“Good Old Mountain Dew” sometimes called “Mountain Dew” or “Real Old Mountain Dew” is an Appalachian folk song. Having two versions—Bascom Lamar Lunsford’s and Scotty Wiseman’s—the former written in 1928 and the latter in 1935. Both covers of the song are about moonshine. A wide variety of folk, old time, and country musicians have covered the 1935 version. To name are Grandpa Jones, Glen Campbell, and Willie Nelson. Because of this, the song has entered into the folk tradition becoming a standard.
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A good cover of this song was that of the Stanley Brothers’.
Background of Lunsford and Wiseman
Bascom Lamar Lunsford was a lawyer practicing in rural North Carolina along with being an amateur folklorist and musician. At that time, the 1920s, the manufacturing of beverage alcohol for non-medicinal purposes was illegal in the United States. However, North Carolinians persisted in making a form of illegal whiskey called moonshine. Lunsford regularly defended local clients accused of the practice. Originally, Lunsford made the lyrics and banjo accompaniment to “Good Old Mountain Dew” during the course of one of these cases. In 1928, Bascom Lunsford recorded the song for Brunswick Records.
Scotty Wiseman, of the duo Lulu Belle and Scotty, was Lunsford’s friend. As Lulu Belle and Scotty needed one more song for Vocalion Records to finish a 1935 record, Wiseman suggested a track. The song is his friend’s composition—“Good Old Mountain Dew”. To make the piece more appealing, Wiseman added the modern chorus. Also, he replaced the verses about a man appearing in court with verses about making moonshine. Two years later, Wiseman showed his version of Lunsford at the National Folk Festival in Chicago. Lunsford was impressed with it. Later that night, he sold the song to Wiseman for $25 to buy a train ticket back to North Carolina. Being the right thing to do, Wiseman copyrighted the song. Apart from that, he made sure that Lunsford will get 50% of the royalties it earned.
good old mountain dew, lunsford, The Stanley Brothers, wiseman
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