Archive for the 'Love' Category



Down In The Valley


h1 Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

This song had an influence on Kurt Weill
Down in the Valley: An Appreciation
by Mark N. Grant

Kurt Weill couldn’t convince any of his usual collaborators to write a libretto, so Stonzek and well-known conductor Lehman Engel suggested Arnold Sundgaard (1909-2006), who had already had two plays produced on Broadway and had co-written the book for the Fritz Kreisler operetta Rhapsody produced on Broadway the preceding season. He had studied playwriting with Eugene O’Neill’s teacher George Pierce Baker at Yale Drama School. His 70-character play about syphilis, Spirochete, created a sensation in 1938 as a Federal Theatre Living Newspaper production. Sundgaard’s long and varied career included teaching and writing children’s books, and he wrote librettos for Douglas Moore and Alec Wilder.

“When I had lived in the mountains of Virginia in 1939-40,” Sundgaard recalled late in life, “among the songs I heard was ‘Down in the Valley.’ I felt that song suggested the kind of story we could write.” The song–a traditional Ozark ballad about a condemned prisoner and the woman he loves, set to a deceptively serene tune–first appeared in print collections in the 1910s. It also appeared under the titles “Bird in a Cage,” “Birmingham Jail,” and “Down on the Levee.” The lyrics varied from version to version, but the following composite gives a good idea of the raw material from which Sundgaard constructed the plot.

Down in the Valley bears a superficial resemblance to an opera for students that Weill wrote in Germany, Der Jasager (1930), but the musical styles of the two works differ considerably. In this American folk opera, a short, eminently performable 35-minute work, the composer sought sheer lyricism in melody, harmony, choral writing, and orchestration more unabashedly than perhaps anywhere else in his oeuvre. It is, simply put, one of Weill’s most beautiful scores.

Lyrics:
[A] Down in the valley the valley so [D] low
Hang your head over, hear the wind [A] blow
Hear the wind blow love, hear the wind [D] blow
Hang your head over, hear the wind [A] blow

Roses love sunshine, violets love dew
Angels in heaven, know i love you

Write me a letter, send it by mail
Send it in care of, the Birmingham Jail
Birmingham Jail love, Birmingham Jail
Send it in care of, the Birmingham Jail

Build me a castle, forty feet high
So I can see you, as you ride by
As you ride by Love, as you ride by
So I can see you, as you ride by

Down in the valley, the valley so low
Hang your head over, hear the wind blow

Black Is The Color Of My True Love’s Hair


h1 Saturday, October 1st, 2011

Black Is The Color Of My True Love’s Hair – 3103 in the Roud Folk Song Index is a traditional song that is widely believed to have originated in Scotland. Some versions are addressed to females and others to males. Nina Simone made it popular in the mid 20th century and her version was used in the 1993 Bridget Fonda film “Point of No Return.”

Lyrics:
[Em] Black is the color of my [D] true love’s [Em] hair
Her lips are like some [Am] rosy [D] fair
[Em] The purest [D] eyes and the [Em] neatest hands
I love the ground whereon [D] she stands

I go to the Clyde for to mourn and weep
But satisfied I never can sleep
I’ll write to you in a few short lines
I’ll suffer death ten thousand times

I know my love and well she knows
I love the grass whereon she goes
If she on earth no more I see
My life will quickly fade away

A winter’s past and the leaves are green
The time has past that we have seen
But still I hope the time will come
When you and I will be as one

Black is the color of my true love’s hair
Her lips are like some rosy fair
The purest eyes and the neatest hands
I love the ground whereon she stands

Polly Vaughn


h1 Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

Polly Vaughn is an old Irish folk song about a hunter who mistakenly shoots his true love thinking her to be a swan. Click HERE for more details.
Lyrics:
I will tell of a hunter whose life was undone,
By the cruel hand of evil at the setting of the sun,
His arrow was loosed and it flew through the dark,
And his true love was slain as the shaft found its mark;

She’d her apron wrapped about her,
And he took her for a swan,
And it’s oh and alas it was she, Polly Vaughn;

He ran up beside her and found that it was she,
He turned away his face for he could not bear to see,
He lifted her up and he found she was dead,
A fountain of tears for his true love he shed;

