Two Men Were Gambling

Billy Lyons was murdered by a St. Louis, Missouri pimp and gambler named “Stag” Lee Shelton in a saloon on Christmas Eve in 1895.  The lyrics for this traditional song were written by Ray Lopez and they were published in 1911, and it was first recorded in 1923 by Fred Waring’s Pennsylvanians.  The story in this song has drifted from the facts somewhat over the course of its many lives but it has lasted over 100-plus years.  A few days after this murder the headline, “Shot in Curtis’s Place”, ran in the St. Louis Daily Globe-Democrat.  It began, “William Lyons, 25, colored, a levee hand was shot in the abdomen yesterday evening at 10 o’clock in the saloon of Bill Curtis by Lee Sheldon, also colored.”  Billy Lyons and “Stag” Lee Sheldon were drinking when they got into an argument over politics, and Lyons snatched Sheldon’s hat from his head after he was dead and coolly walked away.

Subsequent musical renditions of this story would depict the dispute as one over gambling, but all versions preserved the detail of “Stag” Lee Sheldon’s wearing a Stetson hat.  John B. Stetson was born in 1830 to a “master hat maker”, Stephen Stetson, of Orange, New Jersey.  He invented what is now thought of as the classic Stetson about 1850, a large hat with a broad brim and a high crown for protection from the sun and rain.  Lyons died of his injuries, and Shelton was charged, tried and convicted of the murder in 1897.  He was paroled in 1909, but returned to prison in 1911 for assault and robbery after breaking into a man’s home, and murdering him.  By 1912, Shelton received yet another pardon, apparently due to political pressure.  Before he could be released, the infamous Stack-O-Lee died in prison of tuberculosis.

The song which has several different names and different lyrics has been recorded by many artists, from Ma Rainey, Duke Ellington, Mississippi John Hurt, Furry Lewis, Woody Guthrie, Lloyd Price, Professor Longhair, The Black Keys, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Wilson Picket, Taj Mahal, Fats Domino, Bob Dylan, Dr Hook, Cab Calloway, Jerry Lee Lewis, James Brown, The Clash, Beck D. Hansen, Elvis Presley, Samuel L. Jackson, Ike Turner, the Isley Brothers, the Grateful Dead and a great many others.  In 1910, legendary Library of Congress musicologist John Lomax received a partial transcription of what was called “The Ballad of Stagalee”, from a woman in Texas.  She claimed that this song was sung by the Negroes on the levee while they were loading and unloading the river freighters.

In 1958, Lloyd Price released his version called ‘Stagger Lee’, which exploded in popularity and became #1 on the Billboard Pop Charts and his first million seller.  The original version included raunchy lyrics about Mr. Lee and Billy playing cards in an alley. A toned-down version was released later, but when Price was encouraged by Dick Clark, so he could performed the song on American Bandstand, he agreed to re-cut the lyrics, removing all offensive references to violence.  This was the first rock ‘n’ roll record to hit #1 despite being censored.  ‘Stagger Lee’ doesn’t sound like a murder ballad, it’s a total blast of a song, a spirited New Orleans rumble with a honking sax solo that includes joyous oooh-wah backing singers chanting, “Go, Stagger Lee!”.  Price conjures up a clear night with a yellow moon and then all hell breaks loose in this Louisiana swamp blues song, as seven quick horn blasts and vocals (da-da da-da da-da da) shatter the calm.

West Virginia songwriter Harold E. Logan often collaborated with Lloyd Price and he arranged the music for this song. Price’s longtime partner Harold Logan was born in 1924 and murdered in May of 1969 and the case was never solved. Harold Logan formed L and L Records (Lloyd and Logan) in Detroit and they put out Wilson Pickett’s first hits.  Logan got shot with two bullets in the same hole, smack between the eyes at the Turntable Club in NYC.  Price was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 and he was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2010.  On June 16, 2019, a facebook hoax reported his death, but thankfully, Mr. Personality is still alive and well.

