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Origin: Goodnight Irene

DigiTrad:
GOOD NIGHT IRENE
GOOD NIGHT IRENE PARODY
GOODNIGHT IRENE


Related threads:
Lyr Add: Goodnight Irene (parodies) (23)
Lyr Req: Goodnight Irene (32)
I Know Goodnight Irene - need help on comedy routine (5)
Tune Req: Goodnight Irene (request only) (1)


Joe Offer 30 Jul 02 - 01:24 PM
Joe Offer 30 Jul 02 - 01:51 PM
Joe Offer 30 Jul 02 - 02:03 PM
Joe Offer 30 Jul 02 - 02:16 PM
Joe Offer 30 Jul 02 - 02:26 PM
GUEST,Patrick Wall 03 Sep 02 - 07:15 AM
jimmyt 03 Sep 02 - 12:14 PM
Mark Clark 03 Sep 02 - 01:55 PM
GUEST,jaze 03 Sep 02 - 02:48 PM
GUEST,Guest,Jen 28 Oct 04 - 06:56 PM
GUEST,lindajcox3@hotmail.com 29 Oct 04 - 04:45 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 07 Dec 04 - 08:51 PM
GUEST,Paul Burke 08 Dec 04 - 07:25 AM
GUEST 28 Jan 07 - 08:25 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 28 Jan 07 - 10:28 PM
fumblefingers 28 Jan 07 - 11:53 PM
GUEST 16 Aug 07 - 08:04 AM
GUEST,Jim 16 Aug 07 - 12:19 PM
GUEST,Lois Schultz 11 Oct 07 - 02:16 PM
GUEST,Lois Irene Schultz 11 Oct 07 - 02:52 PM
Dave'sWife 11 Oct 07 - 09:07 PM
Mr Happy 29 Jan 08 - 01:16 PM
Fred McCormick 29 Jan 08 - 01:44 PM
GUEST,meself 29 Jan 08 - 02:08 PM
Nerd 29 Jan 08 - 11:37 PM
Mr Happy 30 Jan 08 - 06:39 AM
Roger in Baltimore 30 Jan 08 - 12:53 PM
Mr Happy 31 Jan 08 - 03:44 AM
Mr Happy 31 Jan 08 - 10:26 AM
GLoux 31 Jan 08 - 10:54 AM
Roger in Baltimore 31 Jan 08 - 01:59 PM
katlaughing 31 Jan 08 - 02:02 PM
Nerd 31 Jan 08 - 04:17 PM
Mr Happy 03 Feb 08 - 05:05 AM
GUEST,Roger in Baltimore 04 Feb 08 - 04:08 PM
GUEST,Guest 05 Oct 09 - 09:14 AM
Jim Dixon 27 Sep 10 - 08:49 PM
GUEST,Desi C 26 Dec 10 - 07:51 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 03 Nov 11 - 03:56 PM
GUEST,Irene 06 Feb 12 - 02:43 AM
Charley Noble 12 Oct 16 - 11:02 AM
Joe Offer 19 Feb 19 - 02:06 AM
GUEST 19 Feb 19 - 10:11 AM
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Subject: ZDTStudy: Goodnight Irene
From: Joe Offer
Date: 30 Jul 02 - 01:24 PM

This seemes to be the seminal thread on this song, so I'll tag it for DTStudy indexing. Here are the Traditional Ballad Index entry, and the lyrics as found in the Digital Tradition. Note that the Digital Tradition has no chorus and has a typo on Saturday...
-Joe Offer-
GOOD NIGHT IRENE
(Leadbelly)

Last saturday night, I got married,
Me and my wife settled down
Now me and my wife are parted,
I'm gonna take another stroll downtown

Sometimes I live in the country,
sometimes I live in town
Sometimes I take a great notion,
To jump into the river and drown.

I love Irene, God knows I do,
I'll love her till the seas run dry
But if Irene should turn me down,
I'd take the morphine and die.

Stop rambling, stop your gambling
Stop staying out late at night,
Go home to your wife and your family
Stay there by your fireside bright.

