The Blackest Crow


h1 September 1st, 2015

Possibly a 17th century English broadside that made its way to North America. Found in the Appalachian and Ozark mountains. A bittersweet ballad of love and loss.

Lyrics:
[D] As time draws [C] near my [G] dearest dear when you and I must [Em] part
[D]
How little you [C] know of the [G] grief and woe in my poor aching [Em] heart
[G]
Each night I suffer for your sake, you’re the [C] girl I [G] love so [Em] dear
[D]
I wish that [C] I was [G] going with you or you were staying [Em] here

[D] The blackest [C] crow that [G] ever flew would surely turn to [Em] white
[D]
If ever [C] I prove [G] false to you  bright day will turn to [Em] night
[G] Bright day will turn to night my love, [C] the ele [G] ments will [Em] mourn
[D]
If ever [C] I   prove [G] false to you the seas will rage and [Em] burn
 
[D]

And when you’re [C] on some [G] distant shore think of your absent [Em] friend
[D]
And when the [C] wind blows [G] high and clear a light to me pray [Em] send
[G]
And when the wind blows high and clear [C] pray send [G] your love to [Em] me
[D]
That I might [C] know by [G] your hand wright how time has gone with [Em] thee

[D] As time draws [C] near my [G] dearest dear when you and I must [Em] part
[D]
How little you [C] know of the [G] grief and woe in my poor aching [Em] heart
[G]
Each night I suffer for your sake, you’re the [C] girl I [G] love so [Em] dear
[D]
I wish that [C] I was [G] going with you or you were staying [Em] here

Cold Rain and Snow


h1 August 1st, 2015

The Cold Rain and Snow is a traditional folk song which is included in Cecil Sharp’s book English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians, as sung in 1916 by Mrs. Tom Rice. It was also performed live in the 60s by bluegrass groups such as Bill Monroe’s and Del McCoury’s.

Lyrics:
[Gm] Well I married me a wife
She give me trouble all my life
Ran me out in the [F] cold [Gm] rain and snow
Rain and snow, [F] rain and snow
[Gm] Ran me out in the [F] cold [Gm] rain and snow

She come a running on down the stairs
Combing back her long yellow hair
And her cheeks were as red as a rose
As a rose, as a rose
And her cheeks were as red as a rose

Well she went up to her room where she sang her faithful tune
I’m goin where them chilly winds don`t blow
Winds don`t blow, winds don`t blow
I’m goin where them chilly winds don`t blow

I see her sitting in the shade
Counting every dime I’ve made
I’m so broke and I am hungry too
Hungry too, hungry too
I’m so broke and I am hungry too
I’m so broke and I am hungry too

I done everything I could do
Just to get along with you
I ain’t a-gonna be treated this way
This way this way
I ain’t a-gonna be treated this way

The Eclipse


h1 July 1st, 2015

Launched from Hall’s yard, Aberdeen, on 3rd January 1867 the ‘Eclipse’ cost almost £12,000, carried eight whale boats and a crew of 55 men.

“The Eclipse” was one of the first seafaring songs to grab my attention. It was on the album “Thar She Blows” By Ewan MacColl and A. L. Lloyd. It tells the true story of three ships whaling in Queen Victoria’s year of Jubilee 1887. The trip was a miserable failure.

A.L. Lloyd commented in the album’s liner notes:

In the year of Queen Victoria’s jubilee, 1887, the steamer Eclipse of Stonehaven went fishing in the Arctic with her sister ships the Eric and the Hope. Her captain, David Gray, was on one of the greatest of nineteenth century whaling skippers. By now the northern waters were nearly fished clean of right whales, and the Scottish fleet was taking whatever it could – white whales, narwhales, bottlenooses (David Gray was the first hunter of bottlenoose whale). The 1887 season was disastrous. The Erik caught one small whale, the Hope none at all. On June 21st, David Gray took a good fat 57-foot cow whose jawbones are still on show in London’s Natural History Museum, but even the Eclipse, that luckiest of whalers, came home light, and with a bonus of only one-and-threepence a ton for oil. Her crew felt the trip had hardly been worth the hardship, and they marched through the streets of Peterhead to tell the owners so. The Eclipse made her first voyage in 1867. When she finished whaling, she was sold to the Russians and, renamed the Lomonosov, she was still being used as a survey ship along the Siberian coast as late as 1939.

