Archive for the 'Mountain/southern us' Category



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

No Payday In Detroit


h1 Thursday, January 1st, 2009

The Packard factory (pictured above) closed in 1956. My grandfather bought one of their last models, being a life long Packard enthusiast. They had been overrun by the big three. Now we are at the point where the big three’s future is in question. This is a traditional song about a mine disaster but it’s fitting for the US auto industry at this time. I changed the lyrics a bit to bring it up to speed and played it on banjo and mandolin.

Lyrics:

1. [A] Payday, it’s payday, oh, payday,
[D] Payday in Detroit no [A] more,
[D] Payday in Detroit no [A] more.

2. Bye bye, bye bye, oh, bye bye,
Bye bye, my woman, I’m gone,
Bye bye, my woman, I’m gone.

3. You’ll miss me, you’ll miss me, you’ll miss me,
Baby gonna miss me when I’m gone,
Baby gonna miss me when I’m gone.

4. Easy rider, easy rider, oh easy rider,
Won’t be ridin’ easy any more,
Won’t be ridin’ easy any more.

1. Payday, it’s payday, oh, payday,
Payday at Detroit no more,
Payday at Detroit no more.

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

Darlin’ Corey


h1 Monday, September 1st, 2008

Darlin’ Cory
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

“Darlin’ Cory” (Roud 5723) is a well-known folk song about a banjo-picking, moonshine-making mountain woman. The first known recording of it was by Clarence Gill as “Little Corey” on 6 January 1927, but it was rejected by the record company and never released.[1] A few months later, folk singer Buell Kazee recorded it as “Darling Cora” on 20 April 1927 (Brunswick 154).[2] Later the same year, it was recorded by B. F. Shelton as “Darlin’ Cora” on 29 July 1927 (Victor 35838) [3] . Other early recordings are “Little Lulie” by Dick Justice (1929) and “Darling Corey” (released as a single) by the Monroe Brothers in 1936.[4] Burl Ives recorded it on 28 May 1941[5] for his debut album Okeh Presents the Wayfaring Stranger. Since then, many artists have recorded it: Roscoe Holcomb, Doc Watson, Bruce Hornsby, The Weavers, Crooked Still, Bill Monroe,[6] Harry Belafonte (as “Darlin’ Cora,” attributed to Fred Brooks),[7], Pete Seeger, and Kingston Trio (on their album At Large, 1959).

Lyrics:

Wake [D] up, wake up darling Corey
What makes you [A] sleep so sound
The [D] revenue officers are coming
They’re gonna tear you [A] still-house [D] down

Well the first time I seen darling Corey
She was sitting by the banks of the sea
Had a forty-four around her body
And a five-string on her knee.

Go away go away darling Corey
Quit hanging around my bed
Your liquor has ruined my body
Pretty women gone to my head.

Dig a hole dig a hole in the meadow
Dig a hole in the cold damp ground
Dig a hole dig a hole in the meadow
We’re gonna lay darling Corey down.

Can’t you hear them bluebirds a-singing
Don’t you hear that mournful sound
They’re preaching darling Corey’s funeral
In some lonesome graveyard ground.

Come And Go With Me To That Land


h1 Thursday, May 1st, 2008


Photo By Camilla McGuinn

This is an old Southern spiritual. I performed this with the Chad Mitchell Trio on the Bell Telephone Hour in the early 60s. We did it in this upbeat tempo. There’s a wonderful video of Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, Pete Seeger and Jean Ritchie singing it here. Marc Middleton, Bill Shaffer and his wife Mary stopped by to shoot video of this recording session and Mary sang backup on the track. It may be seen on http://www.growingbolder.com
Lyrics:

[G] Come and go with me to that land
[C] Come and go with me to that [G] land
Come and go with me to that land
Where I’m [D7] bound

[G] Come and go with me to that land
[C] Come and go with me to that [G] land
Come and go with me to that [D7] land
[G] Where I’m bound

All be together in that land

Be no sickness in that land

We’ll all be singing in that land

Nothing but peace in that land

Come and go with me

(c) 2008

Roger McGuinn – McGuinn Music (BMI)

Cripple Creek


h1 Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

So many towns boast a Cripple Creek, it’s hard to know which one this song is referring to. The famous banjo picker Bascom Lamar Lunsford mentioned in his 1927 book “30 and 1 Folksongs From the Southern Mountains” that he knew of a Cripple Creek within five minutes walking distance of his office in the Flat Iron Building in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

Of course everyone claims their own town to be the real Cripple Creek – including the former Gold Rush town, Cripple Creek, Colorado, but the music sounds more like it came from Kentucky or North Carolina. I just sang the choruses. Instead of singing the verses, I played them as the great old Southern instrumental this is. I’ve included the verses below if you want to sing them.

There’s a nice Youtube video of Earl Scruggs and his friends doing the song as an instrumental. Click here.

Lyrics:
Cripple Creek
(Kentucky, traditional)

[G] Hey, I got a gal,
At the head of the creek,
An’ I’m goin’ up t’ see her,
‘Bout three [D] times a [G] week.

