DEAR JERRY: In an online auction, I spotted a 45 rpm single of “I've Been Everywhere,” by a fellow called Lucky Starr (Festival 205).
The seller admits to knowing nothing about this record, so I'm hoping you can answer my two questions about it.
Is this the same song as the big hit by Hank Snow? If so, which version is the original?
Finally, will you please list all the cities that Hank mentions? I've tried to write them down, but he sings them so fast, I can't catch them all.
Frank Houseman, New Harmony, Ind.
DEAR FRANK: The first of many fascinating things about “I've Been Everywhere” is how long it took for its hit potential to be realized. Geoff Mack, an Australian songwriter, penned the tune in 1959, working these 93 Aussie towns into the lyrics:
Tullamore; Seymour; Lismore; Mooloolaba; Nambour; Maroochydore; Kilmore; Murwillumbah; Birdsville; Emmaville; Wallaville; Cunnamulla; Condamine; Strathpine; Proserpine; Ulladulla; Darwin; Gin Gin; Deniliquin; Muckadilla; Wallumbilla; Boggabilla; Kumbarilla.
Moree; Taree; Jerilderie; Bambaroo; Toowoomba; Gunnedah; Caringbah; Woolloomooloo; Dalveen; Tamborine; Engadine; Jindabyne; Lithgow; Casino; Brigalow; Narromine; Megalong; Wyong; Tuggerawong; Wanganella; Morella; Augathella; Brindabella.
Wollongong; Geelong; Kurrajong; Mullumbimby; Mittagong; Cooranbong; Grong Grong; Goondiwindi; Yarra Yarra; Bouindarra; Wallangarra; Turramurra; Boggabri; Gundagai; Narrabri; Tibooburra; Gulgong; Adelong; Billabong; Cabramatta; Parramatta; Wangaratta; Coolangatta.
Ettalong; Dandenong; Woodenbong; Ballarat; Canberra; Milperra; Unanderra; Captains Flat; Cloncurry; River Murray; Kurri Kurri; Girraween; Terrigal; Stockinbingal; Collaroy; Narrabeen; Bendigo; Dorrigo; Bangalow; Indooroopilly; Kirribilli; Yeerongpilly; Wollondilly.
After about three years on Mack's shelf, Festival recorded Lucky Starr's version. Released in May of 1962, it took just four weeks to dominate the Australian charts. It remained No. 1 into July, earned a Gold Record Award for sales in Australia, and became an international sensation that inspired localized versions in many other countries.
Festival themselves led the pack with a four-track EP (FX-10485), “Lucky's Been Everywhere,” containing his Australian original plus newly-recorded variations for Great Britain, New Zealand, and the U.S.
Another notable 1962 track, also tailored for the Brits, is by the Mudlarks. Their delightful take is lyrically different than Lucky Starr's (Decca/Ritz 11537).
Meanwhile in Nashville USA, RCA Victor, in August, issued Hank Snow's “I've Been Everywhere,” making the renowned Canadian the first with a North American single of “I've Been Everywhere.” It became a No. 1 C&W hit, and successfully crossed over to the pop market.
As for the U.S. version recorded Down Under by Lucky Starr, it did eventually come out here (Big Top 3123), but not until October. By then, the song was clearly owned by Hank Snow, whose version cites these same 92 locations as Lucky Starr's original:
Winnemucca; Reno; Chicago; Fargo; Minnesota; Buffalo; Toronto; Winslow; Sarasota; Wichita; Tulsa; Ottawa; Oklahoma; Tampa; Panama; Mattawa; La Paloma; Bangor; Baltimore; Salvador; Amarillo; Tocopilla; Barranquilla; Padilla.
Boston; Charleston; Dayton; Louisiana; Washington; Houston; Kingston; Texarkana; Monterey; Ferriday; Santa Fe; Tallapoosa; Glen Rock; Black Rock; Little Rock; Oskaloosa; Tennessee; Hennessey; Chicopee; Spirit Lake; Grand Lake; Devils Lake; Crater Lake.
Louisville; Nashville; Knoxville; Ombabika; Schefferville; Jacksonville; Waterville; Costa Rica; Pittsfield; Springfield; Bakersfield; Shreveport; Hackensack; Cadillac; Fond du Lac; Davenport; Idaho; Jellico; Argentina; Diamantina; Pasadena; Catalina.
Pittsburgh; Parkersburg; Gravelsburg; Colorado; Ellensburg; Rexburg; Vicksburg; El Dorado; Larimore; Ardmore; Haverstraw; Chatanika; Chaska; Nebraska; Alaska; Opelika; Baraboo; Waterloo; Kalamazoo; Kansas City; Sioux City; Cedar City; Dodge City.
Just one year later, Dot Records gave Starr's U.S. “I've Been Everywhere” (45-16506) another shot. And again, Lucky was not lucky in the Northern Hemisphere.
Many singers worldwide have since personalized “I've Been Everywhere” to acknowledge their region's locations. A few among them are: Lynn Anderson (U.S.); Brian Burns (Texas); Hayes Carll (Houston); Johnny Cash (U.S.); Eugene Chadbourne (World); Stompin' Tom Connors (Ontario and the Maritimes); Michael Faubion (Alaska); Mike Ford (Canada); Jackie Leven (Germany); Lost Highwayknights (Belgium); Charles McGowan (Scotland); Earl Pickens (Pennsylvania); Simpsons (Springfield, of course); and Ladislav Vodicka (Czechoslovakia).
DEAR JERRY: As a Sue from Iowa, “Sioux City Sue” is a personal favorite, whether by Gene Autry, Bing Crosby, or many others I've heard along life's dusty trail.
Interestingly, every version I find contains the line “I'd swap my horse and dog for you, my sweet Sioux City Sue,” yet somewhere back in time I heard it by a man who sang “I'd swap my pig and dog for you.”
No one I ask has ever heard the pig version, and they think I'm either joking or dreaming. Help!
Sue Jenson, Mason City, Iowa
DEAR MASON CITY SUE: With all the attention being paid to livestock, it seems appropriate to refer to “Sioux City Sue,” by Elton Britt, as the stray in the herd. He is the swine trader.
Elton's 1960 single (ABC-Paramount 10121) is the version wherein Sue's worth seemingly takes a hit. However, Britt offers pigs (plural), enough of which might trump a single horse.
Potential trades aside, I can't rank any version of “Sioux City Sue” above Elton Britt's.
IZ ZAT SO? A decade before Elton Britt's million-selling, World War II-inspired “There's a Star-Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere,” he sang, yodeled, and played with the Beverly Hill Billies.
This outfit, whose name is strikingly similar to a hit 1960s TV sitcom, made 11 singles for Brunswick between 1930 and '32.
A 1961 gold vinyl LP collection of these early tunes, titled “Those Fabulous Beverly Hill Billies (Rar-Arts 1000), now fetches $50 to $100.