Archive for the 'Mountain/southern us' Category



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.

Paul & Silas


h1 Friday, July 1st, 2011

A classic Gospel song, in the picking style I learned from Earl Scruggs.
Lyrics:

[A] Paul and Silas bound in jail
All night long
[D] Paul and Silas bound in jail
All night [A] long
[A] Paul and Silas bound in jail
All night [A] long
Cryin’ He shall [E] deliver [A] me

Jailer come and lock the gate
All night long X3
Cryin’ He shall deliver me

That old jail did reel and rock
All night long X3
Cryin’ He shall deliver me

Paul and Silas prayed to God
All night long X3
Cryin’ He shall deliver me

Paul and Silas bound in jail
All night long X3
Cryin’ He shall deliver me

Pay Me My Money Down


h1 Friday, October 1st, 2010

Pay Me My Money Down is a work song from the Georgia Sea Islands. The slaves there were in relative isolation from the culture of the Southern United States and retained much of their West and Central African heritage. They speak an English-based creole language containing many African words and using similar grammar and sentence structure to those of African languages.

The melody is much older and is used in other songs.

Lyrics:
[G] I thought I heard the Captain say,
Pay me my [D] money down,
Tomorrow is our sailing day,
Pay me my [G] money down

[G] Oh pay me, oh pay me,
Pay me my [D] money down,
Pay me or go to jail,
Pay me my [G] money down

As soon as the boat was clear of the bar,
Pay me my money down,
The captain knocked me down with a spar,
Pay me my money down

If I’d been a rich man’s son,
Pay me my money down,
I’d sit on the river and watch it run,
Pay me my money down

Well 40 nights, nights at sea
Pay me my money down,
Captain worked every last dollar out of me,
Pay me my money down

Whoa Back Buck


h1 Sunday, August 1st, 2010

I learned “Whoa Back Buck” from Bob Gibson. Lead Belly also did a version of this song. It has a lot of nonsense verses that are interchangeable with those of other folk songs.

Lyrics:
(chorus)
[E] Whoa back Buck gee by the [D] lamb,
[E] Who made the back band [B7] whoa [E] Cunningham.

[E] 18, 19, 20 years [D] ago,
[E] Took my gal to the country [B7] store,
[E] Took my gal to the country [D] store,
[E] Buy m’ pretty little gal [B7] little [E] calico.

Me and my gal walkin’ down the road,
Her knees knock together playin’ Sugar In The Gourd,
Sugar in the gourd and the gourd in the ground,
If you want a little sugar got to roll the gourd around.

Eastbound train on the westbound track
Westbound train on the eastbound track
Both those trains were running fine
But what a terrible way to run a railroad line!

18, 19, 20 years ago,
Took my gal to the country store,
Took my gal to the country store,
Buy m’ pretty little gal little calico.

Me and my gal walkin’ down the road,
Her knees knock together playin’ Sugar In The Gourd,
Sugar in the gourd and the gourd in the ground,
If you want a little sugar got to roll the gourd around.