Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Seven Examples Of "Where Did You Sleep Last Night" (also known as "in The Pines" & "Black Girl")

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part II of a two part series about the song "In The Pines"(also known as "Where Did You Sleep Last Night" and "Black Girl").

Part II showcases seven YouTube examples of "Where Did You Sleep Last Night". Some information about this song is included in the description for the #2 example given below. Selected comments from one of these example's discussion threads are also included in this post.

Click for Part I of this series. Part I presents information and comments about "In The Pines". The 1926 Dock Walsh lyrics for this song are also included in this post.

The content of this post is presented for historical, folkloric, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to the composers of this song. Thanks also to all those who are featured in these examples and thanks to the publishers of these examples on YouTube.

Hat tip to Joseph Scott for writing a comment for an earlier pancocojams post* that inspired me to edit and publish this series. Joseph Scott's comment (which I took the liberty to quote below in this comment thread) mentions "Big Boy" Crudup - "Where Did You Stay Last Night" -given below as Example #E7 - and a few other early Rock and Roll songs.

* Three Recordings Of "Rock The Joint" by Jimmy Preston, Chris Powell, & Bill Haley

These examples are presented in chronological order by their publishing date with the oldest dated example given first.

Example #1: Leadbelly - Where Did you Sleep Last Night

The Grunge Rock Guru Uploaded on Oct 31, 2007

This is the song that Mark Lanegan and Nirvana covered. It is not a Nirvana song, or a Mark Lanegan song. It is a traditional song that Leadbelly was the first to record it. Lanegan and Cobain heard it and loved it.
Click for an earlier pancocojams post about Lead Belly's version of "Where Did You Sleep Last Night".

Example #2: Nirvana - Where Did You Sleep Last Night? (Unplugged Version)

nirvanawire, Uploaded on Jul 10, 2009

Here are some facts/reviews about "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?" from Wikipedia:

"In the Pines", also known as "Black Girl" and "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?", is a traditional American folk song which dates back to at least the 1870s, and is believed to be Southern Appalachian in origin. The identity of the song's author is unknown, but it has been recorded by dozens of artists in numerous genres. A 1993 acoustic version by Nirvana introduced the song to many people at the end of the twentieth century. Kurt Cobain attributed authorship to Lead Belly, who had recorded the song several times, beginning in 1944, but the version performed by Lead Belly and covered by Nirvana does not differ substantially from other variants of the song. Most versions of this song are performed in 6/8 time.

Like numerous other folk songs, "Where Did You Sleep Last Night" was passed on from one generation and locale to the next by word of mouth. The first printed version of the song, compiled by Cecil Sharp, appeared in 1917, and comprised just four lines and a melody. The lines are: Black girl, black girl, don't lie to me Where did you stay last night? I stayed in the pines where the sun never shines And shivered when the cold wind blows

In 1925, a version of the song was recorded onto phonograph cylinder by a folk collector. This was the first documentation of "The Longest Train" variant of the song. This variant include a stanza about "The longest train I ever saw". "The Longest Train" stanzas probably began as a separate song that later merged into "Where Did You Sleep Last Night". Lyrics in some versions about "Joe Brown's coal mine" and "the Georgia line" may date it to Joseph E. Brown, a former Governor of Georgia, who famously leased convicts to operate coal mines in the 1870s. While early renditions that mention that someone's "head was found in the driver's wheel" make clear that the train caused the decapitation, some later versions would drop the reference to the train and reattribute the cause. Music historian Norm Cohen, in his 1981 book "Long Steel Rail: The Railroad in American Folksong," states the song came to consist of three frequent elements: a chorus about "in the pines", a stanza about "the longest train" and a stanza about a decapitation, though not all elements are present in all versions.[1]

Starting the year following the 1925 recording, commercial recordings of the song were done by various folk and bluegrass bands. In a 1970 dissertation, Judith McCulloh found 160 permutations of the song. As well as rearrangement of the three frequent elements, the person who goes into the pines or who is decapitated has been described as a man, a woman, an adolescent, a wife, a husband or a parent, while the pines have represented sexuality, death or loneliness. The train has been described killing a loved one, as taking one's beloved away or as leaving an itinerant worker far from home.[1]