@love @drugs @marriage
filename[ IRENGDNT
DG



PLEASE NOTE: Because of the volunteer nature of The Digital Tradition, it is difficult to ensure proper attribution and copyright information for every song included. Please assume that any song which lists a composer is copyrighted ©. You MUST aquire proper license before using these songs for ANY commercial purpose. If you have any additional information or corrections to the credit or copyright information included, please e-mail those additions or corrections to us (along with the song title as indexed) so that we can update the database as soon as possible. Thank You.

Goodnight Irene

DESCRIPTION: The singer describes how he courted Irene. Now he and his wife are parted. "And if Irene turns her back on me, gonna take morphine and die." Chorus: "Irene, goodnight, Irene, goodnight; Goodnight, Irene, goodnight, Irene, I'll (get/see) you in my dreams."
AUTHOR: popular version by Huddie Ledbetter ("Lead Belly")
EARLIEST DATE: 1936 (copyright)
KEYWORDS: love courting separation drugs suicide loneliness floatingverses
FOUND IN: US
REFERENCES (4 citations):
Lomax-FSNA 315, "Irene" (1 text, 1 tune)
PSeeger-AFB, p. 48, "Irene, Goodnight" (1 text, 1 tune)
Fuld-WFM, pp. 307-308, "Irene (Goodnight, Irene)"
DT, IRENGDNT

RECORDINGS:
Pete Seeger, "Goodnight, Irene" (on PeteSeeger24) (on PeteSeeger43)
Gordon Jenkins & The Weavers, "Goodnight Irene" (Decca 27077, 1950; on Weavers01)
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Dark and Dreary Weather" (floating lyrics)
cf. "Willy, Poor Boy" (floating lyrics)
cf. "Rambling Round" (approximate tune)
Notes: Fuld quotes the Lomaxes to the effect that Lead Belly learned the chorus of this song from his uncle. Many of the verses can also be shown to be older. To what extent Lead Belly created this song, as opposed to reshaping the materials, cannot now be determined.
The 1888 song "Irene, Goodnight," sung by the Haverly Minstrels and credited by Spaeth to "Davis"(but dated 1892), is a separate piece. - RBW
According to Seeger, Lead Belly said Irene was a sixteen-year-old girl he knew, who took up with a rambler. - PJS
File: LoF315

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions

The Ballad Index Copyright 2002 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


The DT also has Mudcatter Chet W's Goodnight Irene, and Good Night Irene Parody, submitted by the infamous DG.


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Subject: Goodnight Irene (Lomax version)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 30 Jul 02 - 01:51 PM

Here's the version from the Folk Songs of North America, by Alan Lomax (1960). Lomax says it was titled "Irene" in the 1936 Lomax book, Negro Folk Songs as Sung by Lead Belly, and copyrighted in 1950 by Ludlow Music as "Goodnight Irene."


IRENE

CHORUS
Irene, goodnight, Irene, goodnight
Goodnight Irene, goodnight Irene,
I'll kiss you in my dreams

Sometimes I live in the country,
sometimes I live in town
Sometimes I haves a great notion,
To jump in the river and drown.

Last Saturday night, I got married,
Me and my wife settled down
Now me and my wife have parted,
Gonna take me a stroll uptown

I loves Irene, God knows I do,
I loves her till the sea runs dry
And if Irene turns her back on me,
I'll take morphine and die.

Quit your rambling, quit your gambling
Quit your staying out late at night,
Go home to your wife and your family
Sit down by the fireside bright.


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Subject: RE: Goodnight Irene Origin
From: Joe Offer
Date: 30 Jul 02 - 02:03 PM

Here are the background notes from The Folk Songs of North America (Alan Lomax, 1960)
THE ARCHIVE of American Folk Song, which now numbers some 60,000 songs in its files of field recordings, came into actual being one broiling summer day in the State Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana. The first recording we took on our new portable equipment was of the state's prisoner, Lead Belly, singing Irene Goodnight.

We were powerfully impressed by his panther-like grace and his extraordinary good looks: his already snow-white hair set off the aquiline features and the proudly gazing eyes inherited from his African and Cherokee Indian ancestors. We were amazed by his mastery of his great, green-painted twelve-string guitar, but we were deeply moved by the flawless tenor voice which rang out across the green cotton fields like a big sweet-toned trumpet. We believed Lead Belly when he said, "I'ze the king of all the twelve-string guitar players of the world."

