A recent All Things Considered interview I did with the great Mose Allison and his producer Joe Henry has triggered an animated exchange in the comments section of NPR.org. It has to do with the jaunty song "My Brain," on Allison's new album, The Way of the World. One listener noted parallels with the song "My Babe," which was a hit for "Little Walter" Jacobs in 1955, and was angry that proper attribution was not given.
In my interview with Mose Allison and Joe Henry, we did talk about the antecedents of "My Brain." Of course, those roots go back well before Little Walter and "My Babe" — back to the traditional/gospel song "This Train," which later evolved into Woody Guthrie's "This Train Is Bound for Glory." That portion of the interview ended up cut for time; our on-air conversation focused on the message in those lyrics, not the derivation of the song. But anyone who's interested in hearing that part of the discussion can find it below. As you'll hear, Mose Allison gives full credit not just to Walter Jacobs, but also to Willie Dixon, who wrote "My Babe":
Mose Allison: Train, Babe, Brain
Want to compare the songs for yourself? After the jump, here's the Mose Allison song, "My Brain":
Via YouTube, here's Walter Jacobs' version of "My Babe":
We couldn't find a version of Woody Guthrie performing "This Train Is Bound for Glory," but here's Bob Dylan playing a version of the song, also via YouTube: