Winter’s Almost Gone


h1 February 1st, 2014

Photo by Camilla McGuinn

Another “Winter Song” during one the coldest winters in North America, due to several successive “Polar Vortices.” A song brought to mind by the passing of the great folk legend and personal mentor, Pete Seeger. Click here to see our tribute to Pete.

I’ve added new words and new music as part of the “Folk Process” a term Pete’s father Charles Seeger came up with to describe how folk songs change by one means or another; sometimes because they were passed by the oral tradition and the person listening didn’t hear it properly. Or as in this case where the song was modified to fit a different circumstance. Pete Seeger found his time to “travel on.” Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. We will miss him!

Lyrics:

[A] Done laid around and stayed around
This old town too long
Winter’s almost gone
[D] Spring’s a-comin’ [A] on

[A] Done laid around and stayed around
This old town too long
[D] And I feel like it’s [E] time to travel [A] on

Yes I [D] feel like it’s [E] time
[A] Time to travel [F#m] on
[D] I feel like it’s [E] time to travel [A] on

I’ve waited here for ‘most a year
Waitin’ for the sun to shine
Waitin’ for the sun to shine
Hopin’ you’d be mine

Waited here for ‘most a year
Hoping you’d change your mind
Now I feel like it’s time to travel on

Yes I feel like it’s time
Time to travel on
I feel like it’s time to travel on

Well, the chili wind it soon will end
I’ll be on my way
Gone a lonesome day
Going home to stay

Chilly wind it soon will end
I’ll be on my way
Cause I feel like it’s time to travel on

Yes I feel like it’s time
Time to travel on
I feel like it’s time to travel on

2014 McGuinn Music

The Month of January


h1 January 1st, 2014

This traditional song [Roud Folksong Database #175] has been sung all over the world. It’s the tragic story of a young woman who became pregnant by her poor lover. Her rich parents bribe the young man to disappear. She is left to freeze in the cold with her infant.

I recorded this with the “Jetglow” Rickenbacker given to me by my friend Bill Lee, using my new Janglebox 3 for both Rickenbacker 12-string and bass.

Lyrics:
Capo 1st fret Key of D

[D] It was in the month of January, the [C] hills were clad in [D] snow
And over hills and valleys, to my true love I did [G] go
[D] It was there I met a pretty fair maid, with a salt tear in her [C] eye
[D] She had a wee baby in her arms, and [C] bitter she did [D] cry

“Oh, cruel was my father, he barred the door on me
And cruel was my mother, this fate she let me see
And cruel was my own true love, he changed his mind for gold
Cruel was that winter’s night, it pierced my heart with cold”

Oh, the higher that the palm tree grows, the sweeter is the bark
And the fairer that a young man speaks, the falser is his heart
He will kiss you and embrace you, ’til he thinks he has you won
Then he’ll go away and leave you all for another one

So come all you fair and tender maidens, a warning take by me
And never try to build your nest on top of a high tree
For the roots, they will all wither, and the branches all decay
And the beauties of a fair young man, will all soon fade away

It Came Upon A Midnight Clear


h1 December 1st, 2013

The poem for this carol was composed in 1849 by Edmund Sears at the request of his friend, William Parsons Lunt, pastor of United First Parish Church, Quincy, Massachusetts. It was not until a year later that Richard Storrs Willis, a composer who trained under Felix Mendelssohn came up with the beautiful melody.

I have recorded this with layers of Rickenbacker 12-string guitar to emulate bells ringing from an old grey stone church tower.

Lyrics:

[G] It came [C] upon the [G] midnight clear,
That glorious [C] song of [D] old,
[G] From angels [C] bending [G] near the earth,
To [C] touch their [D] harps of [G] gold:
[Bm} "Peace on the earth, [Em] goodwill to men,
From [D] heaven’s [A7} all-gracious [D] King.”
[G] The world in [C] solemn [G] stillness lay,
[C] To hear the [D] angels [G] sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come,
With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heavenly music floats
O’er all the weary world;
Above its sad and lowly plains,
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever o’er its Babel sounds
The blessèd angels sing.

Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel-strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love-song which they bring;
O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing.

And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing!

For lo!, the days are hastening on,
By prophet bards foretold,
When with the ever-circling years
Comes round the age of gold
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendors fling,
And the whole world give back the song
Which now the angels sing.

She’ll Be Coming Round The Mountain


h1 November 1st, 2013

Widely believed to be a children’s song, “She’ll Be Coming Round The Mountain” has some interesting roots. It was derived from a spiritual, “When the Chariot Comes” about the second coming of Jesus Christ and the subsequent Rapture. In this version “she” refers to union organizer Mary Harris “Mother” Jones, who traveled the southern United States to promote the formation of labor unions in the Appalachian coal mining camps.

The song was also popular with railroad work gangs in the Midwestern United States in the 1890s.

This variation with the answers “Yum Yum, Hi Babe, Whoa Back, Yee Ha” was one my wife Camilla learned as a child in her Beaufort, South Carolina elementary school.

