"Searching For A Gem"

Bob Dylan's Officially Released Rarities and Obscurities

A Fool Such As Columbia!

[News] [Updates] [Red Herrings] [Other Pages]

This page discusses the writer credits for A Fool Such As I from the 1973 Columbia album Dylan and international 7" CBS singles.

To return to 1973 or 1974, click the links or click the "Back" button on your browser.

Home ] Up ] Bob Dylan's Compilations ] Bob Dylan's Duets ] Bob Dylan's Early "Field Recordings" ] Bob Dylan's "Field Recordings" ] [ A Fool Such As Columbia ] Alan Fraser's review of "Song of Susannah" by Stephen King ] Mr D's Apocrypha ] Bob "On The Side"! ] Who really wrote "Blowin' In The Wind ] Red Herrings ] Traders in Bob Dylan Rarities ]

Revised: 20 June, 2017


Thanks to Jerry Kendall for his invaluable help with this page. I've used red for the title of the song Bob sings and italics for the song he doesn't.

Swanee.jpg (42379 bytes)
The Swanee River Boys in the 1940s: Buford Abner (who didn't write A Fool Such As I) is lower right

There is still confusion at Columbia over who wrote A Fool Such As I! The current bobdylan.com entry credits this song to "B. Abner" as did the original Dylan US LP, some Columbia singles and the 1990s CDs (see 1973). However, my UK LP copy (also see 1973) credits the song to "Trader" and several CBS worldwide singles credit it to "B. Trader" (see 1974).

The song sung by Bob on the 1973 Dylan album was actually written by Bill Trader, and is credited to him everywhere else (for example on the hit versions by Hank Snow and Elvis Presley, including current CD releases). The active ASCAP copyright (360042268) for A Fool Such As I, sometimes listed as (Now And Then There's) A Fool Such As I, is in the name of "William Marvin Trader".

Bill Trader was primarily a song writer, and A Fool Such As I was originally a hit for Hank Snow in 1952. However, there is at least one album by Bill himself, Bill Trader Sings His Songs illustrated here, backed by a group called the Castaways. Bill also co-wrote a song called I Found Love Again with Hoagy Carmichael. Another song of Bill's recorded by other artists was Don't Wake Me Now, included on the album shown.


Zondervan ZLP-635 (USA) - front scan by Jerry Kendall

Zondervan ZLP-635 (USA) - rear scan by Jerry Kendall

Zondervan ZLP-635 (USA) - Side 1 scan by Jerry Kendall (the Swanee River Boys' version of the gospel song A Fool Such As I is track 3)

Zondervan ZLP-635 (USA) - Side 2 scan by Jerry Kendall

Jim Dandy LP-JD-963 (USA) - front scan by Jerry Kendall

Jim Dandy LP-JD-963 (USA) - rear scan by Jerry Kendall

FoolUS7Trader.jpg (17708 bytes)
Columbia 4-45982 (USA) with A Fool Such As I correctly credited to Bill Trader - scan by Hans Seegers


ASCAP credits for Bill Trader (correct)

FoolUS7Abner.jpg (17469 bytes)
Columbia 4-45982 (USA) with A Fool Such As I wrongly credited to Buford Abner - scan by Hans Seegers


BMI credits for Buford Abner (incorrect)


Jim Dandy LP-JD-963 (USA) - Side 1 scan by Jerry Kendall


Jim Dandy LP-JD-963 (USA) - Side 2 scan by Jerry Kendall (Bill Trader's version of his own song A Fool Such As I is track 1)

But who is "B. Abner"? When a copyright is given for that name, it is "LeFevre Sing Pub Co (BMI)" (see below, the LeFevres were another southern gospel singing group). The BMI web-site identifies him as (James) Buford Abner, born in Lineville, Alabama in 1917 and the lead singer of the Swanee River Boys, a popular Southern singing group who have been performing since the 1930s, and who sang mainly gospel material. Buford Abner wrote and copyrighted many songs (he has 116 BMI copyrights) including a gospel song called A Fool Such As I, but the country standard A Fool Such As I is a completely different song, as confirmed by Jerry Kendall, who has albums containing both songs. The Swanee A Fool Such As I is credited to LeFevre (BMI), the Trader A Fool Such As I is credited to MCA Music (ASCAP). The "B. Abner/Le Fevre" pairing comes from the gospel song, and was misapplied by someone in Columbia in the USA to the song that Bob sings. Other Columbia/CBS companies probably carried out separate copyright searches in their own countries and got it right. Since the mistake was eventually corrected by Columbia USA on 7" singles, it seems incredible that it was carried over on to the soon-to-be-deleted 1990s CD versions and still persists on bobdylan.com!

