Article MT200

Meeting's a Pleasure

Folk-songs of the Upper South

Volumes 3&4

Dedicated to the memory of Annadeene Fraley


Musical Traditions Records' first release of 2007 is the 4-CD set: Meeting's a Pleasure: Folk-songs of the Upper South (MTCD341-2 and MTCD343-4), which is now available.  See our Records page for details.  As a service to those who may not wish to buy the records, or who might find the small print hard to read, I have reproduced the relevant contents of the CD booklet here.

[Track Lists] [Introduction] [CD Three] [CD Four] [Credits]

Track Lists:

Vol 3:
1 -
2 -
3 -
4 -
5 -
6 -
7 -
8 -
9 -
10 -
11 -
12 -
13 -
14 -
15 -
16 -
17 -
18 -
19 -
20 -
21 -
22 -
23 -
24 -
25 -
I'll Have a New Life
Farther Along
Little Bessie
Wandering Boy
The East Bound Train
I Know Somebody's Going to Miss Me when I'm Gone
Mother's Grave
Darling Little Joe
The Evening Train
The Day is Past and Gone
Motherless Children
In a Foreign Heathen Country
Robinson Crusoe
The Unclouded Day
Keys to the Kingdom
Little David, Play on your Harp
I'll Have a New Life
While Passing a Garden
In my Father's House
I'm Drinking from the Fountain
I Feel Like Traveling On
Walk around my Bedside, Lord
There was a Man in Ancient Times
The Old Churchyard
We'll Understand it Bye and Bye
Day is Breaking in my Soul
 
The Dixon Sisters
Buell Kazee
Sarah Gunning
The Dixon Sisters
Perry Riley
Earl Barnes with the Cumberland Rangers
Blanche Coldiron
Annadeene Fraley
Wash Nelson
Roscoe Holcomb
Sarah Gunning
Jim Garland and Sarah Gunning
J P Fraley
Francis Gillum
Jim Garland and Sarah Gunning
John Lozier
Mary Lozier
Henry Hurley
Nimrod and Mollie Workman
The Dixon Sisters
Roscoe Holcomb
Mary Lozier
Sarah Gunning
The Dixon Sisters
Nimrod Workman
 
3:12
5:44
3:43
1:50
2:38
2:07
2:32
2:55
2:40
2:53
2:17
1:38
1:40
3:09
1:27
0:59
4:40
3:05
3:07
2:17
3:11
4:29
2:20
2:20
4:46
Cover picture - Bert Garvin
   Total: 71:37  
Vol 4:
1 -
2 -
3 -
4 -
5 -
6 -
7 -
8 -
9 -
10 -
11 -
12 -
13 -
14 -
15 -
16 -
17 -
18 -
19 -
20 -
21 -
22 -
23 -
24 -
25 -
26 -
27 -
28 -
29 -
30 -
31 -
32 -
33 -
34 -
35 -
36 -
37 -
All I've Got is Done Gone
The Yellow Rose of Texas
Davy Crockett
The Jam on Gerry's Rocks
My Home in the West
Cumberland Gap
Lorena
This Little Light of Mine
Blackberry Blossom
Marching Through Georgia
Brother Green
Morgan on the Railroad
The Dying Cowboy
Garfield March
I Believe I'll Sell this Farm, Jane Ann
Hard Times
There's a Hard Time Coming
"One More Trip" said the Sleepy Headed Driver
The Hard Working Miner
Chinese Chimes
Dusty Skies
The Carter County Tragedy
F D R Reelection Song
Old Age Pension Check
All I've Got is Done Gone
Graveyard Blues
Coal Creek
Notes (Slow Blues)
Chittling Cooking Time in Cheatem County
Got Up this Morning
Black Dress Blues
All Night Long
Boat Up the Water
St Louis Blues
Old Hannah
The Coburn Fork of Big Creek
My Peach Trees are all in Bloom
Turkey in the Straw
 
J P Fraley, Bert Garvin and Group
The Dixon Sisters
Wash Nelson
Jim Garland
Earl Thomas and Billy Stamper
Margie and Gene York
The Dixon Sisters
J P and Danielle Fraley
Blanche Coldiron
Mildred Tucker
Roger Cooper
Hobert Stallard
Ray Hilt
Jim Garland and Sarah Gunning
Mary Lozier
Perry Riley
Jim Garland
Sarah Gunning
Roger Cooper
Annadeene Fraley and Daughters
Wash Nelson
Abe Keibler
Nova and Lavonne Baker
Van Kidwell and Asa Martin
Roscoe Holcomb
Manon Campbell
Henry Hurley
Snake Chapman
Asa Martin
Nimrod Workman
George Hawkins
John Lozier
John Lozier
George Hawkins
Michael Garvin
Roger Cooper
Roger Cooper and Michael Garvin
 
1:31
1:07
2:17
2:45
2:01
2:53
2:28
2:35
1:36
1:31
1:23
1:12
2:07
1:20
0:56
1:25
1:04
3:10
1:30
3:07
2:44
1:01
2:00
2:06
3:02
1:26
1:16
1:15
4:03
2:25
1:28
0:42
1:36
0:54
1:46
1:27
2:20
Booklet Cover picture - John and Mary Lozier
   Total:69:21  

Introduction:

Before she died ten years ago, I promised Annadeene that someday I would dedicate a set of the recordings that we had made together in her honor, in appreciation for her vital assistance in my group's attempts to preserve portions of Kentucky's older musical culture.  Over the years quite a few local people have aided Gus Meade, John Harrod and me in our endeavors and we remain deeply grateful to all of them.  However, no one has helped us more assiduously than Annadeene, who located performers that she may not have known herself previously and who often went along on the field trips with me.  But considerable poignancy lay masked behind this cheerful assistance, for Annadeene harbored her own share of musical ambitions and would have been happier if some larger share of own singing could be released by the Boston company with which these bearded strangers were somehow associated (viz, Rounder Records).  Annadeene was musically talented and was widely admired within her Kentucky community, but she specialized in the sorts of modern 'folk festival' presentations that were simply not what we or the record company sought.  Or, to frame the situation more accurately, by the mid '90s, Rounder had enjoyed 'hits' in a 'folky' vein somewhat akin to Annadeene's, but I never played any role in those sorts of production - indeed, I never met most of the parties responsible for such records (I have instead been employed at sundry universities in faraway towns).  Once in a while back in the '70s Rounder's Bill Nowlin or Ken Irwin would accompany me on a recording trip, but I otherwise worked independently of the company and their internal deliberations have remained quite mysterious to me.  But I was morally certain that I could only 'sell' them projects considerably more 'countrified' than Annadeene's core fare (indeed, as noted in volume 1, early on I experienced resistance along this line even with respect to Buell Kazee's music).  In any case, Gus, John and I never conceived of ourselves as budding impresarios: our overriding intention was simply to get as much of Kentucky's vanishing older heritage recorded and issued as possible (I usually characterize my record contributions as that of 'producer', but only because the more reasonable term 'folk song collector' is now commonly eschewed with undeserved disdain within academic circles in the United States).

I imagine that our musical requirements proved doubly grating to Annadeene, in light of the fact that her husband J P's fiddle music did appeal to Rounder's essentially urban audience.  As a canny observer, she was firmly aware that some of these citified preferences traced to misapprehensions about 'folk music's' true circumstances within Kentucky.  When I read modern criticisms of the major 'folk song collectors' of the past, I am often annoyed by their moralizing tenor, for such commentary seems oblivious to the fundamental problems of equipment, time, money and human motivation that invariably constrain endeavors of this ilk.  Why, after all, should anyone expect that busy Kentuckians would wish to assist urban interlopers in 'preservation projects' without clear benefit to themselves: activities that, by their very nature, raise considerable suspicions of cultural exploitation?  Annadeene and I discussed issues of this type quite candidly and I thought that I might simultaneously honor her contributions to our recording work and supply a more realistic portrait of 'folk song collecting' in the modern era if I sketched our interactions with the Fraleys more fully in this introduction.

J P and Annadeene were born in the early depression to small town families during an era when traditional music could be readily encountered locally, although its character was rapidly shifting.  All the same, the childhood circumstances of the Fraleys were quite different from those experienced by Jim Garland and his sister Sarah, who were fifteen years older than the Fraleys and had been raised in a more constrained mountain environment (these dissimilarities reflect changing times as much as geography: as a girl Annadeene had lived for a period in southeastern Kentucky, but by then she enjoyed far more access to the outside world than the Garlands had).  Accordingly, neither J P nor Annadeene was ever confined to an exclusive diet of family-based music, as often proves the case for musicians who possess very large stocks of old songs.  J P's home music background derived largely from his father, Richard, and his circle of friends, who were country fiddlers in the mold of Alva Greene (no recordings of Richard are known to exist, unfortunately).  I am less certain of the exact measure of music that Annadeene experienced within her own family circle: they had traveled around the coal camps of both Kentucky and West Virginia quite a bit before she returned to Star Branch, Kentucky for high school.  She had several relatives that played on early West Virginia radio and these seem to have made the biggest early impression upon her (her beautiful Martin guitar had descended through the family from one of these musicians).  In their teenage years J P and Annadeene gravitated independently (they were not a couple then) to more 'progressive' forms of music: specifically, to tight harmony groups in the mold of the Sons of the Pioneers.  Annadeene also liked to listen to big band singers on radio like Rosemary Clooney (who came from nearby Maysville and was a childhood friend of the Dixon family).  In fact, Annadeene once told me that, more than anything, she would have liked to have been a popular singer in such a mold, although, as she once told me humorously, 'we could never figure out the chords to those songs'.  In truth, Annadeene had both the voice and the looks to have proved successful in these ambitions, had she not been born just a little too late (the true big band era effectively ended with World War II).  J P himself much enjoyed playing 'western music' and, in later years, liked to listen to Stephane Grappelli and Eddie South.

It is important to appreciate that, although a good detail of indubitable 'folk music' could be readily found throughout the Fraleys' home region, it coexisted, quite happily in this period, with more uptown forms of music.  A few examples: the great jazz violinist Stuff Smith was raised in Portsmouth, Ohio; the skilled fiddler Jimmie Wheeler (from whom J P and Roger Cooper learned many tunes) played bass and guitar in popular music orchestras where he learned to follow their complex charts; a relative of J P's named 'Big Foot' Keaton played excellent swing fiddle on a local radio program.  And so on.  As a result, although J P undoubtedly heard a fair amount of backwoods fiddling within his father's entourage, he did not attempt to imitate much of it nor did Dick Fraley encourage that he do so (in my experience, fiddle playing parents generally spur their children to develop the instrumental skills heard on the radio, rather than imitate their own more rustic techniques).  In Annadeene's case, I always thought that she sounded best when she sang songs suited to the light, country swing sound that she had preferred as a youngster.  Not too long before she died, I located a copy of a record that Annadeene had much admired: Jo Stafford Sings American Folksongs.  And it struck me as we listened together to Paul Weston's gorgeous settings that here was an Americanized form of art song to which Annadeene would have been perfectly suited, had circumstances proved favorable, for such arrangements would have allowed her to express her affection for her homeland and its traditions in a dignified manner consistent with the level of her musical sophistication.

As these natural processes of modernization were unfolding, a simultaneous campaign urged Kentuckians to take pride in their older forms of music.  In fact, the well springs of this movement had begun long before, in the guise of the local color pieces appearing in the late nineteen century editions of Scribner's Magazine and the like, which often featured snatches of folk song prominently.  Sentimental novels like The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come of 1910 inspired musical 'pageants' designed to draw tourists into Appalachia and college courses on 'ballad literature' encouraged Kentuckians to take pride in the fact they had retained a large degree of British folk culture through oral tradition.  Nowadays these representations are often mocked for their inaccuracies but we should never forget that such infusions of 'local pride' once meant a good deal to a young country boy like Buell Kazee, who had advanced, through a dedicated schedule of self-education, from humble circumstances to a comfortable position as a Baptist minister in upscale Winchester.  Rev Kazee retained the fondest memories of his Magoffin County upbringing but he was also proud that he had matured into an adult of considerable talent and accomplishment.  It therefore pleased him when he was invited to deliver Chatauqua style lectures that combined narration and song in a manner that portrayed his childhood circumstances within a respectful setting (The Inconstant Lover on volume 1 is drawn from one of these public presentations).  Ray M Lawless in his 1960 Folksingers and Folksongs in America paraphrases his opinions as follows:

Kazee reports that when he first went to college, he was somewhat ashamed of the old songs; but, after a course in Shakespeare, he found himself at home in the Elizabethan world and therefore began studying and singing the old songs as cultural matter.
Indeed, one of the several factors that later troubled Rev Kazee about the 'folk revival' of the 1960s is that, through its infusion of politically charged content, he felt that his beloved 'folk songs' were being stripped of their dignity-conferring value.  And I think we fail to understand Appalachia's struggles properly if we do not see some justice in that complaint.  However absurd some of those early characterizations of 'folk song' were (and we'll survey some of these in a moment), we should not discount their positive utility in allowing rural Kentuckians a measure of self respect that was otherwise often denied them.

In the Boyd and Carter County region, the chief locus for these kinds of improving 'folk song' atmospherics came invested in the form of the entrepreneur Jean Thomas and her American Folksong Festival.  By any rational standard, this represented a quite surreal affair, as any random quotation from the stage instructions for her 'pageant' indicates:

The Ladies-in-Waiting (Episode IV in the Festival) are attired in full-skirted, tight-bodiced, black frocks, with white ruff at neck and sleeve.  The Narrator, in Elizabethan costume, is speaking the Prologue, which sets forth the English origin of the ballads and mountain minstrels (from The Singin' Gatherin').
Probably Thomas' strangest impulse was to seize upon a local blind street musician, J W Day, and convert him into a literary fabrication ('Jilson Setters') who spoke as if he had fallen from the pages of The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come.  The real Bill Day played a vital role in the musical life of eastern Kentucky and we have already encountered him several times in our tune histories.

In their youth, the Fraleys paid little attention to any of this.  As a young boy, 'Miss Thomas' asked J P's parents if the young fiddler might appear in her festivities, but J P didn't want to bother with anything so stuffy as that.  Annadeene commented:

We really hadn't heard that much about the folk festival - local people just didn't pay that much attention to it, but newspaper people, lawyers and folks like that would come in from other states, even countries from afar.  Now in our minds, the festival was famous, but it just didn't seem like something we went to.  Ashland also had the notion that she was making fun of Kentucky and that influenced everybody as well.  They thought she was making fun of us by dressing the performers in period costumes and so forth.  My goodness!  Children would go barefoot on stage (as if I didn't go through the whole summer without any shoes myself).
In fact, during the early days of their marriage neither J P nor Annadeene played much music.  They had four kids to raise and J P labored in the local brickyard while Annadeene sometimes worked in a sewing factory.  J P and Annadeene Fraley and groupIt was only through a combination of hard work and ingenuity that their economic lot in life gradually improved.  Eventually the brick yards shut down and J P went to work for a company that manufactured the huge continuous miners that extract the coal in our underground mines (J P had done a bit of mining when he was young).  Because J P was both extremely smart and gifted with people, he gradually advanced within the company until they regularly asked him to travel as their representative to locales all over the world where the big machines were being installed.  Eventually these promotions provided the Fraleys with a quite comfortable way of life.  Sometime in the middle '50s J P had entered a local fiddle contest on a whim and won it, much to his surprise as he was utterly out of practice (J P spins the tale hilariously on our NAT website).  Pretty soon a guitarist named Hubert Rogers asked him if he wanted to form a square dance ensemble for the dances across the river in Ironton, Ohio.  Soon thereafter the group asked Annadeene to sing country-western songs for the round dance interludes.  Hubert Rogers had had prior dealings with Jean Thomas and that is how the Fraleys came to meet her in the early '60s.

Thomas immediately recognized that Annadeene was extremely intelligent and could aid her faltering 'pageant' considerably.  Annadeene soon found herself engaged with a large portion of the festival's logistics in addition to appearing on its program.  Quite tellingly, Annadeene once indicated that the best part of her time with Thomas (who could otherwise be a difficult boss) came from listening to the somewhat salacious stories Jean would tell about her early days, when she worked in Hollywood as a script girl and as a publicist for the notorious speakeasy hostess Texas Guinan (the contrast between the secret Jean Thomas and the prim old lady clothed in 'linsey-woolsey' always amused Annadeene).  These entanglements with Thomas didn't last long (Annadeene once remarked that 'she began interfering in our marriage') but Annadeene gained a lot of experience in how to run and publicize a music festival.

