Folk music or roots music is a marginal musical category in today’s commercial world. Every couple of years a movie like O Brother, Where Art Thou? or Llewyn Davis comes along to spark some interest in bluegrass and folk music, but generally the music industry doesn’t “push” the old stuff. Au contraire here at Bumbastories! We love the old songs, and we keep singing ’em! Maybe some one out there will like them. Maybe someone will join in. Maybank and I were playing the other day so….
Frankie and Johnny is a genuine American folk classic. It’s been sung for generations. People like the song title Frankie and Johnny, maybe because Frankie is a girl and Johnny a guy, or just maybe because it features a saucy story of love, jealousy, and murder. There are numerous pizza shops and other commercial establishments called Frankie and Johnny apparently because it just sounds nice. It was the also title of a neat little 1991 movie with Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer (Michelle plays Frankie). I learned the song years ago from a Mae West record. Mae West, if you’re not familiar with her, was an early Hollywood sex symbol who said “Too much of a good thing is fabulous”. She also posed the philosophical question “Is that a pickle in your pocket, or are you glad to see me?”
And here’s another folksong, Catch the Wind, played last night by Bumba and Maybank – and written back in the 60’s by Donovan Leitch, who wrote some real good ones and has been playing fine folk music his entire life. Hurray for Donovan. And three cheers for Mae West!