James Booker : Good Night Irene
Ry Cooder : Goodnight Irene
Sensational Alex Harvey Band : Goodnight Irene
There were three major recordings of the Leadbelly classic, "Goodnight Irene", in 1976. Made famous by The Weavers, who hit #1 in 1950 with a sanitized version, the song is full of suicidal fantasies like"sometimes I take a great notion/ to jump in the river and drown". Leadbelly performed the original version while incarcerated at Angola ( Louisiana State Prison).
The first version is from James Booker's classic Junco Partner, which is mostly recorded by Booker alone in a New Orleans studio with the legendary Joe Boyd producing.
On his terrific 1976 album, Chicken Skin Music, Ry Cooder delivers "Goodnight Irene" in the more traditional 3/4 time with San Antonio's Flaco Jimenez on accordion.
Our final version comes from The Sensational Alex Harvey Band's Penthouse Tapes, a collection of hard partying covers ( including The Osmonds' "Crazy Horses") performed mostly tongue-in-cheek. Harvey scratched out some thoughts on each song for the liner notes.
Of "Goodnight Irene" he wrote "written by the immortal Huddy Ledbetter--wrote it he did in jail for the Governor's daughter- gave him an immediate pardon-don't believe me ask your history teacher- if he don't know find another school".
Keith Moon in rare form on this date in 1976.