She’d her apron wrapped about her,
And he took her for a swan,
And it’s oh and alas it was she, Polly Vaughn;

He carried her off to his home by the sea,
Crying’ “Father, oh Father, I’ve murdered poor Polly!
I’ve killed my fair love in the flower of her life,
I’d always intended that she be my wife;”

“But she’d her apron wrapped about her
And I took her for a swan,
And it’s oh and alas it was she, Polly Vaughn;”

He roamed near the place where his true love was slain,
And wept bitter tears, but his cries were all in vain,
As he looked on the lake, a swan glided by,
And the sun slowly set in the grey of the sky;

“But she’d her apron wrapped about her
And I took her for a swan,
And it’s oh and alas it was she, Polly Vaughn;”

“She’d her apron wrapped about her
And I took her for a swan,
And it’s oh and alas it was she, Polly Vaughn.”

Barbara Allen


h1 Saturday, January 1st, 2011

I remember seeing Joan Baez sing this at Club 47 in Cambridge MA in 1960. She looked and sounded just like she does in this clip: CLICK HERE

Source of the following: Mudcat Cafe
Samuel Pepys in his “Diary” under the date of January 2nd 1665, speaks of the singing of “Barbara Allen.” The English and Scottish both claim the original ballad in different versions, and both versions were brought over to the US by the earliest settlers. Since then there have been countless variations (some 98 are found in Virginia alone). The version used here is the English one. The tune is traditional.

Child Ballad #84

Lyrics:
[D] In Scarlet town where I was born,
There was a [G] fair maid [A] dwellin’
[G] Made every youth cry [Bm] Well-a-day,
[A] Her name was Barb’ra [D] Allen.

All in the merry month of May,
When green buds they were swellin’
Young Willie Grove on his death-bed lay,
For love of Barb’ra Allen.

He sent his man unto her then
To the town where she was dwellin’
You must come to my master, dear,
If your name be be Barb’ra Allen.

So slowly, slowly she came up,
And slowly she came nigh him,
And all she said when there she came:
“Young man, I think you’re dying!”

He turned his face unto the wall
And death was drawing nigh him.
Adieu, adieu, my dear friends all,
Be kind to Bar’bra Allen

As she was walking o’er the fields,
She heard the death bell knellin’,
And ev’ry stroke did seem to say,
Unworthy Barb’ra Allen.

When he was dead and laid in grave,
Her heart was struck with sorrow.
“Oh mother, mother, make my bed
For I shall die tomorrow.”

And on her deathbed she lay,
She begged to be buried by him,
And sore repented of the day
That she did e’er deny him.

“Farewell,” she said, “ye virgins all,
And shun the fault I fell in,
Henceforth take warning by the fall
Of cruel Barb’ra Allen.”

She Never Will Marry


h1 Monday, March 1st, 2010

“She Never Will Marry” is an adaptation of some very old ballads. I first heard it sung by a red headed woman at Chicago’s Gate of Horn. Here’s a song that provides a glimpse into its origins:

THE LOVER’S LAMENT FOR HER SAILOR

As I was walking along the seashore,
Where the breeze it blew cool, and the billows did round,
Where the wind and the waves and the waters run
I heard a shrill voice make a sorrowful sound.

Chorus:
Crying, O my love’s gone, whom I do adore,
He’s gone and I will never see him more.

I tarried awhile still listening near,
And heard her complain for the loss of her dear;
Which grieved me sadly to hear her complain
Crying, he is gone and I will never see him again.

She appeared like some goddess, and dressed like a queen,
She’s the fairest of creatures that ever was seen.
I told her I’d marry her myself, if she pleas’d,
But the answer she made me, was my love is in the seas.

I never will marry nor be any man’s bride,
I choose to live single, all the days of my life,
For the loss of my sailor I deeply deplore,
As he’s lost in the seas I shall ne’er see him more.

I will go down to my dearest that lies in the deep
And with kind embraces I will him intreat,
I will kiss his cold lips like the coral so red,
I will close up his eyes that have been so long dead.

The shells of the oysters shall be my lover’s bed,
And the shrimps of the sea shall swim over his head,
Then she plunged her fair body right into the deep,
And closed her fair eyes in the water to sleep.

