 1927. He shares no insights about where his two informants got the song.

I've seen only one copy of Dalhart's 1928 recording—one year after Sandburg and likely to have been based on Sandburg's versions. It gives no composer/lyricist credit. My guess is that Carson Robison may have composed a few of the verses that differ from Sandburg, but that's only a guess.

Gus Meade, in his authoritative Country Music Sources, can find no origin for this song. His earliest source is Sandburg, the next oldest is much later, from the 1960s.

So who wrote Wanderin', and when? It sounds clearly not traditional, and was not reported by any traditional music collector of that era but Sandburg. It does not sound as old as World War I.

In fact, it doesn't sound as old as it is; its melody has a 1930s-40s sound. At a guess it could be a moody pop song from the early 1920s. Any sheet music version from *before* 1927 would be a real find.

Sandburg's informant A, from Rochester, NY, learned the song on an American Relief expedition to the Near East. That could suggest a non-American origin, but it sounds more like an American song than anything else. The truth is, it doesn't sound *like* anything; it's one of a kind.

It's possible that Sandburg's informant B, another New York Stater, may have composed his two verses as an add-on after having heard Sandburg sing the original.

Ideas, anyone?

Bob


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Subject: RE: Origins: Wandering (Early and Late)
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 16 Dec 14 - 11:59 AM

A little history that bears on the origin of Wanderin':

The "Near East" reference is probably to the efforts of what was later known as the Near East Foundation, which is still in existence today as an NGO.

From Wikipedia article and the Near East Foundation website: Founded 1915 for Armenian and Syrian relief, it was a response to the Armenian Genocide. First effort of its kind, it had nearly 1,000 U.S. citizens overseas building orphanages, vocational schools and food distribution centers. It saved the lives of nearly a million Armenian, Assyrian, Greek, Arab, Persian and other refugees from 1915-1930.

Unfortunately that doesn't help us date the song. I hoped it would. The only indications: the "Near East Relief" name was adopted in 1919.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Wandering (Early and Late)
From: GUEST,Jed
Date: 25 Aug 15 - 01:58 AM

National Geo did an informative show on hobos years ago (80's?). A performer and his female accomplis sang a verse as: "ashes to ashes, dust unto dust, if the railroad doesn't get you, then the bread line must, and it looks like, I'm never gonna cease, My wan-der-in". No idea where it came from, but I like the verse...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Wandering (Early and Late)
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 30 May 17 - 05:18 AM

"Wandering Blues" by Enrique R. Smith (1893-1964), copyright 1916, published by Joseph W. Stern & Co. of New York in 1917. "... I been from New York City to the Golden Gate/And it looks like I ain't never gonna quit my wandering...," etc.

"[A] typical cabaret song and a good one...." -- _Rag-Time Review_, 8/1917.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Wandering (Early and Late)
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 30 May 17 - 08:28 AM

Joseph Scott,

That sheet music is an exciting find, a decade prior to Sandburg, who till now has been the earliest source.

Please, if you can, give us a url or other reference for how to see this sheet music?

It would be of great interest to all us scholarly sorts who are trying to get at the song's origin, and how the sheet music may differ (or not) from the Sandburg versions A and B.

Gratefully,


Bob


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Subject: RE: Origins: Wandering (Early and Late)
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 30 May 17 - 03:20 PM

Hi Bob,

I haven't seen the sheet music but Karl Koenig and Dorian Henry both have.

Koenig copied the sheet music over in his own handwriting and you can see that if you search down on the keyword "Enrique" here:
http://basinstreet.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/1916.pdf

Henry put the melody up on youtube and you can see part of the original sheet music in that youtube image:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mg61ZAJ0ojg

Incidentally, the fact that Dr. Koenig is about 60 years older than Mr. Henry illustrates that it's fun and chaotic to be part of a worldwide research semi-community.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Wandering (Early and Late)
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 31 May 17 - 08:43 AM

Hi Joseph,

Many thanks for that most interesting reference. What it shows is that, first, this song must in some way have been the (or an) original of the later "Wanderin'." That much is clear from the lyrics given.

The melody, though, seems to me to bear very little if any relation to the melody in Sandburg, which is the standard tune now.

So there is a fascinating interim of about ten years (or less, we don't know how long Sandburg had the song before he published it) between Enrique R Smith's published "Wandering Blues" of 1917 and the arrival of the, ahead of its time, very torchy-sounding "Wanderin'." During that time the lyrics got somewhat reset, other lyrics got added, and the tune turned into something quite different.

I wonder if I am wrong in suspecting some intermediate composer? Sandburg knew quite a few musical intellectuals some of whom tried their hand at vernacular songs. Maybe the song got retooled by one of those?

Or by Sandburg, who brought a poet's sensitivity to folksong. Back in May 2005 Clint Keller (see second message from top of this thread) suggested "Sandburg himself may have had a hand in it." That's still a live possibility. Indeed this song as he recorded it has a brooding quality that comes very near the heart of his chosen singing style.

So could Sandburg, one of our premier poets of his day, have been the alchemist who put together the standard version of "Wanderin'," drawing on the lyrics of the two informants he mentioned?

Any Sandburg scholars among us? Can anyone find in his biographical materials, papers, etc. any other references he ever made to "Wanderin'" that ampify those in American Songbag?

Of course in those days it was common for folk performers to (1) tinker invisibly with traditional lyrics and/or melody (many examples, including John Jacob Niles and even Alan Lomax), and (2) never admit it. So there may be no final answer.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Origins: Wandering (Early and Late)
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 31 May 17 - 01:55 PM

Excuse the length of this. I hope it may spark further discussion.

After some thought and poring over Sandburg's American Songbag I advance this very tentative idea.

