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1958:

"Tom Dooley" by The Kingston Trio
"hadn't it been for Grayson, I'd a-been in Tennessee."

The Kingston Trio adopted their name from the calypso sound that was popular in 1956 and 1957 -- specifically from "Jamaica Farewell" that had been popularized by Harry Belafonte. The founding membes of the group were Bob Shane, Nick Reynolds and Dave Guard. In 1958, the Trio hit it big with "Tom Dooley" -- a recording that seemed out of place in the rising tide of rock and roll. The Kingston Trio focused their attention on the college campuses where the "coffee house" feel of their music found a receptive audience. The song is based on a folk song about Tom Dula who was hanged for the murder of Laura Foster in 1866 in North Carolina. Much controversy surrounded the murder as there was an "eternal triangle" with Annie Melton being the third party and another suspect. The Sheriff, Tom Grayson, might also be considered as he was rumored to be jealous of Tom. Although "Tom Dooley" definitely had a "folk" basis, with its beginning narrative and banjo strumming, by the middle of the song it breaks out in a plaintive cry that is very much at home in rock and roll. It became the first folk music hit of the Elvis Era. It was originally just a cut on the trio's first album, but when it started getting extended play time from DJ's in Salt Lake City, it spread around the country and Capitol then released it as a single. "Tom Dooley" became The Kingston Trio's first and only number one hit on November 17, 1958.

LYRICS:

[Intro:]
Throughout history
There've been many songs written about the eternal triangle
This next one tells the story of a Mr Grayson, a beautiful woman
And a condemned man named Tom Dooley...
When the sun rises tomorrow, Tom Dooley... must hang...

Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Hang down your head and cry
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Poor boy, you're bound to die
I met her on the mountain
There I took her life
Met her on the mountain
Stabbed her with my knife

Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Hang down your head and cry
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Poor boy, you're bound to die

This time tomorrow
Reckon where I'll be
Hadn't a-been for Grayson
I'd a-been in Tennessee

Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Hang down your head and cry
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Poor boy, you're bound to die

Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Hang down your head and cry
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Poor boy, you're bound to die

This time tomorrow
Reckon where I'll be
Down in some lonesome valley
Hangin' from a white oak tree

Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Hang down your head and cry
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Poor boy, you're bound to die

Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Hang down your head and cry
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Poor boy, you're bound to die

Poor boy, you're bound to die
Poor boy you're bound to die
Poor boy, you're bound to die

week debuted highest ranking Date Highest Rank Weeks in Top Twenty Weeks in Top Forty BillBoard Rank Cashbox Ranking GT rank
1958 10 6 1 1958 11 17 15 18 28
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