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[My mama] said, 'You and Elvis are pretty good, but you're no Chuck Berry' - Jerry Lee Lewis

Author Topic: Frankie or Albert?  (Read 1575 times)

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Offline colm kill paul

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Frankie or Albert?
« on: April 11, 2012, 02:35:34 PM »
Folks,

I've been singing MJH's version of "Frankie and Albert" as per his "Legend" album (Rounder CD 1100) and John Miller's transcription of same on his DVD "The Guitar of MJH Vol 1".

Verse seven of the lyric see's Frankie in court to be "Justified" and verse eight has a burial.

What is the correct interpretation of these verses? Is it a) Frankie gets the death sentence for murder and is buried or b) Frankie was justified in her actions and lives to see Albert laid down in lonely ground.( She was a good girl after all...everyone knows that  :))

I'd thought it was option "a" but now I'm hearing "b". Just curious to hear what the general position is on this. Thanks Colm

Online Johnm

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Re: Frankie or Albert?
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2012, 02:53:01 PM »
Hi Colm,
I used to think the lyric meant that the judge thought Frankie was justified in killing Albert, but have come to feel that he is telling her cold-heartedly that justice will be served, that is, that she will be condemned and sentenced for killing Albert.  It's interesting that the real life Frankie was not executed, but ended her days in a poorhouse near Portland, Oregon!
All best,
Johnm

Offline banjochris

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Re: Frankie or Albert?
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2012, 08:45:36 PM »
I think it's definitely B, because first, the real Frankie wasn't executed, as John says, but the line about Frankie and the judge walking side by side implies that the judge is "with" Frankie and speaking intimately (I don't mean that with any sexual connotation) -- the judge is telling her not to worry, everything will be all right.

Offline lindy

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Re: Frankie or Albert?
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2012, 09:44:09 PM »

I'm in the "A" camp for three reasons:

"Judge says to Frankie, 'Girl, you're gonna be justified'" seems to mean "You're gonna pay the price for your actions."

and

"Dark was the night, cold was the ground" suggests a nighttime hanging/execution (a common practice).

and

"The last words I heard Frankie say" implies her last words on this earth.

The first line (what the judge says) is by far the most ambiguous.

Lindy

Offline colm kill paul

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Re: Frankie or Albert?
« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2012, 12:33:36 AM »
I've been surprised at how my performance of this song feels different depending on how I interpret the story. I know this would be intangible to any listener but it's made me aware of an internal process I'm running when singing...it's interesting.

I didn't know till JohnM posted above that there was a true story attached to this tune and that Frankie was acquitted in real life. This would seem to weigh heavily toward the B interpretation being the intended lyric. It must have been big news and worthy of capturing by the bards and songsmiths.

But...The more I sing this tune the more I'm inclined to see the line "Frankie and the Judge walked out on the stand" as Frankie and the Judge walked out onto the Gallows Stand as opposed to a court room stand i.e. the Judge walked her up to the noose...pretty dramatic stuff. So that's definitely the A interpretation.

I guess I'll go with the A interpretation as it appears an open choice and I guess I'm drawn to the darker side...

Looks like I'll need to book some time on the shrinks coach if I ponder this one much futher  ;D. (Thanks for the assist folks) Colm

Offline yogi

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Re: Frankie or Albert?
« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2012, 03:50:43 AM »
Hi all, first time poster here!
Check this story out for reference. Of course it may be full of errors, I wouldn't know but if so maybe some of the knowledgeable participants here will point that out.
http://www.planetslade.com/frankie-and-johnny1.html
 /Yogi
« Last Edit: April 13, 2012, 03:52:07 AM by yogi »

Offline colm kill paul

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Re: Frankie or Albert?
« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2012, 04:21:38 AM »
Quote
"I went to trial on Friday the 13th, and the bad luck omens didn't go against me. Why, the judge even gave me back my gun."


This is a great piece to read and really appropriate for today Friday 13th! So taking it at face value version B is back on top then!

Thanks Yogi and Welcome! Colm
« Last Edit: April 13, 2012, 04:38:03 AM by colm kill paul »

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Frankie or Albert?
« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2012, 07:30:35 AM »
On Hurt's version from the Friends of Old-Time Music boxed set, he sings a verse towards the end that I don't recall appearing elsewhere.

Said, turn me over, mother, turn me over slow
It may be the last time, you won't turn me over more
He's my --

Don't know that it helps with the meaning, though it suggests Frankie thinks it might be the end.

Online Johnm

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Re: Frankie or Albert?
« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2012, 09:08:15 AM »
Hi all,
The question is further complicated by the fact that John Hurt may or may not have known that Frankie was not executed, or even that the story was based on an actual event.  In the song, I've always assumed that she was executed, and that the judge more or less said in advance that that would be the outcome. 

Re the question of Frankie's eventual fate, it's interesting to look at the lyrics to Joe Callicott's version--he doesn't even discuss the issue.  (It's also great just to hear Joe sing and play the song.)

All best,
Johnm

Offline colm kill paul

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Re: Frankie or Albert?
« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2012, 10:47:50 AM »
Folks,

This is the amazing WeenieCampbell at it's best! It's is so rewarding to get all this information and context around what I thought was a little intrigue of my own. This type of information exchange really builds foundations around this great music.

Brilliant!

Colm

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: Frankie or Albert?
« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2012, 11:37:55 AM »
I thought that this link http://www.planetslade.com/frankie-and-johnny1.html had been drawn to our attention in the past but damned if I can find it - otherwise I would have resurrected it. This might need to be relocated elsewhere.

Offline Richard

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Re: Frankie or Albert?
« Reply #11 on: April 13, 2012, 12:06:56 PM »
Colm, from all this do we assume you will be performing the said song for us in a week?
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline yogi

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Re: Frankie or Albert?
« Reply #12 on: April 13, 2012, 12:13:20 PM »
Thanks Colm, I've asked the same question myself.
The story is evidently that she was acquitted in court but who knows what the songwriters were thinking when they wrote the lyrics. Information was inaccessible back then and many people were relying on hearsaying.

I'm sorry if I wasn't supposed to post the link in this thread. To make matters worse I'll post anotrher link, if you read the text in the previous link you probably spotted "Immortalia (1927)". In case someone hasn't seen the book yet you'll find it here: http://www.horntip.com/html/books_&_MSS/1920s/1927_immortalia_(various)/index.htm

 /Yogi

Offline Gumbo

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Re: Frankie or Albert?
« Reply #13 on: April 13, 2012, 12:19:26 PM »
To make matters worse I'll post anotrher link

Yay!! ;)

Offline colm kill paul

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Re: Frankie or Albert?
« Reply #14 on: April 13, 2012, 02:28:49 PM »
Richard,

It is in honour of the Euroweenie bash that I've been toiling on getting Frankie and Albert into shape. Very astute of you Mr R.  8). Hopefully it will be alright on the night. Guess I'm in trouble now with this pre publicity...dooh! >:( colm

 


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