As it happens, for some time a small annual Fraley family reunion had been held in one of the state parks and J P and Annadeene were invited to enlarge this into a more public occasion, following the informal model that their friends Nancy McLellan and Barbara Kunkle adopted in their Mountain Heritage Festival over at the college in Ashland (in contrast to Thomas' tightly scripted rigamarole).  By this time, the Fraleys had shifted to entertaining within the little restaurants associated with the parks rather than mainly at square dances and had developed an easygoing stage presence along the way.  Gradually, the Fraley Festival became a late summer attraction for folks in the middle South who were beginning to become interested in their local heritage again.  Ray Hilt represents an excellent case in point: as we noted in volume 1, he had loved the fiddle growing up on an isolated farm across the river in Ohio, but had laid the instrument aside after World War II when he moved north to Marion and worked in the feed business.  After he retired in the 1980s, he and his wife liked to travel about in a camper and one summer they dropped by the Fraley Festival on a whim.  Its relaxed and welcoming atmosphere inspired Ray to pick up the fiddle again.  Roger Cooper and Buddy Thomas had both worked in a tire factory near Marion in the early '70s and Roger was surprised that he hadn't run into Ray back then.  But the reason was simple: Ray was working at the time and wouldn't have found the world of barroom bluegrass playing especially amenable to his old-fashioned, gentler style.  In fact, it is partially because of welcoming forums like the Fraley Festival that John Harrod and I found it somewhat easier to locate old time fiddlers in the 1990s than in the 1970s, despite the fact that their numbers had plainly decreased (the fact that many former Kentuckians had returned to their home state after leaving in the postwar period also helped).

As I observed earlier, I don't believe that such festivals provide as an attractive arena for traditional mountain singing as for fiddling and instrumentally-supported singers such as the Yorks (performing in a group is less conducive to stage fright, inter alia).  Insofar as unaccompanied songs did get performed on festival stages, they were frequently executed in the melodramatic manner of the revivalists ('a capella ballad singing', they would call it), rather than the unmannered narrative of most traditional singing.  Accordingly, a homespun singer who had wandered into such proceedings would be far less likely to suppose as Ray Hilt did, "Why, I can do that too".  Accordingly, although an undramatized singer such as Mary Lozier would occasionally sing a ballad or hymn at a folk festival, the locale never provided a wholly satisfactory functional replacement for the music's former 'home entertainment' venue.  Sometimes Annadeene herself would sing an unaccompanied song or two (she had learned Rare Willie Drowned in Yarrow from Almeda Riddle when they worked together at the Knoxville World's Fair) but I generally liked these performances least, as they seemed slightly reminiscent of dressing in 'linsey-woolsey.'

Although Annadeene found a comfortable place within the world of modern folk festivals, I believe that, in her heart, she secretly found some of their representations a bit artificial.  We were preparing to take the pictures for the Maysville album cover when Annadeene emerged clothed in one of the 'granny dress' costumes that she generally wore for her festival appearances.  I asked, "Gee, Annadeene, you're a handsome woman.  Wouldn't you rather look sharp in your best Sunday clothes?" She told me later that she was flattered by that suggestion, for she truly preferred being taken for what she was: a smart, good-looking and up-to-date woman.  And so that is the way I wish to present her here.

The way that Gus and I happened to meet the Fraleys is this.  J P had begun traveling to some of the fiddler's contests that were gradually rejuvenating around the South; in particular, to Harper Van Hoy's pleasant arrangements in Union Grove, North Carolina.  Gus met J P there and subsequently invited the Fraleys to perform for the Greater Washington Folklore Society.  After we began our work on Asa Martin's record in 1972, Gus suggested that we approach the Fraleys and so I met them on our second trip to Kentucky.  Although Gus and I had both listened to a lot of fiddle music in one context or another, neither one of us had much familiarity with the tunes native to J P's local context (beguiled by irrelevant political boundaries, we instead expected to hear strains akin to those formerly found in southeastern Kentucky, quite a different kettle of fish insofar as fiddle tunes go).  In fact, the airs native to the Ohio River basin were melodically more complex than their southern counterparts and were bowed in altogether different fashion.  In any case, although J P had picked up a fair measure of these local melodies through natural osmosis, much of his active repertory consisted in tunes derived from Big Howdy Forrester, Kenny Baker and other prominent Nashville fiddlers (J P often couldn't recollect origins, for many of his tunes had been absorbed in jam sessions at the festivals and contests he would frequently attend).

But these standard tunes were of little use to Gus and me, for to make a record that would impress our intended audience, the selections needed to be fresh and to reflect the local region.  And there was a second factor that complicated the planning of a fiddle record.  By this time, square dancing playing had dramatically decreased in Kentucky, as the dance's remaining clientele began its weird drift towards fancy outfits and prerecorded versions of World War II era popular songs.  But their functional replacements as a fiddler's audience, the folks who attended the folk festivals, most warmly applauded the stock 'show stoppers' familiar from radio and television.  In truth, when the top 'radio fiddlers' got together amongst themselves, they would often draw forth the older tunes, because they knew they were both prettier and more difficult of execution.  But the conviction that no one else wished to hear these old melodies became deeply rooted amongst most public performers, which is why so many fiddle LPs of the period display such a limited palette of tunes.  Such presumptions Gus and I worked hard to reverse; eventually with some success, I believe.  But in the short run our policies led to some misapprehensions, as J P struggled to satisfy our demands in the face of worries that he should perhaps be recording something else.

For example, he played a perfectly lovely piece called Cluckin' Hen (Rdr 0037) that, in retrospect, must have been derived from Howdy Forrester, although considerably transmogrified through J P's individualistic style.  As such, it represented a rare and perfectly traditional tune, although one that reflects Forrester's Dickson County, Tennessee heritage rather than J P's own.  However, J P credited the tune instead to Ed Haley, whom he had often heard on Ashland's streets as a young boy.  I now believe that this mistaken accreditation arose through the following process.  There were once several tunes involving both hens and left hand pizzicato native to J P's region, one of which he probably did hear as a young man.  However, the intervening years where his fiddling lay fallow and then the emergent pungency of the Forrester setting effectively ruined J P's ability to recall his boyhood tune accurately.  Under the pressure of our crude entreaties, however, he imagined that he did.  J P's performance remains absolutely first class, but it is a pity that its origins were probably misidentified, for one of our scholarly ambitions had been to pin rare tunes to particular regions, in the hope that we might be able to trace historical patterns of fiddle tune transmission thereby.  The reader interested in such reconstructive projects should be warned that much published data on fiddle tune 'origins' has been corrupted by similar processes.

In fact, for some years after, J P was somewhat unhappy that the resulting LP didn't 'really show his fiddle style', meaning that it didn't adequately demonstrate his capacity to perform the modern tunes capably.  In later years, he changed his mind somewhat, as he gradually realized that it was precisely the uniqueness of his local tunes that served as the magnet that slowly began to attract outsiders to the region (Annadeene, in fact, was more prescient about these matters than J P).  Today a fiddler like Roger Cooper is heartened by the fact that young Kentuckians like Michael Garvin are beginning to take pride in their local heritage and play some of the old tunes again, but it took some years of gentle weaning to create such an opening.

No doubt the moralizing critics of whom I complained earlier will find these revelations appalling.  'Surely, the folklorist should record everything in an artist's repertory with the strictest neutrality, capturing exactly their own preferences at that moment in time'.  Yes, but precisely whom did they imagine was likely to fund or fulfill this perfect research project?  I detected no academic folklorist laboring in our pastures throughout my entire involvement with Kentucky's music.  Moreover, it cost us (and Rounder) a sizeable amount of money in terms of equipment and travel to record the material we did; the ideally complete survey was utterly beyond our financial capacity.  In light of those limitations, focusing upon the most fragile local materials seemed the only prudent policy.  Finally, and most importantly, why would such critics presume that any informant would have wished to endure the brutal ordeal of sitting before the tape recorder that a 'complete survey' would have demanded?  J P and Annadeene were the most genial hosts possible, but I doubt that either would have tolerated such a grueling schedule 'for the sake of pure scholarship' (their daily lives were simply too busy to allow that luxury).

I have always been thankful that, courtesy of Rounder's underwriting, we could offer most of our performers the assurance that some of their material would appear on records under their own names for honest royalties (unfortunately, through factors beyond our control, it sometimes took much longer to complete those projects than we ever anticipated).  By the same token, I have been dumbfounded by the streams of revivalists who have persuaded themselves, under the veil of Southern politeness, that country musicians are likely to feel honored to have been visited by urban youth who then publish these tunes on their - that is, the urban performer's - records.  Well, I have never met a fiddler who didn't think better of his or her own musicianship than that!  Again, being able to offer a Rounder recording contract proved the optimal emollient to assuage the abrasions of visitors who were often mistrusted as urban exploiters otherwise (the youth who visited the state in search of fiddle tunes rarely conceived of themselves as part of the commercially successful 'folk music' boom visible on television but our Kentuckians rarely drew such distinctions).

However, in Annadeene's case, I could not offer any parallel opportunity so I tried to explain the basic situation to her as honestly as I could.  These rather awkward initial discussions eventually opened out into an intellectual framework whereupon we could compare astringent notes on how the weird world of record companies, folk festivals and urban revivalists worked.  In particular, I think that we both enjoyed learning the point of view of someone who had been brought up on the other side of the urban/country divide.  And once we got started on the right foot together, Annadeene took equal pleasure in tracking down rural performers who still retained the purest cadences of old-time Kentucky in their songs and speech.  Like Rev Kazee, she wanted to lead a successful modern life without pretending to be anything other than what she was, but she fully appreciated the pioneer generations who had come before.  I am very pleased that on these CDs I can finally feature those parts of Annadeene's own repertory that stand closest to Kentucky's traditions; I only wish I had found a greater opportunity to do so before she died.

Operating as an unpaid intermediary between a traditional performer and a faraway record company was not always easy, but I wouldn't have traded those inconveniences for any other arrangement.  There were many who threw themselves at the feet of their informants with nothing more than a "Oh, tell us of your wisdom, noble mountaineer", having no more tangible rewards to offer.  Some performers, of course, happily succumbed to such blandishments, often becoming tautologous bores in the process, but keener observers such as Annadeene spied the falseness of the posture right away.  There was no reason why a university professor should really wish to take one-sided lectures from her and she knew it.

To briefly finish up the chronology of our interactions, my own visits to Kentucky halted in late 1974.  Some of this was due to my taking a far away teaching job and having little money, but part of it was the result of my having endured a messy divorce in that period.  Annadeene was a deeply religious person and I dreaded explaining my circumstances to her (in this expectation, I was naive, for when we talked about these problems years later, she was completely understanding, having been tutored in the awkward complications of modern life as fully as myself).  In 1994, J P ran into Rounder's Ken Irwin at some folk event and Ken asked J P if he would be interested in doing another record.  J P replied, “Well, would Mark Wilson be available to do it?”  I hadn't been involved in much record work for a considerable time, but I happened to have just moved to Columbus, Ohio and so it was comparatively easy to drive down to the Fraleys' house (starting this project prompted me to contact John Harrod to begin our collaborations).  In the course of working on a fiddle CD (Maysville, Rdr 0351), I realized that I had assembled enough material to construct an album of children's songs (The Land of Yahoo, Rdr 8041) and that I could also utilize some of the song material that J P and Annadeene knew in this context.  That all went well and the Fraleys then commissioned me to record material of Annadeene's own choosing for a privately issued cassette, Another Side of the Fraleys (Road's End 001).  It is from these final sessions that Annadeene's songs on these CDs have been drawn.  By this time, her cancer treatments had slightly coarsened her voice, but the recordings still provided a good representation of the songs she liked to sing.  I told her that one day I would like to blend her traditional material together with some of the field tapes that we jointly recorded and this collection represents the fulfilment of that promise.

I hope these rambling recollections provide some insight into the factors that constrain any preservational project of this sort and provide some counterweight to the methodological critics who never think about the human and economic dimensions of such concerns.  And I also want these memories of Annadeene's contributions to serve as an indirect means for thanking all the other fine Kentuckians who have aided our collecting work over the years in ways large and small.  It would be impossible to cite them all, but I will especially cite Roger Cooper (who has as often served as my recording companion in my later work as Annadeene did before), Nancy McLellan (who came along on many of the early trips), the late Buddy Thomas, Barbara Kunkle, Mary Meade, Wally Wallingford and Gary Cornett (a fuller list is provided in the credits).  I also thank Bill Nowlin and Rounder Records for their logistic support without which our NAT work would have proved impossible.


Volume 3: I'll Have a New Life

As I began to plot out this portion of our program, an underlying theme emerged on its own accord, without premeditation on my part.  Many of the songs on this CD strike me as revolving, in one fashion or other, about the dilemma that philosophers call 'the problem of evil': how can it be that an omniscient and benevolent God tolerates so much undeserved suffering in the world and permits the oppression of the virtuous poor by the callous rich?  Of course, every Christian society has mediated deeply on these matters and the divisions between sects frequently turn upon how they resolve these issues.  American folk tradition, its black and white populations working in complicated crossover, has often managed to epitomize these concerns musically in a most poignant manner.  As such, this CD is not a collection of 'religious songs' exactly, but reaches into the penumbra of compositions like East Bound Train or Little Bessie that lie near them.

1.  Farther Along - The Dixon Sisters, vocals (Rec: Mark Wilson, Roger Cooper and Wally Wallingford, Salt Lick, Ky, Fall, 2002). Roud 18084.  This classic nineteenth century hymn encapsulates our thematic tensions in an admirably direct fashion.  Beautifully sung by the Dixons here, I've never located a reliable attribution of authorship for either words or tune.

Tempted and tried we're oft made to wonder
Why it should be thus all the day long?
While there are others living about us
Never molested, though in the wrong.

Chorus: Farther along we'll know all about it
Farther along we'll understand why.
Cheer up, my brother, live in the sunshine
We'll understand it all bye and bye.

When death has come and taken our loved ones
It leaves our homes so lonely and drear.
Then do we wonder why others prosper
Living so wicked year after year.

When we see Jesus coming in glory
When he comes from his home in the sky,
Then we shall meet him in that bright mansion
We'll understand it all bye and bye.

2.  Little Bessie - Buell Kazee, vocal and banjo (Rec: Mark Wilson, Winchester, Ky, Fall, 1972). Roud 4778.  Gus Meade's discography attributes this piece to R S Crandall and the music was apparently published in 1868 (according to a listing of sheet music I found on the web).  Crandall seemed to have been a prolific composer of songs in this vein, including Little Blossom which occasionally shows up in tradition as well.  Despite its length, Little Bessie has firmly incorporated itself into the Regular Baptist song corpus and Mary Lozier, Sarah Gunning and Nimrod Workman each provided me with fine versions of the song (Roscoe Holcomb has also recorded it on Fwys 02368).  Rev Kazee supplied one of its earliest recordings, for Brunswick in 1928, although he was forced to compress its verses to suit the three minute format.  The song has been recorded many times since and it remains popular in bluegrass circles today.  Kazee's affecting performance here reveals why so many traditional singers have held this song dear to their hearts, for its verses speak directly to the dreadful sufferings occasioned by the childhood deaths that commonly afflicted so many country families.  Sarah once commented to me about another well known folk song that describes the terrors of the same tuberculosis that ravaged her own family:

When I used to sing that 'Lonesome Dove' and I came to the part where it says: my friends expected me to sing 'James', for that was the name of my little baby who died just like in the song. Perhaps such songs provided comfort in reassuring Appalachian families that some wider, objective order must lie behind their particularized sufferings.  Certainly, Rev Kazee's beautifully nuanced shadings in this performance embody a good deal of complex thought on these matters.  For fascinating glimpses into some of Buell's theological opinions, consult Loyal Jones' Faith and Meaning in the Southern Highlands.

“Hug me closer, closer, Mother
Put your arms around me tight,
For I'm cold and tired, Mother
Oh, how strange I feel tonight.”

Buell Kazee “Something hurts me here, dear Mother
Like a stone upon my breast,
And I wonder, wonder, Mother
Why it is I cannot rest.”

“Just before the lamps were lighted
Just before the children came,
While the room was very quiet
I heard someone call my name.”

“But I could not see the Savior
Though I strained my eyes to see.
And I wondered if He saw me
Would He speak to such as me?”

“All at once the window opened
One so bright upon me smiled
And I knew it must be Jesus
When He said, 'Come here, my child'.”

“Come up here, my little Bessie
Come up here and live with Me.
Where the children never suffer
Suffer through eternity.”

“Then I thought of all you've told me
Of that bright and happy land,
I was going when you called me
When you came and kissed my hand.”

“Hug me closer, closer, Mother
Put your arms around me tight,
Oh, how much I love you, Mother
And how strong I feel tonight.”

And the mother hugged her closer
To her own dear burdened breast,
On the heart so near its breaking
Lay the heart so near its rest.

At the solemn hour of midnight
In the darkness calm and deep,
Lying on her mother's bosom
Little Bessie fell asleep.