My father and I had come to the penitentiary hunting folk songs. In Lead Belly we found a great folk artist, who not only stamped the songs with his own strong personality, but at once involved us in his life. Before the recording session had ended, Lead Belly had what he wanted from us—the promise to ask the Governor of Louisiana to pardon this two-time murderer. We stopped off at Baton Rouge the next day and left a recording of Lead Belly's ballad appeal for a pardon in Governor O.K. Allen's office
I left my wife wringing her hands an' cryin',
Governor O.K. Allen, save this man of mine.

Had you, Gov. O.K. Allen, like you got me,
I'd wake up in the morning, and set you free
Whether because of this song or for another reason, Lead Belly was paroled to my father a year later, and joined him on a long tour through the Southern prisons, where Lead Belly's performances for the convicts demonstrated just the kind of songs we wanted to record. At the Christmas meeting of the Modern Language Association, Lead Belly sang at the final smoker and drew an ovation from an audience of two thousand staid college professors. Newspaper and magazine stories led to a series of concert engagements where, despite the fact that few of his listeners could understand his Louisiana dialect, Lead Belly triumphed again and again with his brilliant performances. His wedding was filmed for the March of Time and covered by the New York Press.

In the years that followed Lead Belly recorded his songs for a number of companies, though never so beautifully as he had first sung them for us in Louisiana; his voice grew thinner and harder in the smoke and tension of New York City yet, even in his late recordings, he sang with so much force and with such great style that he has become the model for hundreds of young folk singers in Britain and the U.S.A. Everywhere he performed, he sang Irene, his most beloved song. Instinctively, he must have guessed that one day it would be a hit, and so it happened.

Death came to him slowly and painfully in the form of a creeping paralytic disease, that stilled his sinewy limbs one after another, like an army cautiously besieging and capturing some great fortification. He had been unable to sing for many months, before he finally told his wife, Martha Promise Ledbetter, goodbye on the night of December 6, 1949.

Six months later, Irene Goodnight became the hit of the year and sold about two million records. It was translated into every European language and has become a folk song in a dozen countries. Today, the songs of this violent, talented man, whom life had tempered to a steely hardness; are sung by an ever-widening circle of people round the world; and it looks very much as if this Louisiana farm-labourer and convict will emerge as one of the important musical figures of the twentieth century.


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Subject: ADD: IRENE GOODNIGHT (Seeger Version)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 30 Jul 02 - 02:16 PM

Pete Seeger has a slightly different version and an addtional verse in his American Favorite Ballads (1961). He says he got the lyrics from the Lomax Lead Belly book, and from the singing of Huddie Ledbetter.

IRENE, GOODNIGHT

CHORUS
Irene, goodnight, Irene, goodnight
Goodnight Irene, goodnight Irene,
I'll see you in my dreams

Sometimes I live in the country,
Sometimes I live in town
Sometimes I take a great notion,
To jump into the river and drown.

I love Irene, God knows I do,
I'll love her till the seas run dry
And if Irene turns her back on me,
I'd take morphine and die.

I asked your mother for you,
She told me you was too young.
I wished to God I'd never seen your face,
I'm sorry you ever was born.

You caused me to weep, you caused me to mourn,
You caused me to leave my home.
But the very last words I heard her say,
Was please sing me one more song.


Seeger's notes:
In 1950, six months after Leadbelly died, this song of his sold two million copies on the hit parade. He always said Irene was a real person and he knew her - a girl just sixteen years old, who met a rambler and a gambler.


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Subject: ADD Version: Irene
From: Joe Offer
Date: 30 Jul 02 - 02:26 PM

One more version, this one from Oaks's The Leadbelly Songbook (1962, edited by Moses Asch and Alan Lomax)


IRENE
(words and music by Huddie Ledbetter and John Lomax)

CHORUS
Irene, goodnight, Irene, goodnight
Goodnight Irene, goodnight Irene,
I'll kiss you in my dreams

Sometimes I live in the country,
sometimes I live in town
Sometimes I have a great notion,
To jump into the river and drown.

I asked your mother for you,
She told me you were too young.
I wish to the Lord I never seen your face,
I'm sorry you ever was born.

You caused me to weep, you caused me to moan,
You caused me to leave my home.
The last word I ever heard her say,
"I want you to sing me a song."

Stop rambling and stop gambling,
Quit staying out late at night.
Go home to your wife and your family,
Sit down by the fireside bright.

