Archive for the 'Mountain/southern us' Category



Henry Lee


h1 Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

Derived from Child Ballad #68 “Young Hunting,” this classic tale of murder by a jilted lover is a good example of a Fatal Error. If Henry Lee had held his tongue about his love in that “Merry Green Land” he may have been able to escape his jealous girlfriend’s dagger.

Lyrics:
[E] Get down, [A] get down, [E] little Henry Lee, and stay all [B7] night [E] with me.
[E] The very best [A] lodging I [E] can afford will be fare [B7] better’n [E] thee.”
 [A] “I can’t get down, and I [E] won’t get down, and [A] stay all night with [B7] thee,
[E] For the girl I [A] have in that [E] merry green land, I love far [B7] better’n [E] thee.”

She leaned herself against a fence, just for a kiss or two;
With a little weapon-knife in her hand, she plugged him through and through.
”Come all you ladies in the town, a secret for me to keep,
With a diamond ring held on my hand I’ll never will be forsake.”

“Some take him by his lily-white hand, some take him by his feet.
We’ll throw him in this deep, deep well, more than one hundred feet.
Lie there, lie there, loving Henry Lee, till the flesh drops from your bones.
The girl you have in that merry green land still wants for your return.”

“Fly down, fly down, you little bird, and alight on my right knee.
Your cage will be of purest gold, in deed of property.”
”I can’t fly down, or I won’t fly down, and alight on your right knee.
A girl would murder her own true love would kill a little bird like me.”

“If I had my bend and bow, my arrow and my string,
I’d pierce a dart so nigh your heart your wobble would be in vain.”
”If you had had your bend and bow, your arrow and your string,
I’d fly away to the merry green land and tell what I have seen.”

Tell Ole Gil


h1 Sunday, August 3rd, 2014

We don’t know exactly what kind of trouble Gil ran into but one might suspect from the first verse it had something to do with those “downtown gals” or perhaps their male “protectors.”

Lyrics:
Capo on second fret
[G] Tell old [Em] Gil when [G] he gets [Em] home, this [G] mornin’ [Em] [G] [Em] ,[G] 

Tell ol’ [Em] Gil when [G] he gets [Em] home this [Am] evenin’[D] [Am] [D] ,[G] Tell old [Em] Gil when [G] he gets [Em] home, [G] 
Leave them [Em] downtown [Am] gals [D] alone,
[G] This mornin’, [Bm] this [Am] evenin’,[D] [G] so soon! [Bm] [Am] [D]

Gil he left by the alley gate, this mornin…
Old sal said, “Now, don’t be late.”…
They brought Gil home in a hurry-up wagon, this mornin’,
They brought…poor dead Gil–his toes were a-draggin’…

Oh no, it can’t be so, this mornin…
Oh no, it can’t be so—Gil he left about an hour ago, This morning, this evening, so soon.

Tell old Gil when he gets home, this mornin’,

Tell ol’ Gil when he gets home,
Leave them downtown gals alone,
This mornin’, this evenin’, so soon!

Oh no, it can’t be so, this mornin…
Oh no, it can’t be so—Gil he left about an hour ago, This morning, this evening, so soon.

Oh no, it can’t be so, this mornin…
Oh no, it can’t be so—Gil he left about an hour ago, This morning, this evening, so soon.

Take A Drink On Me


h1 Thursday, May 1st, 2014

In 1970 the Byrds recorded “Take a Whiff on Me” for our “Untitled” double record set. “Take a Drink on Me” is a variation of that song. John Lomax stated that its origins were uncertain. I’m playing 7-string acoustic guitar, mandolin and 5-string banjo.

Lyrics:
[A] Now, what did you do with that ring on your hand,
[D] You sold it to a rounder and he moved to England,
[E7] Oh, oh, honey, take a drink on [A] me.

[D] Take a drink on me, take a drink on me,
[B7] All you rounders, take a drink on me,
[E7] Oh, oh, honey, take a drink on [A] me.

Take a drink on me, take a drink on me,
All you rounders, take a drink on me,
Oh, oh, honey, take a drink on me.

If you keep on stalling, you’ll make me think
Your daddy was a monkey and mama was an ape,
Oh, oh, honey, take a drink on me.

Take a drink on me, take a drink on me,
All you rounders, take a drink on me,
Oh, oh, honey, take a drink on me.

Take a drink on me, take a drink on me,
All you rounders, take a drink on me,
Oh, oh, honey, take a drink on me.

You see that gal with a hobble on,
She’s good looking just as sure as you’re born.
Oh, oh, honey, take a drink on me.

Take a drink on me, take a drink on me,
All you rounders, take a drink on me,
Oh, oh, honey, take a drink on me.

Take a drink on me, take a drink on me,
All you rounders, take a drink on me,
Oh, oh, honey, take a drink on me.

The Lazy Farmer Boy


h1 Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

Another fine song from The Anthology of American Folk Music. I emulated the performance of Buster Carter and Preston Young, staying in the same key and tempo.

It’s a tale of a misunderstanding between a corn farmer who has lost his crop due to freezing weather, and his fiancée who thinks he’s just too lazy to grow the corn.

