My grandad used to sing these first two to me. I think I probably knew both of them by heart before I began grammar school in 1949:
By the time Marty Robbins recorded this and started it playing on the radio I knew it well enough to make everyone in hearing distance wish it hadn’t played by singing along with it.
This Woody Guthrie version is probably my favorite.
When Jimmy Driftwood recorded this it had everyone in the country singing along when it played on the radio or jukebox.
Strange, strange song. I count it as one of the best CW songs of the 20th Century.
There was an old lady named Mrs. McCormick who had dementia living down the road from us. If she was outdoors when I walked past she’d usually pay me a nickle to sing this to her. That, and the fact she thought her husband left on the stagecoach last week and ought to be back soon provides a measure of how far gone she was. Mrs. McCormick was the only person I ever encountered in almost 70 years wanted to hear me sing more than once.