Lyrics:
[G] It was the twenty-first of [D] June, me boys it [G] being a glorious [D] day,
[G] The Eclipse she saw a [D] whale-fish and she [Em] lowered all hands away,

Chorus (after each verse):
[G] So blow ye winds of morning, blow ye winds [C] hi-ho,
[G] Clear away your [C] running gear and [G] blow, [C] boys, [G] blow.

The boats they pulled to leeward, went skipping over the sea,
And we killed this noble whale-fish for another jubilee.

Our Captain Davie Gray was kind and he gave his crew a treat,
And that was why we caught this whale that measured fifty feet.

The Eclipse she lies to windward, her colours she does flee,
And the Erik and the Hope also, and this is the jubilee.

The Erik caught a sperm-whale that measured forty-three,
But the Hope has none and shall get none this year of jubilee.

But when this trip is over we’ll not ship for one and three,
Because we didn’t get fair play in the year of jubilee.

We’ll march up to the Custom House where we do all sign clear,
And when we face old Bless-My-Soul we’ll tell him without fear.

We’ll tell him that we’ll never sign again for one and three,
And we’ll march through Commercial Street and sing the jubilee.

Chorus:
And so blew ye winds of morning, blow ye winds hi-ho,
Clear away your running gear and blow, boys, blow.

Yellow Rose of Texas


h1 June 1st, 2015

“The Yellow Rose of Texas” was part of the repertoire of the Christie Minstrels in the 1850s. The song was also used as a marching tune in the American War between the States in the 1860s. This is a completely new version, based on the original lyrics that I wrote especially for the Folk Den.

Lyrics:
[A] There’s a lovely girl in Texas
That I am going to see;
[D] No other man has [A] kissed her
[F#m] No other man but [E] me;
[A] She cried so when I left her
That it really broke my heart,
[D] And I know that when I find her,
We [E] never more shall [A] part.

CH:
She’s the sweetest little rosebud
Anybody ever knew;
Her eyes are bright as diamonds,
They sparkle like the dew.
You may talk about your April Rose,
And sing of Rosa Lee,
But the yellow Rose of Texas
Is the only Rose for me.

Where the Rio Grande is flowing,
And the starry skies are bright,
She walks along the river
In the quiet summer night;
And she thinks if I remember
When we parted long ago,
I promised to come back again,
And never leave her so.

BREAK

Oh, I’m going down to find her,
For my heart is full of woe,
And we’ll sing the songs together
That we sang so long ago.
We’ll play the banjo every night,
And sing our sorrows o’er,
And the yellow Rose of Texas
shall be mine forever more.

Acres of Clams


h1 May 1st, 2015

Francis D. Henry wrote the “Old Settler’s Song,” or “Acres of Clams” around 1874. Set to the tune of “Rosin the Bow,” it was thought to be the state song of Washington according to the The People’s Song Bulletin until it was decided the lyrics were not dignified enough.

I learned “Acres of Clams” at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago around 1957 and found it recently in a book from the school.

Lyrics:
[E] I wandered all [B7] over this [E] country
Prospecting and mining for [C#m] gold
[E] I’ve tunneled, [B7] hydraulicked and [E] cradled
And I have been [B7] frequently [E] sold

CH: And I have been frequently [A] sold
And I have been frequently [C#m] sold
[E] I’ve tunneled, [B7] hydraulicked and [E] cradled
And I have been [B7] frequently [E] sold

For one who gets riches by mining
Perceiving that hundreds grow poor
I made up my mind to try farming
The only pursuit that is sure

So rolling my grub in a blanket
I left all my tools on the ground
And started one morning to shank it
For a country they call Puget Sound

Arriving flat broke in midwinter
I found it enveloped in fog
And covered all over with timber
Thick as hair on a dog

I took up a claim in the forest
And set myself down to hard toil
For two years I chopped and I loggered
But I never got down to the soil

I tried to get out of the country
But poverty forced my to stay
Until I became an old settler
Then you couldn’t drive me away

But now that I’m used to the climate
I think that if a man ever found
A spot to live easy and happy
That Eden is on Puget Sound

No longer a slave to ambition
I laugh at the world and its shams
As I think of my happy condition
Surrounded by acres of clams

The Rainbow


h1 April 1st, 2015

This ballad from the 16th century immortalizes a British galleon of the English Tudor Navy named “The Rainbow.” She fought against the Spanish during the “Singeing the King of Spain’s Beard” and the Spanish Armada, including the Battle of Gravelines in 1588.

In the story, as was a maritime tradition the captain’s wife bravely took command of the ship after his untimely demise.

