Letter: Standard for evening front
porches and swings.
(04/22/2007 -- 2:36)
Reckon It'll Happen Again; Classic string
band song. It is one of my favorite Beautiful Nonsense songs.
Mason; A string band song and a different
railroad song...no hoboes.
(04/22/2007) -- 1:23)
C-4 Pal Of
Mine; A favorite, pretty standard with nice
imagery. Another porch swing song.
(04/22/2007 -- 2:29)
C-5 Been All
Around The World; String band song showing that
it isn't just a man who had some experience. I wish it was longer.
(04/22/2007 -- 2:39)
Grimes; Love conquers all...with a little
help. And remember -- "Mama knows best!"
(04/22/2007 -- 1:28)
Around The Mountain; String band song of the
'20s. It is fun to play because it is different.
(04/22/2007 -- 1:19)
Maid; One of my favorite love songs...and it is
a waltz...though I have never seen anyone dance to it.
(04/22/2007 -- 2:24)
C-9 Another Broken Heart; Sad ballad.
(04/22/2007 -- 1:51)
C-10 Damned Yankee Lad; I got this song from a Sam Hinton LP. It is always a fun song
to sing...particularly way down South. When I spoke with Hinton later, he couldn't
recall where it came from. "Just old."
(04/24/2007 -- 2:56)
C-11 'Way Down Town; A bunch of ol' time musicians did this at a folk festival in the '60s. I
was there and borrowed it from them. It was done in the '20s by a bunch of string bands.
(04/24/2007 -- 2:01)
C-12 Rambler Gambler; Texas cowboy song that went north to ranch in Canada...and then came back the
better for the trip.
(04/24/2007 -- 2:01)
C-13 Burglar Man; Old standard and good fun.
(04/24/2007 -- 1:42)
C-14 Johnson's Cat; Beautiful Nonsense...my favorite music.
(04/24/2007 -- 2:34)
Anytime the family got in our '36 Ford and
the trip lasted more than an hour, we would hear my Dad sing these next two songs...plus a
bunch of Jimmie Rodgers' songs. If the trip lasted two hours, we would hear them
C-15 Scoldin' Wife; Beautiful Nonsense.
(04/24/2007 -- 1:17)
C-16 Message From Home; Pretty lyrics with familiar tune. E.V. "Poppa"
Stoneman wrote the words. An epic can be made from this short song.
(04/24/2007 -- 2:31)
Miss Liza Jane; 1903 - String band song
and another one of my favorites. It exists in many forms but was written by Tin Pan
Alleyman Harry von Tilzer. It is a primitive mountain string band tune with direct
ties to the hustle and bustle of turn-of-the-century, New York City.
(04/24/2007 -- 1:47)
C-18 Cotton Mill Girls; I heard this at a folk festival and was sung by Hedy West. It is a
song of laboring lament from the early 1900s. The mentioned "Gilmore" is
Gilmore County in northern Georgia. Song was much politicized later.
(04/25/2007 -- 1:57)
C-19 Farmer's Wife; This is one of the least ethnic versions of many similarly themed songs. It has
gone through such evolutionary changes, it must be in public domain.
C-20 Greenland Whale Fishery; An ethnic song coming from the whaling industry and much modified
over the years. Lots of dates are given for the song; 1790s and the ship was The
Lion; March 17, 1849, no ship name; or June 13, 1853. The event in the song
happened many times. My banjo has never had a resonator and I always play it with a
wadded sock crammed against the back of the head, and two wooden clothes pins
clipped to the bridge.
(04/25/2007 -- 2:22)
C-21 O'Ground Hog; There is some truth in this old song...but only some.
(04/25/2007 -- 1:07)
C-22 Railroad Boy; This appears as "Butcher Boy" and "London Boy" in
various forms. The verse block is familiar with the white doves in burials and the
like. British Isles derivation. This is played on my home-made, 4-string, tear
drop lap dulcimer -- cherry with spruce top.
(04/28/2007 -- 2:45)
C-23 Rake And Rambling Boy; Again, a common verse form of traditional tune. "Black Jack
Davey," "Betty and Dupre," and other such songs use this theme.
(04/28/2007 -- 1:27)
C-24 Take A Whiff On Me; This is one of several about the early days of taking dope.