Kisses on the mouth,
Jus’ as sweet as any wine,
Wrap myself aroun’ her,
Like a sweet potato vine.

chorus:
Goin’ up Cripple Creek,
Goin’ on a run,
Goin’ up Cripple Creek,
T’ have some fun.

Goin’ up Cripple Creek,
Goin’ in a whirl,
Goin’ up Cripple Creek,
T’ see my girl.

I got a gal,
An’ she loves me,
She’s as sweet
As she can be.

She’s got eyes,
Of baby blue,
An’ her love,
Fer me is true.

chorus:

Now the girls up Cripple Creek,
‘Bout half grown,
Jump on a boy,
Like a dog on a bone.

Roll my britches,
Up to my knees,
An’ wade ol’ Cripple Creek,
When I please.

chorus:

Cripple Creek’s wide,
An’ Cripple Creek’s deep,
Gonna wade ol’ Cripple Creek,
‘Fore I sleep.

Hills are steep,
An’ the road is muddy,
An’ I’m so drunk,
I can’t stan’ steady.

chorus:
Cripple Creek’s wide,
An’ Cripple Creek’s deep,
Gonna wade ol’ Cripple Creek,
‘Fore I sleep.

Roll my britches,
To my knees,
‘An wade ol’ Cripple Creek,
When I please.

chorus:

Drive in a buggy,
That’s for me,
Watch the wheels roll,
Merrily.

Through the mud.
An’ over the stones,
Buckin’ horses,
Break good bones.

chorus:

I went down,
To Cripple Creek,
To see what them gals,
Had to eat.

Got so drunk,
I fell against the wall,
Ol’ corn likker,
Was the cause of it all.

chorus

I went down,
To Cripple Creek,
To see what them gals,
Had to eat.
What they cooked,
I couldn’t eat at all,
Harder than,
A brick in the wall.

chorus:

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

Old Blue


h1 Thursday, November 1st, 2007


Blue Dog Painting by George Rodrigue

We recorded Old Blue on Dr. Byrds & Mr. Hyde in back 1968. I’d heard it performed live by Gibson and Camp at the Gate of Horn in Chicago in 1961 and had always loved it. There’s a version by Jim Jackson on the Harry Smith Anthology but it’s completely different, a lot more of a blues.

When I sing this in concert I ask the audience to clap along, following an unusual pattern. It’s fun to hear them get the syncopation right. But someone always claps in the wrong place and makes everybody laugh.

Lyrics:
Old Blue (trad.)

[D] Well I had an old dog and his name was Blue
Yes I had an old dog and his [A] name was [D] Blue
Well I had an old dog and his name was Blue
I bet you five dollars he’s a [A] good dog [D] too

Old Blue chased a possum up a holler limb
Blue chased a possum up a holler limb
Blue chased a possum up a holler limb
The possum growled, Blue whined at him

[D] Bye Bye [Bm] Blue, [G] you good dog [D] you
Bye Bye [Bm] Blue, you [G] good dog [D] you

When old Blue died he died so hard
He shook the ground in my back yard
We lowered him down with a golden chain
and every link we called his name

My old Blue was a good old hound
You’d hear him holler miles around
When I get to heaven first thing I’ll do
is grab my horn and call for Blue

The Byrds “Dr.Byrds And Mr.Hyde”
Columbia Records 1968″

The Ballad of the Boll Weevil


h1 Monday, October 1st, 2007


Sharecropper working with one-horse plow,
Green County, Georgia, July 1937.
Photo by Dorothea Lange, Farm Security Administration

This is a fairly new folk song. The Boll Weevil didn’t come to Texas from Mexico until around 1900. Sharecroppers who sang this song took delight in identifying with this nearly indestructible insect. It gave them great hope!

Barry McGuire was visiting the Folk Den and we sang The Ballad of the Boll Weevil together, trading verses. McGuinn & McGuire – sit and sing by the fire. To read more about Barry McGuire’s visit, check out Roadie Report 30

Lyrics:
The Ballad of the Boll Weevil

[G] The Boll Weevil is a little black bug come from Mexico they say
[C] All the way from Texas, just a-lookin’ for a place to [G] stay
[D7] Just a-lookin’ for a home, [G] just a-lookin’ for a home
[C] Just a-lookin’ for a home, [G] just a-lookin’ for a home
[D7] Just a-lookin’ for a home, [G] just a-lookin’ for a home

The first time I saw the boll weevil he was sitting in the square
The next time I saw the boll weevil he had his whole family there
Just a-lookin’ for a home (X6)

The farmer took the boll weevil and put him in the hot hot sand
The boll weevil said “This is mighty hot but I’ll stand in it like a man”
This’ll be my home (X6)

The farmer took the boll weevil and put him in a lump of ice
The weevil said to the farmer ” Man! This is mighty cool and nice”
This’ll be my home (X6)

The boll weevil said to the farmer “You can ride that Ford machine
But when I get through with your cotton field you won’t buy no gasoline
You won’t have no home” (X6)

The merchant got half the cotton the boll weevil got the rest
He didn’t leave that farmer’s wife but one old cotton dress
And it was full of holes (X6)

The Boll Weevil is a little black bug come from Mexico they say
All the way from Texas just a-lookin’ for a place to stay