Springfield Mountain


h1 May 1st, 1996

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'Springfield Mountain' is purported to be the first original American ballad. This was how the news was spread in the days before radio, television or the internet. A minstrel would go from town to town and sing about the most recent events. This song is the true story of twenty-two year old Lieutenant Timothy Merrick, a young man who was about to be married. He was bitten by a rattlesnake in Springfield Mountain Massachusetts, on August 7, 1761 and died within three hours of the attack. His grave can still be seen fourteen miles north of that city.

There are many different versions of this ballad. Some were wild exaggerations made up by vaudeville performers, in which Merrick's wife-to-be died as a result of trying to suck the poison out with a broken tooth.

'Now Molly had a broken tooth, and so the poison killed them both.'

On this song, I used a Martin 0021 6-string and a Vega/Ode 5-string banjo. Both instruments are tuned down 1/2 step. 'Springfield Mountain' is here in honor of Spring. Watch your step.

Lyrics:
[Am] On Springfield Mountain there did dwell
[C] Right – tum – a – new – rife – a – lime – a – diddle – do
[Am] On Springfield Mountain there did dwell [E7] tum – a – row
[Am] On Springfield Mountain [G]there did dwell A [F] handsome youth I knew [E7] full well
[Am] Right – tum – a – new – rife – a – [G] lime – a – diddle – [Am] do

One Monday morning he did go
Right – tum – a – new – rife – a – lime – a – diddle – do
One Monday morning he did go tum – a – row
One Monday morning he did go Down in the meadow for to mow
Right – tum – a – new – rife – a – lime – a – diddle – do

He mowed once round that lengthy field
Right – tum – a – new – rife – a – lime – a – diddle – do
He mowed once round that lengthy field tum – a – row
He mowed once round that lengthy field And a poison serpent bit his heel
Right – tum – a – new – rife – a – lime – a – diddle – do

They brought him to his Molly dear
Right – tum – a – new – rife – a – lime – a – diddle – do
They brought him to his Molly dear tum – a – row
They brought him to his Molly dear Which made her feel so mighty queer
Right – tum – a – new – rife – a – lime – a – diddle – do

Oh Johnny dear why did you go?
Right – tum – a – new – rife – a – lime – a – diddle – do
Oh Johnny dear why did you go? tum – a – row
Oh Johnny dear why did you go Down in the meadow for to mow?
Right – tum – a – new – rife – a – lime – a – diddle – do

Oh Molly Dear now don't you know
Right – tum – a – new – rife – a – lime – a – diddle – do
Oh Molly Dear now don't you know tum – a – row
Oh Molly Dear now don't you know It's father's field and must be mowed
Right – tum – a – new – rife – a – lime – a – diddle – do

On Springfield Mountain there did dwell
Right – tum – a – new – rife – a – lime – a – diddle – do
On Springfield Mountain there did dwell tum – a – row
On Springfield Mountain there did dwell A handsome youth I knew him well
Right – tum – a – new – rife – a – lime – a – diddle – do

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