Traditional song and verse form. W. Guthrie claimed it but it precedes him.
C-25 Queensland Overlander;
I learned this while in Western Australia. Later,
I learned that Rolf "Bongo Board" Harris had recorded it. Harris is remembered
for his "Tie Me Kangaroo Down." He is a brilliant man.
Light; The first lighthouse was at Eddystone Rocks, a reef
off Plymouth, England, built in 1698. This song refers to the fourth, built by James
Smeaton, 1758. That one stood 127 years. Cracks at the base caused another to be built and
the Smeaton was dismantled and rebuilt on Plymouth Hoe.
(06/02/2007 -- 1:18)
C-27 Bold Fisherman; Traditional. Always lots of
fun. 1970 Harmony tenor guitar has a different and enjoyable
C-28 Click Go The Shears; This is another I learned in Western Australia. And yet
another that Rolf "Bongo Board" Harris recorded. I guess he recorded most
Australian folkish songs.
(06/10/2007 -- 3:07)
C-29 Blow The
Candle Out; It has the traditional Irish tune
of "The Winding Banks of Erne," but the lyrics are current to whatever
war was going on at the time. It is a recurring theme in England, Ireland, and
Scotland. (This song is THE song that exposed me to the differences in commercial
and ethnic folk music...and set my musical path on the ethnic.)
(06/15/2007 -- 1:58)
C-30 A Tramp On The Street; 1939. Grady & Hazel Cole (sort of). The song had
been published as "Only A Tramp" in 1877 by Dr. Addison D. Crabtree,
and many of the lines are the same as Coles' version.
(06/16/2007 -- 3:20)
C-31 Philadelphia Lawyer; 1937. Woody Guthrie. It was originally "Reno Blues."
That is what it was when Rose Maddox heard it. She and brothers were playing in a
saloon across the street from the saloon where Guthrie was playing. Both were
playing for beer and sandwiches. Rose and her brothers recorded it in 1940 and it was a
Wise; 1808 - Traditional. Omie Wise was
an orphan being cared for by an honorable family, but she got involved with a Jonathan
Lewis in Deep River, Randolph County, NC -- who was far from honorable. The song is a
not-so- fanciful account of the event of spring of 1808. Her long dress had been
tied up over her head by a leather strap. She had also been beaten.
The song ends without conclusion because it was written and
started on its oral path while Lewis was still in jail.
However, Lewis escaped from jail a month after the song
ends, moved to Kentucky and started a family. Six years later, he was located and
returned for trial but with the passage of time, the prosecution's case was not a strong
one and Lewis was released.
Skinners; Traditional. There are several
versions of this song; even one with a Tin Pan Alley tune. Though the words are a
little different in each, of interest is the name of the boss of the buffalo skinners;
Crego, or Krego. That is a strange name to be common in a song that travel by
word-of-mouth for so long.
The Jacksboro mentioned is no doubt in Texas, as this was
an outfitting town the 1880s. The Pease River (in Texas) goes into the Red River and
the Pease is definitely in Indian/buffalo country. For obvious reasons, there were a lot
of Indian battles in that area.
This song is similar to "Texas Rangers"
because they have a common acapella style These were first poems and then done
in a sing-song speaking voice. Many folk songs were this way because of the
scarcity of musical instruments on the prairies.
(06/16/2007 -- 3:29)
C-34 Angel Band;
1864 - Rev. J. Hascall & William Bradbury. This a classic, old-timey,
church quartet, funeral song.
(06/19/2007 -- 3:52)
C-35 Do-Re-Me; Woody Guthrie. This song is/was "Grapes Of Wrath" in
verse and tune.
(06/19/2007 -- 2:25)
C-36 Knoxville Girl; Like a lot of American ballads, the origin is in the British Isles. This
one, which occurs in several versions, is closely akin to "Wexford Girl."
Wexford, in the county of Cork, on the SE Irish coast, was not named as a ford over a
River Wex, but rather for a mythical event. Myths must take the place of history
when a town dates from the early 900s. I got this version from the
singing of the Wilburn Brothers, 1938.
