4 “The Drunkard’s Special” by Coley Jones


December 4, 2008 by gadaya

Coley Jones’s World

One of the interesting aspect of Harry Smith’s Anthology is that it didn’t classified the perfomers in terms of race or ethnic groups. Before that, the recording industry always made really distinct catalogues, each one destinate to a particular ethnic group. You had “race records” for african-americans, “hilbilly” for whites of the southern mountains, italian, jewish, irish catalogues, etc… In their efforts to sell records to every american citizen, they documented for posterity  really diverse ethnic musical traditions that were sometimes dying out in their own countries (Ireland,for example, where the revival of irish music was strongly influenced by the recordings of irish musicians in the 20’s and 30’s in America).

So, in 1952, when the Anthology came out, there was no information in the handbook to tell the listener if the musicians were black or white (apart from the cajun tracks, Harry Smith didn’t include any other ethnic groups). And then, for many years, as Smith pointed out, people were conviced that Mississippi John Hurt was a hillbilly! I admit myself that it took me a while to realise that Coley Jones was a black musician… When we look at his repertoire, we can see he was more of a songster than a bluesman. He performed songs and tunes from the ministrel show tradition, and his band, the Dallas String Band, played many popular tunes of the day.

-You can go here for more informations about Coley Jones and The Dallas String Band.

-I’ve compiled all the tracks that i have by Coley Jones, his duets with Bobbie Cadillac and the superb ones by the Dallas String Band.

COLEY JONES6a00c22524bc0a549d00c2252c77548fdb

1.Drunkard’s Special

2.Army man in no man’s land

3.Travelling Man

4.Drunkard’s Special

5.The Elder is my man


6.Listen Everybody


8.I can’t stand that

9.He throws that thing


10.Dallas Rag

11.Sweet mama Blues

12.So Tired

13.Hokum Blues

14.Chasin’ Rainbows

15.I used to call her baby


17.Sugar Blues



The Drunkard’s Special Variations

Regarding what i said above about racial separations, it’s interesting to note that this song or one his variants is sung equally by whites or blacks. Apparently, the subject of the drunken fool is an universal one… You can find these song under many names: Four nights drunk, Three nights drunk, (The Irish version is called “Seven Drunken Nights”!!!), Cabbage head, etc…and they all comes from the English “Child Ballad” called “Our Goodman”.

Here’s the original story: “A man returns home to find evidence that his wife has a lover there: a horse, a sword, a wig, etc, up to finding the lover. His wife makes absurd claims: the horse is a sow, the sword is a porridge-spurtle, the wig is a clocken-hen, the lover is a milk-maid. Her husband says that he never saw a sow with a saddle, a porridge-spurtle with silver handles, a clocken-hen with powder, or a milk-maid with a beard.” Or, in Harry Smith’s newspaper style from the handbook: “”Wife’s Logic Fails to Explain Strange Bedfellow to Drunkard”

-I’ve tried to make a fun-to-listen compilation and included string band, traditionnal, rythm-and-blues, Irish pub and contemporary versions and ended with Wendy Grossman’s up-to-date version where she explain what’s called “the folk process”…

Track listing:

1.Cabbagehead,  Jim Krause, from “Going Up the Missouri: Songs & Dance Tunes from Old Fort Osa”

2.Intoxicated Rat, Doc Watson, from “Doc Watson first album”

3.Cabbage Head – Part 1, Tom Archia, from “1947-1948 recordings”

4.Cabbage Head – Part 2,Tom Archia

5.Our Goodman -Child 274, Ewan MacColl, from “The English and Scottish Popular Ballads: Vol. 1”

6.Three nights Experience, Earl Johnson, from  “Earl Johnson Vol. 1 1927”

7.Three Nights Drunk, Gid Tanner & Riley Puckett, from “Serenade The Mountains: Early Old Time Music On Record, CD C”

8.Cabbage head song, Bill Livers, from the “Digital Library of Appalachia”

9.Wake Up Baby, Sonny Boy Williamson, from “A Ray Of Sonny, Vol. 2”

10.Four nights drunk, Sheila K. Adams, from the “Digital Library of Appalachia”

11.Four nights drunk, Jenes Cottrell, from the “Digital Library of Appalachia”

12.Our Goodman or Old Cuckold , John Jacob Niles, from “My Precarious Life In The Public Domain”

13.The Goodman, Kate Rusby, from “Underneath the Stars”

14.Seven Drunken Nights, The Dubliners, from “The Dubliners”

15.Cabbage Head,, Ruth Brown, from “A Good Day for the Blues”

16.Four Nights Drunk, Steeleye Span, from “Ten Man Mop Or Mr. Resevoir Butler Rides Again”

17.Four Nights Drunk, Wendy Grossman, from her Website

ENJOY (in moderation)


UPDATE LINKS: I re-post two of the songs from the above compilation because they were protected files from my ITUNES library

The Goodman, Kate Rusby MP3

-Cabbage Head, Ruth Brown MP3


-I’ll end up with this great performance of “The Drunkard’s Special” by The Wiyos live at Caffe Lena


15 thoughts on “4 “The Drunkard’s Special” by Coley Jones

  1. kami says:

    coley jones – great stuff – really lovin’ this blog and the world its opening up for me… keep it up mate

  2. tony says:

    The Dixon Brothers also recorded Intoxicated Rat, as a 78 not sure of the year…

  3. Barak says:

    Thank you so much.

  4. Barak says:

    It is intresting to know that there is a bass on that string band most blues string bands I know don’t have.

  5. Barak says:

    Can you please post andrew and jim baxter

  6. Barak says:

    Thank you

  7. brother mike says:


    great these ya got going on here, can you please re-upload the coley Jones stuff again..id be very greatfull

  8. brother mike says:

    can ya please re-up the Coley jones stuff,
    its very hard to find and is great for a blues mandolin player dreams.
    thanks in advance
    brother Mike

  9. gadaya says:

    Hi Mike, for me the download link to the zip file is working. What kind of problem do you have?

  10. […] 26, 2008 by gadaya -I reposted two songs from “The Drunkard’s Special Variations” that were protected files from my ITUNES […]

  11. Toby says:

    I love this song and I love this site. Thank you so so much, I really can’t convey how important it is to me.

  12. mona says:

    Hello. Your website is real cool, you’ve got some nice information down here. I was wodering if you could please help me with something. I need this sing’s chords and lyrics, and can’t find’em on the internet. By any chance would you have’em? I’m trying to compile a nice pretty anthology of american folk music songbook for my boyfriend as a gift (he loves it so much I thought he’d like it). Thanks! (btw sorry about the not so perfect english haha)

  13. mona says:

    hi. me again. man, this is precious. just found the anthology lyrics link. some songs, such as coley jones’ are missing though. 😦 If you could help me with those I’d be real glad. thanks

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