Back To Sea


h1 December 1st, 2010

While recording sea chanteys under my painting “The Argonaut” by Roger Chapelet, playing rollicking tunes and researching the capsules of history, I was inspired to pen a new song of the sea. These lyrics trace the adventures of foreign port experiences enjoyed by many sailing ships in the golden age of sail, from Liverpool to Maui.
Lyrics:
[Em] At last we sailed past Rio Grande
A-headed [D] round Cape [Em] Horn
[Em] We’ll make our way to Valpo Bay
Before it’s [D] Christmas [Em] morn

[Am] Pray that we ride a [Em] faithful tide
[G] Our topsail’s blowing [D] free
[Em] We’ve many gifts for them Valpo gals
‘Fore we head [D] back to [Em] sea

We’ll take up loads of good supplies
To the California coast
We’ll bring them miner forty-niners
What they need the most

Pray that we ride a faithful tide
Our topsail’s blowing free
We’ll kiss them California girls
‘Fore we head back to sea

The port of San Francisco is
Now many miles behind
We’re rolling back to Liverpool
A-blowing on the wind

Pray that we ride a faithful tide
Our topsail’s blowing free
Once more we’ll kiss them Valpo gals
‘Fore we head back to sea

And when our sailing is all done
We go back around the Horn
Be sure of your boots and oilskins
Or you wish you’d never been born

Pray that we ride a faithful tide
Our topsail’s blowing free
We’ll say hello to them Liverpool gals
‘Fore we head back to sea

The Bears Went Over The Mountain


h1 November 1st, 2010

“The Bear Went Over the Mountain” is a popular children’s song often sung to the tune of “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow”. At one time the lyrics were sung to the tune of “We’ll All go Down to Roswer”. The public domain lyrics are of unknown origin.
Lyrics:
[E] The bears went over the mountain,
The [B7] bears went over the [E] mountain,
The bears went over the [A] mountain,
[B7} To see what they could [E] see.
[E] To see what [A] they could [E] see
[E] To see what [A] they could [E] see
The bears went over the [A] mountain,
[B7} To see what they could [E] see.

Saw the other side of the mountain,
The other side of the mountain,
The other side of the mountain,
Was all that they could see.

The bears went over the ocean
The bears went over the ocean
The bears went over the ocean
To see what they could see.

And they saw the sea
And they saw the sea
The bears went over the ocean
To see what they could see.

The bears went over the tundra
The bears went over the tundra
The bears went over the tundra
To see what they could see.

Saw the other side of the tundra
The other side of the tundra
The other side of the tundra
That’s what they did see.

Pay Me My Money Down


h1 October 1st, 2010

Pay Me My Money Down is a work song from the Georgia Sea Islands. The slaves there were in relative isolation from the culture of the Southern United States and retained much of their West and Central African heritage. They speak an English-based creole language containing many African words and using similar grammar and sentence structure to those of African languages.

The melody is much older and is used in other songs.

Lyrics:
[G] I thought I heard the Captain say,
Pay me my [D] money down,
Tomorrow is our sailing day,
Pay me my [G] money down

[G] Oh pay me, oh pay me,
Pay me my [D] money down,
Pay me or go to jail,
Pay me my [G] money down

As soon as the boat was clear of the bar,
Pay me my money down,
The captain knocked me down with a spar,
Pay me my money down

If I’d been a rich man’s son,
Pay me my money down,
I’d sit on the river and watch it run,
Pay me my money down

Well 40 nights, nights at sea
Pay me my money down,
Captain worked every last dollar out of me,
Pay me my money down

Rolling Down To Old Maui


h1 September 1st, 2010

This is a Pacific whaling song. Most whaling songs I know are Atlantic based, sailing to Iceland and Greenland whale fisheries. This is the story of a ship based in Maui that sailed to the Kamchatka_Peninsula where there were many types of whales in the 1800s.

I would encourage you to listen to this with large speakers or earphones, as there some low frequencies that will surely be lost through computer sound systems.

