Wednesday, October 4, 2017

True Stories: Frankie and Albert


purchase [the Taj version]

Back when I was first learning how to play on stage, one night a friend of mine showed up with a friend of his and they played an impromptu version of Frankie and Albert. My guitar playing friend was good enough to manage on a one-man show. His friend, no less - he covered the rhythm section on a book - beating on the cover with a pencil and slapping it closed from time to time.
This is that kind of a song - so down to the "roots" that that all it needs to get its message across is the basics, and the story itself.

The provenance of the song appears to be muddy: credited to Bill Dooley and then Hughie Cannon and then made famous by Mississippi John Hurt, Leadbelly and [phew] ... go check the excellent and extensive link from planetslade below.

It's been covered all over the place - maybe best by Taj Mahal.

But is it a True Story? What is it's historical basis?
The song goes back to the early days of the blues, so I always assumed it must be based on some true account. The story is too elemental not to be so: the story of how he done her wrong ...

The panetslade site seems to have a pretty complete coverage of the history. They sez that the song about Frankie and Albert and the song Stagger Lee have tended to get mixed together - both based on <True Stories>. Do see the site by clicking the link above for their informative and entertaining details. It's extensive.

Some alternative versions

Jim Kweskin and Frank Muldaur above

Mr Harold Allen below


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