Jim Dandy: Rolling Stones #352 Greatest Song of All Time

Jim Dandy
By the Artist: LaVern Baker
From the Album: LaVern Baker
Released: 1956
Genre: Rhythm and blues
Label: Atlantic
Songwriter: Lincoln Chase

In 1956 "Jim Dandy" by LaVern Baker reached the top of the R&B chart and peaked at number 17 on the pop charts in the United States. It was named one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll and was ranked number 352 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Jim Dandy

The song is about a man - Jim Dandy - who rescues women from improbable or impossible predicaments. The American English term "jim-dandy" for an outstanding person or thing is first attested in 1844. It may come from the title of an old song, "Dandy Jim of Caroline."


"Jim Dandy" reminds us of another 'hero,' always saving a girl from impossible predicaments, known only by his last name. "Along Came Jones" is a comedic song written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller and originally recorded by the Coasters in 1959. It's a parody of the Western-style silent film melodrama with damsels in distress, mustache-twirling villains, and "Dudley Do-Right"-type heroes. The novelty tune was inspired by the film Along Came Jones, a 1945 comedy-Western starring Gary Cooper and Loretta Young. 

The story is told by a someone watching an un-named western on television. There's a hero (Jones), a bad gunslinger (Salty Sam) and a ranch owner (Sweet Sue).  The TV shows feature various "damsel in distress" scenarios. Salty Sam wants Sue's ranch, so he abducts and places her in the position of signing over her property or facing a gruesome death:

Dudley Do-Right conquers Snidely Whiplash

Ray Stevens did a cover of this song in 1969. We bought the 45 RPM record (ask your grandparents what that means) with money we saved from our TV Guide route (ditto, your grandparents.) We also bought Stevens novelty tunes "Guitarzan" and "The Streak." 

Jim Dandy Mangrum

In 1973 "Jim Dandy" was covered by southern rock band Black Oak Arkansas. It hit number 25 on the pop chart and featured Jim Dandy Mangrum  and female vocalist Ruby Starr. It was the first single from their 1973 album High on the Hog. I saw them in concert with Styx at the Jacksonville coliseum in 1976.


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