Thursday, October 23, 2008

The John B. Sails

I'm still on a high from the Okkervil River show last week, so I thought it would be kind of fun to post about the evolution of "The John B. Sails." According to our friends at Wikipedia, "The John B. Sails" is a West Indies folk song which first popped into American culture in 1917.

Alan Lomax published a record of field recordings from local singers in the Bahamas that were recorded in the 1930's.

Cleveland Simmons Group - Histe Up the John B. Sail.mp3
Buy: Bahamas 1935: Chanteys And Anthems From Andros And Cat Island (1999)

Between the folk song and the Beach Boys version in 1966, dozens of other artists did their own renditions including The Weavers and The Kingston Trio. Read the fascinating article in Wikipedia on how Brian Wilson wrote the most famous version of this song in under 24 hours.

The Beach Boys - Sloop John B.mp3
Buy: Pet Sounds (1966, reissued 1999)

A few years ago some DJ's made dance remixes for all of Pet Sounds.

Tinypixel - Sloop John B.mp3
See Hippocamp Ruins Pet Sounds for more remixed tracks.

Finally, Okkervil River turns Sloop John B. into a suicide note from poet John Berryman.

Okkervil River - John Allyn Smith Sails.mp3
Buy: The Stage Names (2007)

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