Lyrics:
I’ll sing a little song but it ain’t very long
About a lazy farmer who wouldn’t hoe his corn
And why it was I never could tell
For that young man was always well
That young man was always well

He planted his corn on June the last
In July it was up to his eye
In September there came a big frost
And all that young man’s corn was lost
All that young man’s corn was lost

He started to the field and got there at last
The grass and weeds was up to his chin
The grass and weeds had grown so high
It caused that poor man for to sigh
Caused that poor man for to sigh

Now his courtship had just begun
She said, “Young man have you hoed your corn?”
“I’ve tried I’ve tried I’ve tried in vain
But I don’t believe I’ll raise one grain
Don’t believe I’ll raise one grain”

“Why do you come to me to wed
If you can’t raise your own cornbread?
Single I am and will remain
For a lazy man I won’t maintain
A lazy man I won’t maintain”

He hung his head and walked away
Saying “Kind miss you’ll rue the day
You’ll rue the day that you were born
For giving me trouble ’cause I wouldn’t hoe my corn
Giving me trouble ’cause I wouldn’t hoe my corn”

Now his courtship was to an end
On his way he then began
Saying “Kind miss I’ll have another girl
If I have to ramble this big wide world
If I have to ramble this big wide world”

Swannanoa Tunnel


h1 Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

This is a Western North Carolina folksong about an 1800 foot railroad tunnel constructed in the late Nineteenth Century with the help of convict labor. HERE is an interesting historical discussion about it.
Lyrics:

Riff in A

I’m going back to the Swannanoa Tunnel
That’s my home, baby, that’s my home

Asheville Junction, Swannanoa Tunnel
All caved in, baby, all caved in

Last December I remember
The wind blowed cold, baby, the wind blowed cold

When you hear my watchdog howling
Somebody around, baby, somebody around

When you hear that hoot owl squalling
Somebody dying, baby, somebody dying

Ain’t no hammer in this mountain
Out rings mine, baby, out rings mine

This old hammer it killed John Henry
It didn’t kill me, baby, couldn’t kill me

Riley Gardner, he killed my partner
He couldn’t kill me, baby, he couldn’t kill me

This old hammer it rings like silver
It shines like gold, baby, it shines like gold

Take this hammer, throw it in the river
It rings right on, baby, it shines right on

Some of these days I’ll see that woman
Well that’s no dream, baby, that’s no dream

Jimmy Brown


h1 Sunday, September 1st, 2013

I first heard this tune in Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. Eric Weissberg and Roger Sprung would stand around the fountain and play banjo while we all played guitars.
Lyrics:
[C] I sell the morning papers sir my name is [G] Jimmy Brown
Everybody knows that I’m the newsboy of this [C] town
You can hear me yellin’ Morning Star up and down [G] the street
Got no hat upon my head no shoes upon my [C] feet

Never mind sir how I look don’t look at me and frown
Sell the morning papers sir my name is Jimmy Brown
I’m awful cold and hungry sir my clothes is mighty thin
Wander bout from place to place my daily bread to win

My father died a drunkard sir I’ve heard my mama say
I am helpin’ mama sir as I journey on my way
My mama always tells me sir I’ve nothing in the world to lose
I’ll get a place in heaven sir to sell the Gospel News

I sell the morning papers sir my name is Jimmy Brown
Everybody knows that I’m the newsboy of this town
You can hear me yellin’ Morning Star up and down the street
Got a hat upon my head no shoes upon my feet

My father died a drunkard sir I’ve heard my mama say
I am helpin’ mama sir, as I journey on my way
My mama always tells me sir I’ve nothing in the world to lose
I’ll get a place in heaven sir to sell the Gospel News

The Moonshiner


h1 Friday, March 1st, 2013

Inspired by Buell Kazee’s 1958 Folkways recording, I did my best to emulate his phrasing and 5-string banjo style. The photo is of a real moonshiner, Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton who was quite popular in the hills of Tennessee and North Carolina. He got busted and chose to take his own life in 2009 rather than spend his last 18 months in Federal prison. He had cancer and was sure he would die there.
Lyrics:
G# Modal tuning
I’ve been a moonshiner for seven long years
I spent all my money on whiskey and beer

Working and pretty women don’t trouble my mind
If whiskey don’t kill me I’ll live a long time

I’ll go up some holler I’ll set up my still
I’ll make you one gallon for a two dollar bill

John Hardy


h1 Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

In West Virginia, a railroad worker named John Hardy got violent during a game of craps and fatally shot Thomas Drews, a fellow player. Hardy was tried, found guilty of murder in the first degree and hanged on January 19, 1894. History records this from the Wheeling Daily Register. Judge Herndon and Walter Taylor defended Hardy. Allegedly, Hardy gave Judge Herndon his pistol as a fee.
Lyrics:
CAPO ON 1ST FRET
[F] John Hardy, was a [C] desperate little man,
[F] He carried two guns [C] every day.
[F] He shot a man on the [C] West Virginia line,
[C] You oughta seen John Hardy gettin’ away,
[C] You oughta seen John Hardy [G7] gettin’ [C] away.

