Lazy John

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LAZY JOHN. Old-Time, Breakdown and song. G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. A tune/song from the playing of Monticello, Kentucky (on the Cumberland Plateau), fiddler Clyde Davenport [1] (b. 1921), and a largely different tune (and song) from the similarly titled "Sleepy John/Sleepy-Eyed John," with only small similarities in the chorus.

Clyde Davenport

Davenport told interviewer Dr. Jeff Titon that he learned the tune from the radio, possibly, notes Titon, from the western swing band version by Texas musician Johnny Lee Wills, who recorded a song called Lazy John on the Decca label in the 1940's. Wills was the brother of fiddler Bob Wills, and was one of the original Texas Playboys. The lyric begins:

I've got a gal, she lives by the road,
Her eyes is crooked and her legs are bowed;
But she sure is a lot of fun,
Why don't you go away Lazy John.

Lazy John, Lazy John,
Why don't you get your day's work all done;
I'm in the shade and you’re in the sun,
Why don't you go away Lazy John.

Source for notated version: W. Bruce Reid [Silberberg], Clyde Davenport (b. 1921, near Mt. Pisgah, in Wayne County, Kentucky, on the Cumberland Plateau) [Milliner & Koken].

Printed sources: Milliner & Koken (Milliner-Koken Collection of American Fiddle Tunes), 2011; p. 376. Silberberg (Tunes I Learned at Tractor Tavern), 2002; p. 88.

Recorded sources: Appalachian Center, Berea College AC002, Clyde Davenport - "Puncheon Camps" (1992). County Records, Brad Leftwich - "Say Old Man" (1996). Field Recorders Collective FRC 103 & FRC 104, Clyde Davenport. Slab Town Records, April Verch - "That's How We Run" (2011). Bruce Molsky - "Soon be Time" (2006).

See also listing at:
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [2]
Hear Clyde Davenport's 1990 recording at Berea Digital Content [3], and at Slippery Hill [4]

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