The night was clear
And the moon was yellow
And the leaves came tumbling down

I was standing on the corner
When I heard my bulldog bark
He was barkin’ at the two men who were gamblin’
In the dark

It was Stagger Lee and Billy
Two men who gambled late
Stagger Lee threw seven
Billy swore that he threw eight
Stagger Lee told Billy
I can’t let you go with that
You have won all my money and my brand new
Stetson hat

Stagger Lee went home
And he got his forty-four
Said, I’m goin’ to the barroom just to pay that
Debt I owe

Stagger Lee went to the barroom
And he stood across the barroom door
He said, nobody move and he pulled his
Forty-four

Stagger Lee, cried Billy
Oh, please don’t take my life
I’ve got three little children and a very
Sickly wife

Stagger Lee shot Billy
Oh, he shot that poor boy so bad
‘Till the bullet came through Billy and it broke the bar
Tender’s glass

Written for Song Lyric Sunday where the prompt is Cards/Dice/Gamble/Lose/Win.

Games Of Chance

Try your luck and place a bet, it is a risk, but you cannot win if you don’t get in.  A good friend of mine had a pretty serious gambling problem and he became the bookie for a group of us that liked to gamble on football games.  I hit a lucky streak that year and won 15 five time parlays in a row.  Since a five time parlay paid $70, I won just over a grand.  I was golden, whatever team I picked covered the spread.  He paid up, but he became really depressed, because he thought that the house always wins, but luck was not on his side.  This guy named Billy went to a Gamblers Anonymous meeting, seeking help for his problem.  While he was at the meeting, someone picked his pocket and stole his wallet.

Gambling is fun only when you win.  This week’s Song Lyric Sunday theme should be real easy, as there are a lot of songs that involve Cards/Dice/Gamble/Lose/Win and I am sure that everyone will be able to find something.  Try to find a song that fits the prompt, then write your post and please be patient, and wait for me to approve your pingbacks, or you can just place your link in the comments section.

Here are the “rules”:

  • Post the lyrics to the song of your choice, whether it fits the theme or not.
  • Please try to include the songwriter(s) – it’s a good idea to give credit where credit is due.
  • Make sure you also credit the singer/band and if you desire you can provide a link to where you found the lyrics.
  • Link to the YouTube video, or pull it into your post so others can listen to the song.
  • Ping back to this post will eventually work, as long as you are being patient, but you can also place your link in the comments if you don’t like to wait.
  • Read at least one other person’s blog, so we can all share new and fantastic music and create amazing new blogging friends in the process.
  • Feel free to suggest future prompts.
  • Have fun and enjoy the music.

I am writing about the song ‘Stagger Lee’ a traditional song made popular by Lloyd Price this week. Next week I will write about the song ‘When I’m Sixty Four’ by the Beatles. The upcoming prompts will be:
June 30, 2019 – Who/What/When/Where/Why/How
July 7, 2019 – Zodiac animals those being a Rat/Ox/Tiger/Rabbit/Dragon/Snake/Horse/Sheep/ Monkey/Rooster/Dog/Pig
July 14, 2019 – Haunted/Magic/Mystery/Supernatural/Trick
July 21, 2019 – Wedding/Marry/Diamond/Ring/Cake

83968 Is My Dad

Porter Wagoner was a country music singer known for a string of country hits that he had in the ‘60s, his perennial appearances at the Grand Ole Opry wearing his trademark rhinestone suits, and for launching the career of Dolly Parton who he was close with.  He told jokes onstage, sported a blonde pompadour, and in the wake of Roy Acuff’s death in November 1992, he became the unofficial spokesman for the Grand Ole Opry.  His country records included, 2 No. 1 Hits with ‘A Satisfied Mind’ and ‘Misery Loves Company’, 24 Top 10 Hits and 71 Songs that made the charts.  In 1960, Wagoner was given a syndicated television show that featured celebrities such as Tex Ritter and Cowboy Copas, plus newcomers such as Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings.  The program ran an impressive two decades, ending in 1981.  Wagoner was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2002, and he died from lung cancer in Nashville on October 28, 2007 at the age of 80.  Parton wrote ‘I Will Always Love You’ as a sort of farewell song for him.