I love Irene, God knows I do,
I'll love her till the sea runs dry
If Irene turns her back on me,
I'm gonna take morphine and die.


Publisher: Ludlow Music, Inc.


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Subject: RE: Goodnight Irene Origin
From: GUEST,Patrick Wall
Date: 03 Sep 02 - 07:15 AM

I own the song "Goodnight Irene" by many of my favorite singers - including Leadbelly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Moon Mullican, Jim Reeves, Ernest Tubb with Red Foley, etc. Of all these versions I know, the Moon Mullican version is very different. Gone from this are the verses "Sometimes I live in the country" and "stop your rambling, stop gambling". Instead, there are verses like "I loved you Irene for years, each goodnight leaves me in tears" and "I'll never love another, nobody else but you".

I know that neither Leadbelly or Moon originated the song but what I am not sure about is: Are Moon's lyrics from the turn of the century folk song [which I don't own] or are they Moon's own lyrics or are they off of an obscure Leadbelly version [Moon was a blues singer as much as a country singer and knew lots of obscure black music as he was friends with a lot of black musicians].


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Subject: RE: Goodnight Irene Origin
From: jimmyt
Date: 03 Sep 02 - 12:14 PM

I remember my mom singing this song to me when I was little, probably as early as 1950.


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Subject: RE: Goodnight Irene Origin
From: Mark Clark
Date: 03 Sep 02 - 01:55 PM

An old friend of mine who used to attend hootenanies in NYC with Lead Belly and Woody Guthrie often told me that Huddie would sing:

Goodnight Irene you sex machine
I'll get you in my dreams.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Goodnight Irene Origin
From: GUEST,jaze
Date: 03 Sep 02 - 02:48 PM

Mississippi John Hurt does a great version on one of his early 60's Vanguard lps.


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Subject: RE: Goodnight Irene Origin
From: GUEST,Guest,Jen
Date: 28 Oct 04 - 06:56 PM

Our family history has it said that my dads uncle went to prison for stabbing my dads aunt Irene 13 times. He was in prison with Led Belly who heard the story and wrote a song about it.


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Subject: RE: Goodnight Irene Origin
From: GUEST,lindajcox3@hotmail.com
Date: 29 Oct 04 - 04:45 PM

My Aunt Irene was born in 1901. I was just trying to figure out if she was named for that song. After reading all of this and what's on the web, I really wonder, as it isn't really a love song, like I thought I remembered...Is there another old Irene song from the turn of the century?


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Subject: RE: Goodnight Irene Origin
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 07 Dec 04 - 08:51 PM

The second verse of "Goodnight Irene" had been collected by E. C. Perrow from "East Tennessee, Negroes, 1909."

19. Sometimes I Lib in de Country

Sometimes I lib in de country,
En sometimes I lib in town;
En sometimes I hab uh notion
Tuh jump in de ribber en drown.

In thread 76295, "On Top of Old Smoky," Masato posted Section VI of "Songs and Rhymes from the South," by E. C. Perrow. This verse appeared there. Old Smoky


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Subject: RE: Goodnight Irene Origin
From: GUEST,Paul Burke
Date: 08 Dec 04 - 07:25 AM

The song is VERY much older than Leadbelly, though his ancient ancestor Tinbelly might have composed it. It was sung on the ancient Phoenician trading vessels: as the slaves rested on their oars and the sun sank towards the Pillars of Hercules, they would sing mournfully:

Trireme goodnight,
Trireme goodnight...


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Subject: RE: Goodnight Irene Origin
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Jan 07 - 08:25 PM

ok I know this thread is years old, but I have one question? What exactly is it about??? And be very precise


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Subject: RE: Goodnight Irene Origin
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 28 Jan 07 - 10:28 PM

(as hopeless as George W. Bush)


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Subject: RE: Goodnight Irene Origin
From: fumblefingers
Date: 28 Jan 07 - 11:53 PM

Here is a good source for all things related to Texas, including Leadbelly.

http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/LL/fle10.html


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Subject: RE: Goodnight Irene Origin
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Aug 07 - 08:04 AM

Hi Folks
I was seraching the verses of If It Wasn't For Dicky done by LEADBELLY and I found in MUDCAT café your reply
You said
A few verses of Drimmen Dhu are in DigiTrad, if anyone's interested.