The photo of the Swanee River Boys shown here was taken in Chicago, IL, 1946-48, and comes from a web-site dedicated to vocal harmony groups of that period. The album illustrated, Swanee River Boys' Finest, which contains the Buford Abner song A Fool Such As I, dates from the 1960s.

Jerry Kendall of Georgia, USA, is a keen fan of gospel music and the Swanee River Boys, and has gone to some trouble to provide scans of the two albums he owns which explain the confusion. Both date from the early 1960s. Thanks to Jerry for this message (Aug 2003):

Hello Alan,

I happened upon your website while doing a search on Buford Abner and think I can clarify some of the questions re: "A Fool Such As I". I met Buford last Saturday at the "Grand Ole Gospel Reunion" in Greenville, South Carolina. He is 85 years old and still as sharp as can be and still sings well and picks a guitar well. He told me of the Swanee River Boys being a summer replacement on radio for The Three Suns (pop instrumental group) in New York many years ago and they continued there for some two years, I believe. He told me of their having such guests on their shows as Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, and Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.

Buford is a great guy and very interesting but he, as you relate, had nothing to do with the popular version of "A Fool Such As I". The Swanee River Boys did a totally different gospel song of the same title, however, on the Swanee River Boys Finest LP on Zondervan ZLP-635 back in the sixties. Neither the record nor the cover specifically indicate that Buford wrote the song but this seems almost certain as the cover says he wrote four of the songs on the LP and it was licensed by BMI; two songs were written by Bill Carver, another member of the group, while four were Public Domain and I have knowledge of the authors of two or the other songs so this one was written by either Buford or Bill Carver. It would seem that the two songs were probably on whatever list Columbia looked at and probably in alphabetical order and they listed the first one in giving Buford improper credit. I believe, but am not positive, the singer to the upper right in the picture to be Billy Carrier and Buford to be the one to the lower right.

I can give you a bit of input on Bill Trader. I have an album by him entitled Bill Trader Sings His Songs on the obscure Jim Dandy Records Label of Charlotte, North Carolina, and Newberry, South Carolina - the cover shows both Charlotte and Newberry but the record shows only Newberry. A postal code on the cover leads me to believe this LP was done in the mid sixties or earlier and I now see that a license plate on a car in a photo of the backup group has a 1962 date, although the picture may have not been taken at the time of the LP.

The author of the liner notes relates having met Bill when he came to WBT (Radio) in Charlotte some ten years earlier and the picture of Bill on the front sleeve is said in a note attached to the cover by the guy I bought the record from a few years ago to be at Looking Glass Falls in Brevard, North Carolina, so it seems he likely was a North Carolina boy, either by birth or by moving to the state.

All the songs on the LP are said to have been written by Bill with "A Fool Such As I" and "Don't Wake Me Now" being included with both being published by Leeds Music. All twelve songs on the LP are licensed by ASCAP with nine of the additional songs being credited to Tripod Music and the other to Brewer Music.

I believe the Bill Trader LP will be self explanatory but some additional info may be needed or of interest for the Swanee River Boys cover.

The Swanee River Boys in the picture on the front sleeve of that LP are (Front to Back) Buford Abner, Bill Carver, Don Stringfellow, and Merle Abner. Merle was Buford's brother and he is now deceased. I don't know if the other two are still living or not.

On the rear sleeve, the members are (left to right) Buford Abner, Bill Carver, Don Stringfellow, and Merle Abner. I believe Buford as Lead Singer and Merle as Bass Singer were members of the group from start to finish while the Tenor and Baritone positions changed on several occasions through the years.

As for my arriving at the likelihood that Buford wrote the gospel version of "A Fool Such As I", the listing of the songs on the back of the Swanee River Boys LP include "O What A Saviour", which was written by Marvin Dalton, and "Where No One Stands Alone", which was written by Mosie Lister, while four others were listed as Public Domain. This leaves the other six songs (all BMI) to have been written by Buford (four) and Bill Carver (two) as I related to you earlier.

Mosie, by the way, is possibly the all time greatest gospel song writer and he, at age 81 or 82, was also at the Grand Ole Gospel Reunion in Greenville last week. In fact, Buford and Mosie, along with two other veteran singers, sang together in re-creating the Swanee River Boys sound at one of the concerts. Mosie is still writing hit songs and it is interesting to read on occasion speculation as to when the expression of rock and roll first appeared on record. Mosie wrote a variation of this phrase about 1950 in the song "Happy Rhythm" which was a big hit at that time by the Statesmen Quartet and has been recorded by many gospel groups since that time. Some of the words are "There's a happy rhythm, it's a rocking and a rolling, I can feel it moving when I sing this song, want to feel the feeling moving on and never stopping, deep within my heart it keeps a rolling and a rocking, rolling and a rocking and a rocking and a rolling, it's a happy rhythm in my soul".