‘Let Me In’ was written by Gene Crysler whose real name is James Eugene Fitzwater Jr. Gene Crysler wrote over 100 songs including ‘Daddy And The Wine’ which Wagoner also recorded, ‘Dont Make Me Go To School’ which was performed by Tammy Wynette, ‘I Didn’t Jump The Fence’ performed by Cal Smith, ‘If I Ever Need A Lady I’ll Call You’ performed by Claude Gray, ‘Woman Hungry’ performed by Norma Jean and ‘You Can Check On Me’ performed by Stonewall Jackson. Porter Wagoner and the Wagonmasters recorded ‘Let Me In’ on his LP Soul Of A Convict (And Other Great Prison Songs), which was released in February 1967.  The ‘Green, Green Grass of Home’ was the big hit from this album.  The Grateful Dead played ‘Let Me In’ a few times and it is sung by Bob Weir.

A little boy knocked at the warden’s door of Sing Sing then in tears
Said sir I understand that 83968 lives here
Well that’s my daddy sir and I just got to be near him
If you can’t let him out you just got to let me in
Let me in let me in 83968’s my dad
I watched them bury my mama and now he’s all the world I have
I can break your little rocks put a hammer in my hand
I just gotta be near daddy Mister warden let me in
Well I’ve checked through California Alcatraz out on the Rock
From Folsom onto Leavenworth and no one had my pop
Then I found the old news clipping in my mama’s souvenirs
And here I am at Sing Sing 83968 lives here
Let me in let me in…

Written for Song Lyric Sunday prompt is Dad/Father/Barbecue.

Make Room For Daddy

Dear old dad just got another coffee mug with the words “World’s Greatest Dad” printed on it, which he does not need, because he already had three others with the same saying along with a tee-shirt and a hat.  Robin Williams played the High School poetry teacher, would be writer Lance Clayton in the 2009 movie World’s Greatest Dad and he said, “The worst thing in life is ending up with people who make you feel all alone.”  Lance quotes Ernest Hemingway saying that all he wanted to do was write one good sentence.  His son Kyle is a jackass and when his dad asks him about music, he says that he hates it and the only thing worse than music is people who like it, so I guess he will not be showing up here today for Song Lyric Sunday.

Nothing says Father’s Day like a backyard barbecue, family, beer and some good eating. All dads love to grill, so get some hearty cuts of meat or maybe lobster tails.  This week’s theme may be more difficult than others that we had in the past, but anyway our prompt for this week is Dad/Father/Barbecue and I hope that everyone will be able to find something.  Try to find a song that fits the prompt, then write your post and please be patient, and wait for me to approve your pingbacks, or you can just place your link in the comments section.

Here are the “rules”:

  • Post the lyrics to the song of your choice, whether it fits the theme or not.
  • Please try to include the songwriter(s) – it’s a good idea to give credit where credit is due.
  • Make sure you also credit the singer/band and if you desire you can provide a link to where you found the lyrics.
  • Link to the YouTube video, or pull it into your post so others can listen to the song.
  • Ping back to this post will eventually work, as long as you are being patient, but you can also place your link in the comments if you don’t like to wait.
  • Read at least one other person’s blog, so we can all share new and fantastic music and create amazing new blogging friends in the process.
  • Feel free to suggest future prompts.
  • Have fun and enjoy the music.

