Johnny Booker (Mister Booger)

DESCRIPTION: About the troubles experienced by a teamster/sailor along the way: A broken yoke, a stalled cart, etc. Chorus something like "Do, Johnny Booker, oh do, do me do, Do, Johnny Booker, oh do" or "So walk a Johnny Booger to help that nigger...."
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1925 (recording, Bill Chitwood & Bud Landress)
KEYWORDS: work travel
FOUND IN: US(Ap,So) Britain(England(North,South))
REFERENCES (6 citations):
Randolph 268, "Mister Booger" (1 text plus a fragment, 2 tunes)
Scarborough-NegroFS, p. 100, "(Johnny Booker)" (1 fragment, 1 tune, probably this although it's short enough that it might be "Johnny Boker (I)")
Lomax-FSNA 258, "Knock John Booker" (1 text, 1 tune)
Cohen/Seeger/Wood, p. 194, "Johnny Booker" (1 text, 1 tune)
Roberts, #91, "Do Johnny Booger" (1 text, 1 tune, an incredible mess with the chorus and some words from "Johnny Booker (Mister Booger)," an ending which is from "Run, Nigger, Run," and a number of verses perhaps from "Old Dan Tucker")

Roud #3441
Gus Cannon, "Old John Booker, You Call That Gone" (on AmSkBa, DownHome)
Bill Chitwood & Bud Landress, "Johnny, Get Your Gun" (Brunswick 2883, 1925)
Cousin Emmy [Cynthia May Carver], "Johnny Booker" (Decca 24214, 1947; on CrowTold01)
Jack Elliott, "Old Johnnie Booker" (on Elliotts01)
Earl Johnson & his Clodhoppers, "Johnnie Get Your Gun" (OKeh 45171, 1927)
New Lost City Ramblers, "Old Johnny Booker Won't Do" (on NLCR17, NLCRCD2)
Walter "Kid Smith, "Old Johnny Bucker Wouldn't Do" (Gennett 6825/Supertone 9407 [as Jerry Jordon, "Old Johnny Bucker Won't Do"], 1929)

cf. "Poor Old Man (Poor Old Horse; The Dead Horse)" (lyrics)
cf. "Went to the River (I)" (floating lyrics)
NOTES [113 words]: "Johnny Booker" includes key verses from "Poor Old Man": "Said an old man come riding by/Said, young man, your mule's gonna die/If he dies I'll tan his skin/If he lives I'll ride him again." This probably entered minstrel tradition via African-American sailors -- or entered the shanty tradition from minstrel shows.
The Chitwood-Landress recording is a bit of a conundrum: it doesn't include most of the canonical mule verses, nor the canonical chorus, but the tune and gestalt are the same. I classify it as a proto-Johnny Booker, and assign it the earliest date, but note its peculiarities; it may be a Chitwood-Landress composition, built on the skeleton of this song. - PJS
Last updated in version 4.2
File: R268

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