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Origin: Get Up John (Bill Monroe)

03 Dec 06 - 12:37 PM (#1898907)
Subject: Lyr. orgin: Get Up John
From: Richie


These lyrics were found for:

Emmy Lou Harris
(Bill Monroe)

Well, get up John, go down to Jordan
Get up John, prepare the way
Man from Galilee is waitin'
You must meet him there today.

Get up John, go tell my people
This will be a Holy day
Tell them of the Jew that's waiting
That the Saviour's on the way.

CHORUS: John you've been chosen
John go unafraid
John I'll go with you
John The Baptist, this is the day.

Where did these lyrics come from? I know Bill Monroe did a mandolin solo "Get Up John." Why is the song attributed to Monroe? Did Monroe also write lyrics?

Is this song (Get Up John) by Harris related to Sleepy-Eyed John. Sleepy-Eyed John is in the DT (lyrics are wrong). Where did Sleepy-Eyed John come from?

Are the two songs related?

Anyone have more info on the origin or other versions of Get Up John?



03 Dec 06 - 12:46 PM (#1898917)
Subject: RE: Lyr. orgin: Get Up John
From: Richie

Here's some info from Folk index showing the songs related:

Sleepy Eyed John
Rt - Get Up John
Uf - Casey Jones

1. Alden, Ray. Old Time Friends, Marimac 9009, Cas (1987), trk# 15
2. Greenbriar Boys. Ragged But Right, Vanguard VSD 79159, LP (1974), trk# 1
3. Greenbriar Boys. Newport Folk Festival 1964. Evening Concerts, Vol. 2, Vanguard VSD 79185, LP (1965), trk# B.07

Get Up John - Monroe, Bill
Rt - Sleepy Eyed John

Wakefield, Frank. Frank Wakefield with Country Cooking, Rounder 0007, LP (1972), trk# A.01

Dr. Corn's Bluegrass Remedy. It'll Tickle Your Innards, Grassroots GR 004, LP (1977), trk# A.08

Monroe, Bill; and Doc Watson. Bill and Doc, Sonyatone FEN-210, LP (197?), trk# 1

Sidesaddle. Daylight Train, Turquoise TR 5080, Cas (1991), trk# 7

04 Dec 06 - 11:53 AM (#1899753)
Subject: RE: Lyr. orgin: Get Up John
From: GUEST,Richard

I've wondered about this, too. Anybody know? I'd call Emmylou and ask her, but I've lost her phone number.

05 Dec 06 - 10:34 PM (#1901258)
Subject: RE: Origin: Get Up John (Bill Monroe)
From: Jim Dixon

Some web sites out there (for example, Wikipedia) attribute GET UP JOHN to Bill Monroe, Marty Stuart, and Jerry Sullivan.

06 Dec 06 - 09:14 PM (#1902049)
Subject: RE: Origin: Get Up John (Bill Monroe)
From: Richie

Here's a version from one of my friends, Crystal Sawyer, entitled:
John the Baptist Get Up John.

You can listen on-line. It's the same lyrics as Emmy Lou Harris version.


22 Dec 06 - 10:00 PM (#1917192)
Subject: RE: Origin: Get Up John (Bill Monroe)
From: Richie

I've looked a Sleepy Eyed John some and figure it might be written by
Tex Atchison.

"Atchison also kept his hand in at Western swing, joining fellow fiddler Rocky Stone, and many other fine musicians in Ole Rasmussen and the Nebraska Cornhuskers. The leader of the group doesn't sound like a Texan, but it didn't matter. He was simply a businessman who kept the band together, proving with his hiring of Atchison that he knew talent when he heard it. The group recorded more than two dozen sides during a two year stint at Capitol which began in 1950. Classics such as "Sleepy-Eyed John" and a version of the jazz toast "C Jam Blues" reveal Atchison's graceful way with the Western swing style." Eugene Chadbourne, All Music Guide

Johnny Horton's version (Sleepy Eyed John 1960) probably came from Atchison who played with Horton shortly after his stint with Capitol.

In Keith Lawrence's article (see complete article after lyrics) "Tex Atchison Chose Music over the Mines:" Atchison was born near Rosine on Feb. 5, 1912. Five months earlier, William Smith "Bill" Monroe had been born on the farm next door. The boys went to school together. But the musical paths they followed took them in different directions. Monroe became known as "the father of bluegrass music." Atchison found his fame in western swing.

It's quite likely that both Atchison and Monroe learned the same tune probably from the same source. IMHO Sleepy Eyed John seems to be a re-write of Casey Jones (Copyright 1909 Words, T. Lawrence Seibert. Music, Eddie Newton)

(Words, T. Lawrence Seibert. Music, Eddie Newton. Copyright 1909.)

Come, all you rounders, if you want to hear
A story about a brave engineer.
Casey Jones was the rounder's name.
On a six-eight wheeler, boys, he won his fame.
The caller called Casey at a half past four,
Kissed his wife at the station door,
Mounted to the cabin with his orders in his hand,
And he took his farewell trip to that Promised Land.

CHORUS: Casey Jones! mounted to the cabin.
Casey Jones! with his orders in his hand.
Casey Jones! mounted to the cabin
And he took his farewell trip to that Promised Land.

The similarity is too great for coincidence. Compare Sleepy Eyed John:

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 you.

What do you think?


23 Dec 06 - 07:14 AM (#1917364)
Subject: RE: Origin: Get Up John (Bill Monroe)
From: Richie

The verse melody of Sleepy Eyed John is similar to "Old Dan Tucker."


09 May 15 - 08:37 PM (#3707887)
Subject: RE: Origin: Get Up John (Bill Monroe)
From: GUEST,matt

Bill Monroe composed the music for the long but Jerry Sullivan and Marty Stuart later wrote the lyrics in Carthage Mississippi...about 20 minutes from Stuarts home town of Philadelphia

09 May 15 - 11:32 PM (#3707909)
Subject: RE: Origin: Get Up John (Bill Monroe)
From: GUEST,SirCoughsalot

Matt has hit the nail on the head. "Get Up John" is an instrumental tune that Monroe based on "Sleepy John," a tune his Uncle Pen played. The words came after the fact. Not nearly as good as the tune.

He tuned his mandolin to an open D tuning for it. The high E strings are tuned down, one to D, the other to A in unison with the A strings, which, like the D strings, are not altered in pitch. One of the G strings is tuned up to an A, the other down to an F#.