3.  Wandering Boy - Sarah Gunning, vocal (Rec: Mark Wilson, Medford, Ma, 5/9/74). Roud 4227.  This often recorded number was composed by the Rev Robert Lowry in 1877 as Where is my Wandering Boy Tonight?  Lowry was well educated and the pastor of a large Baptist congregation in Plainfield, New Jersey.  He edited many of the popular Baptist hymnals of the late nineteenth century, as well as composing favorites such as Shall We Gather at the River?  Lowry left an interesting account of his compositional procedures:

I have no method.  Sometimes the music comes and the words follow, fitted insensibly to the melody.  I watch my moods, and whenever anything good strikes me, whether words or music, and no matter where I am, at home or on the street, I jot it down ...  My brain is a sort of spinning machine, I think, for there is music running through it all of the time.  I do not pick out my music on the keys of an instrument, the tunes of nearly all the hymns I have written have been completed on paper before I tried them on the organ.  (J H Hall, Biography of Gospel Song and Hymn Writers)
Lowry's original lyrics are rather different from those found in tradition.  Indeed, the song has itself wandered greatly in its journey from Lowry's original sensibilities to the great emotional investment that rural singers like Sarah Gunning pour into the song.  The Carter Family recorded a celebrated version with a different opening verse; it remains quite popular with bluegrass gospel groups (Ralph Stanley, Dave Evans).  The Wandering Boy that Roscoe Holcomb loved (Fwys 2326) is a different song, drawn (I believe) from the Sweet Songster tradition.

Chorus: Bring back to me my wandering boy
There is no other left to give me joy
Tell him his mother with faded cheeks and hair
In the old home will welcome him there.

Hun 'til you find him and bring him back to me
He is my boy wherever he may be
Although he has wandered in darkness and in sin
Bring him back to me and I'll welcome him in.

Out in the hallway there stands a vacant chair
Yonder is the shoes my boy used to wear
Empty the cradle, the one he loved so well
Oh, how I miss him, there's no tongue can tell.

Well I remember the parting words he said
“Meet me up there where no tears will be shed.
There'll be no goodbyes in that bright home so fair
When life is over, I'll meet you up there.”

4.  The East Bound Train - The Dixon Sisters, vocals (Rec: Mark Wilson, Roger Cooper and Wally Wallingford, Salt Lick, Ky, Fall, 2002). Roud 7390.  Gussie Davis' popular In the Baggage Coach Ahead encouraged a cycle of similarly themed compositions during the late Victorian era, including this fondly remembered 1896 production by James Thornton and Clara Hauenschild (published as Going for a Pardon).  Like other traditional versions, the Dixon's text neglects to tell us whether the old, blind father received his pardon or not (he did); the song gains, I think, from concluding where it does.  Norm Cohen's Long Steel Rail has an excellent chapter on this entire family of songs and correctly observes that the shared truncations of East Bound Train most likely trace to the emendations of some single, intervening performer.  It is worth observing that the same basic phenomenon - considerable divergence from printed sources yet great commonality in the 'folk' variants - occurs many times over in American traditional music, amongst its fiddle and banjo tunes as well as its ballads.  And the basic explanation must be the same: some undocumented chain of communication from some intermediate nodal source has spawned the 'folk' versions. The Dixon Sisters

The east bound train was crowded, one cold December day
The conductor shouted, “Tickets!” in the old-time fashioned way.

A little girl with sadness, her hair was bright as gold
She said, “I have no ticket” and then her story told.

“My father, he's in prison; he's lost his sight they say
I'm going for his pardon, this cold December day.

My mother, she is sewing to pass the time away
But, my poor old blind father, he's in prison and he's there to stay.”

The conductor said, “God bless you, little one, just stay right where you are.
You'll never need a ticket as long as I'm on this car.”

5.  I Know Somebody's Going to Miss Me When I'm Gone - Perry Riley, vocal (Rec: Mark Wilson, A Fraley and B Thomas, Hayes Corners, Ky, 8/29/73).  Perry Riley was Buddy Thomas' cousin and a fine country fiddler in his own right (an instrumental performance appears on volume 4 and several more can be found on Rdr 0376).  All his life he had wandered the South in search of work, living at different times in West Virginia and Arkansas.  The day we met him, he had injured himself in an accident and was waiting for a bus to convey him to an old folks' home, where he died not long after.  Despite all this, he was very animated and cheery that day.  After we had recorded a number of wonderful fiddle tunes, he asked if he could sing a few selections, including this one, of which he stated proudly, “I composed that one myself.” Indeed, though undoubtedly based upon some preexistent prototype, I am not familiar with anything quite like this (beyond distant similarities to the Carter Family's Will You Miss Me When I'm Gone?).  These many years later, I can still vividly see Perry listening to the playback of this number on the headphones and smiling broadly at the results as I packed the rest of my equipment into the car (we were very late to a dinner engagement with one of Buddy's sisters).

Not so long ago one morning, Mother called me to her bed
And she threw her arms all around me, “Listen to these words”, she said.
“Son, I'm going to leave you but you won't be left alone
If you put your trust in Jesus after He has carried me home.”

Chorus: It won't be very long before I get to go see my mother, she's went on.
I know somebody's going to miss me
I know somebody's going to miss me when I'm gone
I know somebody's going to miss me when I'm gone.

When my life on earth is ended and they lay me beneath the sod
I expect to meet my mother somewhere around the throne of God.
I never will forget that morning when they laid her beneath the sod
I thought my heart was breaking but I put my trust in God.

Ever since that fateful morning Christ has been my hopes every day
And I know sometime I'll be with him, I'll be with him there to stay.

6.  Mother's Grave - Earl Barnes, vocal and guitar, with the Cumberland Rangers: Jim Gaskin, fiddle; Buz Brazeale, autoharp; Asa Martin, guitar (Rec: Mark Wilson and Gus Meade, Irvine, Ky, May, 1972).  Previously issued on Rdr 0145.  Earl is from Richmond, Kentucky and usually did not play with Asa's group, although they were all friends.  One of the aggregation's regular members, Gilbert Thomas, had a bank job that unfortunately prevented him from making most of our sessions, so Asa asked Earl to fill in instead.  Normally, Earl sang with his own bluegrass band, the Bluegrass Travelers, which specialized in 'heart songs' like this.  Almost certainly, he learned this song from the Starday recording by Bill Clifton and Dixie Mountain Boys, later reissued on Rounder 1021.  An interesting figure who was perched halfway between country music and the folk revival, Clifton played a large role in enlarging the early bluegrass repertory with songs like this, whose ultimate origins I do not know.

When you kneel at Mother's grave in some lonely old churchyard
To place a wreath of flowers on her grave,
Won't you linger for a prayer and then ask to meet her there
In that land where we'll find peace and happiness?

Chorus: When you kneel at mother's grave
Thank her for the love she gave
And then tell her how much you miss her
When you kneel at your dear old mother's grave.

When you kneel at mother's grave, never try to hide your tears
For many are the ones she shed for you
And now that she's asleep, don't be ashamed to weep
For there'll be another quite so true.

7.  Darling Little Joe - Blanche Coldiron, vocal and banjo (Rec: Mark Wilson, Heathen Ridge, Ky, 7/03/99). Roud 3545.  Meade's discography cites two early claimants: V E Marsten, 1866 and C E Addison, 1876.  The song was recorded fairly often, by the Carter Family, Bradley Kincaid, Mac Wiseman and others.  However, probably the version that had the largest influence was Cousin Emmy's, who often sang it on her popular St Louis radio show (three remarkable airshots of Emmy playing the tune can be found on the Berea College website; they are far more lively than the rendition she later recorded for Folkways).  Blanche learned this song from the radio; I imagine from Cousin Emmy, although I am not certain..  She certainly listened to Emmy, but she also credited other tunes to the radio broadcasts of Pa and Ma McCormick's ensemble (which made a single celebrated recording for Gennett as 'The Blue Ridge Mountaineers').  She especially admired their classical style banjoist, 'Bigfoot' Homer Castleman.

What will the birdies do, Mother, in the spring
Will they pick up the crumbs from around my door?
Will they hop from the trees and tap at my window
And ask why Joe wanders out no more?

Blanche ColdironWhat will the kitten do, Mother, all alone
Will he stop his frolic for a day?
Will he lie on the rug beside of my bed
As he did before I went away?

What will Thomas, the old gardener, say
When you ask him for a flower for me?
Will he give you a rose he has tended with care
Fairest first bloom of the tree?

I could see tears in his honest old eyes
He said the wind had brought them there
As he gazed on that cheek growing paler each day
His hand it trembled o'er my hair.

Keep Tag, Mother, my poor little dog
I know he'll mourn for me too.
Lying around in the shade of a tree
Mourning the long hot summer through.

Show him my coat so he won't forget
His master who will then be dead
Speak to him kindly and ask him of Joe
And pat him on his brown shaggy head.

And you, dearest Mother, will miss me for awhile
But in heaven no larger I'll grow
Any kind angel at the gates will know
When you ask for your darling little Joe.

8.  The Evening Train - Annadeene Fraley, vocal and guitar; J P Fraley, fiddle; Doug Chaffin, bass (Rec: Mark Wilson, Denton, Ky, December, 1995).  Previously issued on Road's End 001.  This song derives from a 1949 recording by Molly O'Day (Co 20601), written by Hank and Audrey Williams.  It seems plainly constructed as a follow up to Molly's earlier A Hero's Death, itself a recasting of a parlor ballad from 1899: He's Coming to Us Dead, written by Gussie Davis, whose earlier In the Baggage Coach Ahead had initiated, we have already noted, the extensive 'misery on a train' binge within late Victorian popular song.  Annadeene recalled being troubled by an overdubbed baby's crying on Molly's original record, although she had, in fact, confused The Evening Train with Molly's Don't Sell Daddy Any More Whiskey in this regard.

Annadeene and J P FraleyWhile on the topic of Molly O'Day, I would like to mention, with fond remembrance, the 1974 visit that Gus Meade and I paid to Molly and Lynn Davis' home in Huntington to interview them both about the fiddler Ed Haley (I had already spoken to her brother Skeets at length on the telephone).  Molly was a woman consumed with religion and Gus and I were struck by the allied spiritual depths that she attributed to Uncle Ed's fiddle music.  A few years later, after the LP we edited of Haley home recordings was finally released, Molly wrote Marian Leighton at Rounder Records that 'the music must have come down from heaven'.  Molly also told me of how much balladry could still be heard around her original home in McVeigh, Kentucky and, in one of the most privileged moments of my musical life, sat me down in a corner and sang me an utterly exquisite Lady Gay, with a text and melody much like Buell Kazee's.  Unfortunately, that was my last visit to the region for many years and so I was unable to follow up on Molly's leads.  If I had, I might have met Snake Chapman twenty years sooner.

I heard the laughter at the station
But my tears fell like the rain.
When I saw them place the long white casket
In the baggage coach on the evening train.

The baby's eyes are red from weeping
Its little heart is filled with pain.
Oh, Daddy cried, “They're taking Mama
Away from us on the evening train.”

As I turned to walk away from the depot
It seemed I heard her call my name
“Take care of baby and tell him, darling
That I'm going home on the evening train.”

I hope that I will have the courage
To carry on my life again
But it's hard to know she's gone forever
They're carrying her home on the evening train.

Repeat first verse.

9.  The Day has Passed and Gone - Wash Nelson, vocal (Rec: Mark Wilson, Annadeene Fraley and Mary Nelson, Ashland, Ky, May, 1973).  “I learned that when I was three years old”, Wash told us.  “I don't forget bad.”  And he was right: at ninety-three his memory was very impressive.  Apparently, his ability to remember complex songs and texts at a young age gained him some local notoriety as a 'child preacher'.  The tune is usually called Evening Shade and is found as such in William Walker's celebrated Southern Harmony.  and elsewhere.  A beautiful lined out version by the Indian Bottom Regular Baptist church can be heard on one (SF 40106) of the two important Smithsonian-Folkways CD collections that have been recorded by Jeff Titon.  Titon reports that E D Thomas' Hymns and Spiritual Songs (usually called 'The Thomas Hymnal' by my informants) credits our text to John Leland, 1804, whereas E W Billups' The Sweet Songster consigns it to one 'Dupuy'.  These two books are the most important sources and unifiers of tradition in our section of Kentucky, but I unfortunately don't have direct access to either one.  Both tended to be printed and peddled quite locally within our region (the Thomas collection was first published in 1877 by a Regular Baptist pastor from Danville, Indiana whereas Billups published his collection in 1854 and lived in a number of locales along the Ohio River).  Mary Lozier drew mainly upon The Sweet Songster as did Roscoe Holcomb (I believe), whereas Nimrod and the Garlands leaned more to the Thomas compilation (in fact, Sarah's religious repertory was very wide, ranging, as can be witnessed here, from the shape note repertory to Holiness shouts).  The song itself is also common in black tradition, ranging from Watch That Star by the McIntosh County Shouters on Fwys FE 4344 to the eerie (and nearly unrecognizable) treatment by the Staple Singers on VeeJay.  Wash includes two verses not included on the Indian Bottom recording.

The day has passed and gone, the evening shades appear
Oh, may we all remember well, the night of death draws near.

Now we'll lay our garments by, down on our beds to rest
But death may soon disrobe us all of what we now possess.

Lord, keep us safe this night, secure from all our fears
And angels guide us while we sleep 'til morning light appears.

But when we early rise and view the weary sun
May we set out to win the prize and after glory run.

But when our days are past and we from time removed
Oh, may we in the bosom rest, the bosom of our Lord.

10.  Motherless Children - Roscoe Holcomb, vocal and banjo (Rec: Mark Wilson, Cambridge, Ma, Fall, 1972). Roud 16113.  Gus Meade's discography credits this to a turn of the century publication by S C Brown and Charles Dryscoll; this copyright claim presumably represents the reason why the song was omitted from the republication of Randolph's Ozark Folk Songs by a nervous publisher.  Roscoe HolcombI've never seen the sheet music Gus cites, but I would predict that it merely represents a reworking of a traditional form as heard here, for the piece's appearances are too varied and widespread to explain easily otherwise.  Of these, Blind Willie Johnson's performance on Co 14343 is particularly well-known, but the Carter Family's quite different performance on Vi 23641 can't be far behind.  Roscoe performs this song on guitar on SF 40104; his fingering technique there is essentially borrowed from the thumb lead banjo styling employed here.

Reliably tracing the histories of older gospel songs is difficult, due, inter alia, to the longstanding practice of altering older songs slightly to obtain copyright advantage or other purpose.  This has particularly occurred with the evocative folk spirituals of the nineteenth century.  For example, the Dixon Sisters sang me the venerable By and By, I'm Going to See the King (as recorded by Washington Phillips and others) as a more diffuse Soon and Very Soon.  The latter represents a 1970s recasting by a celebrated black evangelist from Southern California named Andrae Crouch.  The enormous popularity of his new setting has now effectively eradicated most memories of the original song.

It's motherless children sees a hard time when their mother is dead and gone (x2)
They get hungry, they get cold, they go begging from door to door
It's motherless children sees a hard time when their mother is dead and gone.

It's father will do the best he can when the mother is dead and gone (x2)
Father will do the best he can, but he really don't understand
It's motherless children sees a hard time when their mother is dead and gone.

It's sister will do the best he can when the mother is dead and gone (x2)
Sister will do the best she can, but she really don't understand
It's motherless children sees a hard time when their mother is dead and gone.

It's brother will do the best he can when the mother is dead and gone (x2)
Brother will do the best he can, but he really don't understand
It's motherless children sees a hard time when their mother is dead and gone.

11.  In a Foreign Heathen Country - Sarah Gunning, vocal (Rec: Mark Wilson, Medford, Ma, 5/08/74). Roud 16775.  This is Sarah's family's title; someone later told her that its proper name was A Call to Arms.  According to Gus Meade, however, this Pentecostal piece was, in fact, composed by John B Goins in 1907 as Called to Foreign Fields, and first published in Songs of Pentecostal Power.  Alfred G Karnes supplied a very vigorous performance with harp guitar under that title for Victor (reissued on Dust to Digital 01 or Yazoo 2200; Roy Harvey also recorded the number).  The song vividly captures the sense of wrenching dislocation that is frequently encountered within the memoirs of nineteenth century missionaries.  I found mention of a 'John B Goins' associated with a Pentecostal church in Cleveland; perhaps this is where the composer resided (although he was apparently forced to leave the locale after a theological dispute over the merits of speaking in tongues).

In a foreign heathen country where the people know not God
I am going there to preach His precious word.
Where they bow to worship idols I am going there to stay
For to labor in the vineyard of my Lord.

Chorus: Oh, I'll soon be with my loved ones in my happy heavenly home
Even though the thought my soul with rapture thrills.
So goodbye, my friends and brethren, for my time has come to go
I must leave you on the dear old battlefield.

Many days I've clim'd the hillside, in the sunshine and the rain
Many days I've been in hunger and in thirst.
Just to tell them my Lord is coming back to earth again
With his my gifts and blessings always at the first.

I was called to bear a message to the heathen far away
Even though there a stranger I may roam
Just to tell them that my Lord is coming back to earth again
That's the reason that I left my native home.

12.  Robinson Crusoe - Jim Garland and Sarah Gunning, vocals (Rec: Mark Wilson Medford, Ma, 5/07/74).  Here is a true curiosity, for it represents a condensed version of William Cowper's poem of 1782, The Solitude of Alexander Selkirk, the real life prototype of Defoe's hero.  How it came into the Garland family is unknown to me.  Some of Cowper's texts were set to hymn tunes and so it is quite possible that this setting appeared within one of the shape note hymnals published for the singing schools.  However, the poem commonly appeared in popular anthologies such as Palgrave's celebrated Golden Treasury.  It is a myth to presume that mountain folk, even within a vicinity as remote as the Garland family's Bell County, ever stood entirely isolated from popular literature.  Indeed, I recorded a remarkable folk tale from Jim called The Land of Yahoe (Rdr 8041) which draws upon the Land of Cockaigne fable and alludes to elements of both Gulliver's Travels and The Arabian Nights (Aunt Molly Jackson recorded a version for the Library of Congress, also learned from Jim's mother, that I've never heard; it would be curious to observe the elements she has included in the story).  Moreover, Jim had also acquired from one of his brothers an amazing limerick that entangles President James Buchanan, Queen Victoria and the first laying of the transatlantic cable in sexual metaphor, an odd artifact that reflects an appreciable awareness of far away current events within old-time Bell County.

Around and around by the sea
I must finish my journey alone
Never again to hear the sweet music of speech
I start at the sound of my own.

Around and around by the sea
My rights there are none to dispute
From the center around to the sea
I am lord of the fowl and the brute.

The sea fowl has gone to her nest
And the beast they lay down on the lair
And man must be content with his lot
Now I to my cabin repair.

Repeat verse one.

13.  The Unclouded Day - J P Fraley, fiddle (Rec: Mark Wilson, Denton, Ky, 3/07/99). Roud 17614.  In volume 2 we observed the once common Kentucky practice of playing ballad tunes as slow airs on the fiddle.  Performing hymn tunes was even more common and some churches, particularly the Holiness sects, positively encouraged it (J P tells a hair raising tale of being invited to play at a country church that proved to be a snake handling cult when he got there).  However, choosing J P to represent this tradition here is a bit anomalous, for Annadeene was a devout member of a local Jehovah's Witnesses church.  Most churches of this denomination frown upon any kind of music, but Annadeene's branch tolerated musical performance as long as it provided no representation of any religious topic (for the same reasons as the church forbids the celebration of Christmas).  Although Annadeene and I discussed many things together, we generally avoided religion, in part because of my embarrassing ignorance of creed and in part because Annadeene was somewhat shy about talking of a church regarded as controversial even within her community (let alone by an uncomprehending academic such as myself).  However, the evidences of her devotion were quite palpable, as she had many bookcases lined with church literature.  I came to learn of her sect's unusual musical restrictions one day after she had requested a suitable 'English ballad' to learn for her festival.  I had collected an unusual version of The Lady Gay out in Oregon that would have suited her voice perfectly, but she then informed me that, although she liked it, its reference to a heavenly 'King who might grant my boon' rendered it off-limits theologically.

I don't believe that J P himself officially joined the Witnesses, although his devoted and wonderfully supportive friends, Doug and Donna Chaffin, did.  One day after Annadeene's death we were planning how to supplement the Fraleys' old Rounder LP Wild Rose of the Mountain with new selections for CD reissue, and decided that an unaccompanied cut might best bridge the gap between old and new.  “Did your dad ever play hymns on the fiddle?” I asked.  “Oh, sure, The Unclouded Day was his favorite tune.”  “Well, how about that one?” I inquired, but J P hesitated, after many years of having conscientiously avoided religious material.  After a bit of thought, he relented, although we wound up utilizing the setting of One Morning in May that he and Annadeene used to perform together instead.  However, J P must have decided that he liked playing The Unclouded Day, for he recorded it as a duet with Betty Vornbrock on the Side by Side CD they recorded not long after our own session.

And well that J P should like it, as it surely represents one of our most evocative gospel pieces, composed by the Rev J K Alwood in 1882.  My favorite rendering is that by Cliff Carlisle with his son Tommy (Decca 5716).

14.  Keys to the Kingdom - Francis Gillum, vocal (Rec: Mark Wilson and Gus Meade, Isom, Ky, April, 1974).  This fine gospel song saw a number of fine recordings on early 'race records' (Washington Phillips, Blind Willie Davis, Bessie Johnson) and there is a nice Library of Congress recording by Lillie Knox on Rdr 1831 that carries verses similar to Francis'.  His impassioned performance here indicates the degree to which spirituals of this type represent a nineteenth century folk heritage shared by white and black Southern Baptists.

Francis Gillum (left) with Alva GreeneOh, they called old John from the idols and put him in a kettle of oil
The Lord came down from heaven above, they tell me that the oil wouldn't boil.

Chorus: He had the keys to the kingdom and faith unlocked the door
He had the keys to the kingdom and the world couldn't do him any harm.

Go get your trumpet, Gabriel, and move down by the sea
And don't you blow that trumpet until you hear from me.

Oh, they put old Paul and Silas down in the jail below
While one did sing, the other did shout; the angel unlocked the door.

Oh Shadrac said Mishac, Mishac to Abednigo,
"The Lord's been good to us three boys, so count up the cost and let's go."

Oh, when you think you're living right and serving God every day
Just fall right down on your bended knees, He'll hear every word you say.

15.  Little David, Play on Your Harp - Jim Garland and Sarah Gunning, vocals (Rec: Mark Wilson, Medford, Ma, 5/08/74).  This fine call and response gospel number can be found in most of the standard collections (J and J Johnson, Book of Negro Spirituals; J Work, American Negro Songs).  The Fisk University Jubilee Singers recorded a very early version and a gloriously wild version was recorded in the 1950's at a revival meeting in Whitesburg by Brother Claude Ely (King 1375).  In a tamer setting, it seems to have recently become a campfire favorite at children's camps.  Nimrod and his wife Molly supplied me with an excellent version as well, which I plan to include on a future reissue of Nimrod's Rounder LP (0076).  Jim and Sarah's version is unusual in focusing upon Noah's travails rather than David's battle with Goliath.

Well, the Lord told Noahy (good Lord) for to build an ark (good Lord)
Out of gopher wood (good Lord) and gopher bark, good Lord.

Chorus: Little David, play on your harp, hallelu, hallelujah
Little David, play on your harp, hallelu.

Well, the Lord told Noahy (good Lord) just what to do (good Lord)
He began to saw (good Lord), and he began to hew, good Lord.

Well, it looks like rain (good Lord), oh, yes it might (good Lord)
Rain forty days (good Lord) and forty nights, good Lord.

Well, the water kept raising (good Lord) to the top of the house (good Lord)
Well, they opened up the windows (good Lord) and they all jumped out, good Lord.

John and Mary Lozier16.  I'll Have a New Life - John Lozier, harmonica (Rec: Mark Wilson and Roger Cooper, South Portsmouth, Ky, 9/26/99).  This is a typical modern gospel product, written in the 1940s by Luther G Presley for the Stamps-Baxter syndicate.  It was popularized by Hank Williams and John may have learned it from such a source.

17.  While Passing a Garden - Mary Lozier, vocal (Rec: Mark Wilson and Roger Cooper, South Portsmouth, Ky, 9/26/99).  I believe this song derives from Billups' Sweet Songster, although I can't verify it.  Mary considered this to be her favorite song and commented:

I really like these old songs because they all have a story to tell and, no matter how long it takes to tell it, they take the time to do it.
G P Jackson cites an anonymous early version from oral tradition in The Northern Harmony.  Most but not all of Mary's verses can also be found in the memoir of William Taylor, bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church for Africa, The Story of My Life of 1895, and I've also encountered passing quotations from it within diaries from the Civil War period.

While passing a garden, I paused for to hear
A voice faint and plaintive from one that was there.
The voice of the sufferer affected my heart
While in agony pleading the poor sinner's part.

In offering to heaven His pitying prayer
He spoke of the torments the sinner must bear
His life as arisen He offered to give
That sinners redeemed in glory might live.

I listened a moment and I turned me to see
What man of compassion this stranger could be
I saw Him low kneeling upon the cold ground
The loveliest Being that ever was found.

His mantel was wet with the dews of the night
His locks by pale moonbeams were glistening and bright
His eyes, bright as diamonds, to heaven were raised
While angels, in wonder, stood around him amazed.

So deep were His sorrows, so fervent His prayers
That down o'er his bosom ran sweat, blood and tears
I wept to behold him and I asked Him His name
He answered, 'It's Jesus, from heaven I came.'

'I am thy redeemer, for thee I must die
'The cup is most bitter but it cannot pass by
'Thy sins like a mountain are laid up on Me
'And all this deep anguish I suffer for thee.'

I heard with deep sorrow the tale of His woe
While tears like a fountain of waters did flow
The cause of His sorrows, to hear him repeat
Affected my heart and I fell at His feet.

Trembling with horror and loudly did cry
“Lord, save a poor sinner, oh, save, or I die.”
He smiled when He saw me and said to me, “Live.
Thy sins, which are many, I freely forgive.”

How sweet were the moments He bid me rejoice
His smiles, oh how pleasant, how cheering his voice.
I flew from the garden to shout it abroad
I shouted, “Salvation, and glory to God.”

I am now on my journey to mansions above
My soul's full of glory, of light, peace and love
I think of the garden, the prayer and the tears
Of that loving stranger who banished my fears.

The day of bright glory is rolling around
When Gabriel, descending, his trumpet shall sound
My soul then in rapture of glory shall rise
To gaze on that stranger with unclouded eyes.

18.  In My Father's House - Henry Hurley, vocal and guitar (Rec: Mark Wilson and Annadeene Fraley, Flatwoods, Ky, May,1973). Roud 16172.  This well known gospel song was recorded by the Carter Family as There'll be Joy, Joy, Joy, although their version does not include the father, mother, friends ...  substitutions that Henry's version utilizes.  Presumably, the lyrics allude to John 14:2.

Don't you want to go up there, up in my Father's house
Up in my Father's house, up in my Father's house
Don't you want to go up there, up in my Father's house
Oh, there's peace, peace, peace.

There'll be no drunkards there, up in my Father's house
Up in my Father's house, up in my Father's house
There'll be no drunkards there, up in my Father's house
Oh, there's peace, peace, peace.

We'll meet our friends up there, up in my Father's house
Up in my Father's house, up in my Father's house
We'll meet our friends up there, up in my Father's house
Oh, there's peace, peace, peace.

We'll meet our mothers there, up in my Father's house
Up in my Father's house, up in my Father's house
We'll meet our mothers there, up in my Father's house
Oh, there's peace, peace, peace.

We all be one up there, up in my Father's house
Up in my Father's house, up in my Father's house
We'll all be one up there, up in my Father's house
Oh, there's peace, peace, peace.

19.  I'm Drinking from the Fountain - Nimrod and Mollie Workman, vocals (Rec: Mark Wilson and Ken Irwin, Chattaroy, WV, 3/03/76).  Epstein's Sinful Tunes and Spirituals finds a Civil War mention of this while G P Jackson, in White and Negro Spirituals traces its refrain to a Revivalist Hymnal of 1872 from upstate New York.  Early complete texts can be found as I've Just Come from the Fountain in Marsh's roughly contemporaneous (1880) The Story of the (Fisk) Jubilee Singers; it also appears in Work's later American Negro Songs.  In my estimation, Jackson was unduly concerned to demonstrate the white antecedents of the well-known black spirituals and revival songs, for I'm sure that this very distinctive corpus of American song was forged in some very complicated crossover between the populations that defies ready summary, in the same fashion as our fiddle tunes were apparently framed.  Incidently, I once recorded a violin piece with the title Just from the Fountain from Missouri's Art Galbraith (Rdr 0157).  I don't detect any immediate melodic affinity, but Randolph had collected our hymn within Art's vicinity.

When we were recording, Nimrod asked his wife Molly to join in on several charming religious numbers and, as stated above, I hope to release more of these in the future.  Nimrod and Mollie WorkmanOn Nimrod's earlier LP (JA 0001), he had recorded similar duets with his daughter Phyllis.  A few years later, Phyllis played the mother in the Loretta Lynn biography A Coal Miner's Daughter and Nimrod and banjoist Lee Sexton can be briefly glimpsed in that film as well.

Chorus: I'm drinking from the fountain, Lord (x3)
That never runs dry.

Oh, fathers, I love Jesus; I love him, yes, I do
Oh, fathers, I love Jesus and you must love Him too.

Oh, mothers, I love Jesus; I love him, yes, I do
Oh, mothers, I love Jesus and you must love Him too.

Oh, brothers, I love Jesus; I love him, yes, I do
Oh, brothers, I love Jesus and you must love Him too.

Oh, sisters, I love Jesus; I love him, yes, I do
Oh, sisters, I love Jesus and you must love Him too.

20.  I Feel Like Traveling On - The Dixon Sisters, vocals (Rec: Mark Wilson, Roger Cooper and Wally Wallingford, Salt Lick, Ky, Fall, 2002).  In contrast to many of the texts found on this CD, the origins of this popular gospel number are easy to glean: William Hunter, 1912.  Many modern recordings: Loretta Lynn, The Wilburn Brothers, the Easter Brothers, etc.

My heavenly home is bright and fair
I feel like traveling on
No pain nor death can enter there
I feel like traveling on.

Chorus: Yes, I feel like traveling (traveling on)
I feel like traveling on (traveling on)
My heavenly home is bright and fair
I feel like traveling on.

The Lord has been so good to me...
Until that blessed home I see...

Its glittering towers the sun outshine...
That heavenly mansion shall be mine...

Let other seek a home below...
Which flames devour or waves o'erflow...

21.  Walk Around my Bedside, Lord - Roscoe Holcomb, vocal and banjo; John Cohen, guitar (Rec: Mark Wilson, Cambridge, Ma, Fall, 1973).  I know little about this number, which, like many nineteenth century revivalist songs, derives its intensity from its intentional repetitiveness.  It was certainly in tradition by 1937, as an article (which I've not been able to consult) in one of the Texas Folklore Society volumes establishes.  The composition I Want Jesus to Walk Around my Bedside as recorded by the Selah Jubilee Singers, Rosetta Tharpe and the Soul Stirrers is distinct and more elaborate, although clearly related to Roscoe's.  He has previously recorded the piece on guitar: SF 40104.  Indeed, Roscoe's approach to the guitar, in league with other southeastern Kentucky performers such as Daw Henson, essentially represents a transfer of banjo technique over to the newer (in the mountains) instrument.  Indeed, Maybelle Carter of the Carter Family likewise described her celebrated guitar style as a modified banjo pattern.

Chorus: It's walk around my bedside, Lord, walk all around
Walk around my bedside, Lord.  (x2)

It's when I am sick, Lord, walk all around....

It's when I am praying, Lord, walk all around....

It's when I am dying, Lord, walk all around...

22.  There was a Man in Ancient Times - Mary Lozier, vocal (Rec: Mark Wilson and Roger Cooper, South Portsmouth, Ky, 9/26/99). Roud 3386.  Sometimes this composition is categorized as a version of Child 56 (e.g., Bronson's Library of Congress Child LPs), but that designation is merely the product of excessively eager ballad seeking.  Instead, we witness an independent American text of the middle nineteenth century whose only link to the English Dives and Lazarus flows through their common inspiration in Luke:16-9.  In the American Missionary of 1887 under the heading of 'Religious Doggerel', our song is singled out for condemnation, with this comment:

The Sweet Songster is the name of a little hymn book published in Catlettsburg, Kentucky.  It contains verses composed, compiled, amended or altered, according to the sweet pleasure of one Edward W.  Billups, DD.  There are some old familiar hymns scattered through the book, but often sadly marred by omission, alteration or addition.  Some of the original effusions are ludicrous in the extreme.  The poet shows his estimation of education when he describes the Christians of old:

Small learning had they and wanted no more
Not many could read, but all could adore.
No help from the college or school they received
Content with his knowledge in whom he believed.
If I understand this critic correctly, he believed that our text originated with Billups himself.  The song itself is found fairly often in tradition (Aunt Molly Jackson knew it and Mike Yates cites an unpublished Sharp text), but that dissemination probably traces entirely to The Sweet Songster.

There was a man in ancient times, the scripture doth inform us
Whose pomp and grandeur and whose crimes were great and very numerous.

This man fared sumptuously each day in purple and fine linen
He ate and drank but he scorned to pray, spent all his days in sinning.

Poor Lazarus lying at the gate, to help himself unable
Did for the fragments humbly wait that fell from his rich table.

But not one bite would he bestow, would the rich ?** give him
The dogs took pity, licked his sores, more ready to relieve him.

At length Death came, this poor man died, by angel bands attended
Away to Abraham's bosom high, where his sorrows all are ended.

The rich man died, was buried too, but, oh, his dreadful station
With heaven and Lazarus in view, he landed in damnation.

He cried, “Oh, Father Abraham, send Lazarus with cold water
For I'm tormented in these flames with a tormenting torture.”

Old Abraham said, “Remember well, you once did wealth inherit
But you're doomed to Death and Hell because you would not share it.”

“This Lararus whom you now behold, all clothed in shining glory
Did once lay hungry, wet and cold, naked and sick before you.

But not one crumb would you bestow or pity his condition
Therefore to glory he must go and you sink in perdition.”

“Beside here is a dreadful gulf, cuts off communication
And Heaven you never can enjoy, which augments your damnation.

Oh, Father Abraham, design to hear, oh, hear my last desire
And then I'll yield to black despair and everlasting fire.”

