#TBT: Goodnight, Irene.. plus a bonus tune!



Time for another round of Throwback Thursday!

This is where we get to listen to some great music from days gone by.

Today’s music comes to us from 1950.

Wikipedia tells us this about today’s tune:

"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 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 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.

Bonus Song: Tzena, Tzena, Tzena

See you again soon! Share with me your thoughts about this theme.  If you have a favorite oldies song or artist, let me know and I’d be happy to feature them.   


  1. I’m familiar with both songs. Peter Paul and Mary do a version of Irene. I am more interested in the flipside. I will have an earworm all day from the other song.


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