We Are Crossing The Jordan River


h1 June 1st, 2013

This is a song that helped catapult Joan Baez to become the “Queen of Folk Music.” Bob Gibson had invited her to sing with him at the 1959 Newport Folk Festival. Her performance was so riveting that two record labels, Columbia and Vanguard tried to sign her to a recording contract. Joan chose Vanguard thinking she would have more artistic license at a smaller label.

Three years later Joan introduced her audiences to a then-unknown Bob Dylan.

Lyrics:
[D] We are crossing that [D7] Jordan River
[G] I want my [D] crown, [G] I want my [D] crown
[G] We are crossing that Jordan River
[A7] I want my crown, my golden crown
[D] Jordan River deep and [D7] wide
[G] Got my home on the [Gm] other side
[D] We are crossing [B7] that Jordan [E] River [A]
[D] I want my crown

We are climbing Jacob’s ladder
I want to sit down, I want to sit down
We are climbing Jacob’s ladder
I want to sit down, on my golden throne
Jordan River chilly and cold
Chills the body, not the soul
We are crossing that Jordan River
I want my crown

Now when I get to Heaven
I’m going to sit down, I’m going to sit down
Now when I get to Heaven
I’m going to sit down, on my golden throne
Jordan River deep and wide
I Got my home on the other side
We are crossing that Jordan River
I want my crown

Jordan River chilly and cold
Chills the body, not the soul
We are crossing that Jordan River
I want my crown

Early One Morning


h1 May 1st, 2013

“Early One Morning”, also known as “The Lovesick Maiden” is an English folk song that dates back to 1787. It was cataloged by Roud #12682. I learned this song in glee club at the Latin School of Chicago in the late 1950s. It has such a lovely melody that I decided not to add harmony.
Lyrics:
[E] Early one morning,
[A] Just as the sun was [B] rising,
[E] I heard a young maid sing,
[A] In the [B] valley down [E] below.

CHORUS:
[B] Oh, don’t [E] deceive me,
[B] Oh, never [E] leave me,
How could you [A] use
A [B] poor maiden [E] so?

Remember the vows,
You made to your Mary,
Remember the bow’r,
Where you vowed to be true,

Chorus

Oh Gay is the garland,
And fresh are the roses,
I’ve culled from the garden,
To place upon thy brow.

Chorus

Thus sang the poor maiden,
Her sorrows bewailing,
Thus sang the poor maid,
In the valley down below.

Chorus

Early one morning,
Just as the sun was rising,
I heard a young maid sing,
In the valley down below.

Chorus

Swing Low Sweet Chariot


h1 April 1st, 2013

This was written by Wallis Willis, circa 1860 in Native American Territory, which is now Hugo Oklahoma. The Red River inspired the song because it reminded Willis of the Jordan River where the prophet Elijah was taken up to Heaven.
Lyrics:
[G] Swing low [Em] sweet chariot
[G] coming for to carry me [D] home
[Am] Swing low o o o [C] o o o
[G] coming for to [D] carry me [G] home

Swing low sweet chariot
coming for to carry me home
Swing low o o o o o o
coming for to carry me home

Well I looked over yonder and what did I see
coming for to carry me home
A band of angels coming after me
coming for to carry me home

Swing low sweet chariot
coming for to carry me home
Swing low o o o o o o
coming for to carry me home

Well if you get there before I do
coming for to carry me home
Tell all my friends I’m a-commin’ too
coming for to carry me home

Swing low sweet chariot
coming for to carry me home
Swing low o o o o o o
coming for to carry me home

Well the happiest day I can say
coming for to carry me home
When Jesus washed all my sins away
coming for to carry me home

Swing low sweet chariot
coming for to carry me home
Swing low o o o o o o
coming for to carry me home

Swing low sweet chariot
coming for to carry me home
Swing low o o o o o o
coming for to carry me home

The Moonshiner


h1 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

Banks of Newfoundland


h1 February 1st, 2013

Written in 1820 by Chief Justice Francis Forbes, “Banks of Newfoundland” is one of the first published songs about this northeast region of Canada. It was once used as a dance tune and later as a march by the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. I heard it sung by Ewan McColl and A.L. Lloyd on their 1960 L.P. “Blow Boys Blow.”

An explanation of the fourth verse: To “reef” a sail is to furl and lash it to the yard or the long beam that supports the sail. The crew did this while standing on a single line which they would “mount” and sometimes “pass” another shipmate in the process.

Lyrics:
[Em] Me bully boys of Liverpool
I’d have you to [D] beware,
[Em] When you sail on them packet ships,
no dungaree [D] jumpers [Em] wear;
[G] But have a big monkey [C] jacket
[G] all ready to your [D] hand,
[Em] For there blows some cold nor’westers
on the [D] Banks of [Em] Newfoundland.

