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I Wonder Where My Easy Rider's Gone

"I Wonder Where My Easy Rider's Gone?" is a ragtime/blues song written by Shelton Brooks in 1913. Sometimes categorized as hokum, it led to an answer song written in 1915 by W.C. Handy, "Yellow Dog Rag", later titled "Yellow Dog Blues". Lines and melody from both songs show up in the 1920s and 30s in such songs as "E. Z. Rider", "See See Rider", "C. C. Rider", and "Easy Rider Blues".

"I Wonder Where My Easy Rider's Gone?"

Written for the vaudeville stage, the lyrics tell of a Susie Johnson who bets on a horse race using a tip from Jockey Lee, who subsequently runs off with her money.

First verse:

Miss Susie Johnson is a crazy as can be
About that easy riding kid they call Jockey Lee.
Now don't you think it's funny, only bets her money
In the race friend jockey's goin' to be.
There was a race down at the track the other day,
And Susie got an inside tip right away
She bet a "hundred to one" that her little "Hon"
Would bring home all the "mon".
When she found out "Jockey" was not there,
Miss Susie cried out in despair
Chorus:
I wonder where my easy rider's gone today
He never told me he was goin' away.
If he was here he'd win the race
If not first he'd get a "place"
Cash in our winnings, on a "joy-ride" we'd go, right away
I'm losing my money that's why I am blue.
To win a race, Lee knows just what to do.
I'd put all my junk in pawn,
To be on any horse that jockey's on.
Oh' I wonder where my easy rider's gone.

"I Wonder Where My Easy Rider's Gone?" was first popularized on the vaudeville stage by Sophie Tucker. It is most noted for its performance in a 1933 movie, She Done Him Wrong, in which Mae West sang it in a suggestive manner. It is perhaps this performance which gave it its hokum reputation.

"Yellow Dog Rag"/"Yellow Dog Blues"

In 1915, W.C. Handy wrote an answer song to "I Wonder Where My Easy Rider's Gone?" which he called "Yellow Dog Rag. "Yellow Dog Rag" sold poorly. In 1919, he retitled it "Yellow Dog Blues" to take advantage of the popularity of blues, after which it sold moderately well. His song explains what became of Jockey Lee.

First verse:

E'er since Miss Susan Johnson lost her Jockey, Lee,
There has been much excitement, more to be;
You can hear her moaning night and morn.
"Wonder where my Easy Rider's gone?
Cablegrams come of sympathy,
Telegrams go of inquiry,
''Letter come from down in "Bam"
And everywhere that Uncle Sam
Has even a rural delivery.
All day the phone rings, but it's not for me,
At las' good tidings fill our hearts with glee,
This message comes from Tennessee.
Chorus:
Dear Sue your Easy Rider struck this burg today
On a southboun' rattler side door Pullman car.
Seen him here an' he was on the hog. (The smoke was broke, no joke; not a jitney on him.)
Easy Riders got a stay away,
So he had to vamp it but the hike ain't far.
He's gone where the Southern cross' the Yellow Dog.
Dear Sue your, etc.

The "Yellow Dog" was the local name for the Yazoo Delta Railroad; the "Southern" is the much larger Southern Railways.

"Yellow Dog Blues" has been recorded a number of times, mostly as an instrumental, and has become a traditional jazz standard.

References

Bibliography

  • Louvish, Simon. Mae West: It Ain't No Sin. St. Martin's Griffin (2007).
  • Rubin, Louis Decimus. Where the Southern Cross the Yellow Dog: On Writers and Writing. University of Missouri Press (2005).
  • Wald, Elijah. Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues. Harper Collins (2004)
  • Wintz, Cary D.; Finkelman, Paul. Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance. Routledge (2004).

See also

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