The 1937 Flood Watch
The 1937 Flood Watch Podcast
"I Wonder Where My Easy Rider's Gone"

"I Wonder Where My Easy Rider's Gone"

#333 / April 5 Podcast

In blues parlance, the term “easy rider” is code for … oh, well, for many things. Maybe a rovin’ gambler or a lover, maybe a pimp … (Y’all just talk among yourselves and let your imagination gallop away with ya.)

Easy riders started appearing in blues songs more than a century ago. W.C. Handy famously featured an easy rider in his great “Yellow Dog Blues” back in 1915.

But, as we noted in an earlier Flood Watch article, that great old blues — which Bessie Smith would memorialize with her classic 1925 Columbia recording of it — was written in answer to an earlier ragtimey blues called “I Wonder Where My Easy Rider’s Gone,” released in 1913 by its composer, Shelton Brooks.

Meet Shelton Brooks

Shelton Brooks was one of the most successful Black songwriters of the era before jazz. An African-Canadian, he had a recording career as an OKeh Records artist in the 1920s, but today he is better remembered for his songwriting chops.

His most successful songs were "Some of These Days" (1911), "All Night Long" (1912), "Walkin' the Dog" (1916) and especially "Darktown Strutters' Ball" (1917), which sold more than 3 million copies as sheet music.

About This Song

Brooks’ “I Wonder Where My Easy Rider’s Gone” was first popularized on the vaudeville stage by Sophie Tucker.

We base our version of the song on a July 9, 1929, recording by our hokum band heroes Tampa Red on guitar and Georgia Tom on piano, with jazz singer Frankie “Half Pint” Jaxon doing the vocals.

But perhaps the best known version of Brooks’ tune came four years after that, when film siren Mae West delivered a sultry performance of it in her 1933 movie She Done Him Wrong.

By the way, a legacy of Brooks’ song and Handy’s “Yellow Dog Blues” answer is that lines and melody from both songs started showing up in the 1920s and ‘30s in such songs as "E. Z. Rider," "See See Rider," "C. C. Rider" and "Easy Rider Blues.”

Our Take on the Tune

This is the kind of song that The Flood likes the start the evening with, as we did at last week’s rehearsal, because it has plenty of room for everyone to just stretch out and wail.

Listen as the solos pass from Danny Cox to Sam St. Clair to Randy Hamilton. And when it’s Jack Nuckols’ turn, he reaches for those wooden spoons he keeps near his drum kit. See if it doesn’t sound like a jazzy tap dancer has just shim-sham-shimmied into the room.

The 1937 Flood Watch
The 1937 Flood Watch Podcast
Each week The 1937 Flood, West Virginia's most eclectic string band, offers a free tune from a recent rehearsal, show or jam session. Music styles range from blues and jazz to folk, hokum, ballad and old-time. All the podcasts, dating back to 2008, are archived on our website; you and use the archive for free at: