In 1981, I recorded a Dixieland jazz piece that was playing on KLON in Long Beach, Calif. I didn’t hear the name of the song or the performers. But if I had to guess, I would have said it was from the ’20s or ’30s, recorded in New Orleans, and entitled ‘Fare Thee Well.'”
Wrong, wrong and wrong.
Thirty-five years later, after an internet search on some of the lyrics, I finally found it. I was directed first to a song called “Mama’s Gone, Goodbye,” recorded by Peggy Lee. Right song, but not the recording I was looking for.
I found many different versions of the song on YouTube, some of which dated to the mid-1920s, including one sung by Sippie Wallace and a recording from a piano roll made by the song’s composer.
The recording I was looking for turned out to be from a 1960s-era jazz revival band, Big Bill Bissonnette and the Easy Riders Jazz Band, with Victoria Spivey on vocals. They were based in Connecticut, of all places, and the recording was made in Wallingford (hometown of my Yale ancestors) on August 9, 1964.
Here it is: