Jaypan fan

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Tue Dec 13 05:30:46 UTC 2005

I recently saw "Walk The Line", which prominently features the Johnny
Cash/June Carter duet "Jackson". One of June's verses goes:

 But they'll laugh at you in Jackson
 And I'll be dancin' on a pony keg
 They'll lead you 'round town like a scalded hound
 With your tail tucked between your legs
 Yeah, go to Jackson, you big-talkin' man
 And I'll be waitin' in Jackson, behind my Jaypan fan.

When I heard that I recalled Wilson Gray mentioning that his relatives
in Wake Co., North Carolina used the "Jaypan" pronunciation of

I don't think June Carter herself introduced "Jaypan" to the song --
Nancy Sinatra sang it the same way in her duet with Lee Hazlewood,
which I believe slightly predated the Cash-Carter version in 1967. (In
her rendition Sinatra actually sounds like she's saying "Jaypan plan",
which makes even less sense.)

The "Jaypan" pronunciation was probably due to songwriter Billy Edd
Wheeler -- born in West Virginia but with significant ties to North
Carolina (he attended Warren Wilson Junior College in Swannanoa, NC
and moved back to Swannanoa in 1963). So is "Jaypan" a Tarheelism?

The songwriting credits for "Jackson" seem to be in dispute, but it's
generally credited to Wheeler along with Jerry Leiber and/or Leiber's
then-wife Gaby Rodgers. In this interview Wheeler describes rewriting
his original version of the song with Leiber's help:


More on Wheeler here:


--Ben Zimmer

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