I didn't found any thing about that and I'll be really please if you could help me in sending verses of this song at
cl_lemas@club-internet.fr

As you see I'm French and it's the reason why I ask you that

thank you

Claude


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Subject: RE: Goodnight Irene Origin
From: GUEST,Jim
Date: 16 Aug 07 - 12:19 PM

I have two different recordings of Lead Belly singing Irene and both versions say,"I'll get you in my dreams." I heard that the Weavers changed it to,"I'll see you in my dreams." I had never heard,"I'll kiss you in my dreams," till this thread.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Goodnight Irene
From: GUEST,Lois Schultz
Date: 11 Oct 07 - 02:16 PM

My mother named me for this song which she loved and said it was popular when I was born in Dec 1943. If it was commercially recorded in the summer of 1943, it certainly makes sense. Glad to know the history.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Goodnight Irene
From: GUEST,Lois Irene Schultz
Date: 11 Oct 07 - 02:52 PM

I responded earlier and should have explained that my middle name is Irene. :-)


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Subject: RE: Origin: Goodnight Irene
From: Dave'sWife
Date: 11 Oct 07 - 09:07 PM

I was wondering if you're mom had heard Goodnight Lois! glad you added the postscript!


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Subject: RE: Origin: Goodnight Irene
From: Mr Happy
Date: 29 Jan 08 - 01:16 PM

Can anyone poiny me to where I can get the dots [sheet music] for this song?

I've tried JC's but its not there


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Subject: RE: Origin: Goodnight Irene
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 29 Jan 08 - 01:44 PM

Presumably, the story that Leadbelly wrote Goodnight Irene has been well scotched early on in this thread. I would like to add though, in case nobody else has, that Leadbelly claimed he learned it from his uncle Bob Ledbetter. There's a recording of Bob Ledbetter singing Irene on the Flyright Lp of Library of Congress Recordings; Jerry's Saloon Bar Blues; FLY LP 260.

What I wanted to say though was that a couple of weeks ago, one of the musicians at a jazz session I go to introduced Irene by saying "Here's a song Leadbelly wrote. He wrote it about his first wife, who was called Irene, before he murdered her. He had four wives altogether and he murdered them all. And the lyrics which Leadbelly sang were very coarse. A lot coarser than the version we're going to perform."

I attempted to disabuse him in the interval by telling him that Leadbelly was only married twice; that he only committed one murder; that neither of his wives was called Irene, and he never did either of them in; that he never wrote Irene; and that the words he sang were pretty much what everybody else sang, give or take a 'get' instead of a 'see'.

Okay, he admitted he'd exaggerated the rest, but he was adamant that Leadbelly was the composer. The following week I came back armed with an extract from Wikipedia (having checked its assertions against the Lornell/Wolfe biography).

"Don't believe everything you read on the Internet", he said.

Last night, apropos of nothing, he said to the audience "I was looking on the Internet today, and I discovered that John Wayne was only 5'6" and he used to ride a shetland pony when filming to make himself look taller".

Well, what would you have heckled him with?


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Subject: RE: Origin: Goodnight Irene
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 29 Jan 08 - 02:08 PM

A brick bat.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Goodnight Irene
From: Nerd
Date: 29 Jan 08 - 11:37 PM

You were quite right, Fred.

Way back, someone quoted a grandiose claim by Lomax that the Archive of American Folk Song came into being when he and his father had first recorded Lead Belly. Not quite true. It had existed by then for some five years.

The date on the catalog card for the Archive's first recording of Irene is July 1933. They recorded it again from Lead Belly in 1934, and again in 1935.

John Lomax recorded it from Uncle Bob Ledbetter in 1940.

I'm going to start a new thread announcing our new online card catalog.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Goodnight Irene
From: Mr Happy
Date: 30 Jan 08 - 06:39 AM

Anyone have the dots please, in ' new online card catalog' or elsewhere?


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Subject: RE: Origin: Goodnight Irene
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 30 Jan 08 - 12:53 PM

Mr. Happy,

A pdf file of the sheet musci for Goodnight Irene is available on
www.levysheetmusic.mse.jhu.edu/ There is a search enging, just type in goodnight irene and you should get it.

