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Frankie and Johnny/Leaving Home

My source for this song is the 1926 recording by Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers, Leaving Home. However, it's basically the old jazz and blues tune Frankie and Johnny, with an added jocular chorus.

The tablature follows the twelve bar sequence for the verse, which is repeated. The first time round it's a kind of sketchy syncopated melody, the sort of break which a fiddler might improvise. Notice that the first beat is silent - if you're not aware of this the MIDI playback may sound a bit confusing. The second time round the mandolin uses some bluegrassy melodic licks plus a bit of Monroe style blues. In bar 18 there is a quarter-tone bend on the E flat (second string 6th fret) a la John Duffey. Play not too fast, with swing, half-note beat = approx 102 bpm.

There is quite a lot of information on the web about Charlie Poole's recording of Leaving Home. You can hear the track on the County CD Old Time Songs Recorded from 1925 to 1930, Vol 1 Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers. It was also available until recently on a nice Columbia double CD anthology entitled White Country Blues 1926-1938. This was a bargain price CD in the UK, and is worth looking out for - there may still be some copies in the shops. It includes another version of Frankie by Tom Darby and Jimmie Tarlton, entitled Frankie Dean.

You can find the words and musical notation of the melody of Leaving Home (though in the key of G) at Digital Tradition.


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