Good Morning, Little School Girl

John Lee Curtis "Sonny Boy" Williamson - from biography.com

John Lee Curtis “Sonny Boy” Williamson – from biography.com

John Lee Curtis Williamson, better known as Sonny Boy Williamson I, was an American blues harmonica player, singer and songwriter. He was born in Madison County, Tennessee, near Jackson, on March 30th, 1914. At age 16 he started to follow the Mississippi River north with his harmonica to seek a life as a musician. For this reason, he picked up the nickname Sonny Boy.

Sonny Boy Williamson first recorded for Bluebird Records in 1937, and his first recording, “Good Morning, School Girl,” became an instant classic. This song has since been interpreted by various artists, usually calling it “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl.” I give below a video with the original recording (see also this one).

The lyrics can be found on Google Play, MetroLyrics and LyricWikia. They emphasize fantasy, for his beloved he intends to buy a diamond, a “doggone thing,” but also an airplane to fly over the land and find her.

Good Morning, School Girl
by Sonny Boy Williamson

Hello, little school girl
Good mo’nin, little school girl
Can I go home with you?
Can I go home, later wit’ you?
Now, you can tell yo’ mother an’ yo’ father, um
That Sonny Boy’s a little school boy, too

I woke up-a this mo’nin’
I woke up-a this mo’nin’
Lord, n’ I couldn’t make me no
Lord, I couldn’t make me, no town
Well, but I didn’t have no blues, woman
But I was all messed up ‘n down

Now, you be my baby, mm
Come on an’ be my baby, mm
I’ll buy you a diamond
I’ll buy you a diamond ring
Well, if you don’t be my little woman
Then I won’t buy you a doggone thing

I’m ‘on buy me a airplane
I’m ‘on buy me a airplane
I’m ‘on fly all over this land
I’m ‘on fly all over this land’s town
Don’t find the woman that I’m lovin’
Then I ain’t goin’ to let my airplane down

I do no hollerin’
I do no hollerin’
Baby, what in this world, I’m gon’ do
Baby, what in this world, I’m gon’ do
Well, said I don’t wan’ never hurt yo’ feelin’
Or either get mad what you’ll do.

The real Sonny Boy Williamson

The real Sonny Boy Williamson

The impersonator

The impersonator

In the early 1940s, Aleck “Rice” Miller appropriated his name, he began recording and performing as Sonny Boy Williamson. To distinguish him from the real Williamson, one usually numbers them I and II. Both artists are often confused, for instance a YouTube video of the song by the real Sonny Boy Williamson (I) shows the picture of the impersonator (Williamson II).

Among the other blues versions of the song, let me mention the one by Mississippi Fred McDowell (probably in February 1964) that follows rather closely the original lyrics, and the one by Muddy Waters (in September 1963).

Grateful Dead - The Grateful Dead, album cover

Grateful Dead – The Grateful Dead, album cover

Grateful Dead - Good Morning, Little School Girl, EP cover

Grateful Dead – Good Morning, Little School Girl, EP cover

In my view, the most interesting adaptation is the one by Grateful Dead, from their 1967 album The Grateful Dead. I show a video where the original recording is illustrated with a film made in Britton, South Dakota during 1938. There are also several live versions, for instance the one of November 29th, 1966.

The band, beside adapting the music in a blues-rock style, completely renewed the lyrics. This time they clearly emphasize the love relation. I give them here, adapted from the Grateful Dead Lyric And Song Finder:

Good Morning, Little School Girl
by Grateful Dead, adapted from Sonny Boy Williamson

Good morning little schoolgirl, can I come home with you
Tell your moma and your papa, I’m a little schoolboy too
Come on now pretty baby, I just can’t help myself
You’re so young and pretty, I don’t need nobody else
Good morning little schoolgirl, can I come home with you
Don’t you hear me crying

I’m gonna leave you baby about the break of day
On account of the way you treat me, I got to stay away
Come on now pretty baby, darling come on home
You know I love you baby, I gotta get you all alone
Good morning little schoolgirl, can I come home with you
Can’t you hear me crying

I’m gonna buy me an airplane, fly all over your town
Tell everybody baby, Lord know you’re fine
Come on now pretty baby, I just can’t help myself
You’re so young and pretty, I don’t need nobody else
Good morning little schoolgirl, can I come home with you
Can’t you hear me crying

Good morning little schoolgirl, can I come home with you
Good morning little schoolgirl, can I come home with you
Tell your moma and your papa, I’m a schoolboy too
I’m a schoolboy too
Hey, I’m a schoolboy too
I want to be your chauffeur
I want to ride your little machine
I want to be your chauffeur
I want to ride with your little machine
I want to put a tiger, baby
I want to put a tiger, baby
I want to put a tiger, baby
Hey in your sweet little tank
Hey baby now, yes I do
Huh, oh yes I do now
Hey, I gotta
Hey, I gotta come on home with you
Tell your mother
Baby, tell your papa
Tell your mom and your papa
Hey, I’m a schoolboy too
Hey, hey, I’m a schoolboy too
Huh, huh, I’m a schoolboy too
Huh, I wanna take your company
Hey, I wanna be your company

A slightly different version can be found in Google Play.

gmlsg-jw2

A very similar version of the song (both in music and lyrics) was recorded by Junior Wells. Note the image of the girl in the video (shown here) There have also been rock versions, in particular by Johnny Winter. Even Ten Years After interpreted it several times (in 1969, 1975, 1983, …), but it seems rather an opportunity for Alvin Lee to perform his solo guitar showmanship.

In 1961, Don & Bob made a new version of the song, with a completely different music and lyrics. It was adapted by The Yardbirds in October 1964.

Thanks to ‘Tina Willis (For The Children)’ for drawing my attention to this song.

John Lee Curtis "Sonny Boy" Williamson - from Find a Grave

John Lee Curtis “Sonny Boy” Williamson – from Find a Grave

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