“My brethren in my father's house are going fast to ruin
Send Lazarus that he may arouse and hinder their undoing."

"Your brothers has a means of grace, the prophets, too, and Moses
Sufficient if they choose good ways to o'ercome whate'er opposes.”

“But, oh, if Lazarus would arise", replied the poor tormented
"Perhaps he might open their eyes, therefore might be prevented."

"If they refuse," old Abraham said, "the means that are provided
Although one rises from the dead, they will not be persuaded.”

23.  The Old Churchyard - Sarah Gunning, vocal (Rec: Mark Wilson, Medford, Ma, 5/05/74).  This, I think, is one of Sarah's loveliest performances and I imagine that I failed to include it on her Rounder LP only because we had just previously issued a fine performance by Almeda Riddle (Rdr 0017; a version which was apparently taken up by the British folk-rock movement, somewhat to my surprise).  Almeda's recorded version includes several lyric groupings that were not found in her book (A Singer and her Songs) nor heard here.  Versions similar to Sarah's can be found in G P Jackson, Down East Spirituals (from the Georgia Scared Harp of 1869) and, from black tradition, Taylor, Plantation Melodies (1882).

Oh, come, come with me to the old churchyard
I well know the path through the soft green sward
And the friends lingering there who we will want to regard
We will trace out the names in the old churchyard.

Oh, weep not for them their trials are o'er
Weep not for them that weep no more.
For deep is their sleep, though cold and hard
Whose pillow may be in the old churchyard.

Oh, were I at rest beneath yon tree
Why should you weep, dear friends, for me?
I am way worn and sad, oh why then retard
From the rest that I seek in the old churchyard?

I'll rest in the hope of that bright day
When beauty shall spring from the prison of clay
When Gabriel's voice and the trumpet of God
Shall awaken the saints in the old churchyard.

24.  We'll Understand it Better By and By - The Dixon Sisters, vocals (Rec: Mark Wilson, Roger Cooper and Wally Wallingford, Salt Lick, Ky, Fall, 2002).  Another appealing direct embodiment of the 'problem of evil' theme, this justly celebrated hymn was composed in 1905 by one of the important pioneers within the gospel song movement, Charles A Tindley.  A good account of his work can be found in B Reagon, ed, We'll Understand it Better By and By.

Chorus: By and by when the morning comes
All the saints of God are gathered home
We will tell the story of how we've overcome
And we'll understand it better by and by.

We are often tossed and driven on the restless sea of time
Somber skies and howling tempest all succeed a bright sunshine
In that land of perfect day when the mists have rolled away
We will understand it better by and by.

Trials dark on every hand and we cannot understand
All the ways that God would lead us to that blessed promised land.
But He guides us with His eye and we'll follow 'til we die
For we'll understand it better by and by.

Temptation's hidden snares often take us unawares
And our hearts are made to grieve for a thoughtless word or deed
And we wonder why the test when we try to do our best
But we'll understand it better by and by.

25.  Day is Breaking in my Soul - Nimrod Workman, vocal (Rec: Mark Wilson and Ken Irwin, Chattaroy, WV, 3/03/76). Roud 18268.  Often called Bright Morning Stars are Rising, this simple song is rightly regarded as one of Appalachia's most beautiful folk hymns.  George Tucker's performances (Rdr 0064) seem to have introduced the song to the revival and Ralph Stanley recorded the piece subsequently on his classic Cry from the Cross (Rebel 1499).  Nimrod sings the piece with notable elongation.

Oh, where is my dear father? 
Day is breaking in my soul.
Chorus: Bright morning stars are arising (x2)
Day is breaking in my soul.

So, where is my dear father?  (x2)

He's down in the valley praying...

Oh, where is my dear mother?....

She's gone to heaven shouting...

Oh, where is my dear sister?....

She's gone with the angels shouting...


Volume 4: All I've Got is Done Gone

The noted Grand Ole Opry recording artist Uncle Dave Macon wrote in a songbook he used to sell upon his tours:
In our home state, Tennessee, when the great flood on March 28, 1902 swept the homes and fortunes of many of our old friends and neighbors, it was then that I was engaged in farming and the transfer business from Murfreesboro to Woodbury, using wagons and teams, with Hatton Sanford as general manager.  The day came when we could start wending our way up and down the nationally known hills of Cannon County.  When we at last reached the city limits of Woodbury, to find the first face to greet us was none other than the old familiar face of Bob Vernon, a noted musician, chimney builder, gardener, and general flunkey.  Our first question was, “Well, Bob, how did the flood serve you?” He replied, “Boss, all I've got is gone.” That is where I received the inspiration and title for this song.
On this CD we do not hear Uncle Dave's wonderful song per se (available on Bear Family 15978), but instead a rather jaunty ragtime tune titled in the same spirit of wry resignation.  Insofar as this final CD in our set can claim any organizational plan whatsoever, it is to sketch a range of country reactions to historical and economic events, followed by some documentation of how various African-American influences have affected the music of the Kentucky highlands.  Our collection concludes with a few stray ditties and fiddle tunes that further illustrate the state of traditional music in Kentucky today.

1.  The Yellow Rose of Texas - J P Fraley, fiddle; Bert Garvin, banjo, Keith Garvin, jew's harp, Danielle Fraley, guitar, Doug Chaffin, bass (Rec: Mark Wilson, Denton, Ky 3/08/99).  This well known tune originated on the minstrel stage c.1850 and it and sundry parodies frequently appear in songsters of the period.  It retained some popularity in 'hillbilly' music circles and as atmospherics in western movies (eg, the eponymous vehicle starring Roy Rogers, who, as it happens, was raised just down the road from Ray Hilt's boyhood farm).  It received a substantial boost in popularity in the 1950s through an oddly martial recording by Mitch Miller (often credited with singlehandedly degrading the quality of American popular song through his A&R work at Columbia Records).  The caprice that the 'yellow rose' of the song depicts the Emily Morgan who allegedly distracted Santa Ana before the battle of San Jacinto appears to be a twentieth century fabrication.

While on the topic of fiction, I have been depressed to discover the urban revival attaching completely bogus commentary to tunes that trace entirely to the collecting work of our NAT group.  I suppose that such embellishments represent the 'folk process' at work, but their handicraft will cast obstacles in the path of future scholars who attempt to understand American folk music in its true historical contours.

2.  Davy Crockett - The Dixon Sisters, vocals (Rec: Mark Wilson, Roger Cooper and Wally Wallingford, Fall, 2002). Roud 3589.  This strange song is greatly loved by musicians such as the Dixon sisters (who learned it from their dad).  The concoction seems to have begun life as a tall tale in the pamphlet almanac, The Sketches and Eccentricities of Col.  David Crockett of West Tennessee (1833; quoted in Botkin's Treasury of American Folklore):

You all know I love hunting.  Well, I discovered a long time ago that a 'coon couldn't stand my grin.  I could bring one tumbling down from the highest tree.  I never wasted powder and lead when I wanted one of the creatures.  Well, as I was walking out one night, a few hundred yards from my house, looking carelessly about me, I saw a 'coon planted on one of the highest limbs of an old tree.  The night was very moony and clear and old Rattler was with me, but Rattler won't bark at a 'coon - he's a queer dog in that way.  So I thought I'd bring the lark down in the usual way, by a grin.  I set myself and, after grinning at the 'coon for a considerable time, found that he didn't come down.  I wondered what was the reason - and I took another steady grin at him.  Still he was there.  It made me a little mad, so I felt 'round and got an old limb five feet long and, planting one end on the ground, I placed my chin on the other and took a rest.  I then ginned my best for about five minutes but the cursed 'coon hung on.  So finding that I could not bring him down by grinning, I was determined to have him, for I thought he must be a droll chap.  I went over to the house, got my axe, returned to the tree, saw the 'coon still there, and began to cut away.  Down it came and I ran forward, but, d--m, the 'coon was there to be seen.  I found that what I had taken for one was a large knot upon the branch of the tree and, upon looking at it closely, I saw that I had grinned all the bark off and left the knot perfectly smooth.
Here I should indicate that Davy Crockett was a genuine historical figure who functioned as both a politician and a frontiersman (he died in the celebrated Battle of the Alamo).  At the same time, he was the hero of a sequence of Baron Munchausen-like narratives that embellished a series of farmer's almanacs in the early nineteenth century (these tales have been much studied, beginning with Rourke's celebrated American Humor).  Quite independently, preposterous claims of mesmerism involving animals represent a staple of 'liar's tale' fabrications (J P Fraley is greatly adept at improvisations of this sort and has won a few 'liar's contests' as a result - see Rdr 8041).

This specific anecdote seems to have been well enough known in the 1830s that other minstrel songs of the period (Clare the Kitchen) could presume that their audiences would recognize an oblique allusion to the original story.  However, this background assumption failed for the generations of later folk musicians who have loved the minstrel song as inspired nonsense but have not heard the originating anecdote.  For this reason, it is useful to publish a version of the piece as it would have been apparently performed on the minstrel stage.  These verses are copied (with regularized lexicography) from Lloyd's Ethiopian Song Book which was printed in London in 1847:

As I sing to folk that I think is disarming
I'll tell you where I come from and where I got my l'arning.
I'm hot from ole Virginny where you find all great men.
As I'm Pompey Smash, one of the principal statesmen
I'm second boss to none on this side of the sun
And, by the Lord, I weigh without my head half a ton.

The Dixon SistersThe world's made of mud and the Mississippi River
The sun's a ball of fox fire, as you diskiver.
The moon's made of cheese and always keeps a-flying
De world stands still while the sun keeps a-going
And the stars are ladies' eyes that 'round the world flies
To give us a little light when the moon don't rise.

And now I've explained these things in a logigraphic manner
I give you a little touch of old Virginny grammar
They say, “fetch and tote” instead of “bring and carry”
And that what they call grammar, by the lord Harry
And the Yankees all guess, but the French speak the best
For they say, “Oui, Monsieur” when they go to say “Yes.”

There's another poor damn proud Susquehanna nigger
About as big as me and maybe little bigger
'The old Zip Coon' is what the folks call him
And if I ever catch him, I intend for to maul him
Such trash as he, shouldn't take the liberty
To walk about the street and scandalize me.

Now I'll tell you about a fight I had with Davy Crockett
That half horse, half 'coon and half sky rocket.
I met him one day as I go out a gunning
I ask him where he's going and he say he going a-'cooning
But I ask him where's his gun?  and he say he got none
Then I say, “Davy, how you going to hunt without one?”
Then says he, “Pompey Smash, just come along with Davy
And I'll damn soon show you how to grin a 'coon crazy.”

Well, I follow on after 'til Davy seen a squirrel
Sitting on a pine knot, eating sheep sorrel
The he stop right still and he begin for me to feel
Says he, “Pompey Smash, let me brace against your heel.”
I stuck out my heel and I braced up the sinner
And then Davy begin to grin hard for his dinner.

But the critter didn't move nor didn't seem to mind him
But seemed to keep a-eating and never looked back behind him.
At last Davy said, “He really must be dead
For I seen the bark a-flying all about the critter's head.”
Then we both stepped up, the truth to diskiver
And may the devil roast old Pompey Smash's liver
If it wasn't a great knot about as big as a pumpkin
Says I, “Col.  Davy, does you call this skunking?” Heh, heh heh!

Then says he, “You black calf, now I tell you don't laugh.
If you do, I'll pin your ears back and bite you in half.”
I throwed down my gun and I drop my ammunition
Said I, “Col.  Davy, I'll cool that ambition.”
He backed both his ears and puffed like a steamer
Says he, “Pompey Smash, I'm a Tennessee screamer.”

Then we both locked horns and I think my breath was gone
I was never hugged so close since the day that I was born.
We fought half a day and then we agreed to drop it
I was badly whipped and so was Davy Crockett.
When we looked around for our heads, we found them both a-missing
For he'd bit off mine and I had swallowed his'n.
Then we both did agree to let the other be
For I was rather hard for him and so was he for me.

The original further appends several unrelated tales of riding on an alligator and so forth to this, a feature that makes one wonder, 'Did audiences of the time really sit for songs as long as this?'  However that may be, I've never found any folk variants of the additional material, but virtually every portion of the song quoted (save for the section concerning linguistic use) appears in some traditional text or other.  However, never all at once, for I am aware of few versions where the original story retains its full coherence (such as it is).  For example, the Dixon version incorporates part of the quatrain about old Zip Coon, but its original rationale - to introduce the 'Pompey Smash' character into the catalog of minstrel show stock personalities - has understandably become quite lost.  This loss of context has forced later traditional singers to integrate the surviving couplets into the song in some other fashion, rendering the piece increasingly surrealistic in the process.  The very fact that the traditional variants rarely prove coherent seems to have precisely contributed to their appeal: my informants have prized the lyric precisely because, as Sarah Gunning says, 'it don't make nary a bit of sense'.

Sarah and Hobert Stallard also sang me this song (on Rdr 0051 and Rdr 8041; the Lloyd text is printed in facsimile in the notes to Sarah's LP).  Other good version are Chubby Parker, Conqueror 7895 (reissued on Yazoo 2202); Mrs Melton, 77 Records; Clyde Case, AH 010.

Well, I'll tell you about a little fight I had with Davy Crockett
He was half a 'coon, half a horse and half a sky rocket.
Well, I met him in the morning and he said he was going a-gunning
And I asked him for his gun and he said he had none.
Said he, “Colonel Davy, how'd you hunt without one?”

Followed on awhile and he followed after Davy
Said he'll soon show you how to grin a 'coon crazy.
“Old black calf, makes any human laugh
And I'll pin back my ears and I'll bite you half in half.”
Pinned back my ears and I grinned like a sinner
Davy grinned almighty hard, fought to 'gin his dinner.

Followed on awhile 'til we came upon a squirrel
Sitting on a pine knot, eating sheep sorrel
“Stop, stop, still”, and he began to reel
Said he, “Pompey Smash, how you've brushed agin your heel.”

Then we locked horns and I thought my breath was gone
Such a hugging I'd not had since the hour I was born
Fought eleven hours and we both agreed to drop it
For I was badly whipped and so was Davy Crockett.

Then we did agree for to leave each other be
For it was rather hard for him and so was it for me. 
Old devil coon, as the white folks call him
If I ever catch him, I intend to maul him.

3.  The Jam on Gerry's Rocks - Wash Nelson (Rec: Mark Wilson, Annadeene Fraley and Mary Nelson, Ashland, Ky, May, 1973).  Roud 256, Laws C1.  Good local versions of this widely distributed lumberjack ballad can be found in Cox, Folk-songs of the South, who comments, probably apocryphally, that 'Gerry's Rock, since blown up, was on the West Branch of the Penobscot River (Maine)'.  Wash often worked in lumber camps and probably acquired this song there, although versions from the South are not uncommon.  Some good recorded examples: Tom Brandon, Fwys 4052; Warde Ford, Fwys 4001; Everett White, AH 007.

Wash NelsonCome all you bold shanty boys and listen unto me
I'll have you to pay attention and listen unto me
All about some true born shanty boys that was manfully and brave
It was on the jam at Gerry's Rocks where they met with a watery grave.

It was on one Sunday morning when they volunteered to go
To break that jam at Gerry's Rocks with the foreman, young Munroe. 
They had not moved but a log or two 'til the foreman to them did say,
'I'll have you boys be on your guard, this jam will soon give way.'

But scarcely had these words been heard 'til the jam did break and go
Carried off six of our bold shanty boys and the foreman, young Munroe.
Oh, the rest of these poor shanty boys when the sad news did hear
And now for the river they did steer
To hunt for their lost comrades with their sad grief and woe
All cut and mangled on the beach was the head of young Munroe.

They taken it from its watery grave, brushed back his raven hair
There was one sad form among them, her cries they rung the air
There was one sad form among them, was a lady from Saginaw Town
Her sighs and cries rung the skies, for 'My true love, he was drowned.'

4.  My Home in the West - Jim Garland, vocal (Rec: Mark Wilson, Medford, Ma, 5/08/74).  This appears in William Walker's Southern Harmony as 'The Indian's Petition' with this curious headnote:

This song, it is said, was composed by the son of a chief of one of the western tribes, who was sent to the City of Washington to make a treaty with the United States, which treaty was delayed for a while by some unavoidable circumstances.
I imagine this gloss represents an attempt to diminish the plaintiveness of the situation described.  The song also appears later in DeMarsan's New Comic and Sentimental Singer's Journal, according to Thompson's Pioneer Songster.  The song probably reached the Garlands through the singing schools.

To my home in the west
Where ofttimes I've sported in innocence blest.
Where the wild flowers bloom and the deep waters flow
To my home in the west let me go, let me go.
To my home in the west, oh, do let me go.

Oh, do let me go to my home in the west
Where ofttimes I've sported in innocence blest.
Where the tall cedars wave and the cataracts flow
To my father, the chief, let me go, let me go
To my father, the chief, oh, do let me go.

Oh, do let me go to my home in the west
Where ofttimes I've sported in innocence blest.
Let me go to my fond mother whose heart would o'erflow
At the sight of her son, let me go, let me go
At the sight of her son, oh, do let me go.

