Gotta Travel On


Original Version:
Paul Clayton

Done laid around, done stayed around
This old town too long
Summer's almost gone, winter's coming on
Done laid around, done stayed around
This old town too long
And it seems like I've got to travel on
And it seems like I've got to travel on.

Papa writes to Johnny, "Johnny, can't you come home ?
Johnny, can't you come home ? Johnny, can't you come home ?"
Papa writes to Johnny, "Johnny, can't you come home ?"
Johnny's been out on the road too long
Done laid around, done stayed around
This old town too long
And it seems like I've got to travel on
And it seems like I've got to travel on.

That silly wind will soon begin and I'll be on my way
Going home to stay, going home to stay
That silly wind will soon begin and I'll be on my way
And I feel like I just want to travel on
Done laid around, done stayed around
This old town too long
And it seems like I've got to travel on
And it seems like I've got to travel on.

There's a lonesome freight at 6.08 coming through the town
I'll be homward bound, I'll be homeward bound
There's a lonesome freight at 6.08 coming through the town
And I feel like I just want to travel on
Done laid around, done stayed around
This old town too long
And it seems like I've got to travel on
And it seems like I've got to travel on.

Specifications

  • Writer(s): P. Clayton, L. Ehrlich, D. Lazar and T. Six

  • (First) Album Release: Self Portrait
  • Recording date: 1970
  • Released: 1970

paul claytonweaversThe origin of ‘Gotta Travel On’ can be traced back to the 19th century. Both the song’s title and the lyrics changed over the years. It was known under the title ‘Yonder Comes the High Sheriff’ in 1891, but back then it was also known as ‘I've Laid Around and Played Around’ (a part of today's chorus). Supposedly the first recording of the song, by Ollis Martin (vocals / harmonica) dates back to August 6, 1927 and was titled ‘Police & High Sheriff Come’ (Gennett Records # 6306), registered in the American Songbag. The lyrics of the bluessong were referring to the fraud in gambling ("skin games") which was common and popular practice in Georgia and throughout the southern United States in Blues bars. This was followed on September 19, 1927 by the first cover version from the Aiken County String Band as ‘High Sheriff’ (Okeh Records # 45219).
 
The same melody, but with a completely different text was taken up by Crockett Ward & his Boys (recorded on 26 September 1927 as ‘Deadheads and Suckers’, Okeh 45179), Prairie Ramblers (February 21, 1935; as ‘Big Ball in Texas’, Vocalion 02918), Monroe Brothers (February 27, 1936; as ‘My Long Journey Home’, Blue Bird B6422) and the Delmore Brothers (January 26, 1938; as ‘Big Ball in Texas’, Bluebird B7560). These are all based on the song ‘Long Journey Home’, which uses the same tune, but has completely different lyrics.
 
It took, however, more than 30 years before the song was taken up again with its original text. When Sanga Music Inc. obtained copyright in early 1959, folksingers Paul Clayton, Larry Ehrlich (pseudonym of Lee Hays), David Lazar (Pete Seeger) and Tom Six (Fred Hellerman) were registered as composers. Hays, Seeger and Hellerman were members of the folk group The Weavers. Folksinger Pete Seeger selected the song under the title ‘Done Laid Around’ for the album Hootenanny at Carnegie Hall (recorded live at Carnegie Hall on February 22, 1958 Folkways Records #FN 2512; 1960).

wikipedia compUnless otherwise noted all information about composers was gathered from Wikipedia.

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