Junker/Junko/Junco Partner

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Sun Jan 20 23:58:12 UTC 2008

      I'm absolutely positive that it was Vic Damone, Ben. I've held
the 78 in my very own hands and played it a thousand times, trying to
decode what I heard as "eezobell la" and "lanky." Otherwise, my
experience has been the same as yours: no evidence of any kind exists
that Damone ever recorded this tune. Indeed, there once was a time
when there was no evidence on line that I could find that Damone or
anyone else had recorded even "Vagabond Shoes."

IAC, here go the story.

An old buddy and, eventually. high-school classmate (he was a year
ahead of me, educationally speaking), Gordon Sanford Robinson, set up
a pretend radio station, KGSR, of which he was the "DJ," in his
basement. As a consequence, he was able to con record companies into
supplying him with pre-releases. These pre-releases came in three
forms, two being non-standard:

1) a thin, single-sided, vinyl sample platter

2) a thicker, but still thinner-than-normal, double-sided, vinyl sample platter

3) the actual, standard, double-sided recording, the same as that
released later to retail outlets

The Damone recording was of type (2). When "Vagabond Shoes" went into
standard release (not having heard the song before it went public and
being no particular fan of Vic Damone, I'd never asked to hear
Gordon's sample) to real DJ's, I liked it and, of course, still
remember the words. When I happened to mention to Gordon that I was
pondering buying a copy of "Vagabond Shoes", as soon as I could get
$.75 together ("Vagabond Shoes" is now available from iTunes; a side
that cost $.75 a half-century ago costs only $.99 today? Something's
wrong!), he said, Don't bother. You can have that sample copy that I
have. The B side of Gordon's sample copy was "Junco Partner," which
I'd neither heard nor heard of, before. One day, I decided to listen
to it. The rest is history.

Since I've never seen the final release, till now I'd always assumed
that all copies of "Vagabond Shoes" had "Junco Partner" as the B side.
Had I gotten a legal, RIAA, store-bought copy, we wouldn't be here,
today. The only time that I would have heard "Junco Partner" would
have been once on Doctor Demento, who played the James Waynes version,
some time in the 'Seventies. Then I would have had no reason to pay
any attention to it, since it would have meant nothing to me and I was
talking to my girlfriend on the 'phone, in any case.


On Jan 20, 2008 1:14 PM, Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at babel.ling.upenn.edu> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Junker/Junko/Junco Partner
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On Jan 20, 2008 2:06 AM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > I was surprised to come across mention of this song in Linguist List.
> > Since this is pretty much a folk song, it has a wide variety of words.
> > So, FTHOI, I thought that I'd just throw some others into the pot. The
> > words below are the oldest that I know of, as I was able to understand
> > them from a lo-fi, ca.1949, 78rpm recording by Vic Damone, back in the
> > day. It was the B-side of "Vagabond Shoes."
> Wilson, are you sure Vic Damone recorded this? I haven't been able to
> find any mention of it. "Vagabond Shoes" was released in 1950 with "I
> Hadn't Anyone Till You" on the flip side (Mercury 5429). The earliest
> recorded version of "Junco Partner" I can find is from 1951, by James
> "Wee Willie" Wayne (b. James D. Waynes, c 1923, Texas). More on
> Wayne(s) here:
> http://www.blackcat.nl/references/messages/james_wayne.htm
> Richard Hayes and Louis Jordan both recorded the song in 1952.  I'm
> wondering if the version Wilson remembers might be the one by  Hayes,
> since he was a Brooklyn-born pop vocalist like Damone and also
> recorded for Mercury.
> (BTW, Champion Jack Dupree recorded "Junker Blues" in 1941, but it
> doesn't appear to be the same song.)
> --Ben Zimmer
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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