Oh, do let me go to my sparkling-eyed maid
She has taught me to love beneath the green willow shade
Her heart is as pure as the water that flows
To the bosom I love, let me go, let me go
To the bosom I love, oh, do let me go.

Billy Stamper, fiddle; Earl Thomas, banjo5.  Cumberland Gap - Billy Stamper, fiddle; Earl Thomas, banjo (Rec: Mark Wilson and John Harrod, Owenton, Ky, 8/02/97). Roud 3413.  Earl and Billy are from the Estill County region.  Earl learned many of his tunes from his father Earl, Sr, who can be heard himself, along with more of Billy and Earl, on Rdr 0377.  Their old-time repertoire essentially overlaps with that of the Judds on Volume 1.  Earl's skilled banjo playing is also highlighted on Rdr 0394.

Historical settlement patterns in Kentucky are complicated and counterintuitive, much of it flowing through this large break in the Appalachian Mountain chain.  Associated lyrics sometimes mention historical figures:

Old Daniel Boone at Pinnacle Rock
Killing Indians with his old flintlock
but othertimes merely celebrate rowdy behavior:
Me and my wife and my wife's pap
All raised hell in the Cumberland Gap.
This tune is known to virtually every Southern fiddle or banjo player, so any attempt to catalog them all would be vain.  A few random favorites: Burnett, Moore and Rutherford, Ge 6706; George Landers, Rdr 0028; Allen Sisson, Ed 5149; Sam Connor, MT 321.  Oddly, Earl first learned the tune as Little Yellow Dog.

6.  Lorena - Margie York, vocal; Gene York, vocal and guitar (Rec: Mark Wilson and John Harrod, New Columbus, Ky, 4/06/97). Roud 4346.  Gus Meade's discography credits this Lorena to a c.1889 publication by Louis Staab, whose grasp on Southern flora and fauna seems a bit uncertain.  Margie's mother played the banjo and sang old songs like this, Faded Coat of Blue and When the Roses Bloom Again, any of which would prompt Margie's grandmother to complain: “Honey, don't sing that; it's an old war song” (she had lived through the Civil War and presumably didn't like to be reminded of the ordeal).  Margie's aunt and uncle down the road had an old windup phonograph and she also remembers hearing the song played over there.  The piece was recorded by Mac and Bob, the Carter Family, The Blue Sky Boys and others and so she presumably heard one of these.  The published music I have for the song includes a refrain that has been dropped and its melodic line is quite different.

Way down on the old plantation
Master had but one slave
He had a yellow girl named Lorena
And we courted where the wild bananas wave.

Chorus: Oh, how I love my Lorena
When we courted way down in the corn.
While the fox ate on the wild banana
And the hoot owl hooted like a horn.

Then one day Master sold my Lorena
I thought this poor darky's heart would break
They took her away to Alabama
And left me to mourn o'er her fate.

Oh, how I missed my Lorena
The thought of her was ever in my head
Then one day Master read to me a letter
Telling me that Lorena was dead.

Well, the moon shines bright on my cabin
The darkies all sing around my door
But I'm lonesome tonight and broken-hearted
For I'll never see Lorena no more.

7.  This Little Light of Mine - The Dixon Sisters, vocals (Rec: Mark Wilson, Roger Cooper and Wally Wallingford, Salt Lick, Ky, Fall, 2002). Roud 17768.  Mildred's tale behind this song is charming, but dubiously apocryphal, and the song most likely reflects the imagery of Matthew 5:16.  This venerable spiritual has been gradually reworked over the years to suit the jazzier tastes of modern gospel quartets.  Ray Charles aroused some consternation when he secularized this as This Little Girl of Mine in 1955.

This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine (x3)
Every day (every day), every day (every day)
Going to let my little light shine.

Chorus: On a Monday (gonna let it shine), Tuesday (gonna let it shine)
Wednesday (gonna let it shine), Thursday, Friday (shine, shine, shine)
Saturday (gonna let it shine) and Sunday (well, all the time)
Every day (every day), every day (every day)
Going to let my little light shine.

Hide it under a bushel?, no...

I won't let Satan blow it out....

8.  Blackberry Blossom - J P Fraley, fiddle; Danielle Fraley, guitar (Rec: Mark Wilson, Denton, Ky 3/07/99).  Although James A Garfield represents one of our most negligible presidents, having assumed office only four months before he was shot by a disappointed patronage seeker, Charles Guiteau, his memory became richly commemorated in folklore.  Most of these concern his death (including the well-known goodnight attributed to Guiteau) but the present tune is instead associated with Garfield's Civil War campaigns within eastern Kentucky in late 1861 and early 1862.  Here's how Owen 'Snake' Chapman (Rdr 0378) told the story:

Where 'Blackberry Blossom' got its name, Uncle Ed was a-telling me, came from General Garfield - the same one that became President later - who was a fiddler.  One day there was a bunch of fiddlers standing out in a field where Garfield was playing this tune.  Somebody asked him, “What's the name of that tune?” He said that he hadn't named it yet, but he turned around and spit a big wad of ambeer into a blackberry bush - the blackberries were in bloom then - and said, “We'll just name it 'Blackberry Blossom'.”
I've never found any evidence that Garfield was a musician (he was an amateur mathematician and sometime professor of classics).  In other versions of the story, Garfield whistles the tune which he allegedly learned from an African-American lad attached to his troops.

The 'Uncle Ed' to whom Owen refers is the celebrated blind street fiddler, Ed Haley, who carried the tune throughout the wide arc of his travels in Kentucky and West Virginia (a home recording of Ed on this tune can be found on Rdr 1133).  Besides the many versions that Gus Meade and I found (Alva Greene, Forrest Pick, John Lozier, Asa Neil, Buddy Thomas, Roger Cooper), other recordings have been provided by Dick Burnett (the earliest, on Co 15567), Sherman Lawson and Santford Kelly.  Most, if not all, of these seem to have been acquired from Ed Haley.  An exception is the important Library of Congress recording from Ed Morrison (issued on Yazoo 2200) which Morrison claims had been in his family since the Battle of Middle Creek.  Morrison was recorded by John Lomax in conjunction with Jean Thomas' festival (his photo appears in The Singin' Gathering).  Ed was from Breathitt County, a long ways from Boyd County where Thomas ran her festival.  But Thomas made her living as a court stenographer and John Harrod suggested that she met many of her performers while traveling on the seasonal circuit.

J P did not play this tune when Gus and I first knew him in the 1970s, but eventually developed a version of it through osmosis some years later.  As such, the melody deviates considerably from Haley's (the home recording was not found until considerably later) and represents a typical product of J P's musical imagination.  The result, with its languid and unexpected 6/4 extensions, rather resembles J P's unique treatment of Wild Rose of the Mountain (issued on the eponymous Rounder CD 0037 with Annadeene).  In fact, it is likely that both numbers represent derivatives of the West Virginian Yew Piney Mountain (cf. Wilson Douglas on Rdr 0047).  However, in J P's hands, the two numbers have become almost completely recomposed (the widely imitated Wild Rose of the Mountain is commonly identified as 'PD' but it should be properly regarded as J P's utterly personal product).

In recent times, the number has been often retitled Garfield's Blackberry Blossom or Old Kentucky Blackberry Blossom to distinguish it from a more widely known piece in G major popularized (and possibly composed, although I doubt it) by Arthur Smith (Bb 5896).

9.  Marching through Georgia - Blanche Coldiron, banjo; Jim Coldiron, guitar (Rec: Mark Wilson, Heathen Ridge, Ky, 7/03/99).  Although Henry Clay Work did not write an enormous body of songs, a considerable number of them have entered tradition due to their evocative melodies and lyrical eloquence.  This acceptance is somewhat surprising, as Work was the son of an abolitionist who was an important mentor of the underground railroad.  Many of Henry Clay's best songs (Marching through Georgia, Kingdom Coming, Wake Nicodemus) directly celebrate emancipation in a poignant fashion.  To be sure, in the deeper South, this popularity was not universal: Art Galbraith told me his uncle Tobe would leave the room if Marching though Georgia was played, even as an instrumental (the song celebrates William T ('war is hell') Sherman's campaign through Georgia, which certain partisans still resent as an excessive brutality).  But Union-sympathetic northern Kentucky didn't feel these qualms and Blanche often talked proudly about how her beloved banjo tunes were created by African-Americans.  It should be observed that Blanche's rendition is not a faithful reproduction of Work's original melody, but instead highlights the G tuning barre chords characteristic of The Coal Creek March and allied banjo tunes.

10.  Brother Green - Mildred Tucker, vocal (Rec: Mark Wilson and Roger Cooper, December, 2003).  Roud 3395.  This popular piece seems modeled after The Dying Californian or some allied lament and then adapted to the Civil War's circumstances.  Belden cites a hearsay report that it was composed by L J Simpson in 1862, but such stories are frequently mistaken (traditional singers often regard the minor tweaking of some preexistent song to suit a local event as having 'created a new song', although not by the standards we adopt here).  A beautiful unissued Brunswick recording by Buell Kazee has recently surfaced (Yazoo 2200); Doug Wallin sings it on MT 323.

Oh, Brother Green, do come to me
For I am shot and bleeding
And I must die, no more to see
My wife and my dear children.

The Southern foe has laid me low
On this cold ground to suffer
Dear brother stay and lay me away
And write my wife a letter.

Tell her that I'm prepared to die
And go with Christ to heaven
“Dear Mary, treat my children well
And teach them up for heaven.”

Tell sister Nancy not to grieve
The loss of her dear brother
I'm going to a better world
And meet my dear old mother.

I have two brothers yet that I can't forget
They're fighting for the Union
But, oh dear wife, I've lost my life
To put down this rebellion.

11.  Morgan on the Railroad - Roger Cooper, fiddle; Mark Wilson, guitar (Rec: Mark Wilson, Huntington, WV, Fall, 2002).  This unusual fiddle tune commemorates a notorious Confederate border guerilla from Louisville named John Hunt Morgan whose bands burned a number of bridges and trestles along the L & N railway in a Christmas raid in 1862.  Morgan was later caught by Union troops in a bold advance into Ohio and Indiana but eventually escaped from captivity.  He was killed in another battle in 1864.  Roger learned the tune from a tape that John Harrod and Gus Meade had made of Jim Woodward, a whiskey distiller from Camp Nelson, Kentucky.  Woodward in turn learned the number from the celebrated black fiddler Jim Booker who also lived in Camp Nelson.  Booker made a few well regarded 78s for Gennett with the skilled banjo player Marion Underwood (and sometimes Doc Roberts) as 'Taylor's Kentucky Boys', some of which have been reissued on Yazoo 2200 (Jim's brothers recorded two blues numbers as 'The Camp Nelson Orchestra', but Jim does not seem to be present on those sides).  The issued selections are all well known fiddle tunes and seem stylistically indistinguishable from those typical of a skilled white performer.  However, Gus and John were able to obtain a number of Jim Booker tunes from Jim Woodward and others that show a different side to his artistry, including the present tune.  Several of these can be heard on Traditional Fiddle Music of Kentucky, vol 2 (Rdr 0377; nb, the Morgan on the Railroad included there represented a different tune, mistitled by the performer).  Jim Woodward's performances of Booker's tunes are particularly distinguished by their quirky, swingy feel, a characteristic enhanced by the fact that Jim's accompanist, Ray Stipe, was a skilled jazz guitarist.  Roger and I have both been captivated by Woodward's very distinctive approach and this recording came about one day when we were fooling around attempting to recreate some of the Woodward ambience (John Harrod and I plan to issue Jim's original in a future continuation of our Along the Ohio's Shores set).  Roger has subsequently recorded a more polished version of this selection with Robin Kessinger and Michael Garvin on his new CD, Essence of Old Kentucky (Rdr 0533).  However, I thought the historical salience of the tune merited its inclusion here (perhaps our discussion might persuade listeners devoted exclusively to balladry that every bit as much 'folklore' attaches to the old fiddle tunes as to the songs).

12.  The Dying Cowboy - Hobert Stallard, vocal (Rec: Mark Wilson and Annadeene Fraley, Waterloo, Oh, 8/29/73).  Roud 2, Laws B1.  Hobert provides a typical traditional text of this Americanization of The Young Sailor Cut Down in his Prime, good versions of which can be found on MT 301 and 309.  Through complicated developmental processes that I don't wholly understand, a quite specific adaptation, The Streets of Laredo, became canonized in the 1930s, along with Home on The Range and the Paul Bunyan stories (the product of an advertizing campaign, actually), as comprising a canonical set of 'America's folk songs and legends', apparently in an attempt to forge a core stock of national music and myth.  As a child, I vividly remember the pages of Life Magazine being filled with bright cartoons of these hypothetical heroes - indeed, my interests in traditional music began there.  In contrast, younger Americans today are usually unfamiliar with most lore of this ilk, a condition clearly tied to their obliviousness with respect to America's historical past in general.  In any case, Hobert's version is clearly prior to these canonization efforts.

Hobert Stallard'Tis early one morning I rode over to Charleston
It was early one morning I rode over there.
I met a young cowboy all dressed in white linen
With sparkling blue eyes and curly brown hair.

“Once in my saddle I used to go dashing
Once in my saddle I used to ride gay.
I first took to drinking and then to card playing
I'm shot in the heart and dying today.”

“Don't write to my mommy, please do not inform her
Of the wretched condition that's called me in.
For I know it would grieve her, the loss of her darling
Oh, could I return to my childhood again.”

“Go beat the drum slowly and play the fife sadly
And play the dead march as they carry me along
Go carry me to the graveyard and throw the sod over me
For I'm a poor cowboy and I know I've done wrong.”

13.  Garfield March - Ray Hilt, fiddle; Rich Dean, guitar; Joshua Holtshulte, banjo (Rec: Mark Wilson, Marion, Oh, 6/27/98).  This beautiful tune has been encountered at scattered locations across the South, although its glorious (and difficult) higher (or 'fine', as fiddlers call it) strain seems local to the Ohio River region.  Ray learned his excellent rendition from Asa Neil's radio show as a teenager and then had his memory refreshed in later years by Clark Kessinger's well known Brunswick 78 (Ray believes that his version is quite true to Asa's, however).  The 'Garfield' is the same James A Garfield discussed under Blackberry Blossom, and this tune could theoretically celebrate either his presidential inauguration in early 1881 or his funeral a half year later.  In fact, both events engendered a positive torrent of popular sheet music although I've never managed to find any clear antecedent for Ray's piece concealed within their trills and arpeggios.  However, sometimes the traditional tune is explicitly dubbed The Garfield Funeral March: Ernie Hodges recorded a very interesting version as such on his old Davis Unlimited LP (DU 33031).  He believed he had learned it from radio's Granny Harper, who was related to the Draper Walter clan that made great records for Gennett.  George Hawkins and others played a Plucking Out the Devil's Eye that shares a similar low strain.

14.  I Believe I'll Sell this Farm, Jane Ann - Jim Garland and Sarah Gunning, vocals (Rec: Mark Wilson, Medford, Ma, 5/09/74).  The only previous report I know of this unusual satire, learned from his family, is Jim's own earlier AAFS recording for Mary Barnicle.  From internal evidence, it seems to have once been a vaudeville 'rube' song and was probably performed in 'Yankee' stereotype mode like the allied Wal, I Swan.  Alternatively, the Grange and similar organizations distributed musical pamphlets that sought to educate farmers about economic realities (The Farmer Feeds Them All and Dock Boggs' My Horse Died trace to such sources).  Jim's father was a dedicated adherent of the old Knights of Labor and his older brothers were involved in the socialist campaign of Eugene Debs, from whose literature Jim learned Joe Hill's The White Slave at a tender age.  Jim, Sarah and several of their relatives formed a little group to perform at the 1939 World's Fair and I believe that this was one of the numbers they featured.

Jim Garland“I believe I'll sell this farm, Jane Ann, and buy a house in town
Jones made the offer yesterday, he paid the money down.
He said he was not anxious, Jane, but had the case to spare
And reminded me some time ago, cash offerings were rare.”

“It's not because of work, Jane Ann, my father always said
There's not a single lazy hair in Giluwilder's head
There's not a single lazy hair in that old head of his
He's done the work of six hard men in spite of rheumatiz.”

“And that pesky old railroad, Jane, it's coming through this way
It'll cut our farm slap smack in two, Jones told me so today.
What's that you're saying, wife?"
"I'll never sell my good old home as long as I have life.”

“I'll show you, old girl, I'll have my way this time just as well as you
If you will be to stay right here, by garn, is I'll stay too.”

15.  Hard Times - Mary Lozier, vocal (Rec: Mark Wilson and Roger Cooper, South Portsmouth, Ky, 10/14/97). Roud 876.  Mary learned this satire from her sister.  This widely spread composition seems plainly framed upon British prototypes, eg, Here's First to Those Farmers in Williams' Folk-songs of the Upper Thames, but Mary's song embodies the characteristic American populism of the nineteenth century.  A nice specimen was published as Hard Times: A Comic Song by CJ Sussdorff in 1843.  Mary's version lacks the opening verse or refrain heard in other versions (Sussdorff's original or Lily Steele on Fwys 03828):

Since cheating has got so much in the fashion
I'm afraid it'll spread all over the nation
And it's hard times.