Roger in Baltimore


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Subject: RE: Origin: Goodnight Irene
From: Mr Happy
Date: 31 Jan 08 - 03:44 AM

Roger in Baltimore,

Thanks for the link, unfortunately couldn't acces the dots.

Got this message instead:

http://levysheetmusic.mse.jhu.edu/otcgi/llscgi60



There are two reasons why, although you have pulled up a text record for a particular title, you may have trouble finding the music that accompanies it.
The music was published after 1923, and therefore is not in the public domain. We do not include images for music published after that date.
The music is duplicated elsewhere. If there is a field in the text record with the heading "Duplication," it will direct you to the location of the music (e.g., "music same as Box 2, Item 3"-look in Box 2, Item 3 to locate the music). This may also occur when the cover is a duplicate.
IMPORTANT: MUSIC PUBLISHED AFTER 1923 IS NOT IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN. YOU WILL NOT FIND IMAGES FOR MUSIC PUBLISHED AFTER THAT DATE ON THIS SITE. THERE IS A TEXT RECORD FOR EACH SONG.

Any suggestions where else I can look?


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Subject: RE: Origin: Goodnight Irene
From: Mr Happy
Date: 31 Jan 08 - 10:26 AM

refresk


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Subject: RE: Origin: Goodnight Irene
From: GLoux
Date: 31 Jan 08 - 10:54 AM

I just searched for Goodnight Irene, found it, launched the PDF for it with no problems...

Try again, is my recommendation

-Greg


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Subject: RE: Origin: Goodnight Irene
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 31 Jan 08 - 01:59 PM

Mr. Happy,

I tried the link again. I searched the collection using "goodnight irene" and it took me to the music and it allowed me to print the music. Sorry it did not work for you.

Roger in Baltimore


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Subject: RE: Origin: Goodnight Irene
From: katlaughing
Date: 31 Jan 08 - 02:02 PM

Mr. Happy, just a couple of ideas...make sure your pdf reader, Adobe or what have you, is working and/or see if your firewall is interfering. Mine does that if I haven't told it what to do with a certain website. I don't know if this would be a problem with Lester Levy Collection, but thought it worth mentioning.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Goodnight Irene
From: Nerd
Date: 31 Jan 08 - 04:17 PM

Yes I just accessed it too. Surreal that it's got Frank Sinatra on the cover, eh?


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Subject: RE: Origin: Goodnight Irene
From: Mr Happy
Date: 03 Feb 08 - 05:05 AM

Roger in Baltimore,

Yes have tried again & it worked!

Many thanks!


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Subject: RE: Origin: Goodnight Irene
From: GUEST,Roger in Baltimore
Date: 04 Feb 08 - 04:08 PM

You're welcome Mr. Happy. Keep coming back if you have requests. We aim to please.

Roger in Baltimore


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Subject: RE: Origin: Goodnight Irene
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 05 Oct 09 - 09:14 AM

According to Ralph Kramden, a dus briver who appeared on the $99,000 Answer, Goodnight Irene was written by Lomax and Ledbetter. That's prrof enough for me. ;-)


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Subject: Lyr Add: GOODNIGHT IRENE (from sheet music)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 27 Sep 10 - 08:49 PM

Since this is still under copyright, the sheet music shouldn't be viewable at Levy, but it is, as a PDF—a mistake on their part, I suppose. The image is a little fuzzier than most. The picture on the cover is of Frank Sinatra! (I kid you not: His picture is captioned "Featured and Recorded by FRANK SINATRA on Columbia Records.")

I took the opportunity to transcribe it. I also copied the copyright statement verbatim, since it's so unusually complicated.


GOODNIGHT, IRENE
Words and music by Huddie Ledbetter, John Lomax

CHORUS: Irene, goodnight. Irene, goodnight.
Goodnight, Irene. Goodnight, Irene.
I'll see you in my dreams

1. Last Saturday night, I got married.
Me and my wife settled down.
Now me and my wife are parted.
I'm gonna take another stroll downtown.

2. Sometimes I live in the country.
Sometimes I live in town.
Sometimes I have a great notion
To jump into the river and drown.

3. Stop ramblin'. Stop your gamblin'.
Stop staying out late at night.
Go home to your wife and your fam'ly.
Sit down by the fireside bright.

