The Cumberland Post

The Cumberland Post
My Backyard, Six Miles from the Cumberland River

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Johnny Darrell's "Why You Been Gone So Long"

In March of 2005, Joyce and I took a motor trip out west; our destination was the Valley of the Sun, or, to be specific, Mesa, Arizona, the spring training site for the Chicago Cubs. I had purchased a ticket to a game online and after the game we planned to stop for a couple of nights in Sedona, to see the Grand Canyon, etc.

I'll post a couple of pics from that trip later, but that's not the focus of this post. On a good portion of our journey, especially through New Mexico and Arizona, we started listening and singing along with this one song, over and over. By continuous repetition, we mastered that sucker and thought we sounded pretty good.

Actually, Joyce, who had classical voice training during her teens, sounded good. I'm not sure what I sounded like. But we let 'er rip and it made the long stretches much more fun and enjoyable. The song was "Why You Been Gone So Long" by Johnny Darrell and was the first song on the Oxford American 2003 Southern Music CD #6. Darrell is in full rockabilly mode here and we loved (still do) the twangy guitar breaks. I haven't been able to find out who played guitar on the session, but it is great.

Darrell was born in 1940, a very good year in my book, and died from diabetes at the relatively young age of 57 in 1997.

Johnny Darrell had what could be considered hard luck in the music business. He frequently was the first artist to record a song that was later covered by other artists who had a major hit with it. Some example of this are: "Green, Green Grass of Home," "As Long as the Wind Blows," "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town," "Son of Hickory Hollow's Tramp," and "With Pen in Hand."

Wikipedia puts it this way: "Darrell established a trend of introducing "lyrically adventurous songs" that would later become major hits for other artists."

This song did not (at least as far as I know) become a smash for anyone else. Tell me what you think about Johnny Darrell's "Why You Been Gone So Long."


  1. Staci, I don't have an iPod yet but when I do, I'll be checking to see if this song is available in that format.

  2. The guitar reminds me of Duane Eddy.

  3. A good song to dance to, & I would drop the coins into the slot of a jutebox in a country bar with a dance floor BUT not quite passing the threshold to add to my iPOD.

  4. Buck, I thought it sounded a little like Eddy too, but I haven't been able to track down who it actually is.

    George, You just haven't heard Joyce and I belt it out yet. That would be one for your iPod.