I am writing about the song ‘Let Me In’ written by Gene Crysler and sung by Porter Wagoner this week.  Next week I will write about the song ‘Stagger Lee’ by Lloyd Price.  The upcoming prompts will be:
June 23, 2019 – Cards/Dice/Gamble/Lose/Win
June 30, 2019 – Who/What/When/Where/Why/How
July 7, 2019 – Zodiac animals those being a Rat/Ox/Tiger/Rabbit/Dragon/Snake/Horse/Sheep/Monkey/Rooster/Dog/Pig
July 14, 2019 – Haunted/Magic/Mystery/Supernatural/Trick

Strange Lyrics

‘Roadhouse Blues’ by the Doors is full of mondegreens, or misunderstand lyrics, mostly because Jim Morrison liked to sing this song when he got drunk.  The Doors took their name from a book written by Aldous Huxley in 1954 called The Doors of Perception that discussed his experiences with psychoactive agents; its title was an allusion to Blake’s 1790 work The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, which contained the quote “If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is: infinite.”  Ray Manzarek said, “There are things you know about, and things you don’t, the known and the unknown, and in between are the doors—that’s us.”

The Doors recorded ‘Alabama Song’, which is also known as ‘Moon of Alabama’, aka ‘Moon over Alabama’ and ‘Whisky Bar’, and this is an English version of a song written by Bertolt Brecht and translated from German by his close collaborator Elisabeth Hauptmann in 1925 and set to music by Kurt Weill for the 1927 play Little Mahagonny.  Jim Morrison sings, “Oh show me the way to the next whiskey bar, Oh don’t ask why” and by the time Jim died he was drinking two to three bottles of whiskey every day.  He preferred Jack Daniel’s, but he wasn’t exactly picky, as he also drank Chivas Regal Scotch whiskey or Bourbon, but he also liked his beer.  One thing for sure is that whatever Morrison was drinking, he drank a lot of it and supposedly he died with a bottle of Bushmills whiskey in his hand.  When you consider all the cigarettes he smoked along with the weed, acid and cocaine that he consumed, it is a wonder that he lived as long as he did.

Jim Morrison wrote the lyrics for ‘Roadhouse Blues’ when he was inebriated and it is the first song on the Morrison Hotel album.  This has been called “the ultimate bar song”, because it sounds like a rowdy party.  The Topanga Corral a windowless nightclub nestled deep in the canyon, will forever be remembered as the place that featured an eclectic mix of performers like Canned Heat, Spirit, Linda Ronstadt, Little Feat, Taj Mahal, Emmy Lou Harris, Etta James, Neil Young and Spanky and Our Gang who all played there and it is rumored that Jim Morrison wrote ‘Roadhouse Blues’ about this place.  In order to get to this club you had to take Topanga Canyon Boulevard, which is full of twists and turns, thus you really did need to “keep your eyes on the road, your hand upon the wheel.”  Morrison brought his girlfriend, Pamela Courson who was born in Weed, California and died from a heroin overdose in 1974, with him to the club.  This could be what provided the line, “In back of the Roadhouse they got some bungalows.”

The Doors consisted of vocalist Jim Morrison, keyboardist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore.  John Sebastian from the Lovin’ Spoonful played harmonica on this song.  He is identified on the album as “G. Puglese”, because he didn’t want his name associated with The Doors at this time, because Morrison had just been arrested for exposing himself to the crowd at a concert in Miami.  Lonnie Mack a pioneer in rock guitar soloing, a talented regional roadhouse player that became known for launching the modern guitar era, played bass on this song.  The Doors usually did not use a bass player and they felt that the lack of a bass guitarist freed up sonic space and helped them distinguish their sound from other late ‘60s bands.

I don’t think that anyone can explain the strange lyrics that Morrison sings in this song.  “You gotta beep a gunk a chucha, Honk konk konk, You gotta each you puna, Each ya bop a luba, Each yall bump a kechonk, Ease sum konk, Ya, ride.”  Many people think that this has something to do with eating tuna, but I have found that most people will leave me alone if I repeat these lyrics to them.  Some versions of the lyrics say, “Ashen-Lady” while others say “Passionate Lady” and that is what I am going with because it fits the prompt.  The video that I have says “Ashen-Lady”, but I can’t figure out who would bring a sheep to a concert.

Ah keep your eyes on the road,
Your hands upon the wheel.
Keep your eyes on the road
Your hands upon the wheel.
Yeah, we’re going to the roadhouse,
Gonna have a real good-time.

