(J. B. F. Wright)

(original lyrics, © 1966 by Stamps-Baxter Music & Printing Co.

Any copyrighted material on these pages is used in "fair use" for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s).

Recorded by Dylan at Delta Sound, New York, NY, late July 1984 and released -- in overdubbed form -- on "Knocked Out Loaded", 1986).

J. B. F. Wright, author-composer of "Precious Memories" (originally copyrighted in 1925), was born in Tennessee, February 21, 1877. In contrast to the majority of modern day writers and composers, Mr. Wright has never taught nor does he claim a great amount of music education. He writes from inspiration, and in his own words, "... when words came spontaneously, flowing into place when I feel the divine urge." Mr. Wright is a member of the Church of God, and his writing, as did his church work, began at a very early age.

Ray Maxwell Stone, Our Hyms and Gospel Songs, New York: Carlton Press, 1972; reprinted in Dorothy Horstman, Sing Your Heart Out, Country Boy, New York: Pocket Books, 1976, p. 61.

In 1952, when John Greenway visited Aunt Molly Jackson at Sacramento, California, she sang for him a poignant song modeled on the familiar hymn "Precious Memories." Molly placed the date of composition as 1935 and the "experience" as 1931. Greenway used "Dreadful Memories" in AMERICAN FOLKSONGS OF PROTEST and recorded it twice. Consequently, I was pleased and surprised to collect it from Sarah [Ogan Gunning] in 1963, for she generally eschewed her half-sister's material.

Sarah told me that she composed the song in New York about 1938 and that Molly "learned it from her" when the Gunnings visited California during World War II. There is no question in my mind as to the veracity of Sarah's statement. Here it can be said that folksong students are in debt to the two sisters for this excellent example of variation within a single family tradition.

Archie Green, liner notes for "Sarah Ogan Gunning: A Girl of Constant Sorrow," Folk Legacy (1965)/Topic (1967).

Precious mem'ries, unseen angels
Sent from somewhere to my soul
How they linger, ever near me
And the sacred past unfold.

Precious mem'ries, how they linger
How they ever flood my soul
In the stillness of the midnight
Precious, sacred scenes unfold.

Precious father, loving mother
Fly across the lonely years
And old home scenes of my childhood
In fond memory appear.

In the stillness of the midnight
Echoes from the past I hear
Old-time singing, gladness bringing
From that lovely land somewhere.

I remember mother praying
Father, too, on bended knee
Sun is sinking, shadows falling
But their pray'rs still follow me.

As I travel on life's pathway
Know not what the years may hold
As I ponder, hope grows fonder
Precious mem'ries flood my soul.

To Lyrics Page
To Table of Contents
To Starting Page