Lyrics:
[D] As we were a-sailing out on the Spanish shore
[Bm] The drums they did beat me-boys and loud [D] cannons did [A] roar
[Bm] We spied our lofty enemy come [D] sailing down the [A] main
[D] With her scarves a-still high to our top sails again

Our captain says be ready oh he says me-boys stand true
To face the Spanish enemy we lately did pursue
To face the Spanish enemy they love the ocean wide
And without a good protection boys we’ll take the first broadside

Ah broadside to broadside – to battle then we went
To sink one another it was our intent
The very second broadside our captain he got slain
And his damsel – she stood up in his place to command

We fought for four hours — four hours – so severe
We scarcely had one man aboard – of our ship that could steer
We scarcely had one man aboard who’ed fire off a gun
And the blood from our deck me boys – like a river did run

For quarters for quarters those Spanish lads did cry
No quarters no quarters this damsel did reply
You’ve had the finest quarters that I can afford
And you must sink or swim me-boys or jump overboard

And now the battle’s over – we’ll drink a glass of wine
And you must drink to your own-true-love as I will drink
to mine
Here’s health onto the damsel who fought all on the main
And here’s to the royal gallant ship the “Rainbow” by name

The Crawdad Song


h1 March 1st, 2015

My wife, Camilla was telling me how her grandma loved to fish. She didn’t use a fancy rod and reel like Opie up there, just a cane pole, a short fishing line and a hook bated with a worm (my wife had to affix the worm). Grandma caught small fish and returned them to the water. I started singing this song that I learned at the Old Town School of Folk Music over 55 years ago. Camilla asked if I’d ever recorded it for the Folk Den and I realized that I had not. So here it is!

Lyrics:
[G] You get a line and I’ll get a pole honey
You get a line and I’ll get a pole [D] babe
[G] You get a line and I’ll get a pole
[C] We’ll go down to the crawdad hole
[G] Honey [D] Baby [G] mine

Yonder comes a man with a sack on his back, Honey,
Yonder comes a man with a sack on his back, Babe,
Yonder comes a man with a sack on his back,
Got more crawdads than he could pack,
Honey, Baby mine.

What did the hen duck say to the drake, Honey,
What did the hen duck say to the drake, Babe,
What did the hen duck to the drake,
There ain’t no crawdads in this lake,
Honey, Baby mine.

Sittin’ on the bank ’til my feet get cold, Honey,
Sittin’ on the bank ’til my feet get cold, Babe,
Sittin’ on the bank ’til my feet get cold,
Watchin’ that crawdad dig his hole,
Honey, Baby mine.

What you gonna do when the lake runs dry, Honey,
What you gonna do when the lake runs dry, Babe,
What you gonna do when the lake runs dry,
Sit on the bank watch crawdads die,
Honey, Baby mine.

What you gonna do when the meal gives out, Honey
What you gonna do when the meal gives out, Babe
What you gonna do when the meal gives out
We’ll go visiting round about
Honey, Baby mine.

Crawdad Crawdad better dig deep, Honey
Crawdad Crawdad better dig deep, Babe
Crawdad Crawdad better dig deep
For I’m gonna ramble in my sleep
Honey, Baby mine

Stuck my hook in a crawdad hole, Honey
Stuck my hook in a crawdad hole, Babe
Stuck my hook in a crawdad hole
Couldn’t get it out to save my soul
Honey, Baby mine

Apple cider cinnamon beer, Honey
Apple cider cinnamon beer, Babe
Apple cider cinnamon beer
Cold hog’s head and a possum’s ear
Honey, Baby mine

What you gonna do when the meat’s all gone, Honey
What you gonna do when the meat’s all gone, Babe
What you gonna do when the meat’s all gone
Sit in the kitchen and gnaw on a bone
Honey, Baby mine

Repeat First Verse

Paddy and the Whale


h1 February 1st, 2015

Ewan MacColl and A.L. Lloyd sang this on their album “Thar She Blows” accompanied by Peggy Seeger doing an amazing 5-string banjo roll.

A.L. Lloyd had this to say about the song:

“From the latter days of whaling is this jokey remake of the Jonah legend. Presumably Paddy and the Whale originated late in the 19th century, though it’s debatable whether it was a sea-song first and a stage-song after, or t’other way round. Irish stage comedians knew it, and perhaps it was one of them who set the words to the tune of The Cobbler’s Ball.”