Yeah, the back of the roadhouse,
They’ve got some bungalows.
Yeah, the back of the roadhouse,
They’ve got some bungalows.

They dance for the people
Who like to go down slow.

Let it roll, baby, roll.
Let it roll, baby, roll.
Let it roll, baby, roll.
Let it roll, all night long.

Do it, Robby, Do it!

You gotta roll, roll, roll,
You gotta thrill my soul, alright.
Roll, roll, roll, roll-a
Thrill my soul.

You gotta beep a gunk a chucha,
Honk konk konk,
You gotta each you puna,
Each ya bop a luba,
Each yall bump a kechonk,
Ease sum konk, Ya, ride
Passionate Lady.
Passionate Lady.
Give up your vows.
Give up your vows.
Save our city.
Save our city.
Ah, right now.

Well, I woke up this morning
And I got myself a beer.
Well, I woke up this morning
And I got myself a beer.

The future’s uncertain
And the end is always near.

Let it roll, baby, roll.
Let it roll, baby, roll.
Let it roll, baby, roll.
Let it roll, all night long.

Written for Song Lyric Sunday prompt Desire/Lust/Romance/Passion.

The Moon Is Part Of Mars

What does that have to do with the price of tea in China?  This is just a retort to an irrelevant suggestion, but I need to write about something, so that everyone knows that it is time for another edition of Song Lyric Sunday.  It may have something to do with the goods that the US purchases from Mexico and although I am not sure if tariffs were raised on the tea coming from China, many other items are going up in price.  The internet has several sites that allow you to search song lyrics and probably not too far in the future, there will be sites that actually will write song lyrics for you.  Last week it was decided by the majority of participants that there is no interest in calling dibs on a song, so we won’t be taking that road.

Our prompt for this week is Desire/Lust/Romance/Passion is something that I think will produce a lot of smoking hot music.  I am certain that this category will work for everyone.  Try to find a song that fits the prompt, then write your post and please be patient, and wait for me to approve your pingbacks, or you can just place your link in the comments section.

Here are the “rules”:

  • Post the lyrics to the song of your choice, whether it fits the theme or not.
  • Please try to include the songwriter(s) – it’s a good idea to give credit where credit is due.
  • Make sure you also credit the singer/band and if you desire you can provide a link to where you found the lyrics.
  • Link to the YouTube video, or pull it into your post so others can listen to the song.
  • Ping back to this post will eventually work, as long as you are being patient, but you can also place your link in the comments if you don’t like to wait.
  • Read at least one other person’s blog, so we can all share new and fantastic music and create amazing new blogging friends in the process.
  • Feel free to suggest future prompts.
  • Have fun and enjoy the music.

I am writing about the song ‘Roadhouse Blues’ by The Doors this week. Next week I will write about the song ‘Let Me In’ by Porter Wagoner.  The upcoming prompts will be:
June 16, 2019 – Dad/Father/Barbecue
June 23, 2019 – Cards/Dice/Gamble/Lose/Win
June 30, 2019 – Who/What/When/Where/Why/How
July 7, 2019 – Zodiac animals those being a Rat/Ox/Tiger/Rabbit/Dragon/Snake/Horse/Sheep/Monkey/Rooster/Dog/Pig

Terminally Pretty

A girl who is drop dead gorgeous is considered to be terminally pretty.  Most humans like to know if they are doing a good job, or not when they are with their partner and as long as nobody ever files an official complaint about their abilities, then they can convince themselves that they are good in bed.  Glenn Frey said that he was riding shotgun in a Corvette with a drug dealer on the way to Vegas to play poker and the next thing he knew, they were doing 90, which made him paranoid, because he had drugs on him.  He said to the driver, “Hey man!”, who grinned and goes, “Life in the fast lane!”  Glen knew, “Now there’s a song title.”  Joe Walsh helped write the song ‘Life in the Fast Lane’ with Don Henley and Glenn Frey for their Hotel California album.  It went to #11 on the charts in 1976.

