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Origins: History on Frankie and Johnny

30 Jan 02 - 11:04 AM (#638670)
Subject: History on Frankie and Johnny
From: Gypsy

Does anyone know the story behind this song? Found the old thread that said it was about Frankie Silver, but when i did the research, found it to not be the case. Frankie Silver was married to Charlie Silver, and did him in with an axe. Anyone out there have more info? Couldn't find a thing on google.


30 Jan 02 - 11:17 AM (#638674)
Subject: RE: Help: History on Frankie and Johnny
From: Mrrzy

This is one of those that there are so many versions of, it almost has to be based on some actual occurrence, or so humans tend to think. Like John Henry. If there isn't any HIstory, can we make up a just plain Story?


30 Jan 02 - 11:28 AM (#638679)
Subject: RE: Help: History on Frankie and Johnny
From: tar_heel

the frankie silver story is a north carolina classic...she was the only woman ever to be hanged in north carolina for a convited crime...it took place in morganton,n.c.,at the old courthouse bldg., on the square...the couthouse is a museum now an the jail cell where frankie was held prisoner is one of the main attractions... .......................................................... go to google.com type in,frankie silver... 1833, Mrs. Frances Stewart Silver was hanged in Morganton, Burke County, North Carolina, for the ax murder of her husband Charles. Charlie and Frankie Silver are my great, great, great grandparents.

good reading..... chuck aka tar_heel


30 Jan 02 - 11:45 AM (#638688)
Subject: RE: Help: History on Frankie and Johnny
From: masato sakurai

Notes from The Traditional Ballad Index:

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 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

~Masato


30 Jan 02 - 12:27 PM (#638708)
Subject: ADD Version: Frankie and Albert
From: JenEllen

Frankie and Albert

Frankie was a good girl
As everybody knows
She paid a hundred dollar bill
For a suit of Albert's clothes
Just because she loved him so

Frankie went down to the bar-room
She called for a bottle of beer
She whispered to the bartender
"Has Albert he been here?
He's my man and he won't come home"

"I am not a-gonna tell you no story
I am not a-gonna tell you no lie
He left here about an hour ago
With a girl called Alice Fry
He's your man and he won't come home."

Frankie went to the house
As hard as she could run
And under her apron
Concealed a smokeless gun
"He's my man but he won't come home"

Frankie stepped out in the back yard
She heard a bull dog bark
"That must be the man I love slipping out in the dark
If it is, I am a-gonna lay him low;
He is my man, but he done me wrong"

Frankie went down to the river
She looked from bank to bank
"Do all you can for a gamblin' man
But yet you will get no thanks
For a gamblin' man won't treat you right"

Frankie reached down in her pocket
And pulled that forty-four out
And shot Albert through that suit of clothes
People been a-talkin' about
"He's my man, but he won't be long"

"Turn me over Frankie
Turn me over slow
Turn me on my right side
My heart will overflow
I'm your man and I have done you wrong"

Frankie looked down on Broadway
As far as she could see
Two little children just a-cryin' and singin'
"Nearer My Go to Thee"
Seems so sad little Albert is dead

written to commemmorate the murder of Albert Britt by Miss Frankie Baker. Oct 15, 1899, Frankie confronted Albert about his misterss, Alice Pryor, and Albert attacked Frankie with a knife. Frankie shot in self defense. ~Foster


30 Jan 02 - 01:05 PM (#638732)
Subject: RE: Help: History on Frankie and Johnny
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)

Another version of Frankie and Johnny in the DT. For discussion, see this thread: Frankie
Two versions of Frankie and Albert are in Lomax and Lomax, 1934, American Ballads and Folk Songs, pp. 103-110. In a footnote, it is stated Frankie still lives (1934) in Seattle.
In The American Songbag, Carl Sandburg says that the Frankie and Albert song was common along the Mississippi River and among railroad men as early as 1888. There are hundreds of Frankie versions, some back country and some city.
I believe most song detectives agree with the comments in the American ballad Index, that the song was rewritten to fit the Baker-Britt case.
The Ballad of Frankie Silvers has been reproduced in a recent novel by Sharon McCrumb based on the trial and hanging of the nineteen-year-old Silvers (1830s). It does not resemble any of the versions of Frankie and Albert-Allen-Johnny.
Two versions of Frankie and Johnny may be heard on the Max Hunter Folk Song Collection website. Max Hunter


30 Jan 02 - 01:06 PM (#638733)
Subject: RE: Help: History on Frankie and Johnny
From: Mrrzy

Way cool. Add to the Origins Found on Mudcat, no? And tarheel, what great ancestry!


30 Jan 02 - 01:32 PM (#638750)
Subject: RE: Help: History on Frankie and Johnny
From: Steve in Idaho

Beyond way cool!! I've been singing this song for years - time to antiquate it a bit I think!

