Stuff your bird tonight in The Roadhouse. Host Greg Vandy presents his annual “Thanksgiving Folk: Origins of the American Traditional Song,” where you’ll hear the evolution and variations of songs like “John Henry,” “Frankie & Johnny,” “Midnight Special,” and “In The Pines,” from their first recordings through the revival versions since. Plus, you’ll hear new versions of these songs from Live In-Studio performers like Sam Watts (Ghosts I’ve Met), Barton Carroll (Crooked Fingers), Levi Fuller, and Moe Provencher (Pelusa).
One of the songs Greg will feature on the show is “Stagger Lee” (also known as “Stagolee,” “Stackerlee,” “Stack O’Lee,” or “Stack-a-Lee”), which immortalizes the St. Louis carriage driver and pimp, Lee “Stag” Shelton, who on Christmas Eve in 1895 shot his friend Billy Lyons for taking the hat off his head. Over the next hundred years, the song was covered by hundreds of performers, from Mississippi River dock workers caught on tape by Alan Lomax to Lloyd Price, who made the Billboard charts with it in 1959, to Nick Cave, who amplified the violence on his 1996 album Murder Ballads. Here’s a sampling of the many variations, the likes of which you’ll here tonight on The Roadhouse:
Isley Brothers – “Stagger Lee”
Grateful Dead 03-24-93 ~ Stagger Lee
Nick Cave- Stagger Lee
Samuel L. Jackson – “Stack-O-Lee”
Lloyd Price – Stagger Lee (live in 2006!)