Lyrics:
[Dm] Well Paddy O’Brian left [C] Ireland in [Dm] glee;
[C] He had a strong notion for Greenland to see;[Dm]
He shipped on a whaler, for Greenland was bound,
[C] And the whiskey he drank made his head go around,

And it’s [Dm] whack, fol da rol doe, [C] fol da rol doe [D] dee lee *

[Dm] Now, Paddy had never been [C] whaling [Dm]before;
[C]It made his heart jump when he heard a loud [Dm]roar;
As the lookout he cried there’s a whale he did spy:
[C]“I’m going to get ate,” says old Pat,”by-and-by”
And it’s [Dm] whack, fol da rol doe, [C] fol da rol doe [D] dee lee

[Dm]O, Paddy run forward [C] caught hold of the [Dm] mast
[C] He grasped his arms round it and held to it [Dm]fast
And the boat give a pitch, and,while losing his grip,
[C]Down in the whale’s belly poor Paddy did slip,
And it’s[Dm] whack, fol da rol doe, [C] fol da rol doe [D] dee lee

[Dm]He was down in the whale [C]for six months and five [Dm]days
[C]Till one day by luck to his throat he made [Dm]way.
The whale give a snort and then he did a blow,
[C]And out on dry land old Paddy did go.
And it’s[Dm] whack, fol da rol doe, [C] fol da rol doe [D] dee lee

[Dm]Now, Paddy is landed and [C]safe on the [Dm]shore;
[C]He swears that he’ll never go whaling no [Dm]more.
And the next time he wishes old Greenland to see,
[C]It will be when the railroad runs over the sea.
And it’s[Dm] whack, fol da rol doe, [C] fol da rol doe [D] dee lee

The Ash Grove


h1 January 1st, 2015

The Ash Grove is a 19th century Welsh folk song the tune of which has been set to many different lyrics including hymns and Christmas carols.

At age 17 my first professional show was at Ed Pearl’s Ash Grove folk music club at 8162 Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles. The venue was named after this song.

I recorded the RCA LP “Tonight in Person” with the Limeliters there in July of 1960. I had my 18th birthday in the club and the servers brought me a cupcake with a candle. It’s a sweet memory!

Lyrics:
[G] Down yonder green valley, where [Am] streamlets [D] meander,
When [G] twilight is [C] fading I [D] pensively [G] rove
Or at the bright noontide in [Am] solitude [D] wander,
[G] Amid the dark [C] shades of the [D] lonely [G] ash grove;
‘T was there, while the blackbird [Am] was cheerfully singing,
[G] I first met that dear one, [A] the joy of my [D] heart!
[G] Around us for gladness the [Am] bluebells were [D] ringing,
[G] Ah! then little [C] thought I how [D] soon we should [G] part.

Still glows the bright sunshine o’er valley and mountain,
Still warbles the blackbird its note from the tree;
Still trembles the moonbeam on streamlet and fountain,
But what are the beauties of nature to me?
With sorrow, deep sorrow, my bosom is laden,
All day I go mourning in search of my love;
Ye echoes, oh, tell me, where is the sweet maiden?
“She sleeps, ‘neath the green turf down by the ash grove.”

Repeat First Verse

The Cherry Tree Carol


h1 December 1st, 2014

Brought to you from the 15th century, this carol (Child Ballad 54) tells the story of Mary and Joseph before the baby Jesus was born.

Lyrics:
[F] JOSEPH was an old man,
and an old man was he,
[When he courted lovely [Dm] Mary,
the queen of [F] Galilee. X2]

Joseph and Mary walked
through an orchard good,
Where was cherries and berries,
so red as any blood. X2

Joseph and Mary walked
through an orchard green,
Where was berries and cherries,
as thick as might be seen. X2

O then bespoke Mary,
so meek and so mild:
‘Pluck me one cherry, Joseph,
for I am with child.’ X2

O then bespoke Joseph,
with words most unkind:
‘Let him pluck thee a cherry
that brought thee with child.’X2

O then bespoke the babe,
from within his mother’s womb:
‘Bow down then the tallest tree,
for my mother to have some.’X2

Then bowed down the highest tree
unto his mother’s hand;
She cried, See, dear Joseph,
I have cherries at command.X2

O then bespoke Joseph:
‘I have done Mary wrong;
But cheer up, my dearest,
and be not thou cast down.’ X2

Then Mary plucked a cherry,
as red as the blood,
Then Mary went homeward
with her heavy load.X2

Then Mary took her babe,
and sat him down on her knee,
Saying, My dear son, please tell me
what this world will be.X2

‘O I shall be as dead, mother,
as the stones in this wall;
O the stones in the streets, mother,
shall mourn for me all.X2

‘Upon Easter-day, mother,
my uprising shall be;
O the sun and the moon, mother,
shall both rise with me.’X2