Steve


30 Jan 02 - 01:33 PM (#638752)
Subject: RE: Help: History on Frankie and Johnny
From: GUEST,Les B.

Also, there is the version that Charlie Poole did, called "Leaving Home" which can be traced to a song dated 1912 at the Levy Sheet music site.

This version was later done by the Kingston Trio, who (in error?) attributed its authorship to Mike Seeger, and others associated with the New Lost City Ramblers, who learned it from Poole's recorded version, circa 1928.

"Leaving Home" refers to the fated lovers as "Frankie and Johnny," and has the ".44 gun under the silk kimono" references, but adds a wordy, driving chorus which makes the song more interesting.


30 Jan 02 - 01:41 PM (#638758)
Subject: RE: Help: History on Frankie and Johnny
From: Clinton Hammond

Does anybody else out there, like me, prefer Garnet Rogers song Frankie And Johnny?

Chorus
If you love some one, can you let it show
Hold them close to you and tell them so they know
Cause it's too late by the grave
Give them all the love you have, every day

Geeze it's been a long time since I played that one...

*reaching for his guitar*


30 Jan 02 - 02:25 PM (#638790)
Subject: Lyr Add: FRANKIE AND ALBERT (from Lead Belly)
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)

FRANKIE AND ALBERT (Lead Belly)

Frankie was a good woman,
As everybody knows,
She did all the work around the house
And pressed her Albert's clothes.
He was her man, but he done her wrong.

Albert was a yeller man,
Coal-black curly hair.
Everybody up in St. Louis
Thought he was a millionaire--
He ws my son, and the only one.

Miss Frankie went to the barroom,
Called for a bottle of beer,
Says to the bartender:
"Has Mister Albert been here?
He is my man, and he's doin' me wrong."

Frankie and Albert were lovers,
Oh, my God how they did love!
Just like sisters and brothers,
The whore and her turtle dove,
For he was her man, but she shot him down.

The bartender says to Miss Frankie:
"I cannot tell a lie;
Mister Albert was here about a minute ago
With a gal name Alkali,
He is your man, but he's doin' you wrong."

Little Frankie went down the Broadway
With her razor in her hand,
Says "Stand aside, you chippie.
I'm lookin' for my man,
He's a gamblin' man, won't treat me right."

Miss Frankie went up the stairway,
She didn't go for fun;
Underneath the ruffles of her petticoat,
She had a young Gatlin' gun.
He was her man an' he was doin' her wrong.

Miss Frankie opened the winder,
The gun she fired twice;
The second shot she fired,
She took Mister Albert's life--
He was her man, but he was doin' her wrong.

Well, when Frankie shot Albert,
First, he fell to his knees,
Then he looked up in her face,
Says, "Frankie, please don't shoot me no mo',
Please, babe, don't shoot me no mo'."

She shot three bullets in him,
He staggered to the door,
He gasped, "Oh, Frankie, you can't play 'round,
'Round this hop joint any more.
I was your man, but I done you wrong.

"Turn me over, Frankie,
Turn me over slow,
Turn me over easy on my left side
So my heart won't overflow
And kill me dead, and kill me dead."

Took po' Albert to the graveyard,
Stuck him in the ground,
Frankie, she was singin',
"I shot the sucker down--
He was my man, but he done me wrong."

The people says to Frankie,
"Little Frankie, why don't you run?
Yonder comes the Chief Police
With a smokeless 44 gun.
You killed your man, wouldn't treat you right."

"Well," says Miss Frankie,
I don't care if I die,
Take and hang me to a telegraph pole,
Hang me good and high--
He was my man but he done me wrong."

Little Frankie went down Broadway
As far as she could see,
And all she could hear was a two-string bow,
Playing, "Nearer, My God To Thee"--
All over the town, little Albert's dead.

Frankie went to Albert's mother,
Fell across her knees,
Said: "I'm sorry I killed your son,
Won't you excuse me please?
He was my man, but he done me wrong."

"I will forgive you, Frankie,
I will forgive you not.
You sho' shot Albert,
He's the only son I got,
He was my son, and the only one."

Frankie says to the sheriff,
"Well, what do you think it'll be?"
The sheriff said: "It looks like a case
Of murder in the first degree;
He was your man, but you shot him down."

It was not murder in the first degree,
It was not murder in the third,
A woman simply dropped her man
Like a hunter drops a bird.
He was her man, but she shot him down.

Frankie said to the sheriff,
"Oh, what do you think they'll do?"
"Strap you in the 'lectric chair,
'N' send thirty thousand volts through you.
Albert was your man, but you shot him down."

Passin' through the jail house,
Went by Frankie's cell,
Asked her how she was feelin',
She said, "Go to Hell."
He was her man, but she shot him down.