Lyrics:
[Em] It’s a mighty tough [B7] life [Em] full of toil and [B7] strife
  
[Em] We whaler-men [D] under [Em] go
[Em]
And we really don’t [B7] care when the [Em] gale is [B7] done
  
[Em] How hard them [D] winds did [Em] blow

[G] We’re homeward bound from the [D] Arctic Sound
  
With a [C] good ship taut and [B7] free
[Em]
And we’ll have our [B7] fun when we [Em] drink our [B7] rum
  
[Em] With the girls of [D] Old [Em] Maui

CH
[G] Rolling down to Old [D] Maui, me boys
[C]
Rolling down to Old [B7] Maui
[Em]
We’re homeward [B7] bound from the [Em] Arctic [B7] Ground
[Em]
Rolling down to [D] Old [Em] Maui

Once more we sail with a Northerly gale
  
Through the ice, and wind, and rain

Them coconut fronds, them tropical lands
  
We soon shall see again

Six brutal months have passed away
  
On the cold Kam-chat-ka sea

But now we’re bound from the Arctic ground
  
Rolling down to Old Maui

CH

Once more we sail the Northerly gale
  
Going towards our Island home

Our mainmast sprung, our whaling done
  
We ain’t got far to roam

Our stuns’l booms is carried away
  
What care we for that sound

A living gale is after us
  
Thank God we’re homeward bound

CH

How soft the breeze through the island trees
  
Now the ice is far astern

Them native maids, them tropical glades
  
Is awaiting our return

Even now their big, round eyes look out
  
Hoping some fine thing to see

Our baggy sails running ‘fore the gales
  
Rolling down to Old Maui

CH

Whoa Back Buck


h1 August 1st, 2010

I learned “Whoa Back Buck” from Bob Gibson. Lead Belly also did a version of this song. It has a lot of nonsense verses that are interchangeable with those of other folk songs.

Lyrics:
(chorus)
[E] Whoa back Buck gee by the [D] lamb,
[E] Who made the back band [B7] whoa [E] Cunningham.

[E] 18, 19, 20 years [D] ago,
[E] Took my gal to the country [B7] store,
[E] Took my gal to the country [D] store,
[E] Buy m’ pretty little gal [B7] little [E] calico.

Me and my gal walkin’ down the road,
Her knees knock together playin’ Sugar In The Gourd,
Sugar in the gourd and the gourd in the ground,
If you want a little sugar got to roll the gourd around.

Eastbound train on the westbound track
Westbound train on the eastbound track
Both those trains were running fine
But what a terrible way to run a railroad line!

18, 19, 20 years ago,
Took my gal to the country store,
Took my gal to the country store,
Buy m’ pretty little gal little calico.

Me and my gal walkin’ down the road,
Her knees knock together playin’ Sugar In The Gourd,
Sugar in the gourd and the gourd in the ground,
If you want a little sugar got to roll the gourd around.

I’m On My Way


h1 July 1st, 2010

I learned “I’m On My Way” at the Old Town School of Folk Music. It’s a Southern religious song that was adapted along with others such as “We Shall Overcome” for the Civil Rights Movement.

I used drums, banjo, bass and Rickenbacker 12-string for the track.

Lyrics:
[G] I’m on my way, I won’t turn [D] back

I’m on my way, and I won’t turn [G] back

I’m on my way, I won’t turn [C] [Am] back

[G] I’m on my way, [D] praise God

[G] I’m on my way.


I ask my brother to come and go with me

I ask my brother come and go with me

I ask my brother come and go with me

I’m on my way, praise God

I’m on my way.

If he says no, I’ll go anyway
If he says no, I’ll go anyway
If he says no, I’ll go anyway
I’m on my way, praise God

I’m on my way

I’m on my way to the freedom land

I’m on my way to the freedom land

I’m on my way to the freedom land

I’m on my way, praise God

I’m on my way.

I’m on my way, and I won’t turn back

I’m on my way, I won’t turn back

I’m on my way, I won’t turn back

I’m on my way, praise God

I’m on my way.

