Annotation:Frankie and Johnny

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FRANKIE AND JOHNNY. Old-Time, Country Blues. The tune was recorded for the Library of Congress by musicologist/folklorist Vance Randolph from Ozark Mountain fiddlers in the early 1940's. Researcher John Garst has dug into the origins of many old blues pieces to discover the historical facts underpinning the lyrics. The original title of this piece was "Frankie and Albert" and refers to an actual event between a Frankie Baker and the victim, Allen Britt (corrupted to 'Albert' {Al Britt}). The title, and some of the events of the ballad, was changed in 1912 by the Leighton Brothers and Ren Shields, who published it as "Frankie and Johnny" or "You'll Miss Me in the Days to Come" (Charlie Poole took up this refrain for his song "Leaving Home"). The chorus goes:

Oh I'm goin' away,
And I'm goin' to stay,
I'm never comin' home.
You're gonna miss me hon'
In the days to come,
When the winter winds begin to blow
The ground is covered up with snow.
You'll think of me,
And you'll wish to be,
Back with your lovin' man.
You're gonna miss me hon
In the days, days, days to come.

The song often starts with a line similar to the one below (c.f. Tommy Jarrell's "Frankie Baker").

Frankie was a good girl,
As everybody knows,
She spent five hundred dollars
For Albert a suit of clothes,
He was her man,
Her gamblin' man.

The version below appears in Robert Winslow Gordon's papers, in his North Carolina Collection (p. 186), collected from Mrs. H.A. Barrier, State Hospital, Morgantown, N.C, in December 1925:

Frankie Baker was a good girl
As everybody knows;
She paid a hundred dollar bill
For a suit of little Albert's clothes.
'Twas all because
She loved him so.

Garst says that the two titles, "Frankie and Albert" and "Frankie and Johnnie" coexisted for some time after 1912, but that the "Frankie and Johnnie" title eventually superceded the earlier one in popular mind.

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See also listing at:
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [1]

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