The tune is commonly employed within a wider family of satires, such as Hard Times in the Cryderville Jail.

There was an old preacher, he thought himself bold
He preached for the money, but not for your soul
He'd ride the circuit twelve times every year
But if you lost your soul, he didn't much care.
And it's hard times.

There was an old jeweler, had watches to sell
He said they'd keep time all the time very well
The very first time your head's turned away
They'd gain forty minutes the very next day.
And it's hard times.

There was an old blacksmith, you'd better take care
He'd said he'd mend your plows for a year
He'd mend an old shoe and he'd sharpen an old plow
And the very next day he would take your best cow.
And it's hard times.

Perry Riley Now there was an doctor, I'd like to forgot
I swear I believe he's the worst of the lot
He'd tell you he'll cure you for half you possess
And then he'd kill you and take all the rest.
And it's hard times.

16.  There's a Hard Time Coming - Perry Riley, fiddle; Buddy Thomas, guitar (Rec: Mark Wilson and Annadeene Fraley, Hayes Corners, Ky, 8/27/73).  Melodically, we witness a reprise of the tune that Mary Lozier utilized for Old Virginia Girls.  Indeed, these melodic contours are so immediately adaptable to the fiddle that it is not surprising that versions for the violin can be found everywhere in the South.  Jesse Wallace of Mountain Home, Arkansas described to Gordon McCann and myself how he had crafted his Old Leather Bonnet with A Hole in the Crown from his mother's singing in exactly this way (Rdr 0435).  There is considerable evidence, I believe, that many of America's characteristic fiddle tunes were transmitted across the country through vocalized intermediaries, rather than always directly fiddle-to-fiddle.  Usually only the lower strain gets transmitted in this fashion, but fiddlers often reconstruct rather similar 'fine portions' to supply the two part structure they prefer.

In the case at hand, Perry clearly acquired the tune from Fiddlin' John Carson's classic 78 (Ok 40411; atypically, Carson had arranged Sussdorff's Hard Times lyrics upon its melodic frame).  I vividly recall Perry regaling Buddy and Annadeene with more or less verbatim recollections of the skits that Carson recorded with his daughter, Moonshine Kate.  Clayton McMichen played a beautiful fiddle part behind Riley Puckett's singing on their Arkansas Sheik (Co 15686: an updating of Old Virginia Girls to suit the Rudolf Valentino era).  The sound is rougher here than on Perry's other issued recordings (Rdr 0376), mainly because his own instrument had a substantial hole in the back.  Just as we leaving, Perry began playing on my own instrument and the results came out much smoother.  However, we didn't have time to record another take of this particular selection.

17.  “One More Trip”, Said the Sleepy Headed Driver - Jim Garland, vocal (Rec: Mark Wilson, Medford, Ma, 5/09/74).  Jim went in the mines in his early teens, despite the fact that his eyesight was so poor, he should have never attempted such work at any age.  He picked up these two charming ditties then, so evocative of the bygone days of mining with mules.  In the first, we hear the strains of Henry C Work once again, for it represents a parody of his Ship that Never Returned.

(a) “One more trip”, said the sleepy headed driver
As he waved his weaven light
“If the tail chain holds 'til I make this trip,
Then I won't be late tonight.”
Tail rope a-clacking on the incline,
Walter Harmon smoking his cheap cigar
And the drivers are waiting at the lie-away
And the room-men crying for cars.
(b)
Now let's get back, back, back to the gravel yard
Where the days ain't long and the work ain't hard
And the boss ain't ill
And let's get back to the gravel yard
Where the days ain't long and the work ain't hard
And the boss ain't ill (x2)

18.  The Hard Working Miner - Sarah Gunning (Rec: Mark Wilson, Medford, Ma, 5/9/74) Roud 2197, Laws G33.  The definitive study of this well known song can be found in Archie Green's Only a Miner which locates an 1877 poem by Captain Jack Crawford that is plainly modeled upon a preexistent original.  Aunt Molly Jackson penned a rewrite that she entitled Poor Miner's Farewell that was printed in the The Red Song Book of 1932, in the period when she was involved with Popular Front activities in New York City.  When Archie Green interviewed her years later, Molly, characteristically, refused to acknowledge any prior model for her recomposition, despite its patent impossibility.  Sarah herself did not learn the song from her mother, unlike most of the other pieces in her repertory, and instead thought that she had probably picked up the song from Molly, even though the two half-sisters were scarcely on the best of terms.  In point of fact, however, Sarah sings an entirely traditional text, with none of Aunt Molly's emendations evident, excellent though they are.  Indeed, her version closely accords with that later printed in Hard Hittin' Songs for Hard Hit People, credited nebulously to the Lomaxes (the manuscript was prepared in 1941 but not published until 1967).  It is probable, then, that Sarah absorbed her version directly from one of the book's authors, most likely Woody Guthrie, under the impression that he or they had gotten it from Molly.  Guthrie was a good friend of Sarah's (although she recommended never driving in a car with him) and she spoke of him very fondly.  She attributed some of his later psychological difficulties (symptoms, in fact, of Huntington's Chorea) to pressures to live up to urban expectations: “They wanted him to be a poet and all that, but Woody was just a country boy like we were.”

I think that little comment reveals a good deal about Sarah's own attitudes to the songs she herself composed while in New York.  In these notes, I have tried to sketch the fairly narrow niche between lyrical conservativism and satirical parody in which most traditional 'innovators' seemed willing to confine themselves.  During their New York relocation, composing songs of wider compass seemed more natural to Sarah, but not once she had returned to a more conventional form of life.  Jim had particularly welcomed New York's encouragement of original composition and delighted in devising songs for any occasion (indeed, he composed a Rounder Recording Day during our sessions).  But Sarah told me that, after she left New York, she would only occasionally piece together a hymn verse or two during a lonely moment.  Even though I have edited such a collection myself (Rdr 1026), I think that city folk have been too eager to drape country songs within the affective banners of urbanized 'protest song'; the listener should remember that there were no coffee houses in rural Kentucky and few places where one could easily sing strongly declamatory songs.  This is not to say that the anger expressed in Sarah's great New York songs was not very real - she suffered greatly from the economic inequalities of our country and knew how to express it.  But the songs she loved best were those she learned in church and from her mother.

Sarah Gunning To the hard working miner the trouble is great
So many while mining have met their sad fate
While doing their duty as all miners do
Shut out from the daylight and their darling ones too.

Chorus: He's only a miner killed under the ground
Only a miner and one more is found
He's killed by an accident there's no one can tell
His mining's all over, poor miner farewell.

He leaves his dear wife and darling ones, too
To earn them a living as all miners do
But while he is working for them that he loves
The boulder that struck him come down from above.

With our hearts full of sorrow we bid him farewell
How soon we may follow there's no one can tell
God pity the poor miner, protect him from harm
And shield him from danger with outright arm.

He's only a miner killed down in the ground
He's only a miner and one more is gone
There's no one that's seen him; there's no one can say
But how this poor miner must sleep in the clay.

19.  Chinese Chimes - Roger Cooper, guitar (Rec: Mark Wilson, Denton, Ky 3/08/99).  I have no especial rationale for including this unusual example of parlor guitar, except as a transitional interlude and because I have been searching for a forum in which to release it for some time.  Roger learned the piece from Buddy Thomas (who once played it for me, although not near a tape recorder).  Buddy could play a tune or two on most stringed instruments (he was a very good banjo player) and Roger tells an amusing story (Rdr 0380) of how Buddy once managed to win the divisions on all instruments in a local fiddle contest.  Performed in regular tuning, Roger executes the harmonics by lightly placing his right hand index finger half way between the nut and his left hand chord formation and then plucking the string with his ring finger.

20.  Dusty Skies - Annadeene Fraley, vocal and guitar; Danielle and Robin Fraley, vocals; J P Fraley, fiddle; Doug Chaffin, bass (Rec: Mark Wilson, Denton, Ky, December, 1995).  Previously issued on Road's End 001.  This was one of Annadeene's favorite songs and she indicated that she had been singing it continuously since her teenage years.  It was written by the celebrated country writer Cindy Walker (who recently passed away) and first recorded by Bob Wills and the great Tommy Duncan (Co 37420).  Although the piece reflects the dust bowl calamities of the 1930's most affectingly, it also seems designed for a western movie and, indeed, the Wills organization performed it in Tornado in the Saddle (1942).  In the sophistication of its poetry (even though she was very young when she wrote it), one can easily see why Walker exerted a large influence on Merle Haggard and the other masters of modern country-western idiom.

Dusty skies, I can't see nothing in sight
Good old Dan, you'll have to guide me right
If we lose our way, the cattle will stray
And we'll lose them all tonight.

Because all of the grass and water's gone
We'll have to keep moving on
Sand blowing, I just can't breathe in this air
Thought it would soon be clear and fair.

The dust storm's so bad, we lost all we had
Got to be moving somewhere.
Hate to leave the old ranch so bare
But I got to be moving somewhere.

So get along dogies, we'vre moving off of this range
Never thought as how I'd make a change
But the blue skies have failed so we're all out of trail
Underneath these dusty skies.
This ain't tears in my eyes
Just sand from these dusty skies.

21. Carter County Tragedy - Wash Nelson, vocal (Rec: Mark Wilson, Annadeene Fraley and Mary Nelson, Ashland, Ky, May, 1973).  As Wash indicates, this piece was also composed by J W ('Bill') Day, whose own version is printed in Thomas' Ballad Makin' in the Mountains of Kentucky as The House-Burning in Carter County.  Wash omits its usual opening and other significant differences appear between the texts as well, suggesting that Bill Day may have varied its exact contents over time.  As with The Rowan County Crew, he seems to have carried this song over a wide geographical compass: Nimrod Workman from just outside Williamson, West Virginia sang me a similar version.  The Stanley Brothers performed an adaptation as Come All Ye Tenderhearted on Starday 587 in a recitative manner that I find excruciatingly morbid (I find the newly published version on Co 86747 where Carter straightforwardly sings the lyrics more palatable).  The stylistic variety amid the sundry compositions that can be reliably attributed to J W Day is quite remarkable and it is a pity that Jean Thomas chose to romanticize his life rather than report its true particulars.

Last Wednesday night I spied a light
Bright shining beyond those hills
Was a mother run with all her might
But everything was still.

These three little babes they had gone to bed
While mother ached with pain
Says, “I'll go and get some liniment
But soon return again.”

She went down to a neighbor's house
One hundred yards away
She did sit down to talk awhile
But did not mean to stay.

At length she heard a rumbling noise
Like thunder it did roar
A way it was amazing wonder
But she did not go to the door.

But at length she started home again
Her house was in a flame
She screamed, “My darling babes: too late!
And I'm the one to blame.”

She run and burst at the door like thunder
And the flame it rolled over her head
She screamed, “My darling babes: too late!
For now you all are dead.”

And there they lay, face to face
And their arms around one another was twined
Their flesh was burned to ashes
Their bones lay scorched upon the ground.

22.  FDR Reelection Song - Abe Keibler, vocal (Rec: Mark Wilson and Roger Cooper, South Shore, Ky, 6/08/96).  Abe was a retired steel worker from the Portsmouth, Ohio region who had belonged to a celebrated musical family, his uncle John having the reputation of having been one of the very best local fiddlers in an era when Portsmouth was packed with sterling performers.  Abe was raised together with Morris Allen, who was one of our chief sources (mainly through Buddy Thomas) for the great tunes of the region (see Rdr 0544 for a sampling of Morris himself).  At 88, Abe KeiblerAbe's fiddling was a bit rusty when Roger took me to see him, but we extracted this charming ditty that he had devised for election day, 1942 (Abe claimed to know very few songs otherwise).  It is a poignant reminder of how grateful working people were for the economic reforms that Roosevelt wrought.  The tune, of course, is that of The Rowan County Crew.

It was back in the hills of old Kentucky just twelve long years ago
That's when the old shanghai, he begin to crow.
He brought us out of the depression, and he settled us upon land
And if he is re-elected, we will whip Japan.

It was on Tuesday morning about six o'clock
When all the precincts begin to unlock.
Come in all you citizens and vote for whom you please
Don't forget the 'thirty-two depression that brought us to our knees.

It's Dewey done the talking, we'll all have to agree
And when the vote is counted, it'll go to FDR.
Now I've told you my story, the best that I can.
If you want to keep the good work rolling, then join the union man.

23.  Old Age Pension Check - Nova and Lavonne Baker, vocals (Rec: Mark Wilson, Pound, Va, 9/08/96). Roud 15868.  Anyone who has ever dealt with elderly pensioners in the mountains can attest to the significance of the Social Security program instituted by the Roosevelt Administration in 1936.  This charming bit of Depression era ephemera responds to the innovation with typical country humor.  The Bakers, mother and daughter, undoubtedly learned the song from Roy Acuff's 78 (Vocalion 05244; reissued on Proper 70).  According to the late Charles Wolfe, this song was composed by Buck Fulton and the same Sam 'Dynamite' Hatcher that was mentioned with respect to Hick Carmichael.  Hatcher, who had been a member of Acuff's original Crazy Tennesseans (and had, in fact, sung The Wabash Cannon Ball on its original issue), apparently sold this song to Acuff for a 1939 session by his Smoky Mountain Boys.

When our old age pension check comes to our door
We won't have to dread the poorhouse any more
Though we're old, bent and gray, good times will be back to stay
When our old age pension check comes to our door.

When her old age pension check comes to her door
Dear old Grandma won't be lonesome any more
She'll be waiting at the gate, every night she'll have a date
When her old age pension check comes to her door.

Grow a flowing long white beard and use a cane
'Cause you're in your second childhood, don't complain
Life will just begin at sixty and we'll all be very frisky
When our old age pension check comes to our door.

Powder and paint will be abolished on that day
And hoop skirts will then be brought back into play
Faded cheeks will be the rage and old maids will tell their age
When their old age pension check come to the door.

All the drug stores will go bankrupt on that day
For cosmetics then will all be put away
I'll put the flappers on the shelf, get a grandma for myself
When our old age pension check comes to our door.

There's a man who turned this country upside down
With his old age pension rumor going around.
If you want in on the fun, send your dime to Washington
And that old age pension man will be around.

24.  All I've Got is Done Gone - Van Kidwell, fiddle; Asa Martin, guitar (Rec: Mark Wilson, Irvine, Ky, December, 1972).  At this juncture we shift our attention over to African American influences upon Kentucky highland music.  Owen Walker was a black barber who influenced many of the fiddlers in the Richmond, Kentucky area including Doc Roberts and Van Kidwell (Van told me he knew Walker, but the extent to which he learned such pieces as this directly from Walker or through Roberts' intermediary is unknown to me).  These compositions are quite distinctive in their multiple parts and early ragtime feel and several of them (And The Cat Came Back, Shortening Bread) may have been constructed as variations around a popular song core.  Scholars of ragtime do not seem to have paid much attention to fiddle tunes of this type, although I am convinced from both my Kentucky and Ozark work that a very rich tale lies here.

In the 1920s, Van Kidwell had been a formidable contender in the fiddle contests of the region (see Walter McNew's reflections in his Berea College cassette), but had moved to Miamisburg, Ohio in the late Depression.  I was recording Asa Martin one day when Van happened to drop in.  He had been lately playing with a young revivalist band up north and hoped to tape Asa demonstrating how a waltz should be 'seconded'.  Van played astonishingly like Doc Roberts, but with a nervous propensity towards excessive speed.  It was amusing to observe the kind manner in which Asa regulated his velocity.  Shortly thereafter, Van recorded two LPs for Vetco with his Ohio friends (the Hot Mud Family).

Asa himself was one of the best, and most versatile, guitarists of his day, playing with both a flat pick (as here) and his fingers (Highwayman; Got Up this Morning).  Older guitar accompanists often varied their strums more than is common today and Asa was particularly a master of artful fiddle support, as he beautifully demonstrates here.

25.  Graveyard Blues - Roscoe Holcomb, vocal and guitar (Rec: Mark Wilson, Cambridge, Ma., Fall, 1972). Roud 4946.  Roscoe's text is very close to Bessie Smith's version of Graveyard Dream Blues (Co 14123) which derives from Ida Cox's earlier 1923 recording with Lovie's Austin's Blues Serenaders, with authorship credit to Cox.  The earlier version, however, only includes the first three verses all of which were almost certainly preexistent in tradition, as indicated by Odum and Johnson's 'Way Up on the Mountain text or Leadbelly's and Son House's apparently independent Death Letter Blues (in 1939 Cox recorded another redaction from the traditional lyrical cluster under the latter title).  Stray verses commonly show up in white performances as well, eg, Hobart Smith on Rdr 1799 or Walt Davis on MT 321.  Even Aunt Ollie Gilbert out in Mountain View, Arkansas knew a few couplets.  For other recordings by Roscoe, see SF 40077 or SF 40144.  It is virtually certain that his version traces to the Smith recording, although I do not know the precise pathway.

I got up this morning with the blues all around my bed, lord, lord, lord, oh lord
Had a dream last night the woman that I love was dead.