All The Pretty Little Horses


h1 June 1st, 2010

This song is on the third page of my Old Town School of Folk Music song book but for some reason I just got around to recording it. Aside from being a classic of Southern folk lullabies, it’s also Spring-like and appropriate for June. The Rickenbacker instrumentals give it kind of a dreamy quality.
Lyrics:
[Dm] Hush-a-bye
[Gm] Don’t you cry
[C] Go to [A] sleepy little [Dm] baby
[Dm] When you wake
[Gm] You shall have
[C] All the [A] pretty little [Dm] horses

[F] Blacks and bays
[C] Dapples and greys
[C] A coach [A] and six white [Dm] horses

Hush-a-bye
Don’t you cry
Go to sleepy little baby
Way down yonder
In the meadow
Lies a pretty little lamby
Bees and butterflies
All flying by
Poor little lamb crying
“Mammy”

Hush-a-bye
Don’t you cry
Go to sleepy little baby

Big Rock Candy Mountain


h1 May 1st, 2010

I always thought this was a kid’s song until I reexamined the lyrics. I guess when Burl Ives had a hit with it in the 1940s I was a kid and the lemonade springs where the bluebird sings sounded appealing. I didn’t notice the gin, cops and stones. It’s about a hobo’s utopia!

The original lyrics are even rougher as you can see here:

I recorded this with a banjo mandolin that I had bought in 1960 and left in San Francisco with a friend. He returned it to me several years ago and I had it refurbished thanks to Wayne & Robyn Rogers owners of Gold Tone Banjo.

Lyrics:
[D] On a summer day
In the month of May
A burly bum came [A] hiking
Down a shady lane
Through the sugar cane
He was looking for his [D] liking
As he roamed along
He sang a song
Of the land of milk and [A] honey
Where a bum can stay
For many a day
And he won’t need any [D] money

Chorus:
[D] Oh the buzzin’ of the bees
the bubblegum trees
[G] soda water [D] fountain
the [A] lemonade springs
Where the [D] bluebird sings
On the [A] big rock candy [D] mountain

There’s a lake of gin
We can both jump in
And the handouts grow on bushes
In the new-mown hay
We can sleep all day
And the bars all have free lunches
Where the mail train stops
And there ain’t no cops
And the folks are tender-hearted
Where you never change your socks
And you never throw rocks
And your hair is never parted
Chorus:

Black Mt. Rag / Soldier’s Joy


h1 April 1st, 2010

This came out of a Jam session with Roland White and Marty Stuart at Marty’s house in Nashville. Clarence White had taught me how to play this tune in 1968. It took me a long time to get it up to speed!

It’s in the key of C.

She Never Will Marry


h1 March 1st, 2010

“She Never Will Marry” is an adaptation of some very old ballads. I first heard it sung by a red headed woman at Chicago’s Gate of Horn. Here’s a song that provides a glimpse into its origins:

THE LOVER’S LAMENT FOR HER SAILOR

As I was walking along the seashore,
Where the breeze it blew cool, and the billows did round,
Where the wind and the waves and the waters run
I heard a shrill voice make a sorrowful sound.

Chorus:
Crying, O my love’s gone, whom I do adore,
He’s gone and I will never see him more.

I tarried awhile still listening near,
And heard her complain for the loss of her dear;
Which grieved me sadly to hear her complain
Crying, he is gone and I will never see him again.

She appeared like some goddess, and dressed like a queen,
She’s the fairest of creatures that ever was seen.
I told her I’d marry her myself, if she pleas’d,
But the answer she made me, was my love is in the seas.

I never will marry nor be any man’s bride,
I choose to live single, all the days of my life,
For the loss of my sailor I deeply deplore,
As he’s lost in the seas I shall ne’er see him more.

I will go down to my dearest that lies in the deep
And with kind embraces I will him intreat,
I will kiss his cold lips like the coral so red,
I will close up his eyes that have been so long dead.

The shells of the oysters shall be my lover’s bed,
And the shrimps of the sea shall swim over his head,
Then she plunged her fair body right into the deep,
And closed her fair eyes in the water to sleep.

Lyrics:
[G] They say that [D] love’s a [G] gentle thing
But it’s [C] only [D] brought her [G] pain
For the [C] only [D] man she [G] ever [Em] loved
Has [Am] gone on the [D] midnight [G] train

She never will [D] marry
She’ll be no man’s [C] wife
She expect to live [G] single
All the [D] days of her [G] life

Well the train pulled out
The whistle blew
With a long and a lonesome moan
He’s gone he’s gone
Like the morning dew
And left her all alone

She never will marry
She’ll be no man’s wife
She expect to live single
All the days of her life

Well there’s many a change in the winter wind
And a change in the clouds and Byrds
There’s many a change in a young man’s heart
But never a change in hers

She never will marry
She’ll be no man’s wife
She expect to live single
All the days of her life