In variants in which the song describes a confrontation, the person being challenged is always a woman, and never a man. The Kossoy Sisters folk version asks, "Little girl, little girl, where'd you stay last night? Not even your mother knows." The reply to one version's "Where did you get that dress, and those shoes that are so fine?" is "from a man in the mines, who sleeps in the pines."[1] The theme of a woman who has been caught doing something she should not is thus also common to many variants. One variant, sang in the early twentieth century by the Ellison clan (Ora Ellison, deceased) in Lookout Mountain Georgia, told of the rape of a young Georgia girl, who fled to the pines in shame. Her rapist, a male soldier, was later beheaded by the train. Mrs. Ellison had stated that it was her belief that the song was from the time shortly after the U.S. Civil War."

Example #3: King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band:- "Where Did You Stay Last Night?" (1923)

JoolyOTR, Uploaded on May 1, 2010

Example #4: LIGHTNIN' HOPKINS ~ Where Did You Stay Last Night

3006khz, Uploaded on Jan 26, 2011

Example #5: Pink Anderson - Mama Where Did You Stay Last Night

Good Time Music Uploaded on Mar 26, 2011

Pinkney "Pink" Anderson (February 12, 1900 -- October 12, 1974) was a blues singer and guitarist, born in Laurens, South Carolina.
selected comments from this example's discussion thread:

honkydudeman, 2014
"this is where leadbelly got it from,,,,,,,cushty"

Joop Jansen, 2015
"+honkydudeman No Pink Anderson recorded this in 1961, so he go it from Leadbelly. Joop greets"

Thdxbll3, 2015
"+Joop Jansen There are a hundred variations on this song, which goes back to the late 19th century. To say one artist got it from another isn't quite accurate. Arthur Crudup does a great version, too -- which I'm pretty sure he was playing back in the '40s."

Joop Jansen, 2015
"+Thdxbll3 You're absolutely right. In fact there are much older versions; Dock Walsh in 1926 already sang "In The Pines""

Example #6: Eddie Burns Where Did You Stay Last Night (1951)

randomandrare, Published on Nov 19, 2013

I do not own the copyright to this recording. This video is for historical and educational purposes only.

Eddie Burns:Vocals & Harmonica

Example #7: Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup - Where Did You Stay Last Night

daddynap, Published on Apr 28, 2014

RCA Victor 1951 B/W Love Me Mama,Arthur Crudup (Guitar/Voc),Ransom Knowling (Bass), Judge Riley (Drums)

This concludes Part II of this series.

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.

1 comment:

  1. Here's a comment that was sent into the discussion section for an earlier pancocojams post entitled "Three Recordings Of "Rock The Joint" by Jimmy Preston, Chris Powell, & Bill Haley"

    Joseph Scott, March 20, 2015 at 3:53 PM

    "Hi Azizi,

    Thanks for quoting my comments about early rock and roll. The way many writers of the '60s-'70s and on artificially contrived to imagine the rock and roll sound not being possible without white contributions, somehow (not all explaining the supposed details nearly the same way), is a lasting embarrassment. Examples of writers who have written about early rock and roll far more sensibly are Morgan Wright and Nick Tosches. None of the known leaders or sidemen who recorded blues-form recordings about quote "rock"ing with prominent backbeat (such as Jimmy Preston and Wild Bill Moore) before mid-1949 was white. Zero percent. Elvis Presley said at his Sep. 2, 1957 press conference, “Rock and roll was around a long time before me, it was really rhythm and blues. I just got on the bandwagon with it.” Elvis was a music buff who knew music that sounded like Chris Powell's "Rock The Joint" and Jimmy Smith's "Rock That Boogie" (both 1949) long before many of his peers did. Two of the recordings that particularly show what kind of music Elvis, Scotty, and Bill imitated in 1954 (when, some writers would say, they were "inventing" rock and roll) are "Love My Baby" by Little Junior and "Where Did You Stay Last Night" by Arthur Crudup. "We're Gonna Rock This Joint" by the Jackson Brothers is from 1952, on RCA Victor, and so obviously sounds like late '50s rock and roll that it's ridiculous how many people have tried to imagine rock and roll as "starting" later than 1952."