Lyrics:
[G] They say that [D] love’s a [G] gentle thing
But it’s [C] only [D] brought her [G] pain
For the [C] only [D] man she [G] ever [Em] loved
Has [Am] gone on the [D] midnight [G] train

She never will [D] marry
She’ll be no man’s [C] wife
She expect to live [G] single
All the [D] days of her [G] life

Well the train pulled out
The whistle blew
With a long and a lonesome moan
He’s gone he’s gone
Like the morning dew
And left her all alone

She never will marry
She’ll be no man’s wife
She expect to live single
All the days of her life

Well there’s many a change in the winter wind
And a change in the clouds and Byrds
There’s many a change in a young man’s heart
But never a change in hers

She never will marry
She’ll be no man’s wife
She expect to live single
All the days of her life

Frozen Logger


h1 Sunday, November 1st, 2009

Frank Hamilton played banjo on this at the Old Town School of Folk Music in 1957. It’s a funny song written by James Stevens, the man who made Paul Bunyan famous. Loggers are a tough bunch according to this song and it’s probably true given the harsh conditions they work under! Camilla and I have been traveling in the Northwest for the last two weeks and I decided to record this as a reminder of the end of a wonderful two month tour.

Lyrics:
The Frozen Logger
(James Stevens)

[G] As I sat [D7] down one [G] evening within a [D7] small [G] cafe,
A forty year old waitress to [C] me these words did [D7] say:

“I see that you are a logger, and not just a common bum,
‘Cause nobody but a logger stirs his coffee with is thumb.

My lover was a logger, there’s none like him today;
If you’d pour whiskey on it he could eat a bale of hay

He never shaved his whiskers from off of his horny hide;
He’d just drive them in with a hammer and bite them off inside.

My lover came to see me upon one freezing day;
He held me in his fond embrace which broke three vertebrae.

He kissed me when we parted, so hard that he broke my jaw;
I could not speak to tell him he’d forgot his mackinaw.

I saw my lover leaving, sauntering through the snow,
Going gaily homeward at forty-eight below.

The weather it tried to freeze him, it tried its level best;
At a hundred degrees below zero, he buttoned up his vest.

It froze clean through to China, it froze to the stars above;
At a thousand degrees below zero, it froze my logger love.

They tried in vain to thaw him, and would you believe me, sir
They made him into axeblades, to chop the Douglas fir.

And so I lost my lover, and to this cafe I come,
And here I wait till someone stirs his coffee with his thumb.”

A Roving


h1 Monday, June 1st, 2009

Also known as “The Amsterdam Maid” is a capstan song. It might have been sung at a slower tempo as pushing the bars around a capstan to pull up the anchor could be a slow arduous task, especially if the night before on shore was a rollicking one.

The chantey man, leading the song, usually sat on the capstan head, singing out the main lines of the song, while the two or three sailors on each of the capstan bars sang the chorus.

The song’s origin in the 1600s suggests that it was probably not an original chantey but a shore song, since it was performed on the London stage in the “Rape of Lucrece.”

Lyrics:

[G] In Amsterdam there lived a maid
[C] Mark well what I do [G] say.
In [C] Amsterdam there [G] lived a maid,
And [Am] she was mistress of her [D] trade.
[G] I’ll go no more a roving with thee [D] fair [D] maid.
CHORUS:-

[C] A roving, [G] a roving, since [Am] roving’s been my [D] ruin
[G] I’ll go no more a roving with thee [D] fair [G] maid.

Her lips were red, her eyes were brown,
Mark well what I do say.
Her lips were red, her eyes were brown,
And her hair was black and it hung right down,
I’ll go no more a-roving with thee, fair maid.

I put my arm around her waist ,
Mark well what I do say.
I put my arm around her waist,
Cried she,”Young man you’re in great haste.”
I’ll go no more a-roving with thee, fair maid.

I took that maid upon my knee,
Mark well what I do say.
I took that maid upon my knee,
Cried she, “Young man, you’re much too free”;
I’ll go no more a-roving with thee fair maid.

I kissed that maid and stole away,
Mark well what I do say.
I kissed that maid and stole away,
She wept- “Young man, why won’t you stay “;
I’ll go no more a-roving with thee, fair maid.

