So Long, It's Been Good to Know Yuh
"So Long, It's Been Good to Know Yuh" (originally titled "Dusty Old Dust") is a song by American folk musician Woody Guthrie first released in 1935, and part of his album Dust Bowl Ballads. The composition is considered one of Guthrie's best songs, defining his style, and demonstrating his "increasing comfort with writing topical songs about the poor and downtrodden". It has been categorized as a "Dust Bowl ballad" by music critics. The song was also included in the Library of Congress Recordings from 1940 made by Guthrie and Alan Lomax.
Music and lyrics
The song was based on music used in Carson Robison's "Ballad of Billy the Kid" of the 1930s, which Guthrie slightly modified, adding new lyrics. It is written in a 3/4 time signature and has four-part harmony.
The composition tells about the hard times that Americans experienced during the Great Depression, especially the "harsh weather and drought conditions" experienced by farm workers in the Western United States. Guthrie himself had lived in the town of Pampa, Texas, and had witnessed the devastating Black Sunday dust storm of April 14, 1935.
The repetitive chorus has been described as "a witty, black retort, utterly negative and apocalyptic": "We talked of the end of the world, and then/We'd sing a song an' then sing it again/We'd sit for an hour an' not say a word/And then these words would be heard:/So long, it's been good to know yuh".
Guthrie also wrote a version of the song with alternate lyrics about serving in the Second World War.
Although the song had a limited success during its 1930s release by Guthrie, its popularity soared in 1951 when it was published by Howard S. Richmond's music publishing company Folkways Music Publishers, Inc., and promoted to major record labels, landing a recorded version by The Weavers with different verses. The song peaked at number four on the pop music charts in 1951, and became known as one of the Weavers' "staple" tunes.
The band X recorded a version on their 1988 album Live at the Whisky a Go Go on the Fabulous Sunset Strip.
It was also a popular (often closing) number for Liverpool folk group The Spinners.
In the TV series M*A*S*H, in the episode "Mr. and Mrs. Who?" (Season 8, Episode 9, original airdate November 12, 1979), Hawkeye Pierce asks Father Mulcahy to play the song on the piano as they un-do a drunken wedding ceremony for Major Winchester.
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