Thursday Inspiration #110 Walk Right In

Respond to this challenge, by either by using the prompt word hang, or going with the above picture, or by means of the song ‘Walk Right In’, or by going with any of the other artists mentioned in this post.  In 1963, ‘Walk Right In’ by Rooftop Singers went to #1 in the US and it charted #10 in the UK, and it reached #34 on the Billboard Year-End Hot 100 chart.  The Rooftop Singers’ ‘Walk Right In’ is the first record ever to simultaneously reach #1 on these major charts: Billboard’s Hot 100 Singles; Billboard’s Middle of the Road [non rock] Top 20 Singles; Cash Box’s Top 100 Singles; and Music Vendor’s Top 100 Singles Sales chart.  Music started changing in 1963, as the British Invasion was not launched yet, the Doo Wop era was dying out, Elvis immersed himself with acting, while important folk Protest songs were being written.  The Beatles had their first hit with ‘Love Me Do’ in the end of 1962, but the music from 1963 consisted of a blend of the Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, the Four Seasons, Ricky Nelson, Bobby Darin, Leslie Gore, the Kingsmen, Bobby Vinton, Paul and Paula, Peter, Paul and Mary, and many others.

In the mid-20th Century, folk music which can be defined as songs that are played using instruments not typically seen in a rock or pop band, underwent a revival.  In the 1950s, Folk Music gained popularity mostly due to the constant outpouring of new songs, and by the 1960s, the genre became a remarkable phenomenon.  Some of the early successful songs were by Woody Guthrie, Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs, Pete Seeger, the Carter Family, the Weavers, the New Christy Minstrels, Joan Baez, Judy Collins and it looks like timing was just right for the Rooftop Singers as they happened to come along when the world was waiting for this song.

This Jug Band classic ‘Walk Right In’ was written by Gus Cannon (banjo, jug) and Hosea “Hosie” Woods (guitar, kazoo) who were both members of The Jug Stompers and it was originally recorded by them in 1929.  This group used to perform this at medicine shows and the same year the Jug Stompers recorded their Noah Lewis written tune ‘Big Railroad Blues’, which was played a lot by the Grateful Dead.  The Dead also played another Noah Lewis Jug Stompers tune ‘Viola Lee Blues’.  Cannon’s song ‘Walk Right In’ has been recorded by Jerry Lee Lewis, Trini Lopez, Chet Atkins, The Ventures, Janis Joplin and Sammy Davis Jr.  As music tastes changed, Gus started playing in the streets again for money, and by the time the Rooftop Singers recorded this, he was almost destitute.  Thus, when the Rooftop Singers turned this into a feisty singalong, Cannon and Woods were more than happy to be getting the huge windfalls.

The Rooftop Singers were a trio made up of Erik Darling, Bill Svanoe and Lynne Taylor.  In 1951, Erik Darling was a member of The Folksay Trio when they had their big hit with ‘Tom Dooley’.   He then formed the Tunetellers who changed their name to the Tarriers and in 1956 they recorded ‘The Banana Boat Song (Day-O)’, which sparked a national craze for calypso music.  In 1958, Darling joined the Weavers as Pete Seeger’s replacement and he stayed with them till 1962, when he formed the Rooftop Singers for the specific purpose of recording this song.  ‘Walk Right In’ was essentially regarded as a forgotten classic, till Darling came up with a new arrangement featuring 12 string guitars for this song.  Darling was looking for a distinctive sound, so he and group member Bill Svanoe both played twelve string guitars on this, although they had some difficulty in acquiring the instruments.

Lynne Taylor had sung in public in Philadelphia since she was a teenager and she was the ‘girl singer’ for the Benny Goodman band and then Buddy Rich.  In 1956, she had a hit with ‘Rockroleville’ and she created a tape in which she overdubbed Erik’s 1961 album True Religion And Other Blues, Ballads And Folksongs with her own vocals.  Erik was impressed by that tape, so Lynne was an obvious choice and after she walked right into the group, her presence added the additional depth they needed.  Bill Svanoe, a guitarist, singer and well-traveled civil rights activist, played an equally important role in the group, serving as a counterpart to the instrumental sound Darling planned to implement.  Several follow-up songs barely made the charts, but this group that was put together to record one song, stayed together more than four years.  This being the ‘60s, many listeners spotted a marijuana reference in the lyrics, “Everybody’s talkin’ ‘bout a new way of walking… do you wanna lose your mind?”, which is very doubtful this was a drug reference back in 1929, but inebriation was among the more common themes in blues songs of the pre-World War II era.

Walk right in, sit right down
Baby, let your hair hang down

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