500 Miles


h1 Saturday, November 1st, 2008

Hedy West (April 6, 1938 – July 3, 2005) was an American folksinger and songwriter. Her song “500 miles,” has been covered by Bobby Bare (a Billboard Top 10 hit in 1963), The Highwaymen, The Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul and Mary, Peter & Gordon, The Brothers Four and many others. A great number of Hedy’s songs, including the raw materials for “500 Miles” came from her paternal grandmother Lily West who passed on the songs she had learned as a child.

This has a sweet melody and a sad story of poverty and desolation.

Lyrics:

[A] If you miss this train I’m on [F#m] then you’ll know [Bm] that I have [D] gone
You can [Bm] hear the whistle [E] blow a hundred miles
[A] A hundred miles [F#m] A hundred miles [Bm] A hundred miles [D] A hundred miles
You can [Bm] hear the whistle [E] blow a hundred [A] miles

Lord I’m one Lord I’m two Lord I’m three Lord I’m four
Lord I’m five hundred miles from my home
Five hundred miles five hundred miles five hundred miles five hundred miles
Lord I’m five hundred miles from my home

Not a shirt on my back not a penny to my name
Lord I can’t go on home this a-way
This a-way this a-way this a-way this a-way
Lord I can’t go on home this a-way

[A] If you miss this train I’m on [F#m] then you’ll know [Bm] that I have [D] gone
You can [Bm] hear the whistle [E] blow a hundred miles
[A] A hundred miles [F#m] A hundred miles [Bm] A hundred miles [D] A hundred miles
You can [Bm] hear the whistle [E] blow a hundred [A] miles

I Know Where I’m Going


h1 Sunday, June 1st, 2008


Song page from the Old Town School of Folk Music circa 1957

The picture above tells the whole story. I learned this song at the Old Town School of Folk Music in the late 50s. If you right click (ctrl click for Apple) and save the image you’ll have a full scan of the page from the book I got at the Old Town School complete with notes and chords. I’m doing it in the key of F# instead of C. It’s a pretty love song for June.
Lyrics:

I know where I’m going
I know who’s going with me
I know who I love
But Dear Lord knows who I’ll marry

I have stockings of silk
Shoes of bright green leather
Combs to buckle my hair
And a ring on every finger

Feather beds are soft
And painted rooms are bonny
But I would leave them all
For my handsome winsome Johnny

Some say he’s bad
And I say he’s bonny
Fairest of them all
Is my handsome winsome Johnny

I know where I’m going
I know who’s going with me
I know who I love
But Dear Lord knows who I’ll marry

Old Joe Clark


h1 Friday, February 1st, 2008

This is another song that I learned at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago. The song originated in Irish Creek, on the Blue Ridge Parkway near South River Virginia in the early 1800s. Joe Clark had a daughter who jilted her lover. The young man is said to have written the song out of spite and jealousy.
Lyrics:
Old Joe Clark

[G] Old Joe Clark’s a fine old man
Tell you the reason why
He keeps good likker ’round his house
Good old [F] Rock and [G] Rye

[G] Fare ye well, Old Joe Clark
Fare ye well, I [F] say
[G] Fare ye well, Old Joe Clark
I’m a [F] going [G] away

Old Joe Clark, the preacher’s son
Preached all over the pain
The only text he ever knew
Was High, low, Jack and the game

Old Joe Clark had a mule
His name was Morgan Brown
And every tooth in that mule’s head
Was sixteen inches around

Old Joe Clark had ayellow cat
She would neither sing or pray
She stuck her head in the butermilk jar
And washed her sins away

Old Joe Clark had a house
Fifteen stories high
And every story in that house
Was filled with chicken pie

I went down to Old Joe’s house
He invited me to supper
I stumped my toe on the table leg
And stuck my nose in the butter

Now I wouldn’t marry a widder
Tell you the reason why
She’d have so many children
They’d make those biscuits fly

Sixteen horses in my team
The leaders they are blind
And every time the sun goes down
There’s a pretty girl on my mind

Eighteen miles of mountain road
And fifteen miles of sand
If ever travel this road again
I’ll be a married man