Sometimes the rabbit hole is every bit as cool as the song that led you to it.
For some time now, I’ve been indulging in a guilty pleasure by listening to classic country music. Not all the time, but enough to concern my kids. And my wife. And the neighbours. Even the cats seem perplexed. What can I say, it triggers a nostalgia monsoon for me. Besides, some of it is really great music. And the rest is so bad it too is great, if only for the cringe and laughs it induces.
Just the other day, I was baking muffins … yes, midlife is that glamorous … and this famed song came on and I couldn’t stop thinking about how it really should be more popular. Everyone knows it, but it’s not a wedding reception staple or an indispensable sporting event ritual.
Right then and there, I decided that I should write a “My Life Is A Song” post about it. See if drawing the attention of my eight faithful followers might revive this song’s stature one more.
I began by searching Youtube for an acceptable video of the original song version. That’s when the rabbit hole opened up and swallowed me whole.
I know this song, as do most of you my age or older, I suspect, as a classic by Canadian country music legend, Hank Snow. I assumed that ole Hank wrote the song. Turns out I was wrong, a not uncommon occurrence with country music where performer and writer are often two very different entities. What I didn’t expect was learning that the song was penned by an Australian.
A fellow by the name of Geoff Mack wrote it in 1959 and it became a local hit in 1962 for Aussie Lucky Starr (a stripper name if ever there was one). With all Australian lyrics, it’s a magical tongue-twister of a song and quite fun to listen to. Even more so than the Hank Snow version I thought was the original.
Hank’s version came out later in 1962, with new, mostly North American, lyrics and became a number one country hit. It has since been covered by countless artists, some legends themselves, each offering a unique twist on this venerable classic.
There’ve also been parodies. One, in particular, that I stumbled upon during my Youtube investigation, took me back a few decades in a flash. Man, I hadn’t thought of Maclean & Maclean in ages. Certainly, far less recently than I contemplated pubic hair.
So, without further ado, let’s enjoy not only the most famous version, Hank Snow’s 1962 cover, but also the original by Lucky Starr plus a few other versions that’ll pique your interest. And we’ll finish up with the best parody of the lot. I’m talking, of course, about the celebrated Australian composition, “I’ve Been Everywhere.”
Hank Snow Version:
Lucky Starr Version:
Johnny Cash Version:
Stompin’ Tom Connors Version:
L. A. Rats Version:
Maclean & Maclean Parody: