Archive for the 'Mountain/southern us' Category



I’m On My Way


h1 Thursday, July 1st, 2010

I learned “I’m On My Way” at the Old Town School of Folk Music. It’s a Southern religious song that was adapted along with others such as “We Shall Overcome” for the Civil Rights Movement.

I used drums, banjo, bass and Rickenbacker 12-string for the track.

Lyrics:
[G] I’m on my way, I won’t turn [D] back

I’m on my way, and I won’t turn [G] back

I’m on my way, I won’t turn [C] [Am] back

[G] I’m on my way, [D] praise God

[G] I’m on my way.


I ask my brother to come and go with me

I ask my brother come and go with me

I ask my brother come and go with me

I’m on my way, praise God

I’m on my way.

If he says no, I’ll go anyway
If he says no, I’ll go anyway
If he says no, I’ll go anyway
I’m on my way, praise God

I’m on my way

I’m on my way to the freedom land

I’m on my way to the freedom land

I’m on my way to the freedom land

I’m on my way, praise God

I’m on my way.

I’m on my way, and I won’t turn back

I’m on my way, I won’t turn back

I’m on my way, I won’t turn back

I’m on my way, praise God

I’m on my way.

All The Pretty Little Horses


h1 Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

This song is on the third page of my Old Town School of Folk Music song book but for some reason I just got around to recording it. Aside from being a classic of Southern folk lullabies, it’s also Spring-like and appropriate for June. The Rickenbacker instrumentals give it kind of a dreamy quality.
Lyrics:
[Dm] Hush-a-bye
[Gm] Don’t you cry
[C] Go to [A] sleepy little [Dm] baby
[Dm] When you wake
[Gm] You shall have
[C] All the [A] pretty little [Dm] horses

[F] Blacks and bays
[C] Dapples and greys
[C] A coach [A] and six white [Dm] horses

Hush-a-bye
Don’t you cry
Go to sleepy little baby
Way down yonder
In the meadow
Lies a pretty little lamby
Bees and butterflies
All flying by
Poor little lamb crying
“Mammy”

Hush-a-bye
Don’t you cry
Go to sleepy little baby

Big Rock Candy Mountain


h1 Saturday, May 1st, 2010

I always thought this was a kid’s song until I reexamined the lyrics. I guess when Burl Ives had a hit with it in the 1940s I was a kid and the lemonade springs where the bluebird sings sounded appealing. I didn’t notice the gin, cops and stones. It’s about a hobo’s utopia!

The original lyrics are even rougher as you can see here:

I recorded this with a banjo mandolin that I had bought in 1960 and left in San Francisco with a friend. He returned it to me several years ago and I had it refurbished thanks to Wayne & Robyn Rogers owners of Gold Tone Banjo.

Lyrics:
[D] On a summer day
In the month of May
A burly bum came [A] hiking
Down a shady lane
Through the sugar cane
He was looking for his [D] liking
As he roamed along
He sang a song
Of the land of milk and [A] honey
Where a bum can stay
For many a day
And he won’t need any [D] money

Chorus:
[D] Oh the buzzin’ of the bees
the bubblegum trees
[G] soda water [D] fountain
the [A] lemonade springs
Where the [D] bluebird sings
On the [A] big rock candy [D] mountain

There’s a lake of gin
We can both jump in
And the handouts grow on bushes
In the new-mown hay
We can sleep all day
And the bars all have free lunches
Where the mail train stops
And there ain’t no cops
And the folks are tender-hearted
Where you never change your socks
And you never throw rocks
And your hair is never parted
Chorus:

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

Take This Hammer


h1 Friday, January 1st, 2010

I recorded this on the Crystal Serenity ocean liner on the way to Lisbon Portugal last June. Kompoz.com contacted me asking for a song to use in their contest. I provided 7 tracks for contestants to download. This was the winner, a gospel version with wonderful piano and vocal backing!

