Sleepy Sunday, Vol. 39

If you are visiting only for the Christmas tunes, we invite you check out another of our regular features here at AM, Then FM.

Each Sunday, we serve up a little slice of greatness from Sleepy LaBeef.

Sleepy LaBeef, the human jukebox, is a national treasure. I don’t remember how I came to know his music roughly 20 years ago, but he instantly became one of my faves.

Born in Smackover, Arkansas, he stands a solid 6-foot-6 and belts out rockabilly, roots, R&B, blues, country and gospel tunes — almost all of them covers — in a deep, smoky baritone while raking away on his guitar. He’s 71, and still touring.

Today’s tune, “Blues Stay Away From Me,” is a slow roadhouse blues done first by the Delmore Brothers in 1949. It’s also been covered by Ace Cannon, Asleep at the Wheel, Bob Dylan, The Band, Jeff Beck, NRBQ, the Sweet Inspirations and Merle Haggard, among others.

The Delmore Brothers co-wrote it with Henry Glover and Wayne Raney, who explains how it came to be recorded in Cincinnati on May 6, 1949:

“About four o’clock one morning in Cincinnati’s Gibson Hotel, Alton and Rabon Delmore and I were getting ready for a recording session the next day. Alton knew a guitar riff he had learned from Henry Glover, a black songwriter on the King Records staff at the time. We decided to put words to it and a song was born. We recorded it the next day.”

Sleepy recorded his version during a ’70s session at Singleton Sound Studio in Nashville. His baritone is in fine form, and he’s backed by some nice piano work.


“Blues Stay Away From Me,” Sleepy LaBeef, from “The Human Jukebox,” 1995.

(Source of Wayne Raney quote: This page on the Roots of Bob Dylan web site.)

And if you are visiting just for the Christmas tunes, they’ll return Monday.


1 Comment

Filed under November 2007, Sounds

One response to “Sleepy Sunday, Vol. 39

  1. Nice choice . . . I like the guitar solo, too. One of my favorite versions of the tune is (of course) the one by The Band that closes “Jericho.” Before I started stopping by here, I knew little about Sleepy, but his stuff is growing on me

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