Added Verses

4. I asked your mother for you.
She told me you was too young.
I wish to the Lord I'd never seen your face
Or heard your lying tongue.

5. I love Irene, God knows, I do,
Love her till the seas run dry,
And if Irene turns her back on me,
I'm gonna take morphine and die.

Copyright 1936 by MacMillan Co., N.Y.
Copyright assigned 1950 to World Wide Music Pub. Co., N.Y.
Copyright 1950 by World Wide Music Pub. Co., N.Y.
Copyright assigned 1950 to Spencer Music Corp., N.Y.
Copyright 1950 by Spencer Music Corp., New York, N.Y.
International Copyright Secured.    Made in U.S.A.
All rights reserved including Public Performance for Profit
Any arrangement or adaptation of this composition without the consent of the owner is an infringement of copyright


*

[By the way, the version of GOODNIGHT IRENE in the DT is a parody, not the original.

The version posted in this message is supposed to be Leadbelly's version from the "Last Sessions" but it is missing verse 1, the remaining verses are in a different order from the sheet music (4, 2, 3, 5), and there are a few other differences.

The version posted Barry here has verses 2, 3, 1, 5, and another one that begins: "You caused me to weep; you caused me to moan." Following the lyrics is a quote and the note "Lifted from A. Lomax's Folk Songs of North America," but I suppose that only applies to the quote and not the lyrics, since the lyrics are different from the ones Joe got from Folk Songs of North America. So it isn't clear where Barry got the lyrics. God, this is complicated!


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Subject: RE: Origin: Goodnight Irene
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 26 Dec 10 - 07:51 AM

I did research the song some years ago, and can't recall much of the info now, except that Ledbelly did not write, it hailed for much earlier in the century, but he did get credited with


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Subject: RE: Origin: Goodnight Irene
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 03 Nov 11 - 03:56 PM

A verse used in this song was collected by Perrow in 1909.

Lyr. Add: SOMETIMES I LIB IN DE COUNTRY

Sometimes I lib in de country,
Sometimes I lib in town;
En sometimes I hab uh notion
Tuh jump in de ribber en drown.

Collected from East Tennessee Negroes, 1909.

E. C. Perrow, 1915, Songs and Rhymes from the South, Jour. American Folklore, vol. 28, pp. 129-190.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Goodnight Irene
From: GUEST,Irene
Date: 06 Feb 12 - 02:43 AM

Thanks everyone for all the interesting info on "my" song!
Goonight!
Irene


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Subject: RE: Origin: Goodnight Irene
From: Charley Noble
Date: 12 Oct 16 - 11:02 AM

Well worth refreshing.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Goodnight Irene
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Feb 19 - 02:06 AM

I sometimes get in trouble for singing this verse, but I like it:
    Sometimes Irene wears pajamas,
    Sometimes Irene wears a gown,
    And sometimes Irene wears nothing at all,
    And then she's the talk of the town.

I had heard that Joe Hickerson wrote that verse (such as it is), so I asked. I got a nice email in reply:

    My goodness, what an ....interesting question indeed! I did not compose this verse. As I recollect it, I heard it in 1950, when "Irene" was number one on the Billboard best selling record charts (for 13 weeks!). I heard it one Saturday evening sung by Bob Hope on Hope's weekly radio show. I learned it thusly:
      Sometimes Irene wears pajamas,
      Sometimes Irene wears a gown.
      But when they're both in the laundry,
      Irene is the talk of the town.


    A bit later, I learned another verse from the pages of Billboard magazine:
      Stop rambling, stop your gambling,
      Confess your sins and your faults.
      You'd still be singing "Goodnight Irene" if
      Patti Page hadn't sung the "Tennessee Waltz."


    Actually, there were two recordings which were #1 in between "Goodnight, Irene" and "Tennessee Waltz." They were Sammy Kaye's "Harbor Lights" (2 weeks) and "Phil Harris's "The Thing" (4 weeks). Then "Tennessee Waltz" for 9 weeks.


    Joe "The Songfinder" Hickerson
    Joe's Jottings (click)


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Subject: RE: Origin: Goodnight Irene
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Feb 19 - 10:11 AM

There is a nice version by Lonnie Johnson. Two actually. He is interesting in terms of guitar history and otherwise. Played with a white man who pretended to be black to get round the apartheid system of the USA.


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