For more information about the Buford Abner and the Swanee River Boys, see . (Link found by Jerry Kendall.)

Jerry has sadly informed me that Buford died in Nov 2011 at the age of 94. An article from his local newspaper which mentions the Columbia mistake can be found here . Mosie Lister celebrated his 90th birthday on 8 Sep 2011! Jerry's son Alan runs the Grande Ole Gospel Reunion site, which can be found here: .

An interesting "urban legend" told frequently by Hank Snow's son Rev. Jimmie Rodgers Snow is that A Fool Such As I was special to his father because the heartbroken composer took his own life after writing the song! Apparently Rev. Jimmie Snow repeated this in a radio interview broadcast by the Canadian national network CBC on 4 Dec 2003. This is fortunately not true, and Bill Trader lived to a good age, dying in 2003. Thanks to Allen Gibson of Florence, South Carolina, for this message in Nov 2003:

"I just stumbled on your website and read with great interest.  I met Bill Trader in 1964 not knowing he wrote the song that Elvis recorded.  Enjoyable man to talk with.  Bill died just a few months ago in Florence, SC, where he lived.  As I understand he was raised in Darlington about 10 miles from here.  He was well known and respected in this area."


RCA Victor 47-5034 (USA) - 7" single A-side, picture from www.45cat.com

Thanks to Mark Matthews for this contribution about Bill Trader in May 2005:

"I read your account of Bill Trader writing A Fool Such As I and thought I would add what I know of the history of that song.

I have been taking music lessons from a man named Bud Orr of Charlotte, North Carolina for the last few months and he has a very interesting story regarding Bill Trader. Bud is in his late 70's (78 I think) and told me recently that the song A Fool Such As I was written on his front porch. I decided I would research it on the internet and found your website.

Bud gives the following account. "Bill Trader had a job performing maintenance on vending machines for Pepsi Cola and dropped by my house with a song that he needed written down. He called before he came by to see if I was busy. He said, 'I've got a song in my head and I'm afraid I'll lose it'. Bill couldn't read music and was a 3 chord guitar picker. He had a melody and would sing it while I played the guitar and wrote it down. He paid me $5.00 for writing a lead sheet for him".

Bud is the one who came up with the chord progression for the song and says that a guy named Howard Simpson ran a recording studio where Bud played guitar on the first cut of the song. Apparently Simpson played a big part in the promotion of the song. He also told me he still has a few songs that he wrote down for Bill Trader that he was never paid for and were never picked up.

Bud is an interesting fellow. He taught himself to play the guitar, later the mandolin, the bass and the banjo. He worked at Griffin Music in Charlotte and pretty much taught himself to read and write music. He has authored 6 mandolin books and co-authored two guitar books with Bill Bay of Mel Bay music. He lives in the same house where he was born, in an old section of Charlotte, has never married and supports himself in his retirement by teaching music and receiving the royalties from his publications."


More "Flying Pig" Bob Dylan pages

The Blonde On Blonde Missing Pictures
The Blonde On Blonde Missing Pictures

The Liner Notes That Sank
The Missing Liner Notes from Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits Vol. 3

Who really wrote Blowin' In The Wind?
Who really wrote "Blowin' In The Wind"?

Mr. D's Collection 2001
"Mr. D's Apocrypha"
(Columbia releases that aren't on Bob's regular albums)

Bob's "Field Recordings" 1961-87
Bob's Early "Field Recordings" 1961-87

The Never-Ending Tour Official "Field Recordings"
Bob Dylan's Never-Ending Tour Official "Field Recordings" 1988 onwards


Bob Dylan at the Movies: An Overview of all Films with Dylan Performances

Bob's Appearances on Compilations
Bob's Appearances on Compilations

Duets with Bob
Duets with Bob

Bob Supporting Other Artists
Bob "On The Side"


My (Dylan-related) review of Stephen King's "Song of Susannah"

 

Home ] Up ] Bob Dylan's Compilations ] Bob Dylan's Duets ] Bob Dylan's Early "Field Recordings" ] Bob Dylan's "Field Recordings" ] [ A Fool Such As Columbia ] Alan Fraser's review of "Song of Susannah" by Stephen King ] Mr D's Apocrypha ] Bob "On The Side"! ] Who really wrote "Blowin' In The Wind ] Red Herrings ] Traders in Bob Dylan Rarities ]


To return to 1973 or 1974, click the links or click the "Back" button on your browser.

A Flying Pig production

Listings 1998-2017
The rights to material from all quoted contributors remain with them. Copyright of all included artwork remains with the various record companies.

You are Visitor No.

web counter
web counter

Counter restarted 24 Dec 2015! Please add around 5 million visits since mid-1998.

Site hosted by