Once more I saw Frankie,
She was sittin' in her chair,
Waitin' for to go an' meet her God,
With the sweat drippin' out her hair.
Albert was her man, but she shot him down.

Took Frankie to the graveyard
And stuck her in the ground,
Now all that's left of Frankie
Is a wooden cross and mound.
He was her man- both dead and gone.

Two little pieces of crape,
Hangin' on the door,
Show that lovin' Albert
Ain't lovin' Albert no more.
Frankie shot her man, who was doin' her wrong.

@ballad @folk @Negro
Collected by Lomax from Lead Belly at the Angola Prison, Louisiana. American Ballads and Folk Songs, 1934, pp. 105-110. Perhaps one of the longest songs collected from Lead Belly (Hudie Leadbeater).


30 Jan 02 - 07:43 PM (#638991)
Subject: RE: Help: History on Frankie and Johnny
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)

Versions of The Ballad of Frankie Silver HERE


30 Jan 02 - 09:08 PM (#639035)
Subject: RE: Help: History on Frankie and Johnny
From: Gypsy

Guess it should be HERstory, huh, Mrrrrrzzzzyyy? Anyway, have a friend writing a book, and he wants to use this one as an example of a ballad. Thorough guy that he is, wants the "rest of the story" Thanks for the help, all. Will be able to kluge together something for him out of this! Will letcha know when book is available: Music theory demystified for the Folk Musician. the galleys are quite good. I can now tell my mixolydians from my majors. ;0)


30 Jan 02 - 10:14 PM (#639064)
Subject: RE: Help: History on Frankie and Johnny
From: Mary in Kentucky

Thomas Hart Benton's mural of The Social History of the State of Missouri on the walls of the House Lounge in the State Capitol Building in Jefferson City, Missouri...whew...has Frankie and Johnny in the mural. Of course this perpetuates the St. Louis theory.


30 Jan 02 - 10:28 PM (#639066)
Subject: RE: Help: History on Frankie and Johnny
From: Rolfyboy6

Just a mention of Mississippi John Hurt's great version of "Frankie and Albert". It's on one or two of the Vanguard Newport Cds and on the "Legend" CD. A classic rendition.


30 Jan 02 - 10:44 PM (#639079)
Subject: RE: Help: History on Frankie and Johnny
From: Louie Roy

The song Frankie and Johnny as most of us have been singing for 70 years was written and recorded by Jimmie Rodgers in 1929 Louie Roy


31 Jan 02 - 01:42 AM (#639173)
Subject: RE: Help: History on Frankie and Johnny
From: Stewie

Also have a look at the discussion of the song on the ballad list, in particular item 003451 by John Garst:

Click Here

--Stewie.


31 Jan 02 - 05:46 PM (#639568)
Subject: RE: Help: History on Frankie and Johnny
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)

Interesting post by Garst. The earliest Frankie Silver ballad I found was 1939, from Randolph, although it is supposed to be much older. Does anyone have an earlier version?


31 May 09 - 02:05 PM (#2644983)
Subject: RE: Help: History on Frankie and Johnny
From: gd303uk

not sure if this has been posted before but this is a good essay by paul slade that i think would help with the history of this song.
http://www.planetslade.com/frankie-and-johnny1.html


31 May 09 - 02:49 PM (#2645029)
Subject: RE: Help: History on Frankie and Johnny
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

Nicely summarized, with the newspaper articles.


31 May 09 - 02:59 PM (#2645038)
Subject: RE: Help: History on Frankie and Johnny
From: Azizi

gd303uk, here's the hyperlink for that website.

http://www.planetslade.com/frankie-and-johnny1.html


31 May 09 - 03:06 PM (#2645041)
Subject: RE: Help: History on Frankie and Johnny
From: Azizi

I know that there was another recently refreshed thread about the planetslade website, perhaps about its interesting article on Stagolee (the spelling used on that site is Stagger Lee) http://www.planetslade.com/stagger-lee1.html .

But I can't find that Mudcat thread.


31 May 09 - 04:30 PM (#2645107)
Subject: RE: Help: History on Frankie and Johnny
From: GUEST,.gargoyle

RE: I can't find that Mudcat thread.

Az - your "innocence" is astounding.

What gd303uk posted WAS the "hyperlink" - a Blue Clicky does not make it more so.

Regarding your most helpful reposting of Slade - you devoted one of your LONG instructional dialogues to the subject at the beginning of THIS very Month to the subject. And included Mudcat search tutoring.

1. Place "Stagger Lee" in the Lyric & Knowledge Search

2. Check FORUM

3. Click SEARCH

4. Sort by DATE

AZ - come on ! Your stuff is at the top of the list

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

Give a man a fish....