(06/19/2007 -- 2:57)
C-37 Grand Coulee Dam; 1940. Woody Guthrie wrote this the month he was a federal government
(06/19/2007 -- 2:12)
C-38 Texas Rangers: ~1835. This was initially a poem and like many poems was done in a
sing-song voice. There are many slight variations to the song. When sung, an
Irish lament from the 1500s was used. There are similarities with "Buffalo
The Texas Rangers were formed in Nov. 1835. Until 1840, the Rangers, when attacked,
would circle into a defensive position, and accurately fire their single-shot rifles in
rotating volleys. During the time it took to load the rifle, an Indian could release
six arrows. The Rangers did not get the Colt six-shooter until 1840 and then the
best defense was a rapid offense on horse back.
(06/22/2007 -- 3:40)
C-39 Ella Speed: I wouldn't think Ella's last name was Speed, but she was murdered by
a bartender in Dallas in 1901. The song source is from a black community because it
has the usual "women re-ragged in red" reference.
In another such song, "Brady and Duncan", is the verse "they
went right home and they re-ragged in red, and come a slippin' an' a'slidin' and shufflin'
down the street in their big Mother Hubbards and their stockin' feet."
(06/22/2007 -- 2:00)
C-40 Staggerlee: It is never very productive to analyze a commercial folk song.
I wouldn't think "Stagger Lee" by any spelling would be a real person. But
like most commercial folk songs, they are fun to play.
(06/22/2007 -- 3:26)
C-41 Stack O'Lee: This was the origin, in some form, of "Staggerlee." It appears
that Stack O'Lee was a well-dressed pimp, named Lee Shelton, and a bully Billy Lyons
snatched Shelton's fancy hat off his head. Shelton didn't like it. This all
happened in a gambling/bar/whore house in St. Louis on Christmas Day, 1895.
(04622/2007 -- 3:01)
& Dupre; The song has many versions but it
started out rather simply with a short story. As it gained in popularity, people
added more verses. It has gotten pretty long now but the story is the same
In story, it is kin to "Rake and Rambling Boy" and well as, even
older songs like "Black Jack Davey." In all of these, the love
interest wants something and the man commits a crime to please her. "Oh, she
was sweet and gay. She caused me to rob the broad highway."
(06/22/2007 -- 2:36)
C-43 Big Boss Man; Like many such songs, it exists in many variations. This one came about
strangely. I had a friend who wanted to learn to play uke...he decided it would be a
baritone uke. And he wanted to finger pick it. And one of his favorite songs
was this old blues song. To make it even more different, I added my harmonica
playing to it.
So this is a finger-picked blues on a baritone uke with harmonica accompaniment...and
it is long.
(07/29/2007 -- 5:49)
C-44 Dink's Song; 1908.
Dink's Song" ("Fare Thee Well") is an American folk song. The first
recording was done by John Lomax, Sr. as it was being sung by Dink, a black woman.
She was washing her man's clothes at a tent city of migratory levee-builders on the bank
of the Brazos River just outside of College Station (Texas A&M College).
(04/10/2014 -- 3:06)
C-45 Bury Me Not On The Lone Prairie; The ballad has a checkered past having derived from "The
Sailor's Grave" or "The Ocean-Burial". The latter lyrics were written
by Edwin Hubbell Chapin in 1839, and the tune was provided by George N. Allen.
"Bury Me Not On the Lone Prairie" appeared in 1932 (with this tune).
North Carolina (?) is sometimes given as the place of origin.
In some cases, the cowboy did, and then did not,
want to be burried on the prairie; in the case of the sailor, he did not want to be buried
on the rolling sea.
(04/10/2014 -- 4:31)
C-46 Mountains of Mourne; It is a nearly traditional song now though was written by Irish musician Percy
French. It deals with a common Irish theme with the traditional tune. The tune
was used for other Irish songs, as well. The Mourne Mountains are in County Down in
(04/10/2014 -- 3:03)
C-47 Richland Lady Blues; Being a traditional song by Mississippi John Hurt, its date of origin is most
likely lost. John Smith Hurt (July, 1893 or March 1892 -- November 1966) was a
country blues singer, guitarist, composer from Avalon, Mississippi. He taught
himself to play guitar when around nine years old. I did a tribute to him at his grave
site - - YouTube
recorded June 21, 2014..
(05/10/2015 -- 3:15)