Why Stagolee Endures: Exploring the Enduring Appeal of a Classic Folk Song

stagolee folk song jeremiah craig
March 15, 2023 Jeremiah Craig 0 Comments

Are you ready to learn about one of the most popular folk songs in American history? That’s right, we’re talking about “Stagolee”. This song has been covered by countless musicians and has a long and fascinating history that spans over a century.

“Stagolee” is a traditional folk song that tells the story of a man named Stagolee, also known as Stagger Lee, who shoots and kills another man named Billy DeLyon in a bar fight over a Stetson hat. The song has been covered by a wide range of musicians, from Mississippi John Hurt to The Clash, and has been interpreted in a variety of different styles.

The origins of “Stagolee” can be traced back to the late 19th century, when it was first recorded by African-American blues singers. The song has been passed down through generations of musicians, with each adding their own unique spin to the story. Over time, “Stagolee” became a staple of the American folk tradition and has been covered by musicians from a variety of genres.

One of the most interesting things about “Stagolee” is the way that the story has evolved over time. While the basic plot remains the same – a bar fight over a hat that ends in murder – the details of the story have changed with each new version of the song. In some versions, Stagolee is portrayed as a heroic figure, while in others he is depicted as a cold-blooded killer.

Perhaps the most famous version of “Stagolee” was recorded by Mississippi John Hurt in 1928. Hurt’s version is known for its intricate fingerpicking guitar style and his gentle, melodic voice. Hurt’s interpretation of the song emphasizes the tragic nature of the story, and his subtle guitar playing perfectly captures the emotional intensity of the lyrics.

Another notable version of “Stagolee” was recorded by Lloyd Price in 1958. Price’s version was a big hit at the time, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Price’s version is a more upbeat take on the story, with a driving rhythm section and Price’s powerful vocals.

Over the years, “Stagolee” has been covered by a wide range of musicians, from folk singers to punk rock bands. The song’s enduring popularity is a testament to the power of the American folk tradition, and its ability to connect with people from all walks of life.

In addition to its musical legacy, “Stagolee” has also had a significant impact on popular culture. The story of Stagolee has been referenced in countless movies, TV shows, and novels, and has become a part of American folklore and it will continue to be for decades into the future.