Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Old Stack-O-lee Blues

There are a number of music traditions that have embraced the Stack-O-Lee story. You know, about Stack shooting Billy over a $5 Stetson hat. This includes many jazz versions I wasn't so familiar with until recently. Here's the Classic Jazz Stompers


Are you familiar with Fred Waring's Pennsylvanians? I wasn't but I am now. This is from 1924.


This one has some interesting vocals. It's Clyde McCoy with Billie Jane Bennett. This version has so much swing it's hard to believe it's about a murder. Tennessee Ernie Ford recorded a similar version. I don't know who was first.


Compare that last one to Woody Guthrie's version. Isn't that Sonny Terry playing harmonica behind old Woodrow? It sure sounds like him. When Woody sings "Twelve O'clock we killed him, I's glad to see him die", I believe every word of it.


There are so many versions of this story. I've posted about it before and I likely will again. I'm going to close this post a delightful boogie-woogie piano version. This is played by Carl Sonny Leyland and I sure like the way he rattles them bones.


I hope you've enjoyed this little tour through Stagger Lee country. Go on out and find some of your own versions. Check out what Ike and Tina Turner did to the tune. James Brown. Bob Dylan. Sidney Bachet.....

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