John Hardy, he got to the Keystone Bridge,
He thought he would be free.
Up steps a man and takes him by his arm
Saying, “Johnny, walk along with me,”
Saying, “Johnny, walk along with me.”

John Hardy was a brave little man,
He carried two guns ev’ry day.
Killed him a man in the West Virginia land,
Oughta seen poor Johnny gettin’ away, Lord, Lord,
Oughta seen poor Johnny gettin’ away.

John Hardy was standin’ at the barroom door,
He didn’t have a hand in the game,
Up stepped his woman and threw down fifty cents,
Says, “Deal my man in the game, Lord, Lord….”

John Hardy lost that fifty cents,
It was all he had in the game,
He drew the forty-four that he carried by his side
Blowed out that poor Negro’s brains, Lord, Lord….

John Hardy had ten miles to go,
And half of that he run,
He run till he come to the broad river bank,
He fell to his breast and he swum, Lord, Lord….

He swum till he came to his mother’s house,
“My boy, what have you done?”
“I’ve killed a man in the West Virginia Land,
And I know that I have to be hung, Lord, Lord….”

He asked his mother for a fifty-cent piece,
“My son, I have no change.”
“Then hand me down my old forty-four
And I’ll blow out my agurvatin’ [sic] brains, Lord, Lord….”

John Hardy was lyin’ on the broad river bank,
As drunk as a man could be;
Up stepped the police and took him by the hand,
Sayin’ “Johnny, come and go with me, Lord, Lord….”

John Hardy had a pretty little girl,
The dress she wore was blue.
She come a-skippin’ through the old jail hall
Sayin’, “Poppy, I’ll be true to you, Lord, Lord….”

John Hardy had another little girl,
The dress that she wore was red,
She came a-skippin’ through the old jail hall
Sayin’ “Poppy, I’d rather be dead, Lord, Lord….”

They took John Hardy to the hangin’ ground,
They hung him there to die.
The very last words that poor boy said,
“My forty gun never told a lie, Lord, Lord….”

Darling Clementine


h1 Monday, October 1st, 2012

Camilla and I were on the road in September 2012 and I realized we were in a copper mining town on the upper peninsula of Michigan. The town of Calumet has a rich history of mining and was the site of the 1913 massacre that Woody Guthrie immortalized in his song 1913 Massacre.

Mining reminded me of Darling Clementine. I had to search through the archives of the Folk Den to make sure that song wasn’t already there because it was so familiar. It’s kind of a sad song but the last verse adds a bit of humor.

By the way if you ever go to Calumet Michigan be sure to try the Chili Rellenos at Carmelitas Southwest Grille “Food with an attitude.”

Lyrics:
[E] In a cavern, in a canyon,
 Excavating for a [B7] mine

Dwelt a miner [E] forty-niner, 
And his [B7] daughter [E] Clementine
▪ Chorus:
Oh my darling, oh my darling,
 Oh my darling, Clementine!

Thou are lost and gone forever
 Dreadful sorry, Clementine

Light she was and like a fairy,
 And her shoes were number nine

Herring boxes, without topses,
 Sandals were for Clementine.

Oh my darling, oh my darling,
 Oh my darling, Clementine!

Thou are lost and gone forever
 Dreadful sorry, Clementine

Drove she ducklings to the water
 Ev’ry morning just at nine,

Hit her foot against a splinter,
 Fell into the foaming brine.

Oh my darling, oh my darling,
 Oh my darling, Clementine!

Thou are lost and gone forever
 Dreadful sorry, Clementine

Ruby lips above the water,
 Blowing bubbles, soft and fine,

But, alas, I was no swimmer,
So I lost my Clementine.

Oh my darling, oh my darling,
 Oh my darling, Clementine!

Thou are lost and gone forever
 Dreadful sorry, Clementine

How I missed her! How I missed her,
 How I missed my Clementine,

But I kissed her little sister,
I forgot my Clementine.

Oh my darling, oh my darling,
 Oh my darling, Clementine!

Thou are lost and gone forever
 Dreadful sorry, Clementine
Oh my darling, oh my darling,
 Oh my darling, Clementine!

Thou are lost and gone forever
 Dreadful sorry, Clementine

Give Me Oil In My Lamp


h1 Saturday, September 1st, 2012

“Give Me Oil In My Lamp” is great old Gospel song that I recorded on the Byrds’ “Easy Rider” album back in 1969. It’s derived from Matthew 25:1-3 in the Bible: “The kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them” In the end the foolish virgins ran out of oil.

Lyrics:
Verse 1:
[G] Give me oil in my lamp,
[C] Keep me burning,
[G] Give me oil in my lamp, [A] I pray. [D]
[G] Give me oil in my lamp,
[C] Keep me burning,
[G] Keep me burning
Till the [D] break of [G] day.

Chorus:
[G] Sing hosanna! [C] sing hosanna!
[D] Sing hosanna to the [G] King of kings!
Sing hosanna! [C] sing hosanna!
[D] Sing hosanna to the [G] King!

Verse 2:
Give me joy in my heart,
Keep me singing.
Give me joy in my heart, I pray.
Give me joy in my heart,
Keep me singing.
Keep me singing
Till the break of day.