[G] We’ll scrape her and we’ll [C] scrub her
[G] with holy stone and [D] sand,
[Em] For there blows some cold nor’westers
on the [D] Banks of [Em] Newfoundland.

We had Jack Lynch from Ballynahinch,
Mike Murphy and some more,
I tell you lad, they suffered like mad
on the way to Baltimore;
They pawned their gear in Liverpool
and sailed as they did stand,
But there blows some cold nor’westers
on the Banks of Newfoundland.

We’ll scrape her and we’ll scrub her
with holy stone and sand,
And we’ll think of them cold nor’westers
on the Banks of Newfoundland.

Now the mate he stood on the fo’c'sle head
and loudly he did roar,
Now rattle her in ye lucky lads,
you’re bound for America’s shore;
Come wipe the blood off that dead man’s face
and haul or you’ll be canned,
For there blows some cold nor’westers
on the Banks of Newfoundland.

We’ll scrape her and we’ll scrub her
with holy stone and sand,
For there blows some cold nor’westers
on the Banks of Newfoundland.

So now it’s reef and reef, me boys
With the Canvas frozen hard
And it’s mount and pass every mother’s son
on a ninety foot topsail yard
never mind about boots and oilskins
but sail just as you stand
For there blows some cold nor’westers
on the Banks of Newfoundland.

We’ll scrape her and we’ll scrub her
with holy stone and sand,
And we’ll think of them cold nor’westers
on the Banks of Newfoundland.

So now we’re off the Hook, me boys,
the land is white as snow,
And soon we’ll see the pay table
and we’ll spend the night below;
And on the docks, come down in flocks,
them pretty girls will stand,
It’s snugger with me than on the sea,
on the Banks of Newfoundland.

We’ll scrape her and we’ll scrub her
with holy stone and sand,
And we’ll think of them cold nor’westers
on the Banks of Newfoundland.

We’ll scrape her and we’ll scrub her
with holy stone and sand,
And we’ll think of them cold nor’westers
on the Banks of Newfoundland.

John Hardy


h1 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….”

We Three Kings


h1 December 1st, 2012

This is a Christmas carol I’ve never tried to play before. As I went through the chords, it struck me they were very much like the patterns folk singer Bob Gibson favored. A good example is his version of “Wayfaring Stranger” I recorded for the Folk Den back in May of 1997. I’ve always loved songs that progress from Em to G and C. The sound of a minor chord rising to a major chord is uplifting!.
Lyrics:
3/4 TIME CAPO ON THIRD FRET

[Em] We three kings of [D] Orient [Em] are
Bearing gifts we [D] traveled so [Em] far
[G] Field and [D] fountain, [G] moor and [C] mountain
[D] Following yonder [Em] star

Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain
Gold I bring to crown Him again
King forever, ceasing never
Over us all to reign

[G] O Star of wonder, [C] star of [G] night
Star with royal [C] beauty [G] bright
[G] Westward [D] leading, [C] still [D] proceeding
[G] Guide us to Thy [C] perfect [G] light

Frankincense to offer have I
Incense owns a Deity nigh
Prayer and praising, all men raising
Worship Him, God most high

Glorious now behold Him arise
King and God and Sacrifice
Alleluia, Alleluia
Earth to heav’n replies

Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes of life of gathering gloom
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb

Away With Rum


h1 November 1st, 2012

I played “Rum by Gum” on the Chad Mitchell Trio’s LP “Mighty Day On Campus” in 1961. The origin is difficult to determine. It dates back to England in the 1890s and was possibly a music hall song. There’s a rather lengthy but inconclusive discussion of it HERE.
Lyrics:
[G] We’re coming, we’re coming, our [D] brave little [G] band
[G] On the right side of temperance we [D] do take our stand
We [D] don’t use [G] tobacco, [D] because we do [G] think
[G] The people who use it are [D] likely to [G] drink

[G] Away, away with rum by gum, [D] with rum by gum, [G] with rum by gum
[G] Away, away with rum by gum, [D] the song of the temperance [G] union

We never eat fruit cake because it has rum
And one little taste turns a man to a bum
Oh, can you imagine a sorrier sight
Than a man eating fruit cake until he gets tight

Away, away with rum by gum, with rum by gum, with rum by gum
Away, away with rum by gum, the song of the temperance union

We never eat cookies because they have yeast
And one little bite turns a man to a beast
Oh, can you imagine a sadder disgrace
Than a man in the gutter with crumbs on his face

Away, away with rum by gum, with rum by gum, with rum by gum
Away, away with rum by gum, the song of the temperance union

We never drink water, they put it in gin
One little sip and a man starts to grin
Oh can you imagine the horrible sight
Of a man drinking water and singing all night

Darling Clementine


h1 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 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.