Monday, July 4, 2011

An All American Trilogy... Boy

"Uncle Sam needs you, Boy

I'm a gonna cut your hair off

Take this rifle, Kid

Gimme that gui-tar


Today, on the 4th of July, when we Americans do what we do to celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence (eat meat, drink beer, and blow shit up), let us pause and reflect on the glory that is "The All American Boy."

In 1958, when Bobby Bare was about be inducted into the Army and his pal Bill Parsons was returning from his own call to duty, they teamed up with a forty year old drifter of Irish and Cherokee descent named Orville Lunsford and recorded a one-off demo talking blues called "The All American Boy" at Syd Nathan's King Studios in Cincinnati along with a Parsons original, "Rubber Dolly."

There are many versions of this story, and it's hard to tell what's what. But what we do know is that these two recordings were released as a single on the Fraternity label, and Bare, who had allegedly said that he didn't want his name on the record, got his wish. When the single came out it was credited to Bill Parsons on both sides. The songwriting credit for "The All American Boy went to Parsons and Lunsford, and unbeknownst to Bare who was then overseas, it raced up the charts to #2 a few months later.

Many thought the track to be about Elvis who had also been inducted into the Army, but it was more than likely an autobiographical joke that Bare improvised before he shipped off. Parsons, with a hit on his hands, was touring for Bare's record, including a spot in early 1959 on Buddy Holly's final tour, The Winter Dance Party, where Cricket Waylon Jennings heard Parsons rehearsing one day and asked if that was him on the record. "No, he's in the Army now." When, Bare was discharged, we went on to record a sequel "I'm Hanging Up My Rifle," and later, a third variation, "Brooklyn Bridge," making it a trilogy of sorts.

Mickey Newbury's "An American Trilogy" is an arrangement of two Civil War songs and a folk ballad. Elvis used it as a grand finale to finish his shows in his later years, and it is the staple of every fat Elvis Impersonator's repertoire. What's more American than that?

Happy Independence Day, Folks...


"All American Boy" mp3
by Bobby Bare, 1958.
available on Singles (1959-1969)

"I'm Hangin' Up My Rifle" mp3
by Bobby Bare, 1960.
available on All American Rock 'n' Roll: The Fraternity Story Vol 2

"Brooklyn Bridge" mp3
by Bobby Bare, 1963.
available on Detroit City


"All American Boy" mp3
by Grandpa Jones, 1959.
available on Country Music Hall of Fame

"All American Boy" mp3
by Bob Dylan and The Band, 1967.
available on The Genuine Basement Tapes


"An American Trilogy" mp3
by Mickey Newbury, 1971.
available on Frisco Mabel Joy


"Dixie" mp3
by Bob Dylan, 2003.
available on Masked & Anonymous

"Glory Hallelujah" mp3
by Furry Lewis with Lee Baker Jr, 1969.
available on Take Your Time

"All My Trials" mp3
by Dave Van Ronk, 1957.
available on The Mayor of MacDougal Street: Rarities 1957-69



plasticsun said...

Great post - thanks

Anonymous said...

thank you.

dj ny said...

Bobby Dare tracks have such a nice sound, thanks for sharing.