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

“Take This Hammer” (Roud 4299) is a prison work song. It was collected by John and Alan Lomax. The song “Nine Pound Hammer” has a few phrases in common with this song, and the same Roud number. “Swannanoa Tunnel” is similar, and this group of songs are referred to as ‘hammer songs’ or ‘roll songs’. According to the Columbia State University, the earliest collected version was made by Newman Ivey White in 1915.
Lyrics:

[G] Take this hammer, carry it to the [D] captain
Take this hammer, carry it to the [G] captain
Take this hammer, carry it to the [C] captain
Tell him I’m [G] gone, great [D] God tell him I’m [G] gone

If he ask you was I laughing?
If he ask you was I laughing?
If he ask you was I laughing?
Tell him I’m crying, great God tell him I’m crying

If he ask you was I walking
If he ask you was I walking
IIf he ask you was I walking
Tell him I’m running, great God tell him I’m running

Don’t want no more your cornbread and molasses
Don’t want no more your cornbread and molasses
Don’t want no more your cornbread and molasses
Hurts my pride, great God It hurts my pride.

Take this hammer, carry it to the captain
Take this hammer, carry it to the captain
Take this hammer, carry it to the captain
Tell him I’m gone, great God tell him I’m gone

I’ll Fly Away


h1 Thursday, October 1st, 2009

This grand old gospel song has been sung for generations in the southern United States. I married a southern woman in 1978 and soon learned to pronounce words that I had always thought should have one syllable with the proper two syllables.

Lyrics:

I’ll Fly Away

[A] Some bright morning when this life is over
[D] I’ll fly [A] away
To that home on God’s celestial shore
I’ll [E] fly [A] away

I’ll fly away oh Lordy
[D] I’ll fly [A] away (in the morning)
When I die hallelujah by and by
I’ll [E] fly [A] away

When the shadows of this life have gone
I’ll fly away
Like a bird from these prison walls
I’ll fly away

Oh how glad and happy when we meet
I’ll fly away
No more cold iron shackles on my feet
I’ll fly away

Just a few more weary days and th-en
I’ll fly away
To a land where joys will never e-nd
I’ll fly away

When I First Came To This Land


h1 Saturday, August 1st, 2009

People often ask where I get the folk songs for this site and I explain that I learned many of them at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago in my teen years. This is one of them. I can still see Frank Hamilton with his 5-string banjo and Win Stracky with his cigar and big Martin Dreadnought guitar standing in front of the whole group of students playing When I first came to this land.

The cabin of the Crystal Cruise Serenity ocean liner was so quiet that I was able to record this and another song on our voyage from Miami to Lisbon. With a laptop and great recording software it’s possible to record almost anywhere these days! What a wonderful world!

Lyrics:
[D] When I first came [G] to this [D] land, [G] I was [D] not a ]A] wealthy [D] man
[D] So I bought [G] myself a [D] shack and [G] I did [A] what I [D] could
And I [G] called my [D] shack [A] “Break A My [D] Back”
But the land was [G] sweet and [D] good and [G] I did [A] what I [D] could

When I first came to this land, I was not a wealthy man
So I bought myself a farm and I did what I could
And I called my farm “Muscle In My Arm”
And I called my shack “Break A My Back”
But the land was sweet and good and I did what I could

When I first came to this land, I was not a wealthy man
So I bought myself a cow and I did what I could
And I called my cow “More Milk Now”
And I called my farm “Muscle In My Arm”
And I called my shack “Break A My Back”
But the land was sweet and good and I did what I could

When I first came to this land, I was not a wealthy man
So I got myself a wife and I did what I could
And I called my wife “Friend For Life”
And I called my cow “More Milk Now”
And I called my farm “Muscle In My Arm”
And I called my shack “Break A My Back”
But the land was sweet and good and I did what I could
But the land was sweet and good and I did what I could

Dry Bones


h1 Friday, May 1st, 2009

Originally recorded by Bascom Lamar Lunsford – February 1928 in Ashland, Kentucky. I learned this song from the Harry Smith Anthology. What I love most about it is its melodic chorus. Although Lunsford simply accompanied himself on banjo, I’ve added guitar and mandolin to my recording.

Lyrics:

Roughly in the key of G#

Oh Enoch he lived to be, three hundred and sixty-five
When the Lord came and took him, back to heaven alive

I saw
I saw the light from heaven, a-shining all around
I saw the light come shining, I saw that light come down

When Paul sleeping in prison them prison walls fell down
The prison keeper shouted “Praise King and love I’ve found!”

