Goodnight Irene: Johnny Punish goes full rock on the #1 song from 1950

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I just released a modern cover of the #1 song in the USA for 1950 called GOODNIGHT IRENE. I did this cover in support of my newest classic car that I just purchased to restore.  It’s a 1950 Ford Custom, commonly known as the “Shoebox”.  I named the car “The Goodnight Irene” after this 1950s # 1 hit.   Now, the car is currently in my shop getting a complete makeover from top to bottom. It’s a long process; about 6 months.  But in the end, it will be a brand new beautiful piece of art.  My hope is that the rock cover of the song by the same name supports the car well.  So stay tuned for updates about the car.

This photo was taken the day I acquired The Goodnight Irene, my 1950 Ford Custom with a V8 Flathead.

Now, of course, for the song, I am fortunate to be aided by the angelic vocals of the great Joan Silentio from Poland.  And Stefano Andrigo from Milan Italy on guitar.  I hope you enjoy it here.

L

HISTORY OF THE SONG

“Goodnight, Irene” or “Irene, Goodnight,” is a 20th-century American folk standard, written in 3/ 4 time, first recorded by American blues musician Huddie ‘Lead Belly’ Ledbetter in 1933. The original lyrics tell of the singer’s troubled past with his love, Irene, and express his sadness and frustration. Several verses refer explicitly to suicidal fantasies, most famously in the line “sometimes I take a great notion to jump in the river and drown,” which was the inspiration for the 1964 Ken Kesey novel Sometimes a Great Notion and a song of the same name from John Mellencamp’s 1989 album, Big Daddy, itself strongly informed by traditional American folk music.

In 1886, Gussie Lord Davis published a song called “Irene, Goodnight”. The lyrics of the song have some similarities to “Goodnight, Irene” to suggest that Huddie Ledbetter’s song was based on Davis’ lyrics. There is also a degree of resemblance in the music despite some differences such as their time signatures to indicate that the two songs are related.

In 1950, one year after Lead Belly’s death, the American folk band The Weavers recorded a version of “Goodnight, Irene”. It was a B-side track on the Decca label, produced by Milt Gabler. The arranger was Gordon Jenkins. It was a national hit, as was the A-side, a version of Tzena, Tzena, Tzena; sales were recorded as 2 million copies.

The single first reached the Billboard Best Sellers in Stores chart on June 30, 1950, and lasted 25 weeks on the chart, peaking at #1 for 13 weeks. Although generally faithful, the Weavers chose to omit some of Lead Belly’s lyrics, leading Time magazine to label it a “dehydrated” and “prettied up” version of the original. The Weavers’ lyrics are the ones now generally used. and Billboard ranked this version as the No. 1 song of 1950.

LYRICS

I added new lyrics for a modern twist as follows;

Irene good night
Irene good night
Goodnight Irene
Goodnight Irene
I see you in my dreams

Last Saturday night we got married
You said it was the thing to do
But when the booze wore down I saw Parson Brown
Runaway in an Elvis suit

Irene good night
Irene good night
Goodnight Irene
This is so obscene
I’ll see you in my dreams

Sometimes I see you on the boulevard
Dressed in hot pink n boots
Mom said you worked at the five n dime
But I think you’re in cahoots

Irene good night
Irene good night
Goodnight Irene
You’re so extreme
I’ll see you in my dreams

Wait, come on, move me, move me
Baby, come on, move me, yeah yeah don’t stop

Quit your ramblin’ and all that gamblin’
And stayin’ out every night
If you stay home with me
We can watch TV and get old by the fireside

I walk the streets and the alleyways that’s how I play
I am not your girl I will always stray I’m a runaway

I walk the streets and the alleyways that’s how I play
Good Night Irene Good Night Irene
I am not your girl I will always stray I’m a runaway
Good Night Irene Good Night Irene

I walk the streets and the alleyways that’s how I play
Good Night Irene Good Night Irene
Ooh la la la Ooh la la la
I am not your girl I will always stray I’m a runaway
Good Night Irene Good Night Irene
Ooh la la la Ooh la la la

Irene good-night
Irene good-night
Goodnight Irene
You’re the best I’ve seen
I’ll see you in my dreams

Irene good night
Irene good night
Goodnight Irene
You’re the best I’ve seen
I’ll see you in my dreams
I’ll see you in my dreams
I’ll see you in my dreams