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Glenna Bell: Music

Frankie and Johnny

(Glenna Bell)
October 19, 2010
Traditional Folk Song Arranged by Glenna Bell (ASCAP)

Frankie and Johnny was recorded "out at the Ranch" in Stafford, Texas in March 2010.  

Executive Producer: Kevin "Big Kev" Ploghoft

Producer: Jimmy Pizzitola

Engineer: Jimmy Pizzitola

Glenna Bell: Vocals and Guitar

Jimmy Pizzitola: Keyboards, Percussion

 

Frankie and Johnny is the first installment of tracks that I will be posting from my new release, Perfectly Legal: Songs of Sex, Love and Murder (October 2010).  Through Wikipedia, I learned that some critics date this song as far back as the Civil War.  It has been recorded by over 200 major artists, including everyone from Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan to Stevie Wonder and Lindsay Lohan.  As the song has evolved over the years, the artists have made it their own by modifying the lyrics, so each version is unique.  I decided to stick with the roots as much as possible and worked from the Jimmie Rodgers version, but I approached it from a first-person perspective so that I am actually a character in the story and its narrator at the end.  What I like most about Frankie and Johnny is that it is a folk song in the purest sense with room for only minimal instrumentation due to its focus on the plot that unfolds neatly according to the Aristotelean paradigm of rising action, climax, falling action, and denouement.  It even concludes with the final verse offering the listener a moral in the fashion of the great Greek tragedies by Sophocles upon which Aristotle based his philosophy of drama:  "the story has no moral, the story has no end, the story just goes to show there ain't no good in men."  Hah!  The irony cannot go unobserved:  all the while denying it, the song offers a haunting lesson for all womankind and an interesting twist on the traditional biblical notion that it is Eve's (woman's) indiscretion that caused the downfall of Adam (man) and all humanity.  Clearly, in Frankie and Johnny, the roles are reversed, and it is the weak-minded Johnny who succumbs to the temptation of the flesh that ultimately causes the ruin of a strong, honorable woman who has no choice but to put things right, though it will mean the end of them both.