BIG BAD JOHN ~ Jimmy Dean (1961) Columbia # CL 1735
Jimmy Dean - (August 10, 1928 – June 13, 2010)
Birth name: Jimmy Ray Dean
Birth place: Plainview, Texas
Place of death: Varina, Virginia (at 81 years old)
Per the notes written on the back of the JIMMY DEAN: BIG BAD JOHN AND OTHER FABULOUS SONGS AND TALES (Columbia LP #CL 1735) record jacket, it states: "Jimmy Dean had been thinking for some time of writing a song about a PAUL BUNYAN-like hero. He began writing the lyrics at home, but never quite finished them, because he had to fly to Nashville, Tennessee for a recording session with veteran Columbia producer, Don Law. Jimmy simply brought along the unfinished song. By the time he got off the plane, he was virtually jumping with excitement. The song was completed and Don Law liked it so much, that Big Bad John was recorded immediately" -
(Side note: There's a little touch of "Sixteen Tons" by Tennessee Ernie Ford here as well) -
Note: What many today call, "rapping" was originally, in a cleaner form, referred to as, "calling". Talking in rhyming sentences or speaking the lyrics instead of singing them, which was very common in Country & Western music. It began with the square dance "caller" who gave direction to the dancers, through rhyming sentences set to the cadence or beat of the music being played by a live band. He never sang, he just spoke the words in rhyme. Much the same as a auction house auctioneer, who speaks the bids in a fast rhythm, choosing words which often rhyme. The "caller" and the dance can be: "traced back through England to the old French cotillions" (17th century) (per Lloyd Shaw-1939).
Also, a form of "calling" or "auction house crying" can be found in the 1947 recording of, "Smoke, Smoke, Smoke (That Cigarette) (Tex Williams & Phil Harris) or "The Darktown Poker Club" (1946) (Phil Harris) for example, and many other older recordings. Therefore, "rap" isn't new, it's just a continuation of something which started many years earlier.