Thomas Johnson

Under Appreciated

The man born Thomas Johnson in Bastrop, LA – who became known as the Lonesome Drifter – was inspired by the founders of country and western like Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Williams and Bill Monroe; and his dream was to appear on the Louisiana Hayride
Meanwhile, Thomas Johnson got a poem from an insurance salesman in his hometown called “N----r Boy”, about someone who had big plans for his life.  Johnson changed the title to “Eager Boy”, though in the original, the lyrics have a real poignancy:  After listing his dreams in the verses, including wanting to become Senator and maybe even President – just like the current President Barack Obama the chorus line is:  “But everybody treats me like a toy / Because I’m just a n----r boy”.
Thomas Johnson told Mira Smith that he didn’t want his own name on the record.  She asked him what he did want, and he gave her the name the Lonesome Drifter, adapted from the name of Hank Williams’ band the Drifting Cowboys and also another name used by Williams, Luke the Drifter.   So “Eager Boy” was released on the brand new label K Records, though it was actually the flip side “Tear Drop Valley” that finally won the Lonesome Drifter his spot on the Louisiana Hayride.
(May 2011)
Last edited: March 22, 2021