Lyrics:

[G] She’ll be comin’ round the mountain
When she comes Yee Ha
She’ll be comin’ round the mountain
When she [D] comes Yee Ha
[G] She’ll be comin’ round the mountain
She’ll be [C] comin’ round the mountain
She’ll be [D] comin’ round the mountain
[G] When she comes Yee Ha

She’ll be driving six white horses
When she comes Whoa Back
When she comes Whoa Back
She’ll be driving six white horses
When she comes
When she comes
She’ll be driving six white horses
She’ll be driving six white horses
She’ll be driving six white horses
When she comes Whoa Back, Yee Ha

Oh, we’ll all go to meet her
When she comes Hi Babe
Oh, we’ll all go to meet her
When she comes Hi Babe
Oh, we’ll all go to meet her
Yes, we’ll all go to meet her
Yes, we’ll all go to meet her
When she comes Hi Babe, Whoa Back, Yee Ha

We’ll be eating chicken and dumplings
When she comes Yum Yum
We’ll be eating chicken and dumplings
When she comes Yum Yum
We’ll be eating chicken and dumplings
We’ll be eating chicken and dumplings
We’ll be eating chicken and dumplings
When she comes Yum Yum, Hi Babe, Whoa Back, Yee Ha

She’ll be comin’ round the mountain
When she comes Yee Ha
She’ll be comin’ round the mountain
When she comes Yee Ha
She’ll be comin’ round the mountain
She’ll be comin’ round the mountain
She’ll be comin’ round the mountain
When she comes Yee Ha, Yum Yum, Hi Babe, Whoa Back, Yee Ha

Swannanoa Tunnel


h1 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 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

I Heard The Voice Of Jesus


h1 August 1st, 2013

This hymn was written by Horatius Bonar of Edinburgh Scotland around 1866. He put these lyrics to an existing folk tune “Dives and Lazarus.” Although the song has been around for over a century, I had never heard it before attending a little blue church on the corner near our house. Someone in the congregation had requested it and the melody was so sweet I had to record it.
Lyrics:
[Gm] I heard the voice of [Bb] Jesus [F] say, [Gm] “Come unto Me and [F] rest;
[Gm] Lay down, thou weary [Bb] one, lay [F] down Thy head upon My [Gm] breast.”
[Bb] I came to Jesus [F] as I was, [Bb] weary and worn and [F] sad;
[Gm] I found in Him a [Bb] resting [F] place, and [Gm] He has made me glad.

I heard the voice of Jesus say, “Behold, I freely give
The living water; thirsty one, stoop down, and drink, and live.”
I came to Jesus, and I drank of that life giving stream;
My thirst was quenched, my soul revived, and now I live in Him.

I heard the voice of Jesus say, “I am this dark world’s Light;
Look unto Me, thy morn shall rise, and all thy day be bright.”
I looked to Jesus, and I found in Him my Star, my Sun;
And in that light of life I’ll walk, till traveling days are done.

I’ve Been Working On The Railroad


h1 July 1st, 2013

In the 1800′s working on the railroad was a good job for many folks who had immigrated to the United States from other countries. The workers were hard driven! Evidently the “Dinah Won’t You Blow Your Horn” part of this tune was taken from a song of an earlier period. In any case it makes for a rousing chorus that’s repeated three times!
Lyrics:
[D] I’ve been working on the railroad [G] all the live long [D] day
I’ve been working on the railroad just to [Em] pass the time [A] away
Can’t you hear the whistle [D] blowing [G] rise up early in the [D] morn’
[G] Can’t you hear the captain [D] calling Dinah [A] blow your [D] horn

[D] Dinah won’t you blow [G] Dinah won’t you blow [A] Dinah won’t you blow [D] your horn
[D] Dinah won’t you blow [G] Dinah won’t you blow [A] Dinah won’t you blow [D] your horn
[D] Someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah, Someone’s in the kitchen [A] I know
[D] Someone’s in the kitchen with [G] Dinah, [D] strumming on the [A] old [D] banjo

And singing [D] fe fi fiddlie i O fe fi fiddlie i [G] OOO [D] fe fi fiddlie [A] iO strumming on the old [D] banjo

Dinah won’t you blow Dinah won’t you blow Dinah won’t you blow your horn
Dinah won’t you blow Dinah won’t you blow Dinah won’t you blow your horn
Someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah, Someone’s in the kitchen I know
Someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah, strumming on the old banjo

And singing fe fi fiddlie i O fe fi fiddlie i OOO fe fi fiddlie iO strumming on the old banjo

Dinah won’t you blow Dinah won’t you blow Dinah won’t you blow your horn
Dinah won’t you blow Dinah won’t you blow Dinah won’t you blow your horn
Someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah, Someone’s in the kitchen I know
Someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah, strumming on the old banjo

And singing fe fi fiddlie i O fe fi fiddlie i OOO fe fi fiddlie iO strumming on the old banjo

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