I saw
I saw the light from heaven, a-shining all around
I saw the light come shining, I saw the light come down

When Moses saw that-a burning bush, he walk-ed round and round
Then the Lord said to Moses “You’s treadin’ holy ground.”

I saw
I saw the light from heaven, a-shining all around
I saw the light come shining, I saw the light come down

Dry bones in that valley, got up and took a little walk
The deaf could hear and the dumb could talk

I saw
I saw the light from heaven, a-shining all around
I saw the light come shining, I saw the light come down
Adam and Eve in the garden, under that sycamore tree
Eve said “Adam, a Satan is a-temptin’ me.

I saw
I saw the light from heaven, a-shining all around
I saw the light come shining, I saw the light come down

Old Plank Road


h1 Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Uncle Dave Macon “The Dixie Dew Drop,” recorded this song on 5-string banjo, with guitar by Sam McGee in New York City on April 14, 1926. Macon was born in 1870, the son of proprietors of the Macon Hotel, a theatrical boarding house, where he learned many songs from hotel guests. By 1888 he had become a professional entertainer and would record over a hundred songs between 1932 – 1938. This is one of the chain gang songs he performed. It’s a wild interpretation with lots of shouting. The chorus “Won’t get drunk no more” echoes his regret for being busted and having a ball and chain, but doesn’t smack of true remorse.
Lyrics:

Roughly in the key of D playing the melody

Rather be in Richmond with all the hail and rain
Than to be in Georgia boys wearin’ that ball and chain

Won’t get drunk no more
Won’t get drunk no more
Won’t get drunk no more
Way down the Old Plank Road

I went down to Mobile, but I got on the gravel train
Very next thing they heard of me, had on that ball and chain

Won’t get drunk no more
Won’t get drunk no more
Won’t get drunk no more
Way down the Old Plank Road

Doney, oh dear Doney, what makes you treat me so
Caused me to wear that ball and chain, now my ankle’s sore

Won’t get drunk no more
Won’t get drunk no more
Won’t get drunk no more
Way down the Old Plank Road

Knoxville is a pretty place, Memphis is a beauty
Wanta see them pretty girls, hop to Chattanoogie

Won’t get drunk no more
Won’t get drunk no more
Won’t get drunk no more
Way down the Old Plank Road

I’m going to build me a scaffold on some mountain high
So I can see my Doney girl as she goes riding by

Won’t get drunk no more
Won’t get drunk no more
Won’t get drunk no more
Way down the Old Plank Road

My wife died on Friday night, Saturday she was buried
Sunday was my courtin’ day, Monday I got married

Won’t get drunk no more
Won’t get drunk no more
Won’t get drunk no more
Way down the Old Plank Road

Eighteen pounds of meat a week, whiskey here to sell
How can a young man stay at home, pretty girls look so well

Won’t get drunk no more
Won’t get drunk no more
Won’t get drunk no more
Way down the Old Plank Road

My Home’s Across The Smokey Mountains


h1 Sunday, March 1st, 2009

This is a joyful sounding song that belies its lyrics. It really doesn’t sound like he’s never going to see his lover anymore, or if that’s the case he’s pretty darn happy about it. I played it on 5-string banjo, 12-string and 6-string guitars. I remember when I was going to the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, that my guitar and banjo teacher Frank Hamilton traveled to New York to record this and other songs on an album with Pete Seeger called: Nonsuch We were all so proud of Frank!
Lyrics:

[G] My home’s across the Smokey Mountains
My home’s across the Smokey [D7] Mountains
[G] My home’s across the Smokey Mountains
And I’l [D7] never get to see you any [G] more more more
I’l [D7] never get to see you any [G] more

Goodbye honey sugar darlin’ X3
And I’l never get to see you any more more more
I’l never get to see you any more

Rock by baby feed her candy X3
And I’l never get to see you any more more more
I’l never get to see you any more

Oh Where’s that finger ring I gave you X3
And I’l never get to see you any more more more
I’l never get to see you any more

My home’s across the Smokey Mountains X3
And I’l never get to see you any more more more
I’l never get to see you any more

My home’s across the Smokey Mountains X3
And I’l never get to see you any more more more
I’l never get to see you any more