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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Bob Coltman Lyr Req/Add: Poor Howard / Green Corn (Leadbelly) (30) Lyr Add: GANDY DANCER'S BALL (M Howard, P Weston) 16 Aug 07


Fascinating to see that alternate take of Green Corn with the "demijohn" verse. The version of Green Corn I first heard and always loved on one of Leadbelly's 1950s Stinson LPs didn't include that. Wonder if it was always part of the song, or was a separate play party song, and he just "borrowed it into" Green Corn that one time???

Clearly that's one place where composers Paul Weston and Paul Mason Howard got their inspiration for "The Gandy Dancers' Ball." Since Weston was sometime lyricist and arranger for the Weavers, and Howard was the wonderful zither duettist with Leadbelly on "Ella Speed," it was a natural. Zip! another 50s pop song with folk roots.

Re "stand around the jimmy-john" -- the Weavers, on their recording, seem to pronounce the word somewhere between there and "demijohn." Compare (hope this isn't too much thread creep for a thread that has already crept from Poor Howard to Green Corn):

^^ The Gandy Dancer's Ball

By Paul Mason Howard / Paul Weston. Recorded by the Weavers, Tennesee Ernie Ford and Frankie Laine in 1952.

GANDY DANCER'S BALL
(M Howard, P Weston)

Oh they danced on the ceiling
And they danced on the wall
At the Gandy Dancer's ball
Hey! Swing around, Swing around,
Swing around the Jimmy John
Swing around, Swing around
The Jimmy, Jimmy John
Swing around, Swing around
Swing around the Jimmy John
Swing the pretty girl round
The Jimmy, Jimmy John

The Gandy Dancer is a railroad man
And his work is never done
With his pick and his shovel and his willing hands
He makes the railroad run
There's Macanaw Mack and Toledo Jack
And the boys from Idaho
And the Frisco kid and Saginaw Sid
And good old Cotton-eyed Joe

Oh they danced on the ceiling
And they danced on the wall
At the Gandy Dancer's ball
Hey! Swing around, Swing around,
Swing around the Jimmy John
Swing around, Swing around
The Jimmy, Jimmy John
Swing around, Swing around
Swing around the Jimmy John
Swing the pretty girl round
The Jimmy, Jimmy John

The boys will gather at the great affair
The Gandy Dancer's ball
A-kissin' their ladies with perfumed hair
And prancin' round the hall
They got the biggest band in all the land
And the rhythm rocks the room
And they holler out with a mighty shout
When the big bass drum goes boom

Oh they danced on the ceiling
And they danced on the wall
At the Gandy Dancer's ball
Hey! Swing around, Swing around,
Swing around the Jimmy John
Swing around, Swing around
The Jimmy, Jimmy John
Swing around, Swing around
Swing around the Jimmy John
Swing the pretty girl round
The Jimmy, Jimmy John

The railroads bring `em to the great affair
The Gandy Dancer's ball
An' every line is represented there
The big ones and the small
There's the MKT and the old SP
And the Lee High Valley too
The C and J and the Santa Fe
The Southern and the Sioux

Oh they danced on the ceiling
And they danced on the wall
At the Gandy Dancer's ball
Hey! Swing around, Swing around,
Swing around the Jimmy John
Swing around, Swing around
The Jimmy, Jimmy John
Swing around, Swing around
Swing around the Jimmy John
Swing the pretty girl round
The Jimmy, Jimmy John

They danced all day
And they danced all night
They all danced till the broad daylight
At the Gandy Dancer's ball

(Swing around, swing around
Swing around, swing around
The Jimmy John)


(Transcribed by Bill Huntley - February 2005)


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