Vernon Dalhart

So. there we are, 1927, and a recently published collection of folk songs by Carl Sandburg, The American Songbag, with a number called Wanderin’ tucked away on page 188.

I don’t know in which month the book was published, but it must surely have caught Vernon Dalhart’s eye. Dalhart was know as the First Star of Country Music and just a few years earlier, in 1924, he had recorded The Wreck of The Old ’97, which went on to sell an astonishing seven million copies.

On 29 September 1928, Dalhart recorded his first version of Wanderin’ in New York. The recording was released as a single that same year on Columbia 1585-D and Regal (Australia) G20377. He recorded the number again on 23 October, 1928 for release on Harmony 767-H (under the name Mack Allen), Velvet Tone 1767-V, and Diva 2767-G). I have been able to find only one label image:


Here’s a rendition of Wanderin’ by Dalhart from YouTube. Unfortunately, there is no indication of the date of the recording:


That’s quite a marathon! Notice how Dalhart uses some verses from both texts A and B collected by Sandburg, as well as several new ones. His song goes like this:

A1

A2

Sometimes I feel
So awful blue,
But what in the world
Am I gonna do,
And it looks like
I’m never gonna cease my wanderin’.

A3

I had a little girl
And her name was Betsy Anne
She left me flat
And went back to Alabam,
And it looks like
I’m never gonna cease my wanderin’.

I like blondes
And brunettes, too,
But you never can tell
What girls will do,
And it looks like
I’m never gonna cease my wanderin’.

I wanders east
And I wanders west,
But I don’t know
Which I like best,
And it looks like
I’m never gonna cease my wanderin’.

B1


Wanderin’ does not then seem to have had much following. As I can tell, the next recording of any note was that became a hit in early 1950 for Sammy Kaye.

© David Neale 2014