The Eagles never broke up, they just took a fourteen-year vacation.  Don Henley said that with ‘Life in the Fast Lane’, they were trying to paint a picture that cocaine wasn’t all that great of a drug.  It turns you on, but it also messes you up and makes you paranoid.  This song is a metaphor about being engaged in a lifestyle that is pleasure-driven, which becomes very risky behavior, because this brutally handsome and ruthless dude and his deadly beautiful woman are living on the edge with danger around every corner.  This lifestyle may be alluring to some, but it really needs to come with a warning, as when there are lines on the mirror, this will probably lead to you getting lines on your face, because this drug takes a toll on your body.  The Eagles formed in Los Angeles, a city renown for people getting caught up in a lifestyle of excess.

Joe Walsh said that when he joined the Eagles replacing Bernie Leadon that they were looking for some song writing input from him.  One night Joe was in his dressing room getting ready for a show, and he began playing this one lick that he liked to play over and over as part of warming up, mostly because it’s really a hard lick to play.  Don Henley came in and said, “What the hell is that?”  He went and got Glenn Frey and Joe played it for them.  They asked if that was his and he said, “Yeah.”  They said, “Well, there’s our Joe Walsh Eagles song!”  Don and Glenn, but mostly Don, put the words together, and Glenn kind of arranged it.

Hotel California was the fifth studio album by the Eagles and it featured two number 1 songs, ‘New Kid in Town’ and ‘Hotel California’, which each won Grammy awards.  This album won record of the year and it became the third best-selling U.S. album in history, and it has recently been certified 26-times Platinum by the RIAA.  The best-selling album in US history is also by the Eagles, a compilation being Their Greatest Hits 1971 – 1975, which sold 38 million copies and Michael Jackson comes in second with his Thriller that sold 33 million records.  Drummer Don Henley sang lead vocals on this song.  All five of the Eagles sang on Hotel California and Glenn Frey played guitars and keyboards, Joe Walsh played guitars and keyboards, Don Felder played guitars and Randy Meisner played bass and the guitarrón (a big Mexican guitar).

The Eagles sold more albums than any other band in the history of music while also winning six Grammy Awards and recording five different number one singles.  The Eagles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.  At the age of 67, founding member Glenn Frey died on January 18, 2016 caused by rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis, pneumonia and quite possibly from living his life too much in the fast lane.

He was a hard-headed man he was brutally handsome
And she was terminally pretty
She held him up and he held her for ransom
In the heart of the cold, cold city
He had a nasty reputation as a cruel dude
They said he was ruthless said he was crude
They had one thing in common: they were good in bed
She’d say, “Faster, faster. The lights are turning red”

Life in the fast lane
Surely make you lose your mind
Life in the fast lane, yeah

Eager for action and hot for the game
The coming attraction, the drop of a name
They knew all the right people
They took all the right pills
They threw outrageous parties
They paid heavenly bills
There were lines on the mirror, lines on her face
She pretended not to notice she was caught up in the race
Out every evenin’ until it was light
He was too tired to make it
She was too tired to fight about it

Life in the fast lane
Surely make you lose your mind
Life in the fast lane
Life in the fast lane
Everything all the time
Life in the fast lane

Blowin’ and burnin’, blinded by thirst
They didn’t see the stop sign
Took a turn for the worst
She said, “Listen, baby
You can hear the engine ring
We’ve been up and down this highway
Haven’t seen a god-damn thing”
He said, “Call the doctor
I think I’m gonna crash”
“The doctor say he’s coming but you gotta pay in cash”
They were rushing down that freeway
Messed around and got lost
They didn’t care, they were just dyin’ to get off

And it was life in the fast lane
Surely make you lose your mind
Life in the fast lane
Life in the fast lane
Everything all the time
Life in the fast lane

Life in the fast lane
Life in the fast lane

Written for Song Lyric Sunday prompt Avenue/Boulevard/Drive/Lane/Road/Street.