I went to the graveyard this morning and fell down on my knees (x2)
Asked that good old gravedigger to give me back my good man please.

Well, that gravedigger looked at me this morning, right squarely in the eye (x2)
Said, 'I'm sorry, pretty woman, but your man has said his last goodbye.'

Well, I wrung my hands and I wanted to scream (x2)
I woke up this morning and found it was only a dream.

26.  Coal Creek - Manon Campbell, fiddle (Rec: Mark Wilson and Bill Nowlin, Linefork, Ky, 6/11/73).  Roscoe Holcomb had directed us to Manon as “the best fiddler around here.”  Unfortunately, we arrived in the midst of a birthday party for a granddaughter and we felt we were intruding, although Manon was very gracious.  Because of the circumstances our only recordings were executed on Bill's portable cassette recorder, for dragging in my large machine and mike stands would have proved very disruptive.  Manon played quietly and kept a clothes pin on his bridge which further accentuated the scratchiness of his sound (I had presumed that he did this for the sake of the party, but John Harrod, who visited him later, reported the same practice).  Manon clearly knew many beautiful tunes and played in what John sometimes calls 'the dive and duck' fiddle style of old southeastern Kentucky as it can be heard in the great Lomax fiddle recordings from the region (Yazoo 2013-4).  As such, it represents a quite different style than what we found up north and it is intriguing that Manon credits it all to the radiating influence of a single African American musician named Will Christian.  Economic hard times after World War II seem to have dispersed most of the region's great fiddlers: Luther Strong, for example, wound up incarcerated in an Indiana prison.  Manon later recorded extensively for Bruce Greene and quite a few of his pieces appear in Titon's Old-Time Kentucky Fiddle Tunes.  However, none of his performance seem to be available, so I have published this recording, as imperfect as it is, to provide listeners with an accurate sense of his style.  I always regretted being unable to return at a more propitious moment.

It is possible that this fiddle piece bears some connection with either the labor troubles or the horrific mine disaster that occurred at Coal Creek (now Lake City), Tennessee, both of which left strong echoes in folk music form (Coal Creek Troubles; Buddy, Won't You Roll Down the Line, Shut Up in The Mines of Coal Creek, Coal Creek March).  However, when I asked him about this, Manon replied:

Oh, that was just a piece that they used to frolic and dance to.  'Do you want to go to Coal Creek; do you want to go to town? Do you want to get knocked down' or something like that.
Indeed, that verse looks as if it belongs to the familiar 'Sugar Hill' lyric group.

More directly pertinent to our present themes is Manon's remark about the degree to which the utterly distinctive fiddle styles of southeastern Kentucky, palpably different from the performance styles found even slightly north or south, was instilled in the region by a single black performer.  I scarcely wish to encourage thereby those tiresome zealots who insist upon monochromatic derivational tales for our traditional musics, but there's no doubt that, despite the terrible divides that have segregated our peoples, that Kentucky's most characteristic forms of 'mountain music' were engendered through an elaborate collaboration between the populations.

27.  Notes (Slow Blues) - Henry Hurley, guitar (Rec: Mark Wilson and Annadeene Fraley, Flatwoods, Ky, May, 1973).  I think that Henry says, “I just call this Notes" on my tape, but am not certain.  The piece optimally shows his mastery of standard blues guitar figures, not surprising in view of his friendship with Bill Williams (who, in turn, was directly influenced by Blind Blake).

28.  Chitling Cooking Time in Cheatham County - Owen 'Snake' Chapman, fiddle; Paul Smith, banjo; Bert Hatfield, guitar (Rec: Mark Wilson, Hardy, Ky, 11/18/98).  The late Owen 'Snake' Chapman was one of the most talented and likable musicians I've had the privilege to meet.  He represented an abundant treasury of all sorts of Southern fiddle music and could effectively illustrate the delicacies required to make a dance tune come alive.  A small sampling of his abundant repertory can be found on his two Rounder CDs, Rdr 0378 and 0418.  Paul Smith, who plays the remarkable and almost completely improvised banjo backing heard here (Snake rarely allowed for rehearsals, preferring to plow ahead to a new tune), has also learned many of Snake's tunes on the fiddle himself and can be heard on his own project, Rdr 0409.  In my estimation, Paul is one of the finest traditional players still active today.  I regret to report that their old friend and accompanist, the genial guitarist Bert Hatfield, passed away a few months ago.

Owen learned these bluesy strains from Arthur Smith, probably directly from his radio appearances (although Smith also recorded it with the Delmore Brothers on Bb 6322).  Absent Smith's lyrics, the melody is simply the well-known St James Infirmary, as it was popularized by Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong and others.  To some extent, this song represents another, and rather distant, adaptation of The Unfortunate Rake (its localization to 'St James Hospital', as well as some melodic affinity seem to be the chief carry overs).  However, lyrically and melodically, the song shows considerable influence from the British Let Her Go, I'll Meet Her song cluster as recorded by Aunt Ollie Gilbert, Rutherford and Foster or the Louvin Brothers.  By the late 1920s, the St James Infirmary concoction had became a staple within what Glenn Ohrlin has called 'New York wise guy' circles, ie, the intended clientele for Frank Shay's assorted compilations.  It is probably through this circuitous route that the blues inflections of this traditional song derivative first reached Arthur Smith and then Snake Chapman. 29.  Woke Up this Morning, Blues All Around My Bed - Asa Martin, vocal and guitar (Rec: Mark Wilson and Gus Meade, Irvine, Ky, Fall, 1972).  In Abbott and Seroff's useful compendium of late nineteenth century newspaper clippings (Out of Sight) there appears the following arresting item, extracted from a newspaper column of 1893 entitled 'The Blues':

“What's the matter with you today, are you downhearted?”
“I've got de blues.”
“The blues - what do you call the blues?”
“I deavor to tell you or in odder words to slanify de blues to you.  You see the blues am dis: when you git up in de mawnin, you feel worse; you put you clothing on, mope about and you feel wus; den you go down to yer brekfust and you can't eat, and den you feels wuser...”
This resemblance to Asa's song and Leadbelly's Good Morning Blues (SF 40045) is palpable and suggests that this combination of early blues lyric and spoken recitative was firmly in place within the minstrel and medicine show repertory by the early 1890s.  I didn't have the wit to press Asa precisely about where he learned this specific piece (he generally preferred telling one that he wrote everything) but I do know that he learned many of his blackface minstrel numbers from his father (such as the Dr Ginger Blue issued on Rdr 0034), which would easily date his 'blues' routine to the very early 1900s.  Abbott and Seroff claim that their clipping is the first known definitive use of 'blues' in its modern musical sense.

Portions of Asa's lyrics show up frequently in later songs, such as the Jimmy Rushing/Count Basie/Eddie Durham classic performed most gloriously by the Kansas City Six in the famous Spirituals to Swing concert.

Asa MartinWoke up this morning, had the blues all around my bed (x2)
Didn't have no sweet mama to hold my aching head.

“Good morning, blues, good morning blues
'Blues, how do you do?
I'm three times seven and I know what I ought to do.”

Spoken: My daddy he comes in one morning and said, “Son, what's a-matter with you - you're looking awful blue?”  I says, “Pap, I is blue.  You'd be too if you had the same trouble I's got.”  “Son, there ain't no use having no trouble.  What's your trouble?” I said:

“My gal done left me, left me all alone
My good gal done left me, left me all alone
She even told me, she wasn't going to come back home.”

Spoken: And my dad told me:

“Don't never let a woman worry (weary?**) your mind
“Don't never let one woman worry your mind
Just take your little roll of greenbacks, boy, you can get eight or nine.”

Well, the gal I love had teeth like a lighthouse on the sea
That gal I love had teeth like a lighthouse on the sea
And every time she smiled, she throwed them lights all over me.

These roads are rocky, they won't be rocky long
Roads are kinda getting rocky, but they can't stay rocky long
I'll get me a new mama, I'll sing that rocky song.

30.  Black Dress Blues - Nimrod Workman, vocal (Rec: Mark Wilson and Ken Irwin, Chattaroy, WV, 3/01/76).  Nimrod said that long ago he and a mining buddy heard black workers singing in this fashion out in the fields and decided to create up their own version.  In fact, he supplies a quite credible account of an old-fashioned field holler, which isn't surprising, for much of Nimrod's singing possessed this mournful cry in any case.  The first two verses seem original, whereas the rest represent that peculiar blend of broadside commonplace with African-American expression that characterize early blues lyric.

Got up this morning, baby, blues all on my mind
Well, I heard that rooster crowing, well, the blues was all on my mind.

Oh, if you stay out tonight, baby, please wear (carry?**) your black dress long (x2)
'Cause the devil's going to be your man, honey, hell'll be your brand new home.

Well, I seen that hearse a-coming, six white horses all in a line
Six white horses all in a line
They gonna carry me away, baby, to my burying ground.

Go dig my grave with a silver spade
Go dig my grave, baby, with a silver spade
And with every ring you can call my name
'Cause I'm going to be gone, gone, baby, a long, long time.

31.  All Night Long - George Hawkins, vocal (Rec: Mark Wilson, Gus Meade and Nancy McLellan, Bethel, Ky, April, 1974). Roud 7698.  This little ditty is plainly the source of the great fiddle blues that Leonard Rutherford recorded in two rather different forms, as All Night Long Blues and The Richmond Blues (both reissued on Yazoo 2200).  Allied settings have also been recorded by a number of others, including several from within Tom Ashley's circle, although Rutherford's deft phrasing remains unsurpassable.  George Hawkins with Gus Meade and Nancy McLellanGeorge's chorus 'all night long, you may be dreaming' (which also appears in Frank Hutchison's recording for Okeh) suggests some popular song antecedent, although I don't know what it might be.  Logsdon's The Whorehouse Bells Were Ringing contains a bawdy variant that employs the tune standard for That Crazy War.

'The boys' from whom George learned these tunes were young black youths who worked in the fields near him in the early years of the twentieth century, a fact that helps us date these pieces whose first appearances were otherwise on the early 'hillbilly' records.  It is worth remarking that some of George's most unusual fiddle tunes (eg, Rats Gone to Rest on Rdr 0376) were taught to him by an African-American fellow farm hand (Bill Trumbo) as well.

I have a picture of my old girl, it hangs up over the door
Every time I look at her, it makes me walk the floor.
It's all night long, babe, all night long.

Refrain: All night long, you may be dreaming
From ten o'clock on.

Some people got but one coat, but, thank God, I've got two
Wear my roustabout all through the week, on Sunday my long tailed blue
It's all night long, babe, all night long.

Mary had a little lamb, she tied it upon the railroad track
Every time that whistle would blow, that lamb would ball the jack. 
All night long, babe, all night long.

White gal thinks she's pretty, well, a high yellow's just the same
But it just takes that fairy brown to make a bulldog break his chain.
It's all night long, babe, all night long.

32.  Boat Up the Water - John Lozier, harmonica (Rec: Mark Wilson and Roger Cooper, South Portsmouth, Ky, Summer, 1996).  Or, at least, I think that's what John muttered in introducing the song: he was so gruff and abrupt that one couldn't always be sure (I had merely inquired whether he knew any 'blues pieces').  If so, the title undoubtedly once attached to lyrics of the sort.

The boat's up the water, on a bank of sand,
If she don't strike deep water, I swear she'll never come down.

Such couplets and melodies are country blues commonplaces: Roscoe Holcomb (SF 02368), Ramblin' Thomas (SF 40070), Ola Belle Reed (Rdr 0077) and many others.

33.  St Louis Blues - John Lozier, harmonica; Roger Cooper, guitar (Rec: Mark Wilson and Roger Cooper, South Portsmouth, Ky, 9/26/99). Roud 13982.  John played two sorts of harmonica, a regular Marine Band as employed on the previous item, and the chromatic variety heard here, which renders the accidentals of this famous W C Handy composition feasible.  In modern times, Handy's work is sometimes dismissed as derivative, but I think his best work shows a real flair for reconfiguring traditional fragments in very evocative ways.

34.  Old Hannah - George Hawkins, vocal and fiddle (Rec: Mark Wilson, Gus Meade and Nancy McLellan, Bethel, Ky, April, 1974). Roud 6710.  I am not certain whether George learned this from the same source as All Night Long or he just happened to remember a fiddle tune from his youth.  I only wish that we had gotten him to play more of it, but this ditty emerged late in the session after we had probably already overstayed our welcome.

Yonder comes old Hannah
How on earth do you know?
You can tell her by her apron strings
And her shoe strings a-dragging on the floor.

Roger Cooper, fiddle and Michael Garvin, guitar35.  The Coburn Fork of Big Creek - Michael Garvin, fiddle; Roger Cooper, guitar (Rec: Mark Wilson, Garrison, Ky, 7/13/05).  Composed by Owen Chapman.  Michael is the son of Keith and the grandson of Bert Garvin, whom we've already encountered several times in this collection.  In his early twenties, Michael has taken to learning his region's fiddle music with a great passion and has recently apprenticed with Roger Cooper under a Kentucky arts program.  Michael learns many of his tunes by slowing them down on the computer, a technique that would have startled old-timers who often had to pick up their melodies rather furtively, from a source who often did not wish to be copied.  The present tune was composed by Owen Chapman who released his own rendition on Rdr 0378.  Not too long before he died, Snake told me that he hoped that some of his best tunes might be remembered by future fiddlers and Michael captures the sinuous flow of this pretty tune beautifully.

36.  My Peach Trees are all in Bloom - Roger Cooper, vocal and fiddle (Rec: Mark Wilson, Garrison, Ky, 7/14/05).  Roger learned the fundamentals of his fiddle style from a close association with the great Buddy Thomas (Rdr 0034) and Roger has probably now become the greatest living master of the complex stylings of his Northern Kentucky region.  He has also been just as helpful to me in my later recording work as Annadeene proved in the earlier period and I am proud to have helped, along with John Harrod, on Roger's two splendid Rounder projects (Rdr 0380 and 0593).  Roger recently remembered this little ditty from Buddy who got in turn from his mother who taught him many old fiddle tunes through her whistling.  As such, it is a tune often known elsewhere in the south as Prettiest Little Girl in the County-O.  More common lyrics run:

I'm the prettiest girl in the county-o
Daddy and Mommy both told me so.

As such, the piece is clearly related to, yet distinct from, the minstrel favorite Dandy Jim of Caroline.  I find it remarkable how closely Roger's playing resembles that of other fiddlers on the same tune, eg, Clyde Davenport on AC 002.  Based upon other evidence, I have formed the hypothesis that many fiddle tunes traveled across pioneer American as mouth music or play party tunes.  Roger's performance demonstrates, I think, the potential reliability of that chain of transportation.

My peach trees are all in bloom
My true honey is a-coming soon.
Pretty little honey, fare thee well (x2)

37.  Turkey in the Straw - Roger Cooper and Michael Garvin, fiddles; Mark Wilson, guitar (Rec: Mark Wilson, Garrison, Ky, 7/13/05).  Traditional fiddlers like Roger often do not enjoy playing in the disorganized conglomerates favored by festival-going revivalists, because they feel that the expressive subtleties of good fiddling get lost in the melée.  However, they do like to work out tighter 'twin fiddle' arrangements such as this (Bill Monroe's ensembles specialized in these).  Roger and Michael played this arrangement for me late one evening after we had finished up work on one of Roger's projects.  The tune itself is quite venerable, first appearing in the early nineteenth century as Natchez Under the Hill and then as Old Zip Coon (see Rdr 0529 for more on this).  Some experts like Samuel Bayard claim the popular British Rose Tree as progenitor, but that represents a larger associative stretch than I'd care to make.  The distinctive melody has attracted many lyric associates, the most bizarre of which was a stage Irish song of the 1850s called The Old Bog Hole which then reappeared in the 1880s as a Scottish fiddle tune in Kerr's Merry Melodies (I was both startled and pleased when I first heard it thus played by Joe MacLean - see Rdr 7024).  It is my impression that the tune's modern Turkey in the Straw associations began sometime after the Civil War, through what agency I am not certain.

Credits:

Recorded by Guthrie T Meade, John Harrod and Mark Wilson (1969-2005).

Produced by Mark Wilson.

Annotation and photography by Mark Wilson.

Special Thanks to: Kerry Blech, Carole Cochran, Norm Cohen, Jim Coldiron, Roger Cooper, Gary Cornett, the Fraleys of Denton, Ky, Hazel Garland and Margaret Harrington, Mr and Mrs George Hawkins Jr, Ken Irwin, Jeanie and Philip Kazee, Loyal Jones, Barbara Kunkle, Mary Meade, Nancy McLellan, Mary Nelson, Bill Nowlin, Danny Stradling, Buddy Thomas and Wally Wallingford.

A special acknowledgment to Rounder Records for its logistical support of the North American Traditions Series recordings over the years and to John Harrod for assistance in the production of this set.

All traditional song arrangements are copyrighted in the performer's name by Happy Valley Music, BMI.

For more recordings by these artists, please visit http://www.rounder.com/rounder/nat

Dedicated to the memory of Annadeene Fraley.

Mark Wilson - 12.1.07

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