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.

Isn’t It Grand?


h1 August 1st, 2012

This is an old English music hall song making fun of death and funerals. I turned 70 on July 13, 2012. People were shocked! So was I. That’s why I decided to record this song for the Folk Den on July 14. Last night, July 31, my Brother Brian called to tell us that my mother Dorothy had passed away just three days after her 102nd birthday. We’d spent the day with her in Tucson where my grandson James and I had played guitars and sung her favorite songs to her.

When we got the sad news, Camilla wrote this blog post:

Now we’ll have a bloody good cry.
And always remember: The longer you live
The sooner you’ll going to die

Lyrics:
Look at the coffin, with golden handles
Isn’t it grand, boys, to be bloody-well dead?

Let’s not have a sniffle, let’s have a bloody-good cry
And always remember: The longer you live
The sooner you’ll going to die

Look at the flowers, all bloody withered
Isn’t it grand, boys, to be bloody-well dead?

Let’s not have a sniffle, let’s have a bloody-good cry
And always remember: The longer you live
The sooner you’ll going to die

Look at the preacher, a bloody-nice fellow
Isn’t it grand, boys, to be bloody-well dead?

Let’s not have a sniffle, let’s have a bloody-good cry
And always remember: The longer you live
The sooner you’ll going to die

Look at the widow, lovely young female
Isn’t it grand, boys, to be bloody-well dead?

Let’s not have a sniffle, let’s have a bloody-good cry
And always remember: The longer you live
The sooner you’ll going to die

Jacob’s Dream


h1 July 1st, 2012

Painting by William Blake c. 1800

This is a variation of the spiritual “Jacob’s Ladder” There have been many versions of this, some used to organize unions by changing the lyrics. The description of Jacob’s ladder appears in Genesis 28:10-19,
“Jacob left Beersheba, and went toward Haran. He came to the place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the Lord stood above it [or "beside him"] and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your descendants; and your descendants shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and by you and your descendants shall all the families of the earth bless themselves. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done that of which I have spoken to you.” Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place; and I did not know it.” And he was afraid, and said, “This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

I’ve used six key modulations in this, starting in B and ascending to the octave B

Lyrics:
Jacob’s dream beheld a ladder X 3
Glory to the Lord

Its top reached all the way to heaven X 3
Glory to the Lord

Holy angels were ascending X 3
Glory to the Lord

Behold the Lord God stood above it X 3
Glory to the Lord

And the Lord God spoke a blessing X3
Glory to the Lord

I am with you and will keep you X3
Glory to the Lord

Jacob woke up from his sleeping X3
Glory to the Lord

When Jones’s Ale Was New


h1 June 1st, 2012

This marks the 200th song in the Folk Den!

“When Jones’s Ale Was New” is a popular drinking song from Olde England, circa 1594. The first printed version was entered at Stationer’s Register in 1595, “a ballet intituled Jone’s ale is newe’, entered by John Danter. It appears in Thomas D’Urfey’s Pills to Purge Melancholy,1707 edition, vol III, no. 133, and in Vol V in 1719, as The Jovial Tinker, with the tune. William Chappell quoted this introduction, from a broadside collection in the Bodleian Library: All you that do this merry ditty view.
 Taste of Joan’s ale, for it is strong and new.

The full title was: “Joan’s ale is new; or a new, merry medley, shewing the power, the strength, the operation and the virtue that remains in good ale, which is accounted the mother drink of England.”

Also know as: When Johnson’s Ale Was New / When Jones’s Ale Was New

[ Roud 139 ; Ballad Index Doe168 ; trad.]

A.L. Lloyd sang “When Johnson’s Ale Was New” in 1956 on his Riverside album English Drinking Songs. He commented in the sleeve notes:

“Here and there at Easter time, the “Jolly-boys” or “Pace-eggers” go from house to house, singing songs and begging for eggs. They wear clownish disguises: the hunch-backed man, the long-nosed man, the fettered prisoner, the man-woman etc. Johnson’s Ale (or John’s or Joan’s) is one of their favourite songs. Whether the drinking song comes from the pace-egging version or the other way round, we do not know. It is an old song. Ben Johnson knew it and mentioned it in his 16th century Tale of a Tub. Its qualities are durable, for it has altered little in 350 years. It appeals most to those who are most elevated.”

Some say this song derives its name from the pub owner, Davy Jones, who would put drunken sailors into his ale locker and sell them as crew to passing ships; hence the phrase “Davy Jones Locker.”

Or it could possibly refer to good natured Paul Jones, director of ibiblio.org UNC Chapel Hill.

Lyrics:
[C] Come all you honest labouring men that work hard all the day,
And join with me at the Barley Mow to [Dm] pass an hour [G] away,
Where we can sing and drink and be merry,
And [F] drive away all our cares and worry,
[C] When Jones’s ale was new, [Am] my boys, when [G] Jones’s ale was [C] new.

And they ordered their [G] pints of beer and bottles of sherry
[F] To carry them over the [C] hills so merry,
When Jones’s ale was new, [Am] my boys, when [G] Jones’s ale [C] was new.

The first to come in was the Ploughman with sweat all on his brow,
Up with the lark at the break of day he guides the speedy plough,
He drives his team, how they do toil,
O’er hill and valley to turn the soil,
When Jones’s ale was new, my boys, when Jones’s ale was new.

And they ordered their pints of beer and bottles of sherry
To carry them over the hills so merry,
When Jones’s ale was new, my boys, when Jones’s ale was new.

The next to come was the Blacksmith his brawny arms all bare,
And with his pint of Jones’s ale he has no fear or care,
Throughout the day his hammer he’s swinging,
And he sings when he hears the anvil ringing,
When Jones’s ale was new, my boys, when Jones’s ale was new.

And they ordered their pints of beer and bottles of sherry
To carry them over the hills so merry,
When Jones’s ale was new, my boys, when Jones’s ale was new.

The next to come in was the Scytheman so cheerful and so brown,
And with the rhythm of his scythe the corn he does mow down,
He works, he mows, he sweats and he blows.
And he leaves his swathes laying all in rows,
When Jones’s ale was new, my boys, when Jones’s ale was new.

And they ordered their pints of beer and bottles of sherry
To carry them over the hills so merry,
When Jones’s ale was new, my boys, when Jones’s ale was new.

The next to come in was the Tinker and he was no small beer drinker
And he was no small beer drinker to join the jovial crew,
He told the old woman he’d mend her old kettle,
Good Lord how his hammer and tongs did rattle,
When Jones’s ale was new, my boys, when Jones’s ale was new.

And they ordered their pints of beer and bottles of sherry
To carry them over the hills so merry,
When Jones’s ale was new, my boys, when Jones’s ale was new.

Now here is Jones our Landlord a jovial man is he,
Likewise his wife a buxom lass who joins in harmony,
We wish them happiness and good will
While our pots and glasses they do fill,
When Jones’s ale was new, my boys, when Jones’s ale was new.

And they ordered their pints of beer and bottles of sherry
To carry them over the hills so merry,
When Jones’s ale was new, my boys, when Jones’s ale was new.