If true, it puts Sandburg at the intersection of the inception of a few important folk "art songs" in a "cabaret style" (to borrow Rag-Time Review's 1917 phrase). The songs are set apart in mood and style from Sandburg's usual reporting of traditional songs, and from traditional songs as a whole.

American Songbag contains a significant few songs, later very popular (especially among art singers) that are based on tradition but very non-traditional in performance. In each case Sandburg is the first (as far as I know) to publish them. Sandburg is careful to credit these songs to acquaintances or contributors, but the circumstances of their origin remain otherwise murky. Let's look at them.

SAMPLE SONGS

"Wanderin'" - credited separately to Arthur Sullivan of Rochester, NY (learned on an American Relief Expedition to the Near East) and Hubert Canfield, Pittsford, NY. Sandburg presents this as if each wrote, or learned, separate verses of the same song. Style: brooding, intense, non-traditional.

"He's Gone Away" -   Heard by Charles Rockwood of Geneva, Illinois in "a mountain valley of North Carolina." A brief extract from the traditional song "Ten Thousand Miles," but much changed in presentation: slow, haunting, with flatted 6th and other marks of art song.

"I'm Sad and I'm Lonely" - another flatted 6th songs, slow, mournful, dramatic, from "a Dallas Texas woman who got it from Tennessee folks."

"Lonesome Road" - the alternative sophisticated and somewhat spooky-sounding uptown version: "Look down, look down, that lonesome road, Before you travel on" etc. As learned from Lloyd Lewis of Pendleton, Indiana. Flatted 6th again!

and perhaps "Times Gettin' Hard, Boys" - from Rebecca Taylor, evidently a spiritual singer, from Columbia, South Carolina. Worked over from a fragment of a traditional tobacco-hand banjo song. Magnetically lovely and very nearly traditional-sounding, but has a pop feel.

I could have added several of Sandburg's spirituals, notably the atmospheric, memorable "I Know Moonlight" (later a folkie campfire favorite) and "Jesus Won't You Come By'm By."

Though several are based on traditional song fragments or concepts, as "high concept" performance songs they seem to stand outside American tradition altogether. They foreshadow the concert performances of John Jacob Niles and other classical-leaning folk art performers.

These have in common that they are ideally tailored to Carl Sandburg's own performance style: moody, brooding, lingering over phrases as a poet would, using flatted 6ths in a couple of cases, all working toward a kind of folk art-song style unique in music then and now.

All these songs are first reported, in this form, in Sandburg's American Songbag.

Here goes:

I propose that along with Sandburg's wonderful song collecting, he, and/or certain of his friends and acquaintances, casually remade certain examples of traditional song. Partly using dramatic arrangements, partly varying melody and mood, they created a sophisticated kind of folk-inspired art song notably continued by John Jacob Niles ("Black Is the Color," "Rosy Peach," "I Wonder As I Wander" etc.)

This kind of song was covered by popular folk singers, most famously Burl Ives, and influenced pop singers, notably Jo Stafford in the 1950s, to create orchestrated cover versions of their own. A separate strand on the folk tree.

Secondly, I think the songs' relatively theatrical performance styles stem from first, Sandburg, and afterward those created during the 1920s and 1930s by Vernon Dalhart, Frank Luther and other popular singers who recast tradition to fit a mellow, meditative mold that appealed to uptown audiences. (Yet, as I can testify from collecting door to door in the South, their records also sold very well among the southern mountain people, who admired them for their fancy style.)

To summarize, a few sophisticated intellects were working on the colorful imagery of American traditional songs to produce a new type of folk art song. For this kind of song Carl Sandburg, in The American Songbag and in his own recorded performances, was an important point of junction, if not origin.

I've struggled to make sense of this (and perhaps it shows). But I think it is crucial to understanding the "high road" and "low road" of American folk / folk-pop singing in the last century.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Origins: Wandering (Early and Late)
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 01 Jun 17 - 03:00 AM

I'd say there was a rough style of "art blues" song before _Songbag_ came out that I associate with names like Hoagy Carmichael, Spencer Williams (sometimes among his massive output), W.C. Handy, Willard Robison.

This was recorded about a couple weeks before _Songbag_ came out.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3SzDoCt7ic

This is earlier and is Robison singing a Handy song.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhWNbcu6jug


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Subject: RE: Origins: Wandering (Early and Late)
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 01 Jun 17 - 08:23 AM

Good point, Joseph. And good examples. Yes, I do think "art blues," and Handy in particular, must have had an influence on Sandburg and friends.

This illustrates how important it is to remember that Sandburg and friends were responsive to modernizing trends in other forms of music, and to a lesser degree in the arts as a whole. They had their ears wide open and were not restricting themselves as closely to "pure" folk forms as, say, Cecil Sharp or the Lomaxes.

I'd like, too, to make a correction to my last post above:

There is no flatted 6th in I'm Sad And I'm Lonely.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Origins: Wandering (Early and Late)
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott
Date: 01 Jun 17 - 03:33 PM

And as long as we're talking about Sandburg and folk music, I think we should point out that he often seems to have represented folk music pretty faithfully in _Songbag_, e.g. in the song with "them blues" that pianist Henry Parks had heard while living in the Deep South in about 1916. It's a very valuable book from a pure folk-interest standpoint, especially if you've been interested in folk music long enough that you can identify the nuggets.

Sandburg acknowledges in the "Lonesome Road" entry how by the time he heard something it might have been dressed up in fancy clothes. My understanding is that he could hear the big difference between "Wanderin'" as he encountered it and "Boll Weevil," with regard to folkishness, much the same way you and I can. Even though he liked to get cutesy in much of his writing afterwards